Not really. That headline is just designed to push buttons. I should name this like an article in a technical journal. On guitar tone and its use to achieve emotional response through technical progression and historical repetition. Okay, maybe not.
Still, here are five guitar sounds that really impressed me for some reason or another. There is no order here based in quality or chronology. This has no deeper meaning. It’s just for fun and the love of music and sound.
1. Wire – Raft Ants. Let’s just forget everything about guitar tone historically. Let take the tools we have at this point in time and see what we can invent. Oh, this sounds really harsh and fun. Wire – Raft Ants
2. Silkworm – Slow Hands. Sometimes I like my guitars to be guitars; classic, rock guitars. This is a great example of a really natural and talented player using a distorted amp, maybe a fuzz, and, most importantly, a volume knob. I usually don’t like guitar solos, but this has two that I find to be exceptional.
3. Slowdive – Celia’s Dream. I remember getting this album around the time it was released. I didn’t know guitars could do this. People were just re-assigning the place and sonic character of guitar in music. People were making textural music with guitars that was totally separated from the traditional, blues based origins of rock music. It excited me. I still enjoy this song even though it does sound a bit dated now.
4. Shellac – Wingwalker. I first discover Shellac when I went to see the band Tar in Muncie. For some reason Tar was opening for this band Shellac. Tar had been around for years, and this Shellac band seemed fairly new at the time. Oh, and is that guy playing guitar through a PA speaker? Holy balls, that sounds so wrong in the right way.
5. Low – Violence. The first time I heard this song was in my car in Indiana. A band from Minneapolis was in town and I was carting them around to get food. A member brought this CD and put it in my discman on the floor hooked up through a cassette tape adapter. I remember hearing the first few notes and being stunned. The tone was so rich and haunting.
It turned out to be very important. It led me to getting a Pro Reverb amp, which was very similar to the amp Alan from Low was using at the time. When I purchased that amp, I bought it broken knowing that I’d have to fix it up. That made me learn all about how tube amps worked, and that gave me the confidence to pursue music gear and gear repair as a career. Perhaps this is why I put so much weight into music. Music informs my decisions as a musician. Since I tend to be a DIY musician, I did as much work as I could for my own bands. This included recording, gear repair and choice, flyer and album graphics, web design, and quite a bit more. Many musical decisions required research and learning, which I found as thrilling as playing the music. The path of my life was cut using tools I developed by doing all the work necessary to be a DIY musician. I worked for internet companies, I worked as a recording engineer, I repaired gear, I did graphic work, and now I design software guitar amplifiers. It can all be traced back to, in part, chasing cool guitar sounds.