Future Guitar : No Amps, No Pedals


This echoes feedback I’ve received from others. But I struggle a bit to understand what is meant by “natural, so to speak” unfortunately.

FWIW, I currently play a telecaster with dual P90s. I love the way it sounds, but the tone knobs and pickup selector frankly have little effect. So, I’ve more or less got a single tone I can work with in that guitar. I would prefer to avoid needing a new guitar every time I want a new tone out of it.

And with bass there seems to be additional reason for active pickups (else, why is it so common?)


ah, that might explain it somewhat—p90s can definitely be their own beast to a degree.

this isn’t an ideal analogy at all, but to my ear active pickups offer a tone that’s almost comparable to a hyper-compressed synth sound—it’s all right there and in your face, but ultimately very one-dimensional. this is especially true on bass. meanwhile, passive pickups have a wider range, which leaves them much more open to external augmentation even if they don’t sound quite right out of the gate.

take this all with a grain of salt, of course, as it’s very possible you might find active to suit your purposes exactly.

before committing to it though, i’d highly recommend giving a try to a few different kinds of passives—strat and traditional-style tele setups can both be great for guitar, as are classic p and j configurations on bass.

also keep in mind that there are lots of boutique pickup-makers out there whose products can elevate an average guitar into the realm of disbelief for very little cost—when i was still playing primarily in the strong family, i almost exclusively used non-stock pickups for the very reason you mentioned.


Yeah, I’ve played Les Paul humbuckers and Strat single coils. Bought P90s in an attempt to split the difference, but now I just feel like I need 3 guitars. Sigh.

I need to dig into this. Pointers?


Blockquote @jasonw22 I’d love to hear more about this. I have a very underutilized FCB1010 and I’m curious what you’re up to with dummy clips.

(not sure how to add quotes :confused: )
I will try to get something together to show the process I mentioned. There are a lot of good walkthroughs on youtube for dummy clips. Essentially Send your audio to another audio track and set it to monitor “in”, make a clip of silence, or anything really because its not audible if you’re monitoring input, and then you can add automation to any effects in that track that will effect the input. So stack a bunch of effects in a track, make a “dummy clip” so you can add automation, and feed your inputs into this track. The FCB becomes handy when you want to stack effect racks so you can switch effects like a stompbox. Here is a quickie to get the gist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19BNu0zsGAo


it’s a world almost as varied and subjective as modular—the best thing to do is just research specific companies via youtube demos and their own audio recordings to see if any strike your fancy. here are a couple i’ve historically liked to get you started.




the lace sensors in particular might be exactly what you’re looking for—they were clapton’s preferred pickups for a long time, to give you an example of what they can sound like.


Highlight some text and then tap the “Quote” button.

Like this:

Thank you so much for the dummy clip hint! Very helpful.


Thank you so much! Very very helpful to me.


Jason… I don’t know how handy you are, but if you are a wiring type of person there are some option for tone circuits at GuitarFetish

Personally I only know how to burn my furniture with a soldering iron and take a fully functional guitar to completely useless.:joy:


ooooh! This might be just what I need!


Yea, I have had a lot of fun looping my guitar and pedal board effects with the Electro Harmonix 720, and then taking that straight into Morphagene. Endless fun.


Buke and Gase are also on tour, opening for Shellac! I’m going to the show in SF next Thursday.


I saw! Hoping they announce some UK dates soon.


I like this idea using an fx chain to modify the terrain of an improvisation. Great thinking there. Thanks for this sharing of process.

This reminds me of Zoe Keating. She uses predetermined loop points to perform her pieces live, so that each section that is looped does the loop for a certain number of bars then stops, allowing her to create sections and longer pieces without devolving in to washes or mechanical repetitions. Similar idea but different technique.

Adding this quote just because I feel it is speaking to the same conceptual direction. From another thread here, linked below.

What it takes to sound new thread

I do realize we are travelling a bit off thread but somehow I think that by centering guitar “practice” within a more modern context of composition that includes electronics/computers as equal partners we arrive at a really interesting place for guitarists and actual forward movement stylistically.


I completely agree. I think the constraints of the guitar can pair well with the seeming lack of constraints of electronic/computer accompaniment. The process I mentioned earlier is something akin to a narrative structure, it can be expressed in a kind of 3 act play, an inciting incident that sets the stage, the climax to the end of act two, and a resolution. Just like film, this basic structure can be played out in a huge variety of ways but there is still a familiarity and comfort in the journey that helps keep it cohesive. Arranging “future guitar” compositions that utilize the power of electro-computations to steer the arc of the narrative but still give the guitarist the freedom to tell their own story could provide just enough rope to venture into new ground without hanging ourselves lol.


I recently swapped out the passive stock pickups in one of my guitars with Fishman Fluence pickups – a Killswitch Engage Signature humbucker pair and a single coil. Naturally, active pickups require a battery, which is a downside, but everything else about the new pickups is a major upgrade. The old pickups were nothing unusual or vintage, but I love high gain sounds so I’m on a constant quest against hum. The hum is much better with the Fluence pickups that I have, not perfect, but much better. I also really like the sound. But as you will have already read in the above, opinions vary, so I’d recommend listening to the many examples on YouTube and elsewhere to get an idea of whether or not you like the sound of each particular Fluence model. The Fluence goals seem more like matching existing classic guitar sounds, so I couldn’t recommend them if you’re looking for something that really breaks tradition. The other thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of the range variation in pickup tone could probably be achieve with an EQ at the start of your effects chain.

PS I am giving away the old pickups for the price of shipping, see here:

PPS I had fun with this idea once: connect your guitar to your modular and patch the guitar signal to the trigger input of an attack-decay module that works at audio rates, like Tides, or Just Friends or Maths, then listen to the envelope. No amp, no pedals, no traditional guitar sound.




Yeah, I’m pretty hot on the vibrato-equipped unit. The units are expensive but worth the cost. It’s just that I shudder at spending that kind of dosh and also paying Customs on top of shipping. The non-vibrato one (3rd bridge) would be over 3200€. That’s not over-the-top for a handmade guitar. I’m saving for a home though.

Regarding “No Amps, No Pedals”; I went over to a Fractal Axe-FX 2 XL and RJM Mastermind GT16 years ago. For what I do, it saved weight and cost and added tons of flexibility and creativity. I won’t upgrade to the Axe-FX III until a few years from now. I simply don’t need that kind of power and routing. The 2XL does everything that I need and I can usually work around CPU overhead issues by reducing reverb quality (imperceptible) and cabinet impulse resolution (often imperceptible).

It’s really nice to have the rig sound the same every single time. It is reliable and predictable. This is also one of the primary reasons as to why I transitioned to a Buchla 200e as well.


I can’t decide whether I find that to be tongue-in-cheek or head-up-ass.


The new UA OX looks like a great alternative to all the Fractal FX/modelling kit out there. It’s also getting rave reviews.

Not cheap, but if you are seriously into recording (and have some nice amps) it could be great.

…Or if you are like me and have 2 young kids, and have a Tweed Deluxe that you built sat in the corner that hasn’t been turned up for 2 years :grin:


lower three strings were my goto but I cheated and did the G string a little.