Yes, I've had my fun being critical of those who have made certain sound and equipment choices. Hey, I like the sound of a telecaster, and there's something very nice about the sound of an AC30. But what I've got, I've got. I have a very nice old Gibson SG. I have a 50W amp that sounds like a JTM45, saggy and smooth, not chimey, and with that sound when the volume knob is twisted past noon. But I don't put it there in church. When I play, it sounds more like Steve Cropper than it does like Edge, or Nigel H. I've practiced for a very long time to sound like that. I prefer to sound like that. If I want to sound like the CD, friends, I'll be looking for a different CD. Did you know it's possible to play "Blessed be your Name" as an R&B number? So what do you do to accommodate the differences between what you've got, what you are good at, and the songs that you play? I'm not asking you to recommend equipment upgrades to me. I've read article after article about what equipment and effects are indispensible to the worship guitarist and I've dispensed with most of it. I've got what I've got and I'm thankful for what I've got, and I like what I've got. Contentment. So when you play songs with your worship team, what makes you sound unlike all others?

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Bravo for not being like the CD and especially for not copping the Edge sound - a sound that is totally overdone. I was browsing through CCLI on their "new live" section where you watch praise bands do different songs and EVERY guitar player was completely uninspired - they were all copping Edge. So sounding like Steve Cropper is a great thing.

My sound has evolved into a "big voice" kind of thing. Gretsch 6119 into Virbrolux Reverb type amp. I use some compression and at times eq it to shift the curve a little. It's very Brian Setzer-like but still with my own sound and technique. This being said, I only use electric guitar on 30% of our songs. And at times, I play the Stratocaster or the Guild Starfire. But in every case, the theme is "big voice".

Sound just like the CD? NO WAY! It's our interpretation based on who and what we've got. It's our voice and our sound, not Casting Crowns' sound. And our band builds on each other.

Well, it's 75% in the hands, 10% in the equipment and the other half is the room acoustics.

A big thing with the TS is that it should be used to hit the pre-amp harder, rather than providing all the drive itself. That doesn't work too well unless you're already cranking fairly hard, and for many churches that would be above acceptable volume levels. My Jekyll & Hyde has a TS clone for the Jekyll side, and that's a nice tone for live work, being crunchy and responsive to the player.

Having both my electric bass and my electric guitar tuned in 4ths from D to Eb (ie. an octave apart and with the guitar starting a tone down from standard tuning) probably helps me in that respect. It means that I get a different set of open strings to play with and also that I can't fall back on the same chord voicings as most people use on the higher strings; balanced against that, I just have to find the starting note for a lick and can transfer it anywhere on the neck where I've got enough strings without worrying about that major third string skip breaking the pattern.

I'm not at all sure my poor guitarists brain could cope with that!

It does take some work. I started on the six string bass, already tuned in 4ths. In effect it was like putting a capo on the third fret and it took me quite a while to get back to my (relatively rudimentary) level of sight reading. It also led to a couple of crashes when I started songs on the wrong string and ended up in such a different key I had to stop and start again. However I overcame the issues and now benefit from a range that suits the music I find myself playing (the lowest three notes on the B string hardly got used previously).

With that background (and also with the fact that I do quite a bit of chordal playing on the bass), it was a relatively straighforward to decide to do the same thing when I got the electric guitar. There are also a fair handful of dyed-in-the-wool guitarists who've ended up making the same choice so it isn't only a bass brain thing but, to be fair, it is a less usual choice.

Also, of course, it is free to try - just think of it as another alternative tuning (I've been experimenting with those too on my acoustic guitar - yet another way of making the most of what you've got).

I have done the experimental tuning thing, but got bored quickly - it's something I'd see as a sonic effect, rather than a way of opening new possibilities. That's probably a sign I never understood musically what was happening, though that's probably more or less true for all my playing.

I've never seen anyone use that exact tuning concept. Is there someone else in Guitar world who does this? I know that Albert King used wacky tunings at times as well as Keef. And the most splendid example was Michael Hedges. 

Do you use Facebook? If so, there is a very active 4ths tuning group on there:

I first heard of it in connection with Deidre Cartwright (British jazz guitarist) although I don't have facts and figures on whether she still uses it but it does tend to appeal more to the jazzy end of the spectrum (cue my entry from a jazzy approach to bass playing).

There are plenty of fantastic open tunings (open G - D G D G B D is one of my present favourites). The challenge in a worship setting is not letting them tempt you to twist the melody so much that others struggle to sing along. However it is an easy way of making a solo acoustic guitar sound so much fuller than standard chords in standard tuning.

However it is an easy way of making a solo acoustic guitar sound so much fuller than standard chords in standard tuning.


One of the things that makes me differ from the CDs is that I'm a lot like Keef (funny seeing that Rolling Stones spammer on the front page) in that although I'm the guitar player, I'm inclined to be the drummer too. Rhythm guitar is very easy and natural for me, and because I've often played without a drummer I tend to take over that side of things quite strongly.

Tone-wise, if I'm clean I like a lot of compression, a little reverb and chorus too, and just a hint of drive. If that sounds like a recipe for Edge tones then you couldn't be more wrong - I like this because it creates a thick wall of sound when strummed that allows me to stop and start sound like a keyboard or blown instrument, rather than having a sharp attack & rapid decay like a plucked instrument. It also allows me to transition from strumming (often hard) to picked arpeggios without a big volume drop. If I go for a drive tone then I prefer something lower gain and solid than something higher gain and thin/fizzy.

As a church group we've tried to record a few songs for use in church (that's another story). Currently I'm working on Matt Redman's 'Fires', but making it much more of a straight rocker than a heavily produced and compressed but fairly polite song (I've just realised that I've also not put enough space in the song). Musically, this is one of the places where my heart really is - I also want to record stuff funk and reggae style, because my heart is in those rhythms too. Oh, and BTW I'm also a natural anarchist apparently.

Slightly OT, or at least taking it in a different direction, there was a thread talking about the legality/otherwise of changing people's songs because it is like mis-quoting them. I'd not generally try re-writing lyrics, but very often CDs don't suit congregation participation, with the tunes not always flowing well or the rhythms being un-natural and distorting the natural musicality of the song. I feel comfy adjusting the music to work for this context. It wouldn't sell so well, but it makes it easier for people to enter worship instead of being focused on the music.

Yea - I'm a huge fan of the old Muscle Shoals and Motown stuff. Have you listened to a relatively new guy - James Hunter?

Reggae - I think it has great potential if done right. Ironically, while the genre itself is often a locus for (legitimate) protest songs, the style is very upbeat and joyful.


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