There’s nothing more painful than seeing and hearing a beautiful boutique guitar, plugged into a beautiful boutique amp, being played by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Not somebody that can’t play, but somebody that has no idea how to use their amplifier to its full potential. Having the gear is only the first step; you must learn to shape your sonic profile through the use of your amp’s EQ controls. And while every amp is different, there are three certain controls that are present in virtually every amplifier, from pawn shop speaker boxes to the boutique amps we offer in our online guitar shop. We know them, you know them, here’s what they do:
In a band situation the guitar’s lower frequencies can be blended with the actual bass player’s playing to create a sonic foundation. However, too much bass can wash everything else out. The lower frequencies tend carry more energy and travel further, and excessive amounts can dominate a mix.
The guitar’s mid range comprises the bulk of your guitar sound’s character, and is the bread and butter of rhythm guitarists. However, typical vocal frequencies occupy the mids, and if care is not taken to keep your guitar’s mids under control, you’ll be in direct competition for sonic bandwidth.
Highs are occupied by the overtones that help to establish the timbre of your instrument, and can really help solos to cut through a mix. Alone though, highs do little but add undecipherable noise to the music, so you’ll still need to rely on the lower frequency ranges to round out your sonic profile.
Of course, you will need to spend a lot of time with your amplifier to get your sound dialed in, and you’ll also have to take the needs of your band’s total sound into account. No matter what though, mastering the amp’s EQ is an absolute must for every guitarist.