what's more forgiving?

living room rocker

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I'm an intermediate player at best but am loving learning and playing. Low gain clean tones are my default favorite but use higher gain/distortion occasionally simply for a change. I read forums where guys speak about clean tones forcing themselves to play better with less slop.....their comments being that more gain/distortion masks sloppier play. My experience seems the opposite. Using higher gain/distortion, maybe I can get away with a chord not fretted perfectly but any tiny mistake during a melodic run (solo) sticks out like a sore thumb. So which tone do you consider more forgiving....low gain clean or higher distortion?
 
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Stark Naked

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"There's no such thing as a wrong, bad or incorrect note. Just listeners who are limited in their ability to accept or appreciate that note in a certain context." This or something close to it was once said by Howard Roberts. It doesn't really address the issue at hand, but I love quoting it. On videos I've heard Hendrix play a lot of notes I was limited in my ability to accept.
 
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donepearce

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"There's no such thing as a wrong, bad or incorrect note. Just listeners who are limited in their ability to accept or appreciate that note in a certain context." This or something close to it was once said by Howard Roberts. It doesn't really address the issue at hand, but I love quoting it.

Sounds like Mr. Roberts was prone to playing wrong notes. Complete garbage of course, but the question is what you do about it when you play one. Jack Bruce's answer was to play the same wrong note again several times, fondly imagining that his audience would think he meant it. We didn't.
 

Rusty Chops

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I use less and less distortion as time goes on, but I phrase differently now.
With distortion, I like those long sustained notes like Dave Mason or David Gilmour. Compression can help, but gives me ear fatigue if too much. I like a little tube amp “hair,” for expression.
Mostly nowadays I like the actual clean sound of the guitar itself, so less distortion and more “wood.”
But my phrasing changes for the clean stuff. More dynamics.
 

DanB

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I think the others here all make good points about the advantages and disadvantages of clean tones versus overdrive in terms of mistakes and whatnot, the only thing I'd add is sometimes if I am lazy about perfect tuning of the guitar, high gain overdrive will let me get away with a less than perfectly tuned guitar, whereas an out of tune guitar really stands out if played through a low gain clean sound, although even there, it depends on how high the gain and whether I am playing solos, riffs, chords etc. I will say this, when my amplifier is on the highest gain overdrive and my guitar is way out of tune, it will stick out like a sore thumb!
 

cheshiergrin

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Sounds like Mr. Roberts was prone to playing wrong notes. Complete garbage of course, but the question is what you do about it when you play one. Jack Bruce's answer was to play the same wrong note again several times, fondly imagining that his audience would think he meant it. We didn't.
 

Bad Penguin

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A wrong note, clean or dirty, it's noticeable. A overly pressed fret with a chord, or a hint of fingernail in the fretting hand, the clean will make it more noticeable then the gain. Clean, there's nowhere to hide.
 

cerebral gasket

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Tube amp clean channel.
Amplifies every nuance, including mistakes.
 
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ezypikins

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For me. Marshall and Vox is what taught me to play with less slop. It seems that American
amps hide the slop much more than the British amps. I became a much more accurate player once I got rid of the Fender's and Peavey's.
 

NMA

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... Vox is what taught me to play with less slop....
Yes, when I first got my first VOX amp I was really stunned by how sloppy my playing was. I went online and all guys said the same thing: the VOX AC30 is the most unforgiving amp on Earth. I came to realize it is called an amplifier because it sure as hell does amplify every little mistake you make.

I am not talking about wrong notes. I am talking about if one note in an arpeggio is picked slightly harder than the one before it, YOU HEAR IT! The crystal clarity of the amp is the main factor, but another is the style of music many play on a VOX. Power chords are not the norm, but arpeggio playing (and 12 string guitar) is. Individual notes are a staple when using a VOX and, man, you'd better play them right because the VOX laughs at you and points out every bit of sloppiness.
 


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