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
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
Fulltone site and check out how to upgrade your wah. It's a simple but
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.