Recently, one of my awesome Twitter followers sent me a tweet asking me for suggestions on ways to get his guitar to sound like a synth keyboard. My first suggestion was in my opinion, the most obvious to people who know about these things — a midi pickup like the Roland GK-2 and GK-2a.
His response to my suggestion is what inspired me to post this — “is there any way that I can do it without using pickups or hardware changes on my guitar? A pedal perhaps?” Hmm..I wasn’t sure, but I had some time so I set out to do some research and learning on the subject of:
Make guitar sound like _______________…
Why am I using a blank? Well, I found ways to make my guitar sound like a lot of different things so I figured I would share a couple of them here — maybe I’ll share more at another time too. First off, let’s see if we can tackle my Twitter friend’s question on how to make his guitar sound like a synth.
Well, it turns out there there are some pedals that will do just what is needed here. I can’t really speak for them because I don’t have experience with any of them, but try them out at your local shop or search out some youtube videos of demos of them and you might just find one that will fit what you want to do. Some examples are:
Microsynth by Electro-Harmonix
FM-4 Filter Modeler Pedal by Line6.
What about a violin?
Well, getting your guitar to sound like a violin is really all about how you set up your tone and maybe changing how you play to get the violin tone you are looking for. There really isn’t a pedal that can do this.
The first thing you will want to do is reduce your pick attack by rolling back on your tone knob on your guitar. That should smooth out your tone quite a bit. When playing, use a lot of legato technique with your left hand. Less picking is better so this will give you a great workout with hammer-ons and pulloffs.
Also, remember that guitars and violins are tuned a lot differently (guitars are in fourths and violiins are in fifths). This means that fingering things on a guitar will be a lot different on a violin and vice versa. Think about this when you play and write violin pieces on the guitar — think wide intervals.
Of course, we also should mention a really cool tool called the EBow. This, in place of a pick, will give you plenty of smooth sustain and the sound of a violin.