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?
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.
It sounds like all of us (Wulf, Stevo, Toni, me) are used to doing our own layering of texture, rather than the layering of individual thin sounds a la Hillsong. You know, it seems everyone in the industry has written clunky, overdone monstrosities (except for Sir Elton, of course), but Hillsong, aside from their formulaic arranging and occasional clunkers, has compiled quite a library of good, tuneful worship music. Maybe we could go back and revisit some of their classics in the old Stax Records style: a little Hammond organ, burbling bass lines, some tasty r&b double stops on the guitar, a small brass section (trumpet, sax, trombone). Aren't there some sites where we could record parts remotely then upload them? Maybe we could even do some old campfire classics like "Put your hand in the Hand" - Reggae style! :D
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.
Just a though about thin sounds - if you insist on having a lot of instruments on a song it's probably easier if you keep the frequency range of each very narrow so they don't overlap too much and go muddy.
Yes, there are places one could do that. In fact if we had a basic backing track then using something simple & free like Audacity we could each record a track and either upload or email it for assembly into a whole song.
More instruments = less for each to do.
A good example of this was in Kansas City in 2007 when 1,683 guitars played "Smoke On The Water" in unison. (Hey Beavis, check this out. Heh...heh, heh. Deep Purple is cool. Heh, heh. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n10E3XwV5kA )
It's just not the same without amps.
Now this is how it should be done. ;-)
(please excuse the lyrics)
Although I use a Line 6 HD pedal I find that I set up a particular set of sounds, usually 3 or 4, that stay consistent. Once in a while I will try to dial in something to fit a song specifically but mostly just the same sounds and alot of technique changes. Recently I was in a church that played with clicks and loops and everything was exactly like the CD. Now I play in a church with some really great players and things are always open for interpretation. It's like opposite land. I do spend alot of time honing my guitar chops. When I like a part I play it, otherwise I make up my own. Either way I try to prepare something tasteful and challenging. If I do it right it also sounds interesting. No matter what my style comes through and every song becomes my own. So in my case the amp and sound isn't really where it happens. It's in the fingers. I am using a 97 American Standard Strat into a model of a fender twin. In front of the twin is a Boost Comp, Tube Screamer, Analog and digital delay(not at the same time) and Digital reverb. All that is in the POD then I plug it into the front of my Ampeg VT-22 head which feeds a 2x12 cab. It's a very versatile rig with nice tube power and warmth.
When I like a part I play it, otherwise I make up my own.
Yes, sir. It's a fallacy to assume that the simple act of recording a track commercially makes it a model to be emulated. As long as we're not violating the CCLI or copyright privilege by doing so, I would encourage more of this behavior.
The biggest problem with imitating the recording is that you spend way too much time trying to sound like the recording. I really think bands should strive to sound like themselves instead of someone else. That's why I have come to hate the dotted eighth note. It's like no worship guitarist is complete without it. And it all sounds the same. And it seems like a cheap way of getting away with not having to be creative. There, I said it.
Sunday we're doing "I Want Jesus to Walk With Me". The version they think they want is the rather sterile mars hill version. The version I know is the Mississippi Fred McDowell version. Since I haven't yet gently introduced our congregation to the bottleneck slide sound, the version they're going to get is the What Would Freddie King Do version. Ha! Instruments will be drums, bass, acoustic gtr, electric gtr, hammond patch on the keyboard. And strangely enough, no piano.