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Is Helix An Impediment To Learning/Using Articulations?


DunedinDragon
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An interesting thought occurred to me the other day.  I do a lot of recording work using sample libraries.  One of the big differentiators in the quality of sample libraries tends to be the ability to apply various manual articulations to the notes.  It really doesn't matter what type of instrument be it strings, horns, flute, pedal steel, bluegrass fiddle, harmonica, etc.  They all provide various methods for controlling attack, vibrato, swell and so forth usually quite different for different instruments.  It's fairly uncommon in modeling forums to hear much discussion about various articulation methods unique to the guitar, which leads me to question whether or not the Helix can sometimes become an impediment to newer guitar players developing these types of skills on the guitar such as palm muting, hybrid picking, neck versus bridge attack, pick technique and so fort.  In other words there's so much emphasis and interest in the use of different amps or effects, there's not much left for learning how to enhance the mix of their guitar with the rest of the band or the tracks of a recording through the use of various articulation techniques.

What's your take on this?

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For sure modeling does waste much more of your time, fiddling around all those possibilities and sounds. It's an endless tone chase and sometimes it can be a damn rabbit hole. I think this applies to the entire pedal market nowadays. Sometimes it's a just lot of showoff, sometimes just an infinite pedal flipping, and for these reasons it can be an humongous waste of time.

 

Im old school and even if I use modeling since the red bean pod era, I learned guitar in the early 80, with just an amp and a damn guitar. Nothing in the middle. Sometimes just a pedal or two. It's granted that if you start learning this way, you focus a lot more on qualities you mentioned for two basic reasons; there is nothing else to mess around with, and the less the pedals and effects, the more your touch and style are exposed. Well, stating the obvious here, it also depends what kind of genre you are playing, because if you are just a 250BMP metal shredder, there is no much articulation to talk about. On the other hand, if you are into jazz or blues, where the base tone it's extremely easy to find even with the cheapest amp and guitar in the market, it's better you focus on those aspects you mentioned, or you'll be stuck as a mediocre player, doesn't matter if you have a Fractal or a Zoom, a chinese Casino or a 20K Gibson L-5...

 

My take on this is that a kid learning guitar should not have access to all these toys, until he develops his own style with just basic tools. Then, if there is zero talent available, doesn't matter what you get, articulation (as the expression of dynamics through your playing technique) will always be felt as artificial. Which is more or less what I perceive when I listen all those famous youtube players, doing pedal reviews, 24/7.

 

I guess that's also why I'm totally fine with Helix, and my other pedals. I just use them as "extras" to my style like if they were extensions of my palette, instead of trying to create (or hide) my style through those devices. 

 

 

 

 

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33 minutes ago, DunedinDragon said:

What's your take on this?

 

I would not necessarily call it an "impediment", but IMO one thing's for sure: Plenty of people drool about amps/models and what not a lot more than they care about their playing.

Without even willing to point my finger at anyone specifically, I have often read people going all mad about how killer this or that new piece of gear (or even just a software update) would sound - and then, in case some sound examples coming from the same persons are available, I'm pretty often like "uhm, you should rather concentrate on muting strings rather than praising the new, super-duper accurate piece of kit you just got your hands on".

 

Just so that nobody gets me wrong: I don't have any problems with most people not being kickass players. I also don't have any problems with them loving their gear. But all that endless GAS along with plenty of time spent on all kinds of chatter about how much an authentic amp such as XYZ would improve the general situation sooo much could IMO quite often be spent a lot wiser by investing some time into what's still the core thing of all this, namely guitar playing.

 

Personally, while I defenitely love some new toys as well (especially in case they're inspiring in one way or the other), I have always been more the player kinda guy (no, that's not supposed to say anything about the quality of my playing), so regardless of whatever new toys, I rarely really "needed" them, unless it's for "ultility improvements" - which is also why I'm rather asking for global blocks than for new amp models. Typically, I just need some "working" sounds and then I usually just forget about those things. Apart from some things my "inner experimental me" would like to see (such as modulators, synth-style effects and what not), the Helix is already providing anything I need for my core needs in spades. There's decent clean, mid-gain and higher-gain sounds, case closed.

Fwiw, I have spent a very looong time in the IR rabbit hole, but even that was kinda purposedly, because I wanted some cab simulations to make my live experience more pleasant. Once I had what I needed, I almost stopped fooling around with these things any longer. I do still spend some time on that stuff every now and then, but nowadays it's more like "ok, let's take this one amp model, see whether I like it and then brew a perfectly suitable custom IR". Sometimes that's working quite well, but usually I get bored quickly, return to the handful of "safe" sounds I already have and rather focus on playing.

 

Having said all that, most of my "working" colleagues do it pretty much the same way. Get a decent axe, decent amplification, the modification/switching options required to play live and call it a day for a long time.

And well, yeah, sure, that can become an impediment for less experienced players - very often they seem to think searching for new sounds would improve things in whatever way, rather than concentrating on all things playing related.

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I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one noticing this.  I was particularly interested in some of the things PierM was saying about being more "old school|" in his approach which I think applies to many of us that started playing before the glut of pedals and tools came out and diverted people's attention.  And Sascha Frank's experience most closely resembles mine as far as finding the basic setups I need and not veering far from it.

I do think there are some other factors that feed into this, one of which is the makeup of bands nowadays.  It's relatively rare to see bands with LOTS of different instruments simply because of the pay scale used for paying most bands simply doesn't allow it.  One of the things that began bringing this aspect of technique more to my attention was that addition of using "session instrument tracks" with my band.  These aren't exactly backing tracks but rather individual instrument tracks which play along with the band on different songs.  Once I began using these I noticed how much I need to change my approach to my playing in many if not most of the songs simply because there wasn't room for me to fill as much and I would be competing with the other instruments if I overplayed, so it more or less forced me to fall back to the techniques I used back when bands consisted of more than three or four instruments in order to blend and fill within that context.  I think there are a lot of players that started playing in this newer age of limited band size and probably depend on many of these effects and such to help fill the space in an otherwise sparse instrument environment.

It makes me think of one of the internet groups I tend to pay a lot of attention to which is Scary Pockets.  It's not a whole lot of instruments, but each instrument contributes only what's necessary for the song to sound complete and professional..but all done live in someone's living room, for example.  In their case it's all technique and very little in the way of effects and flashy stuff.  Interesting approach to say the least.
 

 

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Major impediments to learning guitar with emphasis on articulation:

 

1 - Failure to take lessons from a live human (vs internet), preferably one who performs in a genre where articulation is all.

2 - Failure to start on an acoustic guitar. Focus goes to the electric aspect vs manual skills.

3 - Compressors and high gain amps.

4 - FX in general.

5 - GAS, FOMO, peer pressure.

 

I started playing at 10yo (I should be a LOT better than I am!). Starting on a gigantic Harmony arch-top f-hole acoustic, I took lessons at an old-time neighborhood music store that employed teachers who performed in multiple genres (mostly jazz & classical). Among other skills, my teacher insisted that I learn proper hand placement, alternate picking, muting with ALL parts of BOTH hands (not just palm muting), playing scales and exercises using all 4 left hand fingers AND, when necessary, thumb over. I didn't know I was learning CAGED, but cowboy chords were immediately followed by "orchestral" (bar) chords. He also taught me how to get different sounds by picking at different places on the string, and introduced me to the concept of string bending. This was 1960, so r'n'r was still considered "Devil Noises", but my teacher was a musical liberal. After Mel Bay Book 1 he showed me the "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" (I-IV-V) and "Rebel Rouser" (Duane Eddy - employed string bending). Before we got to proper finger picking I joined a band, playing Bass. I found a Bass teacher (music schools didn't have ELECTRIC Bass yet), who INSISTED that I NOT use a pick! The only PROPER way to play Bass is with fingers! UNLESS - you're after that "special" percussive effect. Another musical liberal. Nowadays "whatever works" is the rule, and galloping HM basslines are much easier with a pick.

 

My point is, while there are certainly great self-taught guitarists, for most kids, a proper teacher is essential. the trick is finding one who doesn't kill the joy of music.

It also helps if your parents can't afford (or refuse) to buy you all that "electric crap". If you really want it, you'll get a job and develop a work ethic, but that's a rant for another day!

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6 hours ago, PierM said:

My take on this is that a kid learning guitar should not have access to all these toys, until he develops his own style with just basic tools.

 

When I first started to mess around with guitars in the mid to late 1960s it was with an old beat up Eastern European Tatra jumbo acoustic from a pawn shop. There was nothing particularly good about it, but I managed to level the frets and get the action a little better and start off with an attempt at finger picking folk tunes (I was an art student at the time so this was normal).

 

I later got a Japanese copy of a Les Paul and an very old Selmer 50w amp. The only thing between the amp and guitar was a cable! Nothing else. Let's face it, thats the way the old blues men started and that 's how it was back then. I started to learn how those guys managed to get their sound - change the tuning and use a pocket knife or the neck of a beer bottle as a slide. It must have been a couple of years, or more, before i got my first wah pedal and fuzz box. Don't get me wrong, I love this technology and buying a kidney bean POD, when they first arrived, was a revelation - how could all  that be in one tiny box? Then I moved to the POD XT Live, then the HD500 and now, of course, the Helix.

 

Nowadays, I have a bunch of different guitars - electric, acoustic, nylon, resonator, a couple of Variax, plus mandolin, banjo, autoharp and a whole heap of synthesisers and FX. I suppose being an older person gave me the grounding in basics, mainly because there was no alternative. The Beatles started out with essentially no effects, Rickenbacker guitars and Vox amps, Clapton had the Les Paul and a Marshall. It was a whole different world back then, effects were "special" and applied in the studio by a trained engineer. Stuff you could simply plug your guitar into were very rare, and there was a rumour that Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck shared the first Tone Bender fuzz box . I remember my best friend buying an amp with a built in reverb, then added a tape echo - it was astonishing. 

 

Ye gods, can you imagine what Jimi Hendrix would have made of the Helix? He might have gone down the rabbit hole too.

 

Maybe I'm just getting too old, but some of the requests for the more esoteric boutique amps are beyond me, there are only so many variations of amp design. The basic amp is still using tech from the middle of the last century, similarly so are most guitars which have ultimately been derived from Lester's "log".

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Very interesting topic. I started lessons with classical, nylon-string guitar because I saw Segovia in concert as a child, and thought he was cool :) Starting my guitar-playing years with my fingers is why to this day I use a thumbpick instead of a flat pick. This allows for articulations that are difficult/impossible for me to do with a flat pick.

 

Ultimately whether Helix will complement or obscure a person's articulations depends a lot on how well they know the gear. It's amazing how people who tell me that "amp sims suck" change their mind when I tell them to try cutting whatever gain or drive setting they're using in half. Physical amps soak up transients, and interact with the guitar in a way that an audio interface's high-Z input doesn't. Someone in the thread about my book mentioned that the section on how to get clean sound from "dirty" amps was, to him, one of the best parts of the book. I don't think he had previously tried turning down the gain enough to really let the articulations come through. 

 

As to options and rabbit holes, perhaps the reason for having so many options is so people can settle on their own "greatest hits." I'm sure some of my favorite Helix amp models are other people's least favorites. There's a limited number of specific Helix amps and effects that are the basis of "my sound." I'm quite sure if you talked to 100 different Helix owners, you'd have 100 different lists of their favorites amps and effects. My preferences is to use a minimum number of effects and exploit each one to the max, but other people like a guitar sound that's almost more like a keyboard synthesizer, and layer lots of effects to achieve that goal.

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Food for thought:

Pick any of the common famous guitar players. How many different core tones are they using? How many different effects? How many different guitars?

I'm sure you'll find that most of them a) developed their own voice on a rather limited amount of gear, b) would still sound like them through pretty much completely different gear. Yes, there's exceptions, let's say such as Gilmour, Fripp, Belew and whom else - but even if you take away the FX stuff they're making much use of, pretty much all of them would still sound like themselves.

Take, say, Paul Gilbert. He's a living guitar music encycopledia with a built-in juke box. And he manages to perform, say, some Beatles stuff or even some Gypsy Jazz pretty much authentically using his usual core tone, namely a rather overdriven Marshall kinda amp. Same goes for Phil X.

 

My own experience from playing in cover bands for decades would sort of back this up. With all the projects, we usually don't do 1:1 (Top 40 style) covers but some versions leaving us some room for our own playing. Note: These are very well paid jobs, so the folks hiring us could afford pretty much any other band. But they don't care for an authentic representation of whatever but seem to vastly prefer decent musicians having fun with their own interpretations (and yes, there's also plenty of the typical wedding/birthday jobs that you'd usually see a Top 40 band playing at). Get the core idea of the music right, get decent musicians to perform with fun and ideally some great singer(s) and that's all you need.

And along these lines, in any of these projects, nobody would ever care whether I play the "Le Freak" guitar pattern (which is one of the few key elements that likely need to stay, even when doing jam-alike interpretations) with a Strat through a Twin or with a Les Paul through a hairy Marshall. Well, maybe some guitar players would get out their cork sniffing cutlery - but rest assured, I couldn't care less.

 

Fwiw, having talked about Phil X, there's him doing a cover of Stevie Wonders "Superstition" - and IMO it's every bit as great as any of the Top 40 band versions trying to mimic things 1:1.

If you want the real deal, put on Mr. Wonders record or attempt a show. For anything else, enjoy what good musicians can make out of it.

Here's a pretty tamed version of Phil X:


And a pretty raw live jamming version with Guthrie Govan as a guest:

 

I vastly prefer that kind of approach over literal covers. And most audiences seem to, too. The good thing being that you can completely forget about delivering "authentic" tones.

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One issue with modelers is how we learn to use them. It's often at low volumes with headphones or studio speakers, playing by ourselves. That has a tendency to encourage us to use too much gain/distortion, too many effects all run too wet - because it sounds so good and so controllable by itself. And we can do it while the kids are asleep.

 

However, when we get into a mix or live setup, all that distortion and wet effects turns into mush that nobody can hear against a real amp, bass and drums. I think we'll have better luck experimenting with modelers in the context of songs and rehearsal performances where we play in the context of the song, in a mix with others at gig volume. Modelers can do that, but usually don't if you set them up in your living room by yourself.

 

Regarding playing over gear, I think whatever floats you boat is fine and there's no need to put any value judgment on one over the other. 

 

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It's really interesting to me that a fair number of active members on this forum have such similar backgrounds.  Mostly I think because many of us grew up in roughly the same generation.

As much as I was a "Beatle Baby" being someone that really became aware of pop music with their invasion of the US when I was 10 years old but my first interest in guitar started prior to that with my Dad's love of Chet Atkins records.  I wasn't living in a place where you could easily find a "qualified" teacher on guitar, especially in those days.  So I was stuck just trying to learn things on my own in a time where the only place you could seek much information on the subject might be a library or possibly a music store whenever I visited a larger city.  And of course effects other than reverb and tremolo were still a decade away.  However, I was fortunate enough to come from a very musical family (Grandfather played fiddle, Grandmother and Father played piano) so I was exposed very early starting at 6 years old to instruments other than guitar such as piano, trombone and violin and  formal techniques like dynamics and articulations were always a part of it.  I just didn't know what they were on the guitar and how you accessed them until after I left home and went to college on a music scholarship.  What a difference THAT made in my approach to guitar and how it should REALLY be played in the context of a band.

To be honest I'm so out of touch with K-12 education nowadays I don't even know if any of that stuff is even still available.  I do think YouTube plays a fairly big part in music education, but that's limited to what you want to know, and many people these days don't know what they don't know.  Which is exactly what I discovered when I finally went to college.  But I do agree that from all appearances the level of private instruction appears to be pretty accessible.  I just don't know if they stress that much in the finer techniques associated with articulations and dynamics that enable you to blend well and contribute effectively with a larger set of instruments.

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On 1/14/2022 at 5:57 AM, DunedinDragon said:

It really doesn't matter what type of instrument be it strings, horns, flute, pedal steel, bluegrass fiddle, harmonica, etc.  They all provide various methods for controlling attack, vibrato, swell and so forth usually quite different for different instruments.  It's fairly uncommon in modeling forums to hear much discussion about various articulation methods unique to the guitar,

 

For most musicians (on other instruments) their technique is their tone and they understand that. Many guitar players missed that lesson along the way and focus too much on the gear.

 

I don't think I would suggest modeling is to blame - it's been that way as long as I can remember. 

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@dunedindragon - since you are recording, use plugins, and virtual instruments, you may want to try a demo of Eventide's Physion plugin. With it you can split a guitar signal into two elements: transient and tone. Then you can shape and modify each of these separately (with mixing, eq, compression, reverb, delay, pitch, tremelo, etc). In this way, you can treat a guitar track much like a virtual instrument. Another useful tool for doing these sorts of things is the resynthesis features of Melodyne. Physion is full price now, but is often heavily discounted.

 

Of course these are not things you do while playing the guitar using finger techniques, but with virtual instruments you are normally treating these sorts of things after you play the notes on a keyboard.

 

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3 hours ago, soundog said:

@dunedindragon - since you are recording, use plugins, and virtual instruments, you may want to try a demo of Eventide's Physion plugin. With it you can split a guitar signal into two elements: transient and tone. Then you can shape and modify each of these separately (with mixing, eq, compression, reverb, delay, pitch, tremelo, etc). In this way, you can treat a guitar track much like a virtual instrument. Another useful tool for doing these sorts of things is the resynthesis features of Melodyne. Physion is full price now, but is often heavily discounted.

 

Of course these are not things you do while playing the guitar using finger techniques, but with virtual instruments you are normally treating these sorts of things after you play the notes on a keyboard.

 


I'm not really using plugins in the same way as you're talking about.  I'm using Kontakt sample libraries (which interface in somewhat the same way as a plugin) for things OTHER than guitar such as strings, horns, flutes, pedal steel, harmonica, bluegrass fiddle, grand piano, B2 Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes piano, etc..  I rarely need anything more than what Helix provides as far as guitar tone, and I only really record guitar when I'm putting together a demo of a song the band is trying to learn.

As I mentioned before, my tracks are really song specific session tracks for use with different songs we play live in order to add instruments to what the band is playing rather than having a session musician sitting in.  And I would disagree that those type of articulation techniques are added after the note, they are actually part of the sample being used.  The triggering note is simply a MIDI note which is sometimes triggered with a separate MIDI control note designating a special articulation or performance style, but the sample used for that note comes from a recording of a live person playing that note on that instrument in an acoustically professional recording environment using that specific articulation or performance characteristic.  That's why those sample libraries can sometimes be upwards of 60 GB in size in order to manage all those variations of each note being played.  In essence they're sampled in much the same way as what most of the more popular drum plugins are done, but on more complex musical instruments.

These type of sample libraries are often what you're hearing on a large portion of modern cinematic soundtrack scores you've been hearing over the last 10 to 20 years rather than using a large orchestra or complex instrumentation setups like the following:
 

 

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Ah, I see. Your use case is different than mine. I don't use Kontakt for live performance, I use it like the cinematic composers you mention, and often reshape the sound within Kontakt  after recording MIDI notes in order to tweak things as needed for a composition and mix.

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  • 7 months later...
On 1/14/2022 at 2:53 PM, SaschaFranck said:

 

I would not necessarily call it an "impediment", but IMO one thing's for sure: Plenty of people drool about amps/models and what not a lot more than they care about their playing.

Without even willing to point my finger at anyone specifically, I have often read people going all mad about how killer this or that new piece of gear (or even just a software update) would sound - and then, in case some sound examples coming from the same persons are available, I'm pretty often like "uhm, you should rather concentrate on muting strings rather than praising the new, super-duper accurate piece of kit you just got your hands on".

 

Just so that nobody gets me wrong: I don't have any problems with most people not being kickass players. I also don't have any problems with them loving their gear. But all that endless GAS along with plenty of time spent on all kinds of chatter about how much an authentic amp such as XYZ would improve the general situation sooo much could IMO quite often be spent a lot wiser by investing some time into what's still the core thing of all this, namely guitar playing.

 

Personally, while I defenitely love some new toys as well (especially in case they're inspiring in one way or the other), I have always been more the player kinda guy (no, that's not supposed to say anything about the quality of my playing), so regardless of whatever new toys, I rarely really "needed" them, unless it's for "ultility improvements" - which is also why I'm rather asking for global blocks than for new amp models. Typically, I just need some "working" sounds and then I usually just forget about those things. Apart from some things my "inner experimental me" would like to see (such as modulators, synth-style effects and what not), the Helix is already providing anything I need for my core needs in spades. There's decent clean, mid-gain and higher-gain sounds, case closed.

Fwiw, I have spent a very looong time in the IR rabbit hole, but even that was kinda purposedly, because I wanted some cab simulations to make my live experience more pleasant. Once I had what I needed, I almost stopped fooling around with these things any longer. I do still spend some time on that stuff every now and then, but nowadays it's more like "ok, let's take this one amp model, see whether I like it and then brew a perfectly suitable custom IR". Sometimes that's working quite well, but usually I get bored quickly, return to the handful of "safe" sounds I already have and rather focus on playing. It was the same attitude with essays, their titl was just taken through https://studydriver.com/essay-title-generator/ instead of coming up with something yourself.

 

Having said all that, most of my "working" colleagues do it pretty much the same way. Get a decent axe, decent amplification, the modification/switching options required to play live and call it a day for a long time.

And well, yeah, sure, that can become an impediment for less experienced players - very often they seem to think searching for new sounds would improve things in whatever way, rather than concentrating on all things playing related.

 

This argument about what is better to develop: a game or a set of sounds has always been strange. Even if I have a huge set of everything, then not being able to just play normally, I will not get all the features from it.  

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Thanks for the topic.  It is very interesting reading everyone's background.  I'm am old guy too and come from the "tone is in the fingers" group.  At least I wish I was that good :).  I started playing when I was 8 or 9.  there was a small acoustic that had the E and A string.  My sister says I drove her crazy playing smoke on the water on that little thing all the time. I graduated to a cheap TeleStar guitar with a little amp.  Along that time, my uncle also gave me an ovation acoustic.  That is what I used mostly.  I had a few lessons at the Y, but not many.  Mostly I learned from song books and playing with records.  Neil Young was a big influence on me... then Santana.  I can see the benefits of having a teacher show you the intricacies of playing techniques.  I never had that, so I'm sure my playing now suffers some.  I was very fortunate.  On my 15th birthday, my mother bought me a Stratocaster (74).  I still have it today (I usually don't trade guitars, I even still have the ovation).  I have always kept the strat by the couch, even today.  I would always play while watching tv, etc.  What I learned, I learned from playing with the records and with books. I was in bands during high school and college.  There was a time I wasn't playing that much, then the Bean came out and that got me back to playing... alot more.  It began my journey towards tweaking and really listening and learning about sounds, and even how technique can affect the sounds.  I went from the bean to the xt to the HD500x and now to the helix.  I'll spend hours most every night playing, tweaking, researching stuff.  You guys have been a great help in learning details about the effects I never knew.  

 

Getting to your question, it is an interesting one.  I believe like the other poster, there are many ways to get to the same end, and all of them are ok if that's what suits you.  In my case, I believe the technology helped me improve my playing as far as technique goes, because it made me more aware of it (or the lack of it).  Since I believe most of the tone is in the fingers (technique), I believe chasing tones now are helping my playing.  So, in my case, tech has helped me be a better player.

 

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On 1/14/2022 at 1:40 PM, amsdenj said:

One issue with modelers is how we learn to use them. It's often at low volumes with headphones or studio speakers, playing by ourselves. That has a tendency to encourage us to use too much gain/distortion, too many effects all run too wet - because it sounds so good and so controllable by itself. And we can do it while the kids are asleep.

 

However, when we get into a mix or live setup, all that distortion and wet effects turns into mush that nobody can hear against a real amp, bass and drums. I think we'll have better luck experimenting with modelers in the context of songs and rehearsal performances where we play in the context of the song, in a mix with others at gig volume. Modelers can do that, but usually don't if you set them up in your living room by yourself.

 

Regarding playing over gear, I think whatever floats you boat is fine and there's no need to put any value judgment on one over the other. 

 

 

I think this aspect is one of the biggest ones. I'm guessing most beginning guitar players who go for modelling practice, learn at bedroom levels. There is a different feel let alone all of the other things that's there and you do have to play a little bit differently when playing louder. Just muting strings that aren't being played is different.

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To me this is all a bunch of theoretical hand wringing. We all have a method and an approach, and there are advantages and disadvantages to all of them. 

 

No approach teaches you everything. This can be true about articulation as discussed above, but it gets far more nitty gritty and basic than even that - down to what type of guitar playing are you doing? Classic rhythm? Lead guitar for a rock band? Flamenco fingerstyle? Acoustic vs. electric?

 

I had to realize long ago that part of the joy of guitar was also the bane for me. When I finally keel over and die, despite my very best efforts, there will be a lot of things I never got close to being good at, let alone mastering the stuff I was decent at. 

 

With all of that said though - I think in terms of tools and the abiilty to learn this is the VERY BEST day and age to be a guitar player. Modelers, training programs like Yousician, youtube instructional videos, traditional teachers, a ridiculous number of books . . . this is the BEST day and age to try and figure it all out. Over all it's a boon - not a bane. 

 

Here's what I think would happen in the orginal scenario. Beginner loves guitar. They indirectly realize they love amps - they see the price of it all can get into the stratosphere and they might even buy something big and realize they hate it. So after tons of research they throw all in on an HX Stomp and learn how to use it at bedroom levels through headphones. They get pretty solid on that setup and their technique relative to that setup is pretty good. 

 

Then one day they realize they want something bigger. A few friends want to start a band. This hypothetical person decides they want in, makes some additional amplification purchases and a few extra pedals, and they try to play together - and they realize they suck for a myriad of reasons. They never played with another person so their timing is off, and they never even considered a metronome when they practiced. They don't know how to balance the sound of the guitar against the bass, or the drums, or hell one of their members is a Jethro Tull fan and is packing a flute OMFG the challenges  . . .

 

Okay. So what? Every group that gets together for the FIRST time - modeler or no modeler sucks lollipop. That's life. This hypothetical person is still a better guitar player than anyone who has just started, and they're facing the same challenge every first time group experiences - do they stick it out and figure out how to readjust for group playing and spend the time to learn that? Or do they quit? It's always the same challenge. The modeler is irrelevant. If they carry on and get good - awesome - a whole new level develops. If they decide they'd rather go back to their bedroom playing - no big deal. There's no shame in that. My best work will always be sitting alone in a corner when no one is paying attention. I wouldn't trade those moments for anything, but group playing is fun too! I love them both. 

 

The biggest downside to this age is there are far more distractions than there have ever been before. Are you going to work on getting that riff right? Or are you going to netflix 8 seasons of the latest craze? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the latter - but it will pull away from the former. 

 

We only have so much time until we die. The harder stuff brings the most joy, but it's the harder stuff. 

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