Does your lead guitar tone always get lost in the mix? Do your solos fail to cut through? As part of Solo Week on MusicRadar, we present 10 sure-fire ways to make yourself heard when the time comes to cut loose. First things first, make sure that your favourite six-string squeeze has the set-up it deserves...
A good set-up – that’s proper intonation and a buzz-free action – will aid sustain and harmonic resonance, important factors when you’re up there wringing as much sustain as you can from your instrument. Optimise (but don’t just raise) the height of your pickups for individual string clarity and balance, increased response, and to experiment with the relative volumes of your pickups. Strat players – is your bridge fixed or floating? Fix it down for more sustain.
In addition, string gauge, and the material they’re made from, has a bearing on more than just the feel of your guitar. While the likes of Brian May and Billy Gibbons prefer an extra light gauge, the general consensus is that bigger strings bring increased volume, tone, more pick responsiveness and sustain; the cost being the extra strength and stamina required to play them.
Try going up a gauge next time you restring, and see for yourself. Tune to Eb (á la Stevie Ray) to ease yourself in if necessary.