What’s up Fusik fans! Today I’d like to share my love and life long quest for great guitar tone. Those warm, vintage, snappy guitar lines renowned in such tracks like “Sex Machine” and “Give it up, Turn it Loose” by James Brown and the JB’s…or how about the fuzzy, swirly sweetness of Issac Hayes on the classic track “Hung Up On My Baby”…or the Isley Brothers masterpiece “Who’s That Lady?”…UGH! The list goes on and on!! Each of those wonderful recorded tones, from clean to distorted, have left an imprint of color, if you will, in every Fusik members’ palette. (ask Chip about some classic organ/synth tones…he knows some GEMS!). Chasing or emulating those tones whenever we cover ANY artists’ song is the best way to give homage to the artist, and to truly FEEL how it’s supposed to fit. The most rewarding part is using these tones in our own songs, adding that touch of familiarity and funk that we all love!
So in my playing career, like every guitarist, I’ve gone through my share of trial and error…good amps and crappy amps…playing too noisy…playing too soft (more of the former lol )… I’m happy to say, I’ve learned what the basics are for having simple, effective and versatile funk guitar performing tones:
1) Nice CLEAN amp : Funk guitar is primarily a rhythm style, meaning you are riding with the percussion and bass..lots of sound when you’re all together, so to stay heard, CLEAN guitar (remember James Brown!) strokes will get the funk engine rolling smooth….
2) “Bom Chicka Wah Wah”…enter the WAH WAH pedal. The most effective tool for guitarists IMHO..the wah pedal simply moves the sound envelope from bassy, woofy tones to sharp, trebly tones within the sweep of your foot..Curtis Mayfield was a MASTER of sounding oh-so-sweet with the wah, as well as practically ever guitarist from the early-mid Seventies…Wah is the retro cool sound that NEVER fails to get bootys movin.
3) One…I’ll say it again…O-N-E good fuzz/distortion pedal: Now this sounds strange coming from me if you’ve ever seen my pedal board antics live (and if you haven’t, then shame on YOU!) but in all honesty, I use one distortion pedal (a BOSS Blues Driver, and still recommend it regardless of your playing level) and a Jimi Hendrix Wah pedal for about 6 years with out fail! I mention Hendrix, because he is one dude that left an EVERLASTING imprint on guitar using a Fuzz Face Pedal and Wah on all his work, and if you need a testament of his funkiness, I suggest the “Band of Gypsies” era of his work “Changes” …Jimi, along with countless other guitarists, showed distortion can be a beautiful thing in contrast to clean rhythm guitar….and every guitarist needs to SOLO right?!?!
My pedal board circa 2010. Notice the “Boss Blues Driver” on the left and the Wah pedal on the right!
Well gang, hope you enjoyed my insight into the fun world of guitar tone. I’d love to hear your comments and experiences too! I’ll be sure to post some sound clips and more pictures of my guitar setup in the near future….Bless!!!