There isn't a human emotion you can't pluck with an electric guitar, the right intuition and the proper equipment. Guitar music can be happy, sad, plaintive, energetic you name it. In the hands of a legend, six steel strings can even squeal like a human voice. Although rock, country, reggae and pop differ fantastically in tone and rhythm, the electric guitar is a defining sound in each genre. If you look under the umbrella of specific genres, you will find that the individual guitarists have a unique, distinctive sound. With a guitar effect pedal, you have the power to customize your sound for maximum self-expression. If you're ready to dive into a specific category, we've compiled a list of tone recipes by genre to serve as a template for your sonic fingerprint, but we'll leave the salt and pepper up to you.
Rock is the traditional battle cry of rebellion, founded on rhythmic percussion and chord progressions that get the heart beating and emotions charged. We recommend you start with compression and distortion, but you can mix in almost any effect as long as you feel rowdy and unruly as you do it.
Metal and Grunge are all about anger and edge. You need a tone so raw that it smells like meat we're talking massive distortion and overdrive. Grunge is stylistically sloppy, so the murkier it is, the better. Metal, on the other hand, has a hard bite every now and then. You might want to back off the distortion a smidge for instrumentals.
Pop is the carbonated, caffeinated lifeblood of youth. Bright sounds and catchy rhythms are all about having fun. Turn up the distortion and compression to get started, and add extra flavor with phasers and flangers. A little wah now and then is a great way to keep your tone lively and fresh.
R&B is a broad category including the funky, soulful and rhythmic. It is famous for crazy grooves and major string bending and picking. Plug in the overdrive, distortion or fuzz and go crazy on the wah pedal for that signature twang.
Reggae is chill like a good, old-fashioned swamp cooler. Don't even worry about effects for your lead tones they sound better clean. For the rest, feel free to kick back with some reverb, delay and a touch of overdrive. The wah pedal is always welcome to come hang with the crew.
Country is sincere and emotional, ranging from fast-paced and upbeat to slow and somber. You'll probably start clean or with compression. A small amount of reverb can work nicely as well. If you want a more-modern sound, overdrive and distortion are becoming increasingly common in the genre.
Jazz is pensive, thoughtful and deep. It requires subtlety, so don't go too heavy on any one effect. We recommend delay, reverb and distortion, but a volume pedal can add a nice finishing touch.
These recipes are just baselines to get you started. Remember that musical genres are more than the product of guitar effect pedals they are attitudes, rhythms and cultural phenomena. If you really want to sound the part, you have to understand these foundations. On the other hand, music and the electric guitar are always changing and evolving, so don't be afraid to challenge conventions. With a multi effect pedal, you can experiment with many different sound and tone combinations.
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