I re-listened to Joe Satriani’s “Engines of Creation” album from just after the turn of the millennium… and while I love his guitar work, it basically sounded like Sonic the Hedgehog background music. Nonetheless, a great album using probably the most elements of electronica of any Satriani album.
One technique I came up with years ago for an exotic tone from electric guitar is to tune the A and D strings in unison, and the B and e strings in unison, giving about two octaves below the 12th fret for playing “courses” of strings. Tune the E and G strings to a suitable pitch for your chosen open tuning.
Then, place a microphone right up to the guitar and record it acoustically… add some reverb and it provides a wonderful (albeit tinny) sound to change the tone of a song.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working on clean, fast alternate picking on electric guitar. I’ve noticed I like a slightly thicker pick for this than general playing – so I’m back to using green Tortex picks, which are .88 size; I might try an even thicker pick at some point.
I also bought a mechanical metronome, which I thought was just cooler than a digital one or a phone app. It’s a cheap Chinese model but it works fine. It’s amazing how much more productive practice is with a strict time, like a drummer or metronome provides.
The work seems to be paying off as I’m playing fast lines much cleaner already.
One of the reasons I bought a Jackson electric guitar as my first guitar, many years ago, was because that’s what Randy Rhoads of Ozzy Osbourne played (though he played a variation on the Flying V body shape – cool but a little too extreme for me). The MXR Distortion + was just as key in the tone and nature of his sound.
This MXR pedal is not very high-distortion, like many modern distortion and overdrive pedals. But the tone is sweet and smooth, and remarkably articulate; it’s an optimal pedal for shredding, providing just enough bite to carry the gentle fuzzy base tone through the mix.
The pedal is a nice sunny yellow, with a stomp switch and two knobs: “Output” and “Distortion”. Generally, I keep the distortion knob ¾ up or higher, and the output from 12 o’clock to 2 o’clock. If you really crank up the output close to max it gets a bit fuzzier as the sound breaks up. I much prefer the definition provided by moderate output volume settings.
This is easily my favorite guitar pedal, and it’s built to last with MXR’s durable metal design.