The Ultimate Guide To Worship Guitar Tone and Clean Guitar Tone

Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 4 Veritas-Portlander
Table of Content

Intro to the Guide to Worship Guitar Tone and Clean Guitar Tone:

This guide is meant for guitar players who are looking to better their guitar tone, through gear and the knowledge of how to combine the plethora of gear options out there, to get their ideal guitar tone. Since it is not easy to buy your way through several guitars, dozens of amps, and thousands of pedals…this guide can serve as a shortcut through the endless purchases, pedal returns, guitar center debt, and overall hassle of building a perfect rig.

This guide is broken into sections addressing guitar choice, amp choice, and the big one, guitar effects choices. I’ll explain guitar effects, what each effect does, and which effects you’ll need to build out a full, gorgeous guitar tone. This is a long guide, so bookmark it, because you’ll probably want to come back a time or two….or five.

Ultimate Guide to Worship Guiar Tone Part 1
Ultimate Guide to Worship Guiar Tone Part 1
Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part Veritas-MiniMaster
Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part Veritas-MiniMaster
Fender Offset (Jaguar, Jazzmaster) Worship
Fender Jazzmaster / Jaguar Offset Guitars
Veritas Portlander (Fender Telecaster Alternatives)
Veritas Portlander (Fender Telecaster Alternatives)
White Veritas Portlander (Telecaster) Worship Guitar
White Veritas Portlander (Telecaster) Worship Guitar

So you’ve played guitar for a while, and you know your way around the fretboard. Maybe you’ve even played in a few rock bands, so you know what kind of gear it takes. People know you play guitar.

But…

​After attending your local church a few times you find yourself being recruited by a Praise & Worship Team. They need an electric guitar player, and word around town is “You are the guy to go to.” So you give in. After all you love playing anytime, anywhere.

Later in the week, you find yourself at Worship Team Practice with all your gear in tow. A half stack, 4 guitars, 2 pedalboards, and all of your miscellaneous accessories. Pretty standard rig……..for a rock guitarist.​

Pretty soon you are blowing the teams’ hair back with your half stack on this otherwise quiet or silent stage. The sound guy is losing his cool, and you have no idea why.

If this is you, do not fret. I get it. Five years ago, this was what I encountered. Its normal. It won’t be long, perhaps its even now, that you are realizing….. you just discovered a whole new genre of guitar playing.

Here’s the Deal…

Worship Guitar Tone

​Praise & Worship Guitar fills in the guitar shaped space in a team, but it has different needs, different goals, different gear, and most importantly different tone. Lets talk about Praise & Worship Guitar Tone as it will encompass most of what you need to know.

The Big Picture

Praise & Worship Guitar has different needs, different goals, different gear, and most importantly different tone. Lets talk about Praise & Worship Guitar Tone as it will encompass most of what you need to know. The big picture.

What is “Worship Guitar Tone?”

Guitar Tone is a term guitar players use to describe the overall sound produced by a player’s choice of guitar, gear, and playing style.

 

It is the depth, character, texture, and emotional feeling encompassed in your sound. Tone is not accidental.

 

It is something you learn to sculpt and refine as you mature as a guitarist. Tone is everything in Worship Guitar.

It is VITAL.

ElevationWorshipGuitarRig.jpg
The Guitars, Amps, and Pedalboards for Elevation Worship’s Guitarists.
This is an ideal Worship Guitar Rig.

If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be. Its good that you are taking the time to do this properly. In the next part we will go over the specific gear you’ll want to consider, and talk about the iconic guitarists that unintentionally influenced the entire genre. Make sure to check out the next part. We’ll get into the nitty gritty of building your guitar rig.

​Keep rocking,

The Axe Dr.

  • 1. What is “Guitar Tone?”

     

    Guitar Tone is a term guitar players use to describe the overall sound produced by a player’s choice of guitar, gear, and playing style.

    It is the depth, character, texture, and emotional feeling encompassed in your sound. Tone is not accidental.

    It is something you learn to sculpt and refine as you mature as a guitarist. Tone is everything in Worship Guitar.

     

  • 2. What is “Worship Guitar”?

     

    “Worship Guitar” is a niche or style of guitar playing. Many churches have a Praise & Worship Team that leads the congregation in songs, almost like a live concert. There are usually two to three guitarists in any one team. (Along with Bass, Drums, Keyboard/Synth, Vocals, etc.)

     

  • 3. What is the best electric guitar for worship music?

     

    The short answer is, the one you like to play. However there is a short list of guitars that sound amazing and are particularly well suited to the Worship Genre.


    5. Gretsch Double Jet (w/ Bigsby)
    4. G&L Doheny or Fender Offset (Jaguar, Jazzmaster, Mustang)
    3. G&L ASAT or Fender Telecaster
    2. Veritas Mini Master
    1. Veritas Portlander (Used by all guitarists of Bethel Music)

Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 2:

Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone
Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone

Worship Guitar Tone...Specifically

Most of the guitarists playing for the biggest Worship Teams in the World (Bethel, Hillsong, Elevation Worship, Vertical Church Band) grew up listening to bands like U2. The guitarist for U2 “The Edge” is absolutely hands down the number one influence within this Genre

He really pioneered the popular use of Digital Delays and Big Reverb, the two most essential components to Worship Guitar Tone. Listening to U2’s discography will go a long way in preparing you for whats to come.

The Edge and Bono performing in Belfast on Nov 19 2015 scaled
The Edge U2 Guitarist (Early Adopter of Digital Delay)

Another great example for this heavy delay and reverb type of sound, surprisingly so, is Tom Delonge of Angels & Airwaves (former frontman for Blink 182). This frontman/guitarist did not influenced the Worship Genre, but I bring him up because he most definitely influenced tens of thousands of guitar players from my generation. Delonge is an excellent example of how Guitar Effects can completely alter your Guitar Tone.

Guitar Tone
Tom Delonge started experimenting with digital delays and reverbs after Blink 182 went on Hiatus. His Guitar Tone changed dramatically with the introduction of effects pedals.

Delonge went from Blink 182 Pop Punk Guitar Tone (barebones strat with one volume knob and a mesa boogie), to being one of the biggest users of digital guitar effects and signal processing. When Blink 182 went on Hiatus, he found himself experimenting with all manner of guitar effects, and it ultimately led to his signature sound in Angels & Airwaves. You can find out more about his person Pursuit of Tone here:

Feel like you’ve got a better idea of what type of tone we are going after here? Lets move onto how we go about building YOUR Guitar Tone. That starts with your choice of guitars.

The Guitars:

White Veritas Portlander (Telecaster) Worship Guitar
White Veritas Portlander (Telecaster) Worship Guitar
Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part Veritas-MiniMaster
Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part Veritas-MiniMaster

It starts with choosing or modifying the right guitar. If you aren’t 100% certain of the guitar you want, then go to a physical guitar shop. Play several guitars, unpluged. In my experience, if it sounds good unplugged, that tone will carry through when its amplified. You’ll need something capable of crisp clear clean tones to heavily overdriven lead tones. Most guys go for a humbucking Fender, Gretsch, or Duesenburg.

I’ve been following @VeritasGuitars for a long while. They are a boutique builder specializing in customized fender style guitars. The body shape of their Portlander like a telecaster, but a little bit thicker. Thats why I put in in the category of “Non-Fender Telecasters” or “Telecaster Alternatives”. 

Their Portlander has become a staple in the boutique guitar world, and rightly so. Lead Guitar Players from Bethel Music have pretty much made Veritas their exclusive choice.

Specific artists include Michael Pope, David Hislop, and Bobby Strand (Bethel Music). Not just Bethel either, there is Patrick Thompson(Rend Collective), and Chason Ford (Jesus Culture).

That has resulted in a plethora of young guitarists in the Worship Guitar realm to want these things. Who said Artist Endorsements don’t work? Not that these guys are officially sponsored by Veritas as far as I know. In all honesty I think its the quality of the guitar and word of mouth that is responsible for Veritas’ recent surge in popularity.

Worship Guitar Tone
Worship Guitar Tone

 I mean, just listen to the guitar tone in Bethel’s or Jesus Culture’s music…it’s pretty much EPIC, and not in the stupid millenial sense of the word, but truly epic, before that word was abused.

I think it has to be my favorite Telecaster Alternatives. They have positioned themselves as a higher end competitor to Fender, and the craftsmanship is blatenltly obvious from 50 feet away. Their Mini Master (Custom Fender style Jazzmaster/Jaguar) might be the best in the business. Its something special. Check them out.

They just recently came out with a pro line version which is right around $900. Whatever you choose, its gotta be something that can cut through the heavy mix of big worship team. I’ve done several guides devoted specifically to guitar choice.

The Amplification:

This can be tricky. Most churches nowadays are opting for a completely or mostly silent stage. Meaning no tube amps cranked to 11 blowin the hair back on the congregation. I know, it sucks. I’m right there with you.

You basically have three options.

1. The Silent Box

This is a great option if you want to keep your super loud tube amp. You basically build yourself an enclosed, sound proof box to house your amp. You then mic that into the sound system.

2. Very Low Wattage Tube Amp

Lots of guys opt for this. Just buying a low wattage tube amp like a Fender Blues Jr. which can drive the tubes at lower volumes.

3. Digital Amp Modelers:

This is my preferred method just based on convenience, control, and versatility. There are dozens if not hundreds of digital amp modelers out there. For more info check out my article on BEST PEDALBOARDS FOR WORSHIP GUITAR.

  • Kemper Profiler
  • Line 6 Helix LT
  • Fractal Audio Axe-FX III
  • Headrush
  • Atomic Amplifire 12
  • Boss GT 1000
  • Positive Grid BIAS Head Processor AMP
  • Line 6 POD HD500x

There are many ways to use these modelers. Here are a few configurations I’ve personally used.

Stereo XLR Outs Direct to the House PA System. (Also using In Ear Monitors)

• Direct Out to Church Sound System In Combination with a Real Guitar Amp.

• Direct Out to an LRLR Powered Stage Monitor (Not Great for Tone)

Conclusion of Part 2:

Whatever you ultimately decide to start with, may not be what you eventually end up with. Your setup is hoing to evolve as your ear for tone does. Do’t allow indecision to slow down your growth. Just make an informed decision.

I hope this gave you a better understanding of the Guitars and Amps commonly used in Worship Guitar Tone. Now that we have thos straightened out, we can move onto the next phase. Guitar Effects. This is where things get really truly interesting. So please don’t miss it.

Keep Rockin’,

The Axe Dr.

Frequently Asked Questions Part 2:
  • What tube amps are best for Worship?

    Believe it or not, Amp Builders, even the bigger ones like Vox and Fender have come out with lines specifically for smaller, quiter venues like Worship Stages. For most Worship Guitarists, a low wattage tube amp around 15 to 30 Watts will be ideal.

  • What is Delay?

    In short, Delay is just a trailing echo or repeat of your guitar signal. It repeats whatever you play, and lets you pick the rhythm, for example: 1/4 notes, dotted 8th notes, or 16th notes etc. You set the tempo of the song via a tap tempo footswitch. You become a percussive force in your band.

  • What is "Worship Guitar"?

    “Worship Guitar” is a niche or style of guitar playing. Many churches have a Praise & Worship Team that leads the congregation in songs, almost like a live concert. There are usually two to three guitarists in any one team. (Along with Bass, Drums, Keyboard/Synth, Vocals, etc.)

  • What is the best electric guitar for worship music?

    The short answer is, the one you like to play. However there is a short list of guitars that sound amazing and are particularly well suited to the Worship Genre.

    5. Gretsch Double Jet (w/ Bigsby)
    4. G&L Doheny or Fender Offset (Jaguar, Jazzmaster, Mustang)
    3. G&L ASAT or Fender Telecaster
    2. Veritas Mini Master
    1. Veritas Portlander (Used by all guitarists of Bethel Music)

Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 3:

Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 3: Veritas-Mini-Master
Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 3:Veritas-Mini-Master

Guitar Effects

First off, lets address the whole single fx pedals vs multi fx pedals. Most people are bias toward one or the other, with no in between. The decision is based on the indivudual’s experiences and preferences. There is no wrong answer. People tend to stick with what they know. My first pedal was a Digitech RP5 Multi FX Processor, and so I’m inclined to to the Multi-FX route, but I would absolutely love to build a board from scratch.

Individual Guitar Effects Pedals

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If you’ve got a lot of time, a big budget, and you already know what fx you like, then building a custom pedalboard, one fx pedal at a time is likely going to yield a better guitar tone. You have ENDLESS options.

Multi-FX/Modelers & All in One Units

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If you’ve got a smaller budget, and not a lot of time to test individual fx, then you’ll probably want to go with a multi-fx pedal.

Good examples include: Line 6 HX Effects (For Multi-FX) or (Line 6 Helix, HD500X, Fractal Audio AX8, Kemper Profiler, etc (For All-In-One Units).

Delay ... LOTS of DELAY

If there is one effect you MUST have in Worship Guitar its Delay. This is the workhorse of any good Worship Guitar Rig. In fact, don’t be surprised if you never turn it off. Every song I’ve done in the genre requires at least one delay, if not two or three. Its an extremely fun effect that will turn your guitar into what sounds like a group of guitars.

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What is Delay?

 

In short, Delay is just a trailing echo or repeat of your guitar signal. It repeats whatever you play, and lets you pick the rhythm, for example: 1/4 notes, dotted 8th notes, or 16th notes etc. You set the tempo of the song via a tap tempo footswitch. You become a percussive force in your band.

 

By far the most used settings will be dotted 8th note, 1/4, and 8th notes. With multiple delay pedals (or a single dual delay pedal) you can use 2 rhythms at once….perhaps a dotted 8th in both ears, while bouncing a regular eight in just the right ear. The combinations are so fun to experiment with, and this effect will make you sound HUGE.

What are the best delay pedals?

Reverb ... LOTS of REVERB!

This is the 2nd most important effect in Worship Tone. It’s the main component in creating that airy, ambient sound just behind your guitar. When paired with delay, the result is huge ambient tone, but with a gentle, uplifting warmth. Its easy for a beginner to confuse Reverb with Delay. Think of it like this.

  • Delay is a repeating echo.

  • Reverb is the reflected sound of your guitar’s soundwaves bouncing off of the walls within a room, hall, cathedral, or cave.

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What is Reverb?

Fender.com defines Reverb like this:

“Reverb is created when soundwaves from any sound source reflect off surfaces in a room causing a large number of reflections to reach your ear so closely together that you can’t interpret them as individual delays.

The result is magnified in larger rooms where it appears that the sound continues after the source has stopped. The larger the room, the larger the potential reverb. Why would we want to replicate this effect? To alter or exaggerate the natural reverb of whatever room we are in.”

Finding a good Reverb in pedal form can be tricky. Historically speaking, the best Reverbs has always come in Amp form. (Builg into a tube amp.) Your choice of reverb pedal can make or break your tone, so do the research.

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Worship tone is unlike any other genre in this regard. The BIG reverb pedals of today can make your guitar sound like an organ or a synth. (Synths are “IN” right now) Your guitar becomes the most versatile, and relied upon instrument on your Worship Team. It can fill out an otherwise empty song, transforming it into one of your best songs.

 

This happened to me when our team decided to do “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong. There’s a break in the middle of the song where the voices fall away, and its just a piano and synth. Its the beginning to an amazingly powerful crescendo. But……. Our team doesn’t have a synth. So I stepped up, cranked my HD500X‘s “Octo Reverb” mix to 97/100, and it transformed that song for us immediately. It made the song.

I love the HD500X because it has that reverb, but its one of just two big ambient style reverbs on the unit . If you want more, and I’m suggesting that you will, have a look at some more options.

The golden standard for BIG, Airy Reverb has to be the Strymon BIG SKY. Anything by Strymon is worth its weight in gold. The Big Sky is a dedicated Reverb Pedal with 12 Studio Class Reverb Styles. It doean’t get any better, but its gonna set you back. A cheaper option would be Strymon’s Blue Sky Reverb Pedal.

HOMEWORK

Ambient Tone Overview

Big Sky vs Blue Sky

Boss Delay vs Strymon Delay

Frequently Asked Questions Part 3:
  • What is Delay?

    In short, Delay is just a trailing echo or repeat of your guitar signal. It repeats whatever you play, and lets you pick the rhythm, for example: 1/4 notes, dotted 8th notes, or 16th notes etc. You set the tempo of the song via a tap tempo footswitch. You become a percussive force in your band.

  • What is Reverb?

    Fender.com defines Reverb like this:
    “Reverb is created when soundwaves from any sound source reflect off surfaces in a room causing a large number of reflections to reach your ear so closely together that you can’t interpret them as individual delays.

    The result is magnified in larger rooms where it appears that the sound continues after the source has stopped. The larger the room, the larger the potential reverb. Why would we want to replicate this effect? To alter or exaggerate the natural reverb of whatever room we are in.”

  • What is "Worship Guitar"?

    “Worship Guitar” is a niche or style of guitar playing. Many churches have a Praise & Worship Team that leads the congregation in songs, almost like a live concert. There are usually two to three guitarists in any one team. (Along with Bass, Drums, Keyboard/Synth, Vocals, etc.)

  • What is the best electric guitar for worship music?

    The short answer is, the one you like to play. However there is a short list of guitars that sound amazing and are particularly well suited to the Worship Genre.


    5. Gretsch Double Jet (w/ Bigsby)
    4. G&L Doheny or Fender Offset (Jaguar, Jazzmaster, Mustang)
    3. G&L ASAT or Fender Telecaster
    2. Veritas Mini Master
    1. Veritas Portlander (Used by all guitarists of Bethel Music)

Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 4:

Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 4 Veritas-Portlander
Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 4 Veritas-Portlander

Overdrive & Distortion

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Overdrive/Distortion Pedals are responsible for one thing. Making your amp sound like it is on full blast, therefore causing your tone to distort/break up. With the advent of amp attenuators though, you can do this without the pedal, and without blowing your audience away.

I do not like to use overdrive/dist pedals for this unless its absolutely necessary. They are just a cheap imitation when compared to the real deal. I much prefer getting my distortion straight from the amp.

Worship Guitar tone doesn’t get too heavy, but it still uses drive and distortion. Some guys like to to add overdrive in stages( gain staging) one pedal at a time. This way you get a layering effect of overdrive tones starting with slightly dirty, working your way up to fully overdriven, higher gain lead tone.

Personally, since I use the HD500X, my DSP(digital signal processor) power is limited, and gain staging takes up too much space. Plus I can get way better high gain tones just by using the amp models drive settings. If you have a solid state amp, you’ll already have a built in attenuator, so distortion is readily available.

Volume/EXP Pedals

Volume Pedals

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Volume pedals not only give you a floor level volume control, but they can also be used for something called a “swell”. I believe the “Swell” technique was borrowed from lap steel/steel guitar players.

You basically strum a triad or single note with the volume off, then quickly rock the volume pedal forward. This results in a swell of sound without the attack of the guitar pick. Another way to make your guitar not sound like a guitar. This is a vital part of the Worship Guitar Tone.

EXP (Expression) Pedals

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EXP pedals are similar to Volume pedals, but can control any parameter of any effect you have (including volume). They can only be used with equipment (pedalboards) specifically designed for them.

EXP or Expression pedals can be programmed to control Amp Gain, Reverb Decay, Volume, Wah, Delay Timing, and the list goes on. These are mostly used in conjunction with a multi-fx pedalboard or amp modelers.

Compression Pedals

Wampler Ego Compressor V2 Guitar Effects Pedal

 

JHS Whitey Tighty Compressor Guitar Effects Pedal

Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer Pedal

 

What is Compression?

Guitar Compressor Pedals squeeze your guitar signal. It limits the frequencies of your signal, and adds sustain so your notes ring out much longer. Comp pedals can enhance your clean tone greatly, and I use them myself. That being said,  if you don’t have a big budget don’t worry. I have not found them to be absolutely essential. Thats why comps are so far down this list.

If you still aren’t sure about the concept of compression, and what it does for your guitar tone, here is a better explaination from Scott Marquart of Stringjoy.com.

Compression is a subtle effect, especially when compared to a distortion, delay, or a phase shifter—which is often why it gets overlooked, especially by beginner or intermediate guitarists. Nevertheless, a compressor pedal, when used properly, can shape and enhance your guitar tone in some rather significant ways. Today, we’re going to look into what a compressor pedal can do for your guitar.

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A more balanced sound, a beefy tone, and more sustain are what makes compressor pedals appealing to guitarists. Compression is used in the recording studio to control the dynamics and overall level of the audio signal. Sound engineers use it to make the louder parts of audio signals quieter and the quiet parts louder, resulting in a more balanced sound. In addition to balancing the sound, compression fattens up the tone and provides more sustain—and if you’re like most guitarists, both of those things sound pretty great…

Do you really need all of these individual effects?

All of these fx pedals are great, if you can afford them. It can take a long time to piece together your ideal pedalboard one purchase at a time. Sometimes I find it’s simpler to go with a multi-effect unit. So, if you’ve got a smaller budget, and not a lot of time to test individual fx, then you’ll probably want to go with a multi-fx pedal.

Good examples include: Line 6 HX Effects (For Multi-FX) or (Line 6 Helix, HD500X, Fractal Audio AX8, Kemper Profiler, etc (For All-In-One Units).

HOMEWORK

Distortion & Drive Pedals

Overdrive Flavors

Volume & Expression Pedals

Compression Pedals

Frequently Asked Question Part 4:

  • What is a Distortion or Overdrive Pedal?

    Overdrive/Distortion Pedals are responsible for one thing. Making your amp sound like it is on full blast, therefore causing your tone to distort/break up. With the advent of amp attenuators though, you can do this without the pedal, and without blowing your audience away.

  • What is an EXP Pedal?

    EXP pedals are similar to Volume pedals, but can control any parameter of any effect you have (including volume). They can only be used with equipment (pedalboards) specifically designed for them.

    EXP or Expression pedals can be programmed to control Amp Gain, Reverb Decay, Volume, Wah, Delay Timing, and the list goes on. These are mostly used in conjunction with a multi-fx pedalboard or amp modelers.

  • What is a Compression Pedal?

    Guitar Compressor Pedals squeeze your guitar signal. It limits the frequencies of your signal, and adds sustain so your notes ring out much longer. Comp pedals can enhance your guitar tone greatly, and I use them myself. That being said,  if you don't have a big budget don't worry. I have not found them to be absolutely essential. Thats why comps are so far down this list.

  • What is "Worship Guitar"?

    “Worship Guitar” is a niche or style of guitar playing. Many churches have a Praise & Worship Team that leads the congregation in songs, almost like a live concert. There are usually two to three guitarists in any one team. (Along with Bass, Drums, Keyboard/Synth, Vocals, etc.)

  • What is the best electric guitar for worship music?

    The short answer is, the one you like to play. However there is a short list of guitars that sound amazing and are particularly well suited to the Worship Genre.


    5. Gretsch Double Jet (w/ Bigsby)
    4. G&L Doheny or Fender Offset (Jaguar, Jazzmaster, Mustang)
    3. G&L ASAT or Fender Telecaster
    2. Veritas Mini Master
    1. Veritas Portlander (Used by all guitarists of Bethel Music)

Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 5:
Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 5:

Modulation Pedals

What are Modulation Pedals?

Modulation is a broad categorical term covering a group of effects. There are many different forms of Modulation Pedals such as Tremolo, Chorus, Phaser, Vibrato, Flanger, Frequency Shifters, Panners, Rotary Drums, and Ring Modulators.

Individual Mod Pedals will set you back. If you aren’t 100% sure which mod type you are going to like, I suggest getting a pedal that covers all the different modulation effects. The BOSS Modulation Guitar Pedal (MD-500)  is a great choice for many modulation effects in one unit.

Another possiblity would be the Eventide ModFactor Modulation Pedal. Eventide is a widely used pedal brand in the Worship Guitar genre. They are well known for their Eventide H9 Harmonizer/Delay Pedal and the Eventide TimeFactor Twin Delay Pedal

These are easily overlooked effects that can really add that last bit of sparkle to your tone. The key is to use them tastefully so that the effect doesn’t overtake your entire tone profile. If you were to add a Chorus pedal to your chain, and leave it on at 100% your tone is going to sound like an 1980’s Eddie Van Halen song. However turning the mix down to 5 or 10% can add an extra layer of texture to your tone without being overbearing.

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Pitch Vibrato: My Favorite Mod

I’ve found pitch vibrato at the front of my signal chain, right before the amp makes a world of difference to my clean tone. Think of the way a singer holds out a single note. Do they stay on that note exactly, or do they bend it ever so slightly up and down? Thats what a good pitch vibrato does to a guitar signal (single notes or full chords). 

 

With the pitch vibrato you may find that it colors your overdrive/distortion tone too much in the higher frequencies. I prefer to turn it off for driven guitar parts during solos or leads.

 

A very plain sounding clean tone can be transformed by the right mod effect. The only way to truly get the perfect Modulation for your tone is by trying every sub-category. Its very hard to explain what each one does, and have it make any sense in terms of YOUR TONE. I would highly recommend talking to friends or mentors in the Worship Guitar Scene to find out which ones they prefer.

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Boost Pedals

What Exactly is a "Boost Pedal"?

A boost pedal in simple terms, is a guitar effects pedal that “boosts” your volume. Now, it can be much more than that, but for explaination’s sake it is a pedal that lead guitarists use to increase their volume (and/or gain) during solos or lead parts.

 

One commonly used and highly rated boost pedals is the TC Electronic Spark Booster Effects Pedal.

 
 

Boost Pedals can come in many forms, and aren’t necessarily confined to one pedal category. Some players might use a Compression Pedal as their boost. Others may use an Overdrive or Volume Pedal with a built in boost switch. It really depends on your budget and preferences. On my rig, I have an EXP Pedal dedicated to Boost on some songs, and Reverb Mix on other songs.

 

If you have the budget, and extra room on your pedalboard…then I say go for it! Get yourself a standalone boost pedal, because there is nothing worse than being in the middle of a solo and nobody can hear it. It happens.

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EQ Pedals

EQ (Equalizer) Pedals

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What is an EQ Pedal?

The term “EQ Pedal” is short for “Equalizer Pedal”. This type of pedal is used to adjust the low, middle, and high frequencies of your guitar signal. You are probably thinking “But isn’t that exactly what the low, mid, and high knobs on my amp do?”. And yes, you would be correct to think that. Let me explain.

Amplifiers almost always come with some type of equalizer knobs. Most commonly low, mid, and high knobs. The thing is…each of those individual knobs cover a broad spectrum of frequencies. You couldn’t adjust or dial out specific frequencies like 93 Hz or 1.1 kHz.

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You would have to be satisfied with adjusting the high and low knobs. I like to think of EQ pedals as a means to adjust the frequencies between the low and mid knobs, and between the mid and high knobs. That is exactly what they are meant to be used for.

EQ Pedals can be great for dialing in specific frequencies in the high, mid, and low ranges. It can beef up your tone, or thin it out if its too overwhelming. It can also filter out pesky squeals or hisses that annoy your ear. That being said, your amp or modelers already have a plethora of EQ controls built in. EQ pedals are a secondary concern, and not something you need to buy when just building out your new rig.

Amplifiers almost always come with some type of equalizer knobs. Most commonly low, mid, and high knobs. The thing is…each of those individual knobs cover a broad spectrum of frequencies. You couldn’t adjust or dial out specific frequencies like 93 Hz or 1.1 kHz.

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Noise Gates

What is a Noise Gate?

A noise gate pedal is basically what it sounds like it is. It is a gate that stops annoying hiss, hum, and feedback from carrying over from your guitar to your amp. Single coil guitars are infamous for the 60 cycle hum they produce. A noise gate filters that out.

 

You know how when you turn up your gain or distortion, you get a loud hissing or scratching when you stop playing? Thats when you know that you need a noise gate. There a regular noise gates, hard gates, distortion pedals w/ built-in gates, noise suppressors, and the list goes on.

For the standard Worship Guitar Rig, a simple run of the mill noise gate pedal will do the trick. There are a plethora available, as with all guitar pedals, but if it were me I would go with the MXR M-135 Smart Gate Noise Gate Pedal.  

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Conclusion

I hope this was informative, and at least a bit helpful. The main thing to keep in mind, is that this is a process. Good tone takes time. You will experience disappointment. You will experience elation. You will learn a great deal, and you will achieve tonal maturity…eventually.

There will be a point when your rig feels complete, and then it won’t. Thus the quest for perfect tone continues. Thats guitar, and you chose it. In the end, it is worth it.

If you have questions or need advice you can contact me directly at [email protected] .

Sincerely,

The Axe Dr.

HOMEWORK

Single Mod vs Multi-Mod Pedals

Know Your Tone: Worship Guitar Tone Basics

Noise Gate vs Noise Suppressor

Frequently Asked Question Part 5:
  • What are Modulation Pedals?

    Modulation is a broad categorical term covering a group of effects. There are many different forms of Modulation Pedals such as Tremolo, Chorus, Phaser, Vibrato, Flanger, Frequency Shifters, Panners, Rotary Drums, and Ring Modulators.

  • What is a "Boost Pedal"?

    A boost pedal in simple terms, is a guitar effects pedal that "boosts" your volume. Now, it can be much more than that, but for explaination's sake it is a pedal that lead guitarists use to increase their volume (and/or gain) during solos or lead parts.

    One commonly used and highly rated boost pedals is the TC Electronic Spark Booster Effects Pedal.

  • What is an EQ (Equalizer) Pedal?

    The term "EQ Pedal" is short for "Equalizer Pedal". This type of pedal is used to adjust the low, middle, and high frequencies of your guitar signal. You are probably thinking "But isn't that exactly what the low, mid, and high knobs on my amp do?". And yes, you would be correct to think that. Let me explain.

    Amplifiers almost always come with some type of equalizer knobs. Most commonly low, mid, and high knobs. The thing is...each of those individual knobs cover a broad spectrum of frequencies. You couldn't adjust or dial out specific frequencies like 93 Hz or 1.1 kHz.

  • What is a Noise Gate?

    A noise gate pedal is basically what it sounds like it is. It is a gate that stops annoying hiss, hum, and feedback from carrying over from your guitar to your amp. Single coil guitars are infamous for the 60 cycle hum they produce. A noise gate filters that out.

     

    You know how when you turn up your gain or distortion, you get a loud hissing or scratching when you stop playing? Thats when you know that you need a noise gate. There a regular noise gates, hard gates, distortion pedals w/ built-in gates, noise suppressors, and the list goes on.

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