TIPS

I strongly believe in "Knowledge is power". That's why I like to exchange information and knowledge with other people. This section contains a lot of tips, that (might) be useful for many guitar players. Some may sound cheesy, others are basic knowledge or just my opinion, but if this helps you........... On a lot of newsgroups I come across questions that are answered below. And reading the articles posted on this website might help you out too!

Please keep in mind that I'm a control freak and I care about my gear. So if you're a guitarplayer who just wants to play and as long as it all works fine, everything is ok, then I guess you want to skip this part. But if you do care more about your equipment be sure to read them all. If you have any other questions left, you can always post them at the Q&A Forum.

TUBES

  • If you buy new power tubes, make sure they are matched. And go to a pro to set the bias of your amp. This makes a huge difference and is the only way to get the best sound possible out of your amp.
  • Try different types and brands of tubes in the preamp section of your amp to get the sound you want. More on this in my Article on Tubes.
  • Want to buy "stock" tubes for your amp? Buy tubes at a good tube store (such as www.watfordvalves.com), they will sell you the tubes from the original factory and all tested. With all other brands it is hard to tell at which factory they were made and what the quality is.

AMP

  • Rule #1 for most of todays guitar players: turn up the mid! Mid = tone = volume = clarity = being heard. Leave it to the sound enginier to give you an earthshacking low end mid scooped sound.
  • Put your tube amp first on for 30 seconds before switching from the standby mode. This will safe some tube life. When switching off, turn it directly off without using the standby option.
  • Use a little bit less gain in your distortion, this way your notes and picking will be much more clear.
  • Not satisfied with the sound of your tube amp? Make sure the bias is set proparly. New and different tubes can make your amp sound like a dream. That is when you buy good ones.
  • Before moving a tube amp, make sure it is cooled down for at least 5 minutes.
  • Make sure your amp is connected to a well grounded outlet. If not, you have a serious risk of frying your amp or yourself.
  • Can I connect a 8 Ohm amp output to a 4 Ohm cabinet?? NO. Well you can, but you either risk to blow your amp or speaker. Take a look here at how to rewire your speaker cabinet to match your amps output. It is possible to do (small) a mismatch with some amps, but you should really know what you're doing!. Replacing either the output transformer or the speakers is not a cheap thing. If you are going to mismatch, most people agree that it should be done this way: amp 4 Ohm - cabinet 8 ohm, not the other way around.
  • Give your tube amp enough room to ventilate to prevent to from overheating.
  • When you put your tube amp "on" make sure there is a load (= speaker,powersoak) connected to the output. If not, you can be sure that you're gonna have a meltdown.
  • When using multiple amps or other grounded gear, groundloophums may occur. Using the same outlet for all your gear may prevent this.

GUITAR

  • If screws on your (wooden) guitar are getting loose, fill the hole with matches and it will not get loose for another 5 years.
  • Your guitar comes with a volume knob. USE IT. Unless you're the guitarist of the Misfits..........
  • Does your sound loose highs when turning down the volume knob of your guitar? Buy a capacitor of 0.001 pf solder one end to the input of the volume pot and the other end to the output of the pot. This way high freq's are saved when turning down the volume knob. Simple job and only costs 50 Dollar Cent per capacitor.
  • Want to add switches to your guitar without drilling holes? Use push/pull pots. This way you can wire them that when pulled you place the pickups out/in phase, single coil a humbucker, series/parallel, etc.
  • You can't seem to get your guitar perfectly in tune or keep in it intune... take a look at the tuning section
  • Unwanted Feedback? Your guitar/pickup seems to need to get a proper shielding/waxing job. Check the links, some of them talk about this problem. It is easy to solve and very effective.
  • Be smart and buy a pair of Straplocks. This way your guitarstrap will not fall of and you don't have to use gaffa to tape your strap.
  • Want to get an ultra quiet guitar without using noise gates?. Make sure it is shielded well and tape the strings on the neck of the guitar. And if don't use your tremelo, tape the tremelo strings as well.
  • If you own a guitar of which the back of the neck has a natural finish (no paint or gloss), buy a piece of sandpaper (type: 600) and polish the back again. It will be like new.

FX

  • If you want to buy an effect unit, make sure you already have a good (pre)amp. A good (tube) (pre)amp is far more important for your sound than effects. Good effects can not make a shit amp sound good.
  • If you use multiple pedals and you get the feeling that you're loosing a lot of tone. See my schematics page to see how you built a true bypass switch. Or even better, hook them all up in Loop/Switch device such as the Rocktron Patchmate, Axess GRX and DMC Guitar Audio Switcher.
  • If you use a couple of pedals, make a pedalboard. It doesn't cost much, but it saves A LOT of time and is very convenient.
  • Got a Vox Wah Wah and want to have a TRUE bypass to keep your sound intact when not using the wah? Go to the Fulltone site and check out how to upgrade your wah. It's a simple but effective job.

VARIOUS

  • Check out the Cable Wiring and Pickup Wiring for information on how to make your own Semi Symmetric cables or how to connect your humbuckers.
  • Use quality cables, strings and tubes. It is your money worth. Do not cut back on these three and complain that your sound is not good. It is amazing how many people with pro equipment use cheap or old cables, tubes and strings. There are guitar cables worth $150,- per meter and you think that your cable worth $6,- for 6 meters sounds good?
  • This also counts for your speaker cable. Don't even think of using a guitar cable as a speaker cable...... it is called Guitar Cable not Speaker Cable. For quality cables take a look at Van Den Hul, George L and Monster Cable.
  • Experiment.
  • Always take several tools with you so you can repair your gear if needed. Many times you need a screwdriver to replace a simple fuse....
  • Check your cables, screws, tubes, strap holder, etc. at least once a month to make sure they are all ok.
  • Need extra punch and heavy bottom, try a (used) Enhancer/Maximizer or EQ. But first make sure you use good strings, cables, etc.
  • Make your cables as short as possible. Long cables kill your sound. Make sure you use low capacitence cables (like 30pF per feet)
  • Use earplugs. You can replace your equipment went it's broke, this is not possible with your hearing.
  • Use (quality) (flight)cases for all your equipment. Especially when using tube amplifiers. You do not want to see your boutique Fender guitar or Marshall amp falling down the stairs without a (flight)case.
  • Buy a simple spraycan for electronic parts. If your volume/tone pots make a cracking sound spray, twist and wait 10 minutes. They're all right again. Simple but effective.
  • When you twist the knobs on your amp or guitar you get a lot of noise??? Turn them down every time you don't use them. It will prevent dust from coming in between the vital parts.
  • Try to keep electric wires and adapters far from your signal line. They can/will add a lot of noise. If an electric wire has to cross a signal line, make sure they cross at a 90 degree angel. This prevents a lot of hum.
  • Buy a powerblock that shuts down when there are voltages peaks. This might/will prevent your equipment from a meltdown when the electronic outlet fucks up or got struck by lightning.
  • When using more machines in a signal line which use ground, a hum might arise. If using the same outlet for all your gear doens't hel[ then lifting try the ground of one or more machines, but keep the ground on the poweramp. Also using plastic covers between the equipment and the rack rails can prevent this problem in some cases, if you use a 19" rack that is. There are a few companies that (used to) make Isolation boxes that take away the hum in your cables. Search for a Furman Isopatch or a Palmer PLI-1 Line-Iso-Box or check out www.epanorama.net for more information on this topic.
  • Try to keep your tuner out of the signal line. They will degrade your signal quality.
  • What to do with all those cables in your rack? Just buy a couple of Tesa Power-Strips Mini, clam some cables and put the rest together with tiewraps. And they can be removed without any problem.
  • Buy yourself a role of quality gaffa tape. There is no universal problem solver like gaffa.

TUNING

  • Problems with tuning? Here are 4 basic ways to stay in tune (but you will need to have a chromatic tuner):
    1. Use quality strings like Dean Markley Blue Steels. They sound better, stay better intune, have a wider frequency response and don't break as easy.
    2. Wind the string not more than twice around the tuner. The lesser the better, normally 1 wound is more then enough.
    3. Lay your guitar down, tune the string and then pull the string until the guitar lifts. Repeat this process 10x for each string
    4. Adjust the intonation of your guitar. (take look here how)
    5. If you are going to play live, make sure your guitar is on the stage temperature an hour before you play and tune it short before you go on. The stage lights etc produce a lot of heat and because your guitar is made out of wood it will drastically change your tuning.
  • Still not intune over your whole neck?. Even after intonation?. For the fun ,tune your B string with a chromatic tuner. Now place your finger on the first fret of the B string and check if the C is intune as well.......... it's sharp isn't it?. Common problem for 99% of all guitars. Check the Buzz Feiten tuning system or the Earvana's for the perfect solution. You could also lower the nut, but this needs to be done by a pro.
  • Strings getting caught in the nut? No matter what kind of guitar you play, itís always a good idea to lubricate the string grooves on the nut. An easy way to do this is to mix 5 parts Graphite (found in any hardware store) and one part Vaseline (Chapstik works too). Apply the mixture to the nut with a toothpick. Your guitar will stay in tune better and longer because the strings will be moving freely across the nut.