Arts & Entertainment, Music

Notes on Guitar: Tone

St. Vincent

Lesson time 12:12 min

Annie talks about how good tone is good technique and how tone works in her songs “Surgeon” and “Rattlesnake.”

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Good Tone Is Good Technique · Exploring Different Tone Effects · Guitar Tone Case Studies: Surgeon & Rattlesnake Extended Techniques


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING] [00:00:07.96] - The guitar-- [00:00:09.66] [GUITAR STRUMMING] [00:00:11.16] --I've been playing it for lots of years. And at different times, it's kind of taken on different roles. I've always been trying to figure out all of the best ways that I can be a songwriter and also guitar player and merge those two things in a way that is compelling or new and kind of creatively satisfying. [00:00:36.27] I learned pretty early on that I just wasn't satisfied, you know, accompanying myself with basic chords. [00:00:45.78] [GUITAR STRUMMING] [00:00:48.23] I always kind of wanted the guitar to be doing more-- bumping around, bumping around the melody, being a percussive instrument sometimes, being a totally other voice in the music other times. [00:01:01.79] [GUITAR PLAYING] [00:01:02.75] I have some basic tips for tone, effects pedals, general ideas on technique, and then a general just overall ethos about guitar. [00:01:15.54] [MUSIC PLAYING] [00:01:21.90] Tone is-- wow. Tone is so-- tone is so major. First of all, if you're a left-handed player, know I mean this about your left hand-- your right hand is really important. You want to make sure that when you're playing you're not holding tension in your body, because if you're holding tension in your body, it's going to come out in the guitar. [00:01:46.01] So the more you can breathe into it, the better. I know that sounds a little silly or a little basic. But sometimes on stage, I'll find myself scrambling. And every time I'm scrambling on the fretboard, it's because I'm not breathing and I've just played a note that I'm not sure how to recover from. [00:02:08.48] I hear tone usually in my head, and then I try to find it. And more than that, I hear guitar lines in my head and then figure out how to play it. I would say some of my-- [00:02:25.07] [GUITAR STRUMMING] [00:02:26.24] --ideas come from actually just sitting down and playing guitar. But a lot of things are just like, OK, I can hear the music. Now I just have to chase it down and transpose it for this instrument. If I'm going to write a solo, usually what happens is I've written a melody in my head, and then I go and find it-- of course, leaving room for exploration here. Again, I think your ears are your best asset. Ears and ideas, that's all you need. [00:02:55.34] [GUITAR STRUMMING] [00:03:01.78] The guitar can be really-- it can sound like anything you want it to sound like. Right in front of me is a pedal board. It has phase, which sounds like-- [00:03:13.28] [FUNKY GUITAR PLAYING] [00:03:14.27] --that. I mean, there's a long history of playing with phase in style, like kind of funk styles, like-- like a-- [00:03:23.32] [FUNKY GUITAR PLAYING] [00:03:27.57] --stuff like that. So that's more like a really loose wrist here and treating the guitar more like a rhythmic instrument. [00:03:37.93] [FUNKY GUITAR PLAYING] [00:03:39.39] Different sounds of the guitar, I think, carry-- they c...

About the Instructor

Under the stage name St. Vincent, Annie Clark has won Grammys while remaining fiercely innovative and true to herself. Now Annie is opening the door to her process to teach you how to explore your creativity. Learn how to record music, write songs, improve your guitar skills, and embrace your vulnerability. Let Annie guide you through the ups and downs of creating art so you can share what’s in your heart with the world.

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St. Vincent

Explore your creative process and embrace vulnerability with St. Vincent, the Grammy-winning, genre-defying artist and performer.

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