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The Seventh Son: Gear, Tone, and Tuning

 

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The Seventh Son

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The slide guitar on this song uses a muffled and almost jazzy tone that can be really fun to imitate. There are a million different ways they can have obtained this tone on the recording, but the easiest way to imitate it is by using your neck pickup and then rolling off some tone on your guitar. Tone controls generally respond differently on different guitars, so use your ears to find the sweet spot. If you can't seem to get it right, you can also try turning the tone control down a little bit on your guitar and then adjusting your amp until it sounds right. But as always you have to remember that it's more important to play the parts well- with great feel and lots of soul- rather than spending the time finding the perfect tone! I'll be using my Gibson 335 for this part, and I'll be running it through a modeled Fender Princeton amp with a tiny bit of reverb. I'll be on the neck pickup and I have the tone control rolled about halfway down. I'm using a ceramic slide, because it's a little more mellow sounding than the metal slide.

When it comes to open tunings in blues, there are really only two main tunings, the way I see it. There's the open G tuning, which has the 5th scale degree on the high E-string. This tuning is often tuned up a whole step to A, but it's the same basic tuning- only up a whole step.

The other common open tuning is the open E, which has the root note on the high E-string, and this is often tuned down to D. But again, it's the same basic tuning, just down a whole step. Then if you wanna use your open strings you generally wanna tune to the key of the song!

On this song you can hear that he has the high root note on top, so we know it's an open E-style tuning. We're in the key of F, so we could tune our open E- up a half step to F and be able to use the open strings. However this puts a lot of tension on the neck, and since we aren't using any open strings for the slide part we'll just leave it open E.

The rhythm guitar is a bit more bright sounding, so I'll use my telecaster with both the neck and the bridge pickup engaged- That's the middle setting on my 3-way pickup switch. I'll have no tone rolled off for this part, and I'll also be running this guitar through the modeled Fender Princeton amp.

Notice how different the two guitar tones are- one is dark, muffled and jazzy sounding, while the other one is more bright and present sounding. That way they compliment each other and don't get in the way of each other. That's very important to keep in mind when you play with other guitar players, no matter the context.