How to get the surf guitar drip sound
This is a cool sound. But is the Jazzmaster guitar required to get it?
Something I've been working on lately is to get more "drip" sound out of my Jazzmaster which you can hear in the above video.
The surf guitar drip sound is a combination of effect settings and playing style. But before I get into that, no, the Jazzmaster is not required to get the sound...
...but it helps. A lot.
Which guitar to use?
The drip sound comes easy to traditional Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars because they "ping" the reverb easiest.
What I mean by "traditional" Jazz and Jag are the ones that have single-coil pickups with 1meg pots that makes for an absolutely ridiculous amount of treble response. Both the Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster and Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar have these traditional pickups and electronics.
However, it is totally possible to use a Stratocaster or Telecaster as both those guitars also have single-coil pickups with electronics that have excellent treble response. The treble isn't as "hot" as the Jazz or the Jag, but it's definitely good enough.
Where dual-coil (humbucker) guitars are concerned, you'll need something with a lot of treble to it, which is something dual-coil pickups aren't usually voiced to do. Well, not unless it's a Gretsch or maybe an Epiphone Sheraton.
Which effects to use?
Technically, any amp with a real reverb tank in it can get the job done. But to get a surf sound, the amp has to be pushed fairly hard so the tank springs vibrate more.
For example, my Fender Frontman 212R has a real reverb tank in it. But to "make it surf", significant volume is required. I live in an apartment, so when recording I use the DigiTech instead. And it works fine.
Also, a tip. For extra punch to make for more drip, use a compressor effect.
What technique to use?
The goal is to make the guitar sound like musical water dripping.
Palm muting is required to do this and a lot of it.
What will happen when you mute notes and chords is that you will experience some soreness on your picking hand palm from constantly resting on the strings to mute them. This is totally normal. You get used to it eventually.
The most drip sound happens on the plain strings since higher notes result in "pinging" the reverb more. And since you're using a very generous amount of reverb, higher notes are required to cut through the reverb so it doesn't sound like a muddy mess.
When you first do this, yes, it will sound like a muddy mess. This is not like playing muted power chord 5ths with distortion. It is something that requires more finesse to get right. Fortunately, it doesn't require a crazy amount of practice to do. This isn't rock soloing but rather just a way to ping that reverb as much as possible to make that cool drip sound.
Lastly, I'll say that if you're using to playing rock, you have to unlearn that a bit when going for a drip sound.
Instead of going for sustain, you go for super-short quick notes.
Instead of going for full-bodied chords, you go for smaller chords with fewer notes that are spread out.
Instead of filling every space with the sound of guitar, you have to learn when to pause and play nothing. Why? So you can actually hear the reverb fading out, as that is part of the drip sound.
Like this article? Be a good doobie and help me out.