I Know Just Enough to Screw Everything Up

When I was a kid first learning to play guitar in bands I didn’t know much of anything. I knew you turned the master volume on your amp down low and the gain all the way up and you got distortion, and if you lowered the volume on your guitar the distortion cleaned up. Later I got an amp with two channels that had a foot switch that could swap between them. One channel was distorted, the other was clean. Now I didn’t even have to mess with the knob on my guitar anymore.

That seemed like enough knowledge for me.

Then came the internet…

Now I can research all sorts of ideas on how to make yourself not only sound the way you want to sound, but to craft your sound so that it sits better in the mix and will cut through all the noise when you play leads and all sorts of wonderful acoustical wonderfulness.

After the last gig I changed my pedal board around.  I took out the main fuzz pedal and picked up a tube screamer.  I wanted to use that with very low gain to push the front end of my amp a little and also push the mid frequencies so that I could be heard in the mix a little clearer.  Then the signal goes into my OCD and that is where all the gain comes from.  It’s going to be great!  Everything is going to sound so much better.

Last week I took my strat to practice and everything sounded okay.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was my strat.  When the Les Paul comes to town it’s going to be awesome.

Last night the Les Paul came to town.  How did it sound?  Like dog shit.  It sounded like a mid ranged slab of mud just sitting out there for all to hear and be grossed out by.  I started tweaking things immediately.  I took out the tube screamer, cranked the gain and changed the hi/low boost on the OCD pedal, and endlessly messed with the tone controls on my amp.  Urgh.  By the end of the practice, the tube screamer was back on but every tone knob had been manhandled and I was left with a sound that was passable, but still not good.

About 2.5 hours into our three hour practice a thought popped into my head…

I miss my fuzz pedal.

I know just enough about how things work to utterly screw it all up.


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