The Guitar Tips Knowledge Base

I decided to build a Six String Sensei comprehensive list of guitar tips based on knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the last 20 years or so. You will find that this list of tips for guitar (and bass) players will have some common information. That said, I’m going to bet you will learn something from it no matter your experience level. At some point you’re going to go like, “I didn’t know that!”

The ultimate goal for this page is that this will be an ever-evolving resource packed with advice. I will be covering tips regarding guitar gear, pedalboards, wiring, guitar practice, tone, guitar pedal order and whatever else comes to mind. I ask that you bookmark this page and perhaps check it often. If you would like to submit your own tips, send them on my contact page.

Not All Fuzzes Have To Be First

It’s pretty common knowledge for guitarists to place their fuzz pedals right at the beginning of the signal chain. This is mainly because certain vintage-style fuzzes don’t not like to be buffered and sound better when the impedance matches that of your guitar. In other words, it hears your guitar first. Normally, this mostly affects germanium fuzz pedals, but I have found it also affects many silicon transistor fuzzes too. Now, when it comes to 4-transistor fuzzes, like the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff and all the many variations of that, those don’t need to be first in chain. A 4-transistor fuzz will sound different if there’s a buffer or something else before it, but it generally still sounds great, and in some cases, better.

Try Boosting Your Octave with a Compressor

This tip also revolves around guitar pedal order. More often than not you want an octave pedal right at the beginning of your signal chain. That said, before you fully commit to locking everything down with velcro, do some testing first. Some guitar players report they get better tracking out of certain octave pedals when they put a compressor before it rather than after. It has something to do with the octave getting a more even signal to work with. The theory is there and it adds up. You should try it.

Try a Thin Pick

It seems that every time a guitarists makes a change to the pick of choice it’s usually to go in the direction of a heavier pick. I’m going to go ahead an call a 1mm pick the average middle. I’m doing that because it’s easy. However, 1mm is leaning toward the heavy side. A 1.14mm Dunlop Tortex purple pick is to me already a considered a heavy. Beyond that, between 1.5mm, 2mm and beyond is definitely extra heavy. So, consider going the other way. Try a few .5mm picks. I’d specially recommend a celluloid pick for the thinner stuff. You’ll find that open jangly chords sound particularly sweet with a thin celluloid pick. On the other hand, nylon to me sounds a little bland. Either way, you can still play fast with a thin pick. Even if you still gravitate towards a thick guitar pick, it doesn’t hurt to change it up sometimes. Or, try a plectrum. Haha.

Your Power Supply is More Important Than Your Pedals

Yes, I know. Power supplies for guitar pedalboards aren’t fun or sexy things to buy. They usually come later as an afterthought once you have a decent pedal collection and need to find a way to power them. I’m going to challenge you to start with the power supply the second you buy your first few pedals… and don’t go with a 5 output one. Start with the 7, or 9 or 10 output power supply like a Strymon ZUMA or CIOKS DC-7. Chances are you will be using those extra outputs once you start down that rabbit hole. And the fact that proper isolated power supplies don’t make any noise is actually a good thing.

You Don’t Need an Expression Pedal on Your Pedalboard

Not having an expression pedal on your pedalboard doesn’t mean you won’t be using an expression pedal. All I’m saying here is that you don’t have to use up valuable real estate on your guitar pedalboard with a huge expression pedal. Simply route the TRS expression jack you will be using to the side of your pedalboard with an extension or a TRS patch bay. You can then put the expression pedal on the floor and plug it into the side of the board. It’s more comfortable on the floor anyway. You don’t even need to power most of them making this method even more convenient.

What is the Meaning of "Analog Dry-Through?"

Many of today’s best guitar effects pedals are digital. Many guitarists are fine with quality digital effects. However, we’re a picky bunch when it comes to our signal chain. For this reason, we prefer it when our digital effects pedals have an analog dry-through signal path. The effect itself is digital, therefore a copy of the original signal is converted from analog to digital and back to analog. Alongside that, the original part of the signal is never converted digitally but rather passed through from input to output. The copy of signal that is passed through the AD/DA converter for the effect is blended with the original unaffected analog signal.

Analog dry-through is pretty common in delay and reverb pedals, but sometimes not possible on certain modulation effects. For example, it’s possible to have analog dry-through on a chorus pedal if it accounts for converter lag to avoid phase or combing issues. Chorus literally has a dry signal base and a modulated signal for the effect. The same cannot be said about vibrato, since generally it’s a 100% wet effect.

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This will be an ever-growing list of guitar tips on Check back soon.