Dynamics and Gain – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work

dynamics and gainAs the most basic of guitar effects, Dynamics and Gain deal with Volume, and they’re designed to help control how loud or soft your signal is.

Dynamics-and-gain are the most basic of guitar effects. They deal with Volume, and they’re designed to help control how loud or soft your signal is. The Volume control built into your guitar might not seem like it, but it fits into this category. What might seem like it fits this category even less is your guitar’s Tone control, but believe it or not, it actually adjusts the Volume of your guitar’s high end frequencies. Continue reading “Dynamics and Gain – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work”

Distortion – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work

distortionWhen a signal is sent into a device, such as an amplifier, with too much Gain, the signal begins to 'clip,' producing that characteristic buzzing that we call distortion.

Overdrive

Overdrive is usually a naturally occurring clipping of the signal. It is often created by turning the volume up too loud on the gain stage of the amp, or by using a gain-boosting pedal that makes the signal too hot going into the amp or another pedal. This will oftentimes drive the later stages of the amp too hard and the signal will begin to clip, or chop off the parts of the signal that are too loud. This distorted sound is oftentimes a warm, pleasing tone that also adds a little compression to the signal. Continue reading “Distortion – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work”

Modulation – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work

modulationModulation effects are those that change over time. Parameters of the effect are tied to a Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO).

If you don’t know a Low Frequency Oscillator is, think of a clock and a light bulb . When the hand is on the 12 the light is all the way Off, as the hand moves past 1 the light begins to turn on; when the hand is on the 6 the light is all the way On and starts to turn off again as it moves past 7 back to Off at 12. This cycle repeats indefinitely, and you usually control how fast the clock spins. This is basically what is happening internally with each of these effects.

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Filter – Understanding How Guitar Effects Work

filterFilter effects are a subcategory of Dynamics and they deal with controlling the volume of certain frequencies.

Equalizers are one of the most common effects in this category and you can find an Equalizer almost everywhere that you find a Volume Control. It is built into your amp, your mixing board, almost everywhere you look. EQs work by using different values of Capacitors to target a certain range of frequencies, and a slider or Volume knob to “Turn Down” (filter to ground) those frequencies. Most EQs are passive, meaning they can only turn down the volume of the frequencies that they target.

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