Octave Divider

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Octave Divider

An octave divider adds a second tone one octave lower to any signal. With a guitar, it sounds like a bass playing along with the guitar. This actually can free up the bass guitar to go off on other stuff.

Usually has one knob, Mix, which controls the ratio of dry to affected tone.

This effect can be mimicked with a pitch shifter set to exactly one octave down also.

Lightning Bolt uses it on the bass in "13 Monsters."

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Guitar Synth

Guitar synthesizers are a lot more complicated than most effects and not used that much any more. I do remember a minute in the early 80s, around the time that The Police album, "Zenyatta Mondatta," came out, when they were everywhere. But they ain't too common now. Which is a pity, because the better ones have an unbelievable array of options. But this also means you can probably pick one up in a pawn shop or on eBay easily.

NOTE

Tech editor Michael Woody adds, "Not to editorialize outside my job description, but Adrian Belew still uses guitar synths extensively and put out a disk (they're not records anymore, of course) called The Guitar As Orchestra which is, to quote a Web site, 'A fascinating and original use of guitar synthesis where the role of the orchestra is replicated by solo guitarist. Even down to the opening applause!'"

There are ones that work as freestanding effects boxes, like the Electro-Harmonix model, and ones that work with a proprietary guitar or at least a proprietary pickup that must be retrofitted to your guitar. The latter sounds like more work, and it is, but it gives you a lot more options in audio capabilities. They can make your guitar sound like anything , from a violin to sounds that have never been heard before. Ever.

With a guitar synth, you can reconstruct all aspects of the sound, including the envelope . Envelope is a combination of attack, sustain, and decay. These are different for every acoustic instrument, and with a guitar synthesizer (or any synthesizer), you have complete control over all these parameters, usually with knobs labeled Attack, Sustain, and Decay.

Most older guitar synthesizers, especially the earlier models, have a little bit of latency. That is, when you pluck a note, there is a very small delay between the time you hit the string and the time the affected tone comes out the other end. This is because of the incredible amount of machine math that goes into controlling an electronic digital synthesizer with an analog input.

Garbage: "Queer." (Skip sez, "I don't know if these are guitar synths, Michael. It's hard to tell; they could just be synths.")

Ivy uses one on "Long Distance" and "One More Last Kiss." Strokes uses it a lot.

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Talk Box

Odd little 70s thing used by Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh, Aerosmith, and Alice in Chains. Basically, a talk box is a powerful speaker in a box attached to a tube that you stick in your mouth. You play while mouthing words into a mike, shaping the guitar sound with your lips and tongue. Sounds like the guitar is talking.

Skip sez, "A lot of electro bands these days use a vocoder, though (for vocals), which I know you know is similar, like The Faint and their album Danse Macabre and bands like Soviet."

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E-Bow

An E-Bow is not an effects box, but rather a little handheld thing that you use to hover over the strings near the pickups. It uses a battery- powered coil to produce a concentrated magnetic field that drives the string without your having to pluck or even touch it. It produces a bowed sound and can also provide infinite sustain on a single note. It can sound pretty good right out of the box and amazing with a little work. Great for textures and background noises and great when combined with other effects, especially distortion and delay.

They're about a hundred bucks new. Comes with a useful tutorial.

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