Paul Ranson, (Axe) is a professional guitar player with over 20 years experience in the music biz.
If you have any guitar related questions feel free to ask. Check back to this page for updates!
My sound is different every night?
Many years, guitars and amps later I have hit (well another) issue I can't resolve: I use the same guitar amp cabling config ect..
every night. My sound is different every night. Temp, humidity, static, dirty power.. . Occaisionally I dial in my usual setting
give or take and I know, the sound man knows, the band yells HEY thats it!! I play stuff I only hear in dreams (and the radio)the
choicest riffs and when I know my finger DID NOT play the right string, a new approach to the scale is born. I'm a great player,
not pretty good. Next night, great sound man. And I'm a pretty good guitar player. Thank God, I'm at a level now it matters. Is
there a guide out there that defines a method to getting "that" sound every night. EQ settings, vs humidity, common corrections,
temp, ect?? Subjective yes, but surely a framework??
Your facing the same dilemma as most guitar players including myself. I play more creatively when I dial in the perfect sound.
If your playing different rooms eq is a big factor, if you use a tube amp that is another variable in your sound that is pretty
much uncontrollable. I prefer a tube sound but find it inconsistent because as the tubes get older the sound changes, sometimes
for the better (they tend to get warmer with age)I've had amps that sounded great and then blew a tube, replaced it and hated the
sound. Volume is another factor, some rooms/stages you can get away with more volume which opens up the sound on most amps, other
rooms you have to play at lower volumes which takes away from the tone.
My Guitar has alot of fret buzz when I play in this tuning C, G, C, F, A, D. ?
I have a jackson dk2 with a floyd rose...but im in a heavy metal band and we play stuff with tunings (from low to high) C, G, C, F, A, D.
But my guitar has alot of fret buzz when i play in this tuning. What should I do?
There is no easy answer. Most player's who use alternate tunings have a designated guitar set-up for that tuning.
Also Floyd's are a major pain with open tunings. A fixed bridge guitar is much more adaptable in these situations.
The frets between 6 and 12 make a nasty buzzing sound which comes though on my amp?
The frets between 6 and 12 make a nasty buzzing sound which comes though on my amp whenever i play. Wots wrong and how do i fix it?
It sounds like some of your frets are sitting higher than others. The frets probably need to be dressed to fix the problem.
Dressing frets is a tricky job that only a pro with the proper tools should do.
Can I use .010 guage strings on a an ibanez grg 170dx set-up for .09 -.042.?
I bought an ibanez grg 170dx.it has string guage .09 -.042. well i m rock tastic.so can i use .010 string guage. I
have read reviews tht it will detune if u use this guage?
I use .010 gauge strings on all my guitars including tremolo's. You get more tone and the guitar will stay in tune better. Pretty much any
guitar can be set up for a heavier gauge string but you might have to adjust the neck bridge height and intonation to get it right after the
heavier strings are installed. If a neck adjustment is needed a professional guitar tech. is a safe way to go because you can cause damage
very easily adjusting truss rods.
Any reason why one couldn't use the same thickness of strings, rather than 6 different diameters?
Hi Paul. I understand that there are significant differences in the frequency of the vibration that each string generates,
but is there really any reason why one couldn't use the same thickness of strings, rather than 6 different diameters? I am asking
because, in terms of bends, for example, the fatter strings are so rigid that I can't get nearly as much variation in tone that
I can if I bend, say, the smallest string. Is it simply tradition that has the low note coming from a fat string and the high note
coming from the smaller diameter string?
If you take your high E 1st string and tune it down a full step to a low E you will have answered your own question, the string would be
so loose it would just flop around on the fret board. That's the reason for the bigger strings, so your not playing cooked spaghetti. It's
just the way the guitar was designed. Most bends are on the first 3 strings anyway and if you find them too stiff you can use
extra light strings but you will lose tone and they will go out of tune easier.
How do I set my intonation?
How do I set my intonation?
Intonation is the exact distance from the bridge of the guitar to the 12th fret and from the 12th fret to the nut of the guitar.
You will need a guitar tuner to set the intonation.
PROCEDURE - After tuning each string of the guitar to pitch, if it plays sharp at the 12th fret then the strings length needs to be
increased which is done by moving the saddle further away from the fretboard (there is a small screw at the back of the bridge that
moves the saddle). If the note is flat when played at the 12 fret the string must be shortened by moving the saddle closer to the fretboard.
After each adjustment re-tune and re-check the intonation. Repeat the above procedure for each string.
They want me to detune my guitar and use a heavier guage string which will mess everything up?
Ive got a huge dilemma for you. I have a Jackson V with a floyd rose locking tremolo unit.
I use fender strings (10's) I love playing Pink Floyd so i got it tuned by a renowned guitar technician to a standard e and
when i got it back it was beautiful to play. (He slugged me $100). My other side is heavy metal and ive joined a death metal
band they want to play in a carcass style tuning of B!. So now they want me to detune my guitar and use a heavier guage strings
which will mess everything up. i need advice on the best way to do this myself without having to pay $100+.
The best solution is to have another guitar tuned in B for the heavy stuff. Probably not what you wanted to hear but
the only practical way to get around the situation. Moving to a heavier gauge string and a different tuning will affect
your action and intonation.
I've heard of pinch harmonics and i dont know what they are?
I've been playing for a year and ive heard of pinch harmonics and i dont
know what they are, but when i got my new guitar, the guy was playing it
for me and he like made overtones with his picking thumb as he picked,
how do i do this ? whats the point? and is that what pinch harmonics are?
A pinch harmonic is where you pick and touch the edge of your thumb on the
point of the harmonic at the same time. Be sure to have only a very small
part of the pick sticking out from your thumb and finger, and pick only
with the very tip of the pick.
There's no point, except to get the effect when and if you want it. More
Distortion/Overdrive makes it easier to produce pinch harmonics. Also
finding a strong natural harmonic somewhere up around the area of your
pickups is important. With some trial and error you can master the
I want to put really heavy strings on a b.c rich warlock, what do I have to do to my guitar?
hay i just got a b.c rich warlock (bronze series) and i want to put
really heavy strings on like i mean 13-56. what do i have to do to my
guitar. im not sure if its a floyed rose or not but the strings go threw
the bridge and not threw the guitar... what do i do?
You will have to tighten the tremolo springs on the back of the guitar to
make up for the extra tension from the heavier strings and or use all
springs possible if tightening to the end is not enough. The bridge should
be sitting level with the top of the guitar when tuned to A440 or what
ever tuning you use.
I read that you have to put a piece of wood in to stop the bridge from moving?
I bought an Ibanez guitar (used) and I changed the strings and I read that
you have to put a piece of wood in to stop it from moving. I was wondering
where do you put the piece of wood and how thick is it supposed to be?
You don't have to block the bridge, but if you decide to, the wood is placed
between the guitar body and the block part of the tremolo (on the back of
the guitar under the tremolo spring cover). The wood should be thick enough
to be secure while the bridge sits level with the surface of the guitar
Can I put a Floyd Rose Tremolo on a bronze warlock?
Can I put a Floyd Rose Tremolo on a bronze warlock if so does it have to
a particular one?
You should be able to do this but it will take a lot of body modifications
if it has a fixed bridge on it now. You should take it to a professional
guitar tech, it's an involved procedure. All Floyd's are pretty much the
same so it doesn't matter which one you buy.
Does raising your intonation make it harder to achieve pinch harmonics?
Does raising your intonation make it harder to achieve pinch harmonics?
I take it you mean raising your action (distance the strings are from the
fret board). This will not make pinch harmonics harder to achieve. It will
however make chords harder to finger.
I get an unwanted screeching feedback at the high volume level needed?
I in a 4 piece band that playes a few small pub gig's.
I use a jackson dxmg and a line 6 spider 2 212 amp.
whenever i want to use distortion at the high volume level needed i just
get an unwanted screeching feedback, why is that. the only way to
eliminate it is to turn the amp down, and then its quite hard to make out
what i'm playing over the other band members.
Also The other guitarist uses a marshall avt 50 and he uses distortion
from a boss mt-2 pedal and has no trouble with feedback.
Too much distortion, too close to the amp. You need to reduce the amount of
distortion (and or) get further away from the amp. Sometimes just turning
the guitar volume back a little gets rid of it. The other guitarist is using
a different distortion and possibly less of it.
I do not understand how Jimi Hendrix gets his distortion sound during the Monterey Pop Festival?
After about six months of examination, I still do not understand how Jimi
Hendrix gets his distortion sound during the Monterey Pop Festival,
espically on "Like a Rolling Stone". Is it a fuzz box, his nine
overdriven Marshall tube amps or a combination of the two? He seems to
simply fade between heavily distorted and slightly distorted by turning
the volume nob on his guitar. I tried this with a fuzz box on and the
distorion is still always too heavy. I tried it without fuzz and it never
seems distorted quite right. I unfortunately do not have a tube amp and
cannot rule this out myself. Help?
He's getting it from the tube amps turned up really loud (the old
Marshall's didn't have pre-amps in them, they were designed to produce
overdrive when they were cranked!). Turning down the volume cleans up
the sound and turning up the volume produces more distortion. Eddy Van
Halen uses the same technique. This effect won't work very well with a
simulated distortion as you found out. I prefer tube amps for this reason and I find the overdrive more real.
I have constant problems with tuning especially playing a d chord on the 1st 4 strings?
I have a Leader elcetric guitar. I have constant problems with tuning
especially playing a d chord on the 1st 4 strings. I have tuned the
strings separately using a tuning fork, a metrome - I even got my sister
who had perfect pitch to help me - the strings seem to be in tune but
the chord sounds horrible. This is less of a problem when I play low e
shape bar chords. I have no such problems on my acoustics.
Your intonation is out, that's why your guitar is acting this way.
"Intonation is the exact distance from the bridge of the guitar to the
12th fret and from the 12th fret to the nut of the guitar."
You need a guitar tuner to set it, if your not sure how to do this your
local music dealer can set it and replace the strings for you which will
solve your problem.
Kirk Hammett always tunes down a half step and he rocks the floyd what's he's doing and how can I do it too?
Hey, I know you said that generally a Floyd Rose isn't meant for detuning
but I want to tune down a half step and I know Kirk Hammett always tunes
down a half step and he rocks the floyd., so I was wondering what he's
doing and how can I do it too.
If your only tuning down once and leaving it there your ok. It's when you
use different tunings during a set or show that you create problems because
the bridge has to be set-up/adjusted every time you go to a different
If the guitar is set-up correctly at A 440 standard (the bridge is sitting
level with the top of the guitar and working properly) and you tune down a
half step, you will have to loosen the tremolo screws on the back of the
guitar to make up for the lower tension of the strings. Once the bridge is
sitting level and everything is adjusted properly and worked in, the guitar
should work fine. You might want to check the intonation as well after the
bridge is re-set.
Why did Hendrix tune his guitar down a half step?
Question - Hey, how are you? Why did Hendrix tune his guitar down a half step?
Answer - Some guys tune down to make singing easier. Especially when they tour and
have to sing almost every night.
I want to tune standard again and want to put 10s on, what can I do to the bridge to make it normal again after I put the strings on?
Question - I have an LTD KH-202 and a while ago I took it in to get formatted for
13-56 guage strings because I tuned drop B. Now I want to tune standard
again and want to put 10s on, what can I do to the bridge to make it
normal again after I put the strings on?
Answer - You will have to loosen the tremolo springs on the back of the guitar to
counter act the loss of tension from the heavier strings. The springs were
probably tightened when the heavier strings were installed.
What can I do to most effectively prevent tendonitis of the fingers?
Question - What can I do to most effectively prevent tendonitis of the fingers? A
lot of medical sites say to avoid repetition, but thats impossible when
practicing almost anything. How can I get my fingers moving at top speed
without having to worry about icing them down all the time?
Answer - I wouldn't worry about it if your not having symptoms, not everyone gets
The medical sites are right but that doesn't mean you have to give up
practicing. You should rest your fingers and wrist between practice and
see you doctor if you think you have tendonitis or if your concerned about
How can I block the bridge so I can down tune my guitar?
Question - I've got a new Ibanez s470dx with zr tremolo floating bridge. How can I
block the bridge so I can down tune my guitar without messing up the rest
of the tuning?
Answer - A piece of wood placed between the guitar body and the block part of the
tremolo (on the back of the guitar under the tremolo spring cover) is
probably the best approach.
How do I get that creamy Clapton Distortion or Overdrive?
Question - Hi Axe, I've been playing guitar for about 2 years now. I'm trying to get that creamy Clapton Distortion or Overdrive,
don't know which it is. I'm playing a Gibson Les paul Standard through a Boss GT6 guitar processor into a Fender Super 112.
I've been tweaking the processor for about 4 months now. I can't seem to get the sound I'm looking for. Every time I get close
I can't seem to adjust the overall volume. If I raise the volume on the patch it changes the sound. I've read the manual over
and over. I feel like I'm missing a step. I can't seem to get the presence of the sound without the guitar over powering the whole mix.
I know this is a bit long winded, I'm ready to junk the Gt6 and start over looking for individual pedals. If you can recommend any
solution I would be very grateful.
Answer - I would try a Fender Strat first. Clapton mostly used strats which will get you a lot closer to the sound your
are looking for. Then you can try tweaking other things like the amp and peddles. The Les Paul is giving you a heavier tonier
sound then Clapton has, the strat will be brighter.
How do you tune a guitar to a drop d tuning?
Question - How do you tune a guitar to a drop d tuning?
Answer - Dropped "D" tuning is achieved by simply tuning the Low "E" string down to
a "D". It gives you a chunky low sound which is great if your playing in the
key of "D".
I can't seem to be able to tune my guitar down one step like a lot of the newer bands are doing?
Question - I feel like an idiot. I'm trying to learn some tab to some of the new
songs that my son likes, but I can't seem to be able to tune my guitar down one
step like a lot of the newer bands are doing. Every time I get the E then the A
tuned, my tremelo starts to tighten up, and by the time I have everything tuned up
tight, I'm back in a standard E, not to mention my tremelo has no more rise,
only fall.I also have no clue what "dropped d " tuning is all about. Can you help
an over the hill rocker keep up?
Answer - Don't feel bad, I've been playing for 25 years and I'm still trying to
catch up to new stuff.
The Floyd Rose was not designed for what you are trying to achieve because
it's a floating system, that's why it's giving you a hard time (you can
try blocking the bridge with a piece of wood). They do make a
Floyd system that has a drop "D" tuner on it but that's as far as they go
Basically every time you change the tuning on a floating tremolo guitar
you have to set it up differently for each situation. So you can see why a
fixed bridge is best, if your going to experiment with tunings.
Dropped "D" tuning is achieved by simply tuning the Low "E" string down to
a "D". It gives you a chunky low sound which is great if your playing in the
key of "D".
I have a floyd rose trem, and after replacing the strings, the new ones keep coming out of the saddle?
Question - I have a floyd rose trem, and after replacing the strings, the new ones keep coming out of the saddle, do the blocks wear
out or am I doing something wrong here?
Answer - The blocks can wear out or crack but this seldom happens. If they are jammed in the saddle they are probably cracked (this is
caused by over tightening). When you replaced the old strings a small piece from the end might have stayed in the saddle causing the problem.
If the tremolo is rusty or dirty, that might also prevent the saddle block from clamping properly.
We have been learning a number of cover songs and we are having to change the key to
suit the singers?
Question - I wonder if you could help us with a problem, we are a 4 piece band just
newly formed and some of us are still learning to master our instruments, We
have been learning a number of cover songs and we are having to change the key to
suit the singers, this always seems to cause a problem for our lead guitarist
who always says it cant be done, A current example is we are practing the Eagle's
song "Take it Easy" and the original in in G but so the singer can sing it we
tranposed it to D, the result was the our lead player said the key Cant be changed,
as the lead guitar parts dont work??? i know you may think this a silly
question but the rest of us dont think this is in fact true, he tends to copy all the
songs from the records first, is this the best way if you intend to change
the key anyway. I would be grateful if you have any tips that may help us resolve this
Answer - The lead guitar part can work for this song in the key of D but not as
well because of the open notes used in parts of the solo, mainly the short solo
at the beginning of the song. A work around you can use is to put a capo on
the 7th fret of the guitar and play the song with the same chord and solo
positions as the original. In other words a G chord played on the 9th fret with the
capo on the 7th fret will be a D chord.
What are the steps takin to tune a guitar down ine half step?
Question - I just got this nice Fender Squire 6 string electric guitar and i'm able to
tune by ear and with a tuning fork. but i was wondering exactly what are the
steps takin to tune a guitar down ine half step?
Answer - To tune the guitar down 1/2 step:
Tune your low E string to your A string 6th fret,
Your A string to your D 6th fret,
Your D string to your G 6th fret,
Your G string to your B string 7th fret,
Your B string to your E 6th fret and your high E string to your low E string which should already be de-tuned.
Most guitar tuners have a feature for tuning down a half step which makes
the process much easier.
How do you actually achieve open D tuning (D-A-D-F#-A-D, low to high)?
Question - How do you actually achieve open D tuning (D-A-D-F#-A-D, low to high)?
Answer - To achieve open D tuning following the instructions below.
1) Tune your sixth string down a tone to D. Check the tuning with the fourth
2) Tune your third string down a semitone to F#. Check the tuning with the
fourth fret of your fourth string
3) Tune your second string down a tone to A. Check the tuning with the fifth (A) string
4) Tune your first string down a tone to D. Check the tuning with the fourth (D) string
I have a jackson RR1, and everytime I change the strings, the floating bridge isn't level?
Question - I have a jackson RR1, and everytime I change the strings, the floating
bridge isn't level. The strings are so high it's worse than playing on an
acoustic. I have about a tool that slides under the bridge to hold it level, but
that doesn't work either, and I can't keep spending $25 every month when I
have to bring it in to the music store. What am I doing wrong?
Answer - It sounds like the bridge is sitting too high off the guitar (but it's
hard to tell without seeing).
If this is the problem you have to turn the bridge adjustment screws
clockwise into the body to lower it. You will also probably have to
re-adjust the tremolo springs on the back of the guitar. If the bridge is
sitting back too far you will have to loosen them, if the bridge is
sitting forward you will have to tighten them until the bridge is sitting level.
You should also check the intonation after this is done. If you used the same
gauge string each time you change them your guitar setup should not have
to be adjusted every time you change the strings.
I want to know how to tune my Jackon Randy Rhoads RR5 Floyd Rose V, droped, whole, half, the works?
Question - Ok so this is the question, I just bought a Jackon Randy Rhoads RR5 V
Guitar with a Jackson edition Floyd Rose floating tromelo Bridge on it, and I want to know how to tune the bastard all around (droped
whole,half, the works).
I know the punishments the guitar gives you when you mess with
the tuning so I want to ask professional player on how to tune down and up
without any problems.
Also on the side, every time I tune my guitar (normal E since that's the
only tuning I can do) even though I lock the nutbolts on top, it goes out of tune, like if I
tune the Low E then I tune A , the low E will go flat or sharp, or even up to
high F. I need to know how to get this problem to stop.
Answer - Here's the scoop, if want to play in the different tuning's buy a Les Paul
or something else with a fixed bridge. Honestly the Floyd Rose was not
designed for what you are trying to achieve because it's a floating
system, that's why it's giving you a hard time (you can try blocking the bridge with a piece of wood).
They do make a Floyd system that has a drop
D tuner on it but that's as far as they go with it.
The bridge has raised up a lot on my BC Rich Warlock guitar because I changed from 0.09's to 0.10's strings which have more tension,
is this normal?
Question - I have a BC Rich Warlock guitar with a floyd rose tremelo system on it. I usually string it with 0.09's, but this time I
decided to go with 0.10's. The bridge has raised up alot, because heavier strings have more tension. I was wandering if this is normal,
or a problem. will the strings stretch and the bridge go down, or will this cause problems with my guitar?
Answer - The situation you describe below is common when a heavier string is put on a Floyd Rose tremolo guitar that was
set up for lighter strings. You need to bring the bridge back to level, this is done by tightening the screws in the back of the
guitar where the tremolo springs anchor to the body ( turn them clockwise ) until the bridge is level at standard 440 tuning.
Some guitar tabs say tune guitar half a step down, what does that mean?
Question - I just started playing guitar and I was looking for tabs and some of them
say tune guitar half a step down what does that mean?
Answer - To tune the guitar down a half step simply means to tune every string down
one fret or a flat. If your guitar is tuned standard 440 pitch E / A / D / G
/ B / E, a half step down would be Eb / Ab / Db / Gb / Bb / Eb.
I own a G&L SB-1 4-string bass. Recently i've found that the pots have gone bad, or at least don't respond correctly?
Question - I own a G&L SB-1 4-string bass. Recently i've found that the pots have gone bad, or at least don't respond correctly.
I have only two knobs, tone and volume. The tone knob does not seem to have any effect. The volume knob has two volumes, 0 and Max.
I get no sound from the bass unless i turn the knob up all the way, if i back it off just a little bit the sound cuts out entirely.
I opened up the pickguard and looked inside. All of the wires and soldering are intact and connected completely. I bought the bass
new and it's been fine for about 7-8 years till just recently when this started occurring. I'm thinking to myself obviously
its the pots. Any ideas?
Answer - It sounds like your pots are on the way out, but it could be a build up of dirt on the internal surface parts.
You can try to clean them with a contact and head cleaner that can be bought at an electronics store. If this does not work you
may have to replace them.
Does Bush use an electric guitar distortion on his song Machinehead? If he does, what distrtion is it?
Question - Does Bush use an electric guitar distortion on his song Machinehead?
If he does, what distrtion is it?
Answer - He is using distortion on the track "Machinehead". As for what distortion,
it could be any of a thousand different types. My guess is he's using a
Marshall or Peavey tube head and generating the distortion from there.
My guitar strings snap lots of times before I can get them in tune. Would you know why it would do that?
Question - My guitar strings snap lots of times before I can get them in tune. Would you know why it would do that?
Answer - Tightening them too much could cause them to break. Also on cheaper guitars the bridge can cause this to happen because the
saddle points (where the strings make contact with the saddle part of the bridge) are too sharp. Using a guitar tuner or tuning to a
CD as a guide will gave you the right pitch to tune to.
Is it possible to play distortion on a semi acoustic guitar?
Question - Is it possible to play distortion on a semi acoustic guitar?
Answer - It is possible to use distortion on a semi acoustic guitar but you will likely have feedback because the guitar is hollow.
Stuffing foam rubber in the sound holes will lessen the feedback.
What is intonation?
Question - What is intonation?
Answer - Intonation is the exact distance from the bridge of the guitar to the
12th fret and from the 12th fret to the nut of the guitar.
What is enharmonic?
Question - What is enharmonic?
Answer - Enharmonic is the same note that can be named sharp or flat - ie - C#
and Db are the same note but the correct reference for that note
depends on weather you are moving up or down the scale.
Why does temperature affect my tuning?
Question - Why does temperature affect my tuning?
Answer - Temperature affects tuning because wood and metal expand when it is
warm, and contract when it is cold. This is why guitars tuned in one
temperature and moved to another temperature will go out of tune, and
also why professional touring bands tune their guitars on stage in the
atmosphere where they are going to be played.
I can not figure out how to tune my Floyd Rose Washburn electric guitar?
Question - I just bought a washburn electric guitar and I can not figure out how to
tune it. It has a Floyd Rose with fine tuning on it and I need help trying
to tune it?
Answer - Tuning guitars with Floyd Rose tremolo systems can be tricky and take a
little patients sometimes. The following instructions should help.
1) You have to unlock the tremolo system at the nut of the guitar, this
requires a "hex wrench" or "allen key" which usually is included with the
guitar. If It wasn't, your local music store should be able to supply you
2) While the guitar is unlocked "at the nut" make sure that the fine tuners
located on the bridge are turned about half way into the bridge. This is so
that you can sharpen or flatten the string after the tremolo is locked.
3) Now tune the guitar like any normal guitar using the tuners on the
headstock, make sure to give each string a tug to force stretching, if this
is not done at this stage, after the nut of the tremolo system is locked it
may cause tuning problems forcing you to unlock the nut and start over.
4) Now lock the nut with your "hex wrench" or "allen key."
5) At this point you are ready to make final fine tuning adjustments "using
the tuners" on the bridge of the tremolo. I suggest using a guitar tuner but
you can use your ear or tune to a CD that you know the key of.
6) It is a good idea to give the whammy bar several intense dive bombs
checking the fine tuning between each and re-tuning as needed until the
guitar is not going out anymore.