Songwriting with the Electric Guitar

By: Michael Russell

The electric guitar is probably the easiest instrument to use for writing songs. This is due to the fact that it is played through an amplifier. Most amplifiers have many knobs to adjust for getting the sound that you desire. You can usually adjust the level of bass, treble, middle and gain. Some amps have other effects to use, such as reverb and chorus. Reverb is a form of very short delay and can be used to add depth to the sound. The chorus effect is odd but thickens the sound the amp produces. A few amps out there have built-in effects that may add delay, flanger and distortion. Even if your amp does not include these effects, you can purchase pedals that produce any of them and these = will make it easier to write a unique song. Another reason to use effects is to write a song using less effect because the effect will do most of the work for you. Some people prefer not to use effects but if you are attempting to write songs using a guitar as the only instrument, it would be a wise choice to have overdrive and delay effects on hand.

It also helps to have proper recording equipment to lay down every idea you have. A simple 4 or 8 track cassette recorder would do the trick. Or you could use a microphone from your computer to record songs onto your hard drive. If you plan on using more than one guitar track in a song, be sure to record your rhythm tracks. Do this, and on playback, record yourself playing over it just to get idea for soloing. It doesn't matter if it sounds bad, just keep trying and then when you become more satisfied, let others listen to it and see if they enjoy it or not. Not much sense in song writing if nobody likes it at all. Recording isn't just to remember your idea, but to see what it really sounds like without the guitar in your hand.

Becoming a good songwriter is important in growing as a musician, because playing someone else's songs doesn't do much for creativity. Try learning as many chords as you can and just keep playing them over and over. Get the sounds stuck in your head so that when it comes to creating a song you want, you can easily apply the right chords. You will not write songs very quickly if you are sitting there trying to find the right notes to go along with the ones you have played before. If you start getting stuck, don't try forcing yourself, go outside and do something else. Being outside or interacting with somebody is an excellent way of gathering ideas for your songs. When it comes to the writing process, it should usually help to be in a quiet place without distractions. This applies to writing lyrics for your songs as well, if you plan on having any. Writing lyrics according to the mood you are feeling is also an easier way to get the writing done quickly.

As far as the guitar playing goes, try to experiment with effects to get a sound that resembles the words of the song you are writing, which would be your mood, or feeling.

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