Better Electric Guitar Playing Through Unplugging
Do you ever play electric guitar unplugged? I used to like to play my Strat unplugged because, as we teenagers noted, a Strat sounds like a Strat whether it is plugged in or not. And it avoided the whole messy scene of the neighbors banging on the floors and walls of my apartment building!
Try it. Take your electric guitar out to the front porch on a quiet evening and play in the night, without an amp. Very relaxing. You’ll also find that you are playing in a different way, because you are hearing the instrument differently.
Instead of going for the big sustaining notes, you’ll have to settle for the rapid decay of an unplugged instrument. That changed my playing. Do you hear how many Fender players (who don’t play through stacks of amps) hit more notes, sometimes repeating the same note? You can hear this in many country and southern rock songs. Part of the Fender twang is the strings buzzing against the frets. It’s a great zingy sound, but it dampens the string and quickens the decay.
Players have compensated by playing so that they are not depending on natural sustain of the instrument.
Many guitars are built better and sustain forever unplugged. Better craftsmanship has that advantage, but on the other hand the zing is lost.
I know it seems silly for a guy who makes and sells guitar cables to advocate playing unplugged, but it’s really all about the music, not the cable! You’ll be plugging back in soon enough anyway.
If you don’t have any gigs in the next week, try playing only unplugged. It will change how you hear and play, and perhaps provide you a refreshing style upgrade.
Hi, great article. I also play my electric guitar unplugged sometimes. It’s a different feeling for me, very refreshing. You’ve done a good job describing the experience of playing electric guitar unplugged though. Cheers!
Thanks a lot for the post!
Great post! I don’t know if you actually read or respond to these comments. But I just wanted to offer a bit of a cautionary experience. I went through a period of playing exclusively unplugged for the reasons you stated and also not having to set up any, amps,cables ect.. And after a while practicing and playing my strat unplugged became a habit. I had no way of knowing it at the time.. But playing unplugged for about 3-4 months all the while keeping to my regular routine. When the time came to roll out the ole pedal board/Super Reverb and play with the full band at live stage volume for a gig… It was total disaster!