Musicians, it appears to be, have always wanted to change the sounds in their instruments. Over the course of centuries, strings have already been added to guitars for a fuller sound. The composition of people strings has evolved from animal gut to steel to plastic, each with their own unique sounds. Drummers have tried different shaped pots and kettles to the bodies of the instruments to get different timbres.
However with the arrival of electronics, the chances for tweaking the sound of one instrument exploded. And perhaps nobody has done more tweaking than electric guitarists.
Placed in his Bethel, Conn., workshop, pedal maker Mike Piera plugs in fuzz pedal and demonstrates such a fuzz box are capable of doing by playing component of Cream’s “Sunshine Of The Love.”
“With no pedal, you just kinda obtain a dead sound,” Piera says. “Pretty boring.”
The package makes the guitar sound fuzzy by distorting its sound. This really is something musicians are already intentionally seeking to do considering that the earliest events of amplification. Many credit the 1st deliberately distorted electric guitar to Johnny Burnette’s Rock ‘n Roll Trio in 1956.
Two years later, Link Wray claimed he’d stabbed an opening from the speaker of his amp as he challenged listeners to some “Rumble.”
Others said they got the sound by dislodging a tube in their amps. Then, in 1962, a Nashville engineer named Glen Snoddy invented the package that came into existence called the Maestro Fuzz-Tone, marketed by Gibson.
An ad for the Fuzz-Tone proclaims: “It’s mellow. It’s raucous. It’s tender. It’s raw. It’s the Maestro Fuzz-Tone. You will need to hear this totally different sound effect for your guitar to believe it!”
The concept was simple: multiple effects pedal into one, tap it with your foot, and presto, your sound goes from squeaky clean to downright dirty. Guitarist and historian Tom Wheeler says Keith Richards was after something very specific as he took the Fuzz-Tone to the top in the charts using the Rolling Stones.
“If you’re Keith Richards and you’re doing ‘Satisfaction,’ you can play that line on a clean guitar, but it just will not have that in-your-face, gnarly, dark quality which has so much attitude to it,” he says.
“I started dabbling by having an electric guitar at age 11 or 12, and the initial thing I wanted to perform was fiddle with fuzz,” Cline says.
Why? “To get away from the inherent sound of the guitar,” Cline says. “To change it, but in addition get back to it as i planned to by merely pushing on a button on the floor.”
To meet the growing interest in sonic manipulation, engineers started creating new effects, such as the wah-wah along with the talk box. For guitarists like Cline, the explosion allowed for greater experimentation.
“I began considering effects pedals as being like a palette with assorted colors – using delay, volume pedal, sometimes distortion yet not a great deal, in order to could be seen as a number of guitarists and several kinds of voices in the music,” Cline says.
Today, stores like New York’s Ludlow Guitars carry an ever-changing selection of effects pedals. Ludlow sells nearly thousands of varieties, which make up about half its overall sales. Co-owner Kaan Howell explains the enduring appeal.
“It’s all really situated in tradition, I find,” he says. “If you want rock ‘n’ roll, and also you just like the Ramones or perhaps you like Led Zeppelin, they don’t play clean. In order to emulate and 20dexkpky something over the same vein, you must start testing out effects pedals.”
Concurrently, Howell says, effects pedals also allow guitarists to experiment.
“It’s a real sort of playing rock guitar in trying to generate a sound,” Howell says. “The things you like will be just a little different than what other people like. And so when you do make time to try stuff, the sound you’ll create will likely be a bit better than things that are on the market.”