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Cool things happen when you turn DOWN the guitar overdrive

An exercise in going for a Deep Purple sound shows how cool a guitar can sound with minimal overdrive or distortion.

Recently, I was on a Deep Purple kick and decided to record a song (see above.) This is actually the first time I've gone for a Ritchie Blackmore sound using a Telecaster, and it totally worked.

But it's how I made it work that's the important part.

A common mistake a lot of guitar players make is using too much overdrive and/or distortion, resulting in a muddy tone that sounds terrible. For rock tones on Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars with only single-coil pickups, using less overdrive works a whole lot better - if note drop-off is accommodated for with compression.

I've said a bunch of times and will say it again that having a compressor in your collection of guitar effects is a very, very handy thing to have. In the effects chain, I always put it first. The only time I wouldn't is if I used a wah-wah pedal.

Part of the reason some guys chase after specific amps with tubes is to get natural amp compression. But even if you have a tube amp that has that tone, it has to be cranked up real loud in order to hear it. Using a compressor can get you "that sound" without blowing out the windows.

Using my DigiTech RP360, I'm able to set up exactly what I want, which includes putting the compressor first in the effects chain, albeit a digital one. So whether you use traditional analog pedals or digital means, the way to set up compression is the same.

When the compressor is engaged, the overdrive can be turned down and I still get a decidedly good rock tone. Yes, it's totally true I let the Telecaster "twang out". I didn't even attempt to hide the twang of the guitar and let all the trebly, clacky sound come right through. It worked out just fine.

I will eventually complete the song as it is unfinished. But I really wanted to show off the low-overdrive cool sound of the Telecaster played in a Blackmore-ish style.

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