If you’ve ever listened to classic rock radio or been in a bar during a cover band’s main set, you’ve definitely heard the song “Juke Box Hero” by Foreigner. It’s the classic tale of a boy and his superstar dreams of rocking out on stage with his trusty guitar strapped around his shoulder. Like Bad Company’s “Shooting Star” and even the Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” before it, “Juke Box Hero” captures the romanticized notion that all it takes to reach the top of the charts (and the center of the world’s collective heart) is a lot of determination and a reliable stringed instrument.
But if you’re a real musician, you know that’s not the whole story.
A guitar is great, but without anything to plug into, your chords are likely to sound as dull and flat as a buzzing fly. That’s why a serious musician (or even an aspiring one) can’t take his or her gear for granted. Finding the right tone is really a balance of amplification and effects work courtesy of pedals and stomp boxes. No idea where to start? That’s OK — we’ve got you covered.
While electric guitars tend to be the most common musical instruments for sale in rock shops, they’re nothing without a solid amp to help give them their bite. Throughout the 1960s, the period that spawned modern rock and roll as we know it, the go-to option for guitarists was a tube amp, which used vacuum tubes to achieve a louder, more raucous tone. Since then, however, newer technologies have allowed for breakthroughs in amplification more suitable to contemporary guitar sounds. No matter your playing style, the best way to choose an amp is to plug in directly and start playing.
Guitar Multi Effects Pedals
As important as amps are, they really have nothing on effects pedals in terms of creating the instrument’s full tonality. Tortuga effects, T-Rex, Pigtronix and other heavy-hitting names in the industry crank out pedals to help the guitar sound fuzzy and muddy (distortion), wet and reverberated (flange, echo, delay), grinding and thick (tremolo, overdrive) and plenty of other adjectives. Professionals use what’s called a pedalboard to keep all their effects linked up when they’re in the studio or on stage.
Other Rockin’ Accessories
In addition to killer amps, Tortuga effects pedals and the like, guitar players often load up on the little things in order to make their sound every bit as unique as their idols’. Thicker picks will give your chords a chunkier sound, capos will allow you to form chord shapes higher up on the neck and glass or metal slides will allow for a rustic, backwater, slinky tone — perfect for country, bluegrass or blues.
Whether you’re investing the best Tortuga effects pedals around or a simple bottleneck slide from your local guitar shop, it’s important to play around a bit in order to discover a sound you can call entirely your own. So, what are you waiting for? Plug in and start playing.