The Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone:
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
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
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 (Line 6 HX Effects) or an All-In-One Unit (Line 6 Helix, HD500X, Ax8, Kemper etc)
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.
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.
Best Multi-FX Options
Standalone Delay Pedals
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.
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.
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.
Alright, that covers two of the major effects for in Worship Music as far as guitar goes. I don't want to throw too much at you at once. So I'll go into more guitar effects in the next part. For now, make sure you understand the differences between Delay and Reverb. Watch the following youtube videos, and pick out your favorite pedals. See you in the next part.
Ambient Tone Overview
Big Sky vs Blue Sky
Boss Delay vs Strymon Delay
Frequently Asked Questions
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?
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)