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and why are they so important in shaping tone.

Craig Anderton

The magic word for all guitar multieffects is equalization. 1 I strongly advise adding the standard tone secret of the masters, recommended twice in the Boss fx booklet:

you need pre-distortion EQ.

You have post-dist eq, in the amp tone knobs, and in the dist-pedal tone controls (Real Tube). However, this secret includes the knowledge that you really need a *quiet* eq here -- a rack eq, to tell the truth. I have the highest respect for putting a *parametric* rack eq before preamp dist. That is true mastery of preamp distortion voicing. We're talking Basic Tone, here, to which all else is mere footnotes. Even if a noisy pedal, priceless tone lessons by experimenting with this. Same as switching pickup response curves. EQ is the least understood "effect".

People buy every effect and ignore the only one that really concerns Basic Tone (if used right). They assume that because they have some tone knobs somewhere in their rig, they can afford to avoid this "redundant pedal" -- they could not be more mistaken! EQ is the *first* and most mandatory pedal you can buy, though the lost masses assume EQ is the last and most optional pedal you can buy. I advise new guitarists who have just bought a guitar and amp -- the very first pedal to buy is an EQ pedal. 2 People ask me for settings all the time. I have found that lately, I really only have one main piece of advice: pre-dist eq -- it is the answer, the secret of the masters. People try "everything" to dial in good distortion tone, even with a cranked tube amp, and then finally ask me for the magic settings -- turns out, they never tried pre-dist eq.

John Murphy of True Image Audio ( Earlier with Carvin Corp.) "As far as other characteristics of tube guitar amps are concerned, I have found that the pre-clipping frequency equalization and post-clipping EQ are absolutely critical adjustments.

Once you have a well-behaved clipper-even if it's just simple diodes, as in the stomp boxes-it is the precise combination of pre- and post-clipping EQ that mostly determines how an amp sounds. The 'secret' of the best sounding guitar amps lies in the pre-clipping EQ response curve."

Boss Guitar Effects Guide Book Equalization adds a new dimension to Guitar solos. When you use an equalizer unit before a distortion, connecting another equalizer after the distortion unit lets you add emphasis to certain frequencies to make solos "cut through.


Boosting at around 80-120Hz gives a low-end weight, such as in The Beatles' 'Yesterday', whereas the sound gets more of a boom to it a little higher at 200-300Hz, as in Nirvana's' 'Polly'. This latter song is also a good example of boost in the 2-5kHz range, which is good for clarity in rhythm guitars as it brings out the strumming. The 1-1.5kHz area, prominent in The Jam's 'That's Entertainment', can tend to sound a little nasal, while the 5-10kHz range emphasises the jangle or sparkle of steel-strung guitars in particular, Natalie Imbruglia's 'Torn' being a notable example.


Electric guitars are rather a law unto themselves, as their tonal balance varies so drastically from style to style. However, there are a few general principles to bear in mind. The first is that there will be little other than hum and noise below the guitar's fundamental frequency, so it's often worth filtering below about 80Hz. However, most guitar sounds can be warmed up with a boost at around 125-250Hz, as you can hear from the guitars in Metallica's 'Enter Sandman'.

The other main thing to take into account is that the frequency response of most guitar speaker cabinets rolls off pretty steeply above 4kHz, and so your best choice for emphasising the crispness and attack of guitar sounds is a boost at 3-5kHz -- frequencies to the fore in Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B Goode', for example. Any boost well above this is likely to increase only noise levels, so if you want an even more cutting lead sound, such as that in Guns & Roses 'Sweet Child Of Mine', you might consider using a psychoacoustic enhancer as well.


Basses get most of their weight from the 80-100Hz region, and pop ballads such as Shania Twain's 'Still The One' will usually pack a punch in this range. For a more overtly warm sound, the 100-300Hz region can be boosted. Extreme examples of this quality include the electric bass parts in The Beatles 'Come Together' and Bob Marley's 'I Shot The Sheriff', as well a the upright bass in Ben E King's 'Stand By Me'.

Greater attack, though not without a little boxiness, is available at around 500-1500Hz. The Temptations 'Papa Was A Rolling Stone' and The Strangler's 'Peaches' exemplify boost in this region for fretted bass, while Paul Simon's 'Graceland' and The Cure's 'Lovecats' show it off on fretless and upright basses respectively. A more jangly sound with emphasis on string and fret noise, such as in Nirvana's 'Lounge Act' or the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Give It Away', can be found by boosting between about 2 and 5kHz. A high shelving boost above about 2kHz might be more suitable if you're after string noise and an airy tone with upright bass parts, though, as in Lou Reed's 'Walk On The Wild Side'.

1. Increase to add more fullness to lowest frequency instruments like foot, floor tom, and the bass.
2. Reduce to decrease the "boom" of the bass and will increase overtones and the recognition of bass line in the mix. This is most often used on loud bass lines like rock.

1. Increase to add a harder bass sound to lowest frequency instruments.
2. Increase to add fullness to guitars, snare.
3. Increase to add warmth to piano and horns.
4. Reduce to remove boom on guitars & increase clarity.

1. Increase to add fullness to vocals.
2. Increase to add fullness to snare and guitar ( harder sound ).
3. Reduce to decrease muddiness of vocals or mid-range instruments.
4. Reduce to decrease gong sound of cymbals.

1. Increase to add clarity to bass lines especially when speakers are at low volume.
2. Reduce to decrease "cardboard" sound of lower drums (foot and toms).
3. Reduce to decrease ambiance on cymbals.

1. Increase for clarity and "punch" of bass.
2. Reduce to remove "cheap" sound of guitars.

1. Increase for "clarity" and "pluck" of bass.
2. Reduce to remove dullness of guitars.

1. Increase for more "pluck" of bass.
2. Increase for more attack of electric / acoustic guitar.
3. Increase for more attack on low piano parts.
4. Increase for more clarity / hardness on voice.
5. Reduce to increase breathy, soft sound on background vocals.
6. Reduce to disguise out-of-tune vocals / guitars.

1. Increase for vocal presence.
2. Increase low frequency drum attack ( foot / toms).
3. Increase for more "finger sound" on bass.
4. Increase attack of piano, acoustic guitar and brightness on guitars (especially rock guitars).
5. Reduce to make background parts more distant.
6. Reduce to soften "thin" guitar.

1. Increase to add attack on low frequency drums ( more metallic sound ).
2. Increase to add attack to percussion instruments.
3. Increase on dull singer.
4. Increase for more "finger sound" on acoustic bass.
5. Reduce to decrease "s" sound on singers.
6. Increase to add sharpness to synthesizers, rock guitars, acoustic guitar and piano.

1. Increase to brighten vocals.
2. Increase for "light brightness" in acoustic guitar and piano.
3. Increase for hardness on cymbals.
4. Reduce to decrease "s" sound on singers.

The CM Guide to EQ
Try boosting around 60Hz to add more body. Any apparent muddiness can be rolled off around 300Hz.If more presence is needed, boost around 6kHz.

Frequency Effect
50-100Hz Adds bottom end
100-250Hz Adds roundness
250-800Hz Muddiness Area
800-1kHz Adds beef to small speakers
1-6kHz Adds presence
6-8kHz Adds high-end presence
8-12kHz Adds hiss

Electric guitars Again this depends on the mix and the recording. Apply either cut or boost around 300hz, depending on the song and sound. Try boosting around 3kHz to add some edge to the sound, or cut to add some transparency. Try boosting around 6kHz to add presence. Try boosting around 10kHz to add brightness.

Frequency Effect
100-250Hz Adds body
250-800Hz Muddiness area
1-6Khz Cuts through the mix
6-8kHz Adds clarity
8=12kHz Adds hiss

Acoustic guitar
Any apparent muddiness can be rolled off between 100-300Hz. Apply small amounts of cut around 1-3kHz to push the image higher. Apply small amounts of boost around 5kHz to add some presence.

Frequency Effect
100-250Hz Adds body
6-8kHz Adds clarity
8-12kHz Adds brightness

These depend entirely on the mix and the sound used.

Frequency Effect
50-100Hz Adds bottom end
100-250Hz Adds body
250-800Hz Muddiness area
1-6hHz Sounds crunchy
6-8kHz Adds clarity
8-12kHz Adds brightness


Did you know : The DigiTech GNX3000 has 13 equaliser bands. X-Edit and the front panel allows access to only three of these equaliser bands. MEGS® gives you access to all 13 equalizers, allowing you to use the hardware to the very max !!
Today MEGS® is the only Amplifier Model Analysis software that allows us direct access to both the Pre-Distortion and Post-Distortion Equalizers built into a DigiTech GNX3000 MFX unit.

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