Amps, overdrives, delays, reverbs… all essential parts of our tone that we can never get out of our heads. What if you were missing a key component that could take it to the next level?

A graphic EQ pedal is one of the most overlooked and underestimated effects to be forged in iron and wire. Here’s why you might be missing out on something incredibly useful…

Boost, But Better!

A clean boost pedal might be something you already have, and that’s great. As a tool, a clean boost will help your solos stand out, or just help you give a more dynamic performance – all great things!

But let’s not forget that volume isn’t the only thing that makes a solo stand out. When recording an album, bands often use a different tone and gear setup for the solos in order to make them stand out.

Along with changing guitars, amps, cabs, etc. they often shape the tone with a different EQ approach, pushing some of the midrange of the guitar and cutting the low end to keep your solo or lead part right on top of the entire mix, not stuck fighting the other instruments.

Sure, a clean boost takes your tone to 11, but all that heavy beef and grind you like in your rhythm tone just becomes mud and fizz when you’re trying to stand out above the rest of the band!

By setting your graphic EQ’s output a few db’s higher and boosting some of the upper midrange frequencies you’ll find your solo cuts through way more than a simple volume boost does. Never get lost in the mix again.

Surgical Precision

We tend to focus on the gear used in the making of a guitar tone, but not the processing done afterwards. In the studio and live, many guitar tones are EQ’d using plugins or dedicated hardware units to remove frequency buildups. This removes mud and harsh frequencies, giving you a far more pleasing tone overall.

“Harsh frequencies? My tone? Pffft, my tone is awesome.”

Alright, wise guy, turn that tone up to stage volumes and go stand in the audience. Are you really telling me there’s nothing there hurting your ears? No spikey high-end frequencies? No piercing high-mids? That’s what I thought.

It may be tough for some of you to believe that a good guitar and a good amp aren’t the whole picture, but now is a good time to learn! They’re certainly the majority of it, but a well-tweaked EQ can give your tone that extra punch, clarity, or tightness, making your guitar tone much more effective and pleasurable to listen to.

No matter how great the tone is, it can always benefit from even a couple small subtle EQ changes with a far more flexible and precise tool than your 3-band EQ.

Instrument Changes

Switching guitars on stage can be no problem for those of us with digital modelers, but if you’re just using an amp and cab you might not have the same preset options for multiple instruments. As a result, your tone changes between guitars, and not always for the better.

Need a little extra gain before the amp? A bit more bass when you switch to the single coils? No problem, let your EQ do all the heavy lifting without messing with your amp settings that you’ve dialed in to perfection.

Filter Effects and Radio Sounds

Ever want to make your guitar sound like it’s coming through an old radio? Maybe you want it to sound like it’s being played two rooms down the hall. A filter can provide some crazy effects when used to the extreme!

These may seem like useless tools that will only be used by a few guitarists, but one tip I always recommend to players in any genre (but particularly rock and metal) is to use an EQ to make your guitar smaller in certain sections.

Before you start throwing the tomatoes, I know… we want our tone to be BIG! HUGE! MASSIVE! Let’s not forget, these terms are relative. If you’re running at 110% the whole time, there’s nowhere to go from there.

One trick to get around this that I’ve used for years is to use an EQ to make my guitar tone slightly less fat and chunky during more dynamic sections, or sections where only one guitar is playing before the whole band kicks in.

Adding this kind of dynamic change to your music makes those 110% sections far more impactful. Remember, the best way to make a section of music sound bigger is to make the preceding section sound smaller.

An Extra Amp Channel

Maybe you don’t need any of these things, and that’s okay! However, if you’re a guitarist, you’ve probably wanted to have “juuuust one more” amp channel. Yes, an EQ can do that too!

Want a variation of your rhythm tone? Need a tone that’s identical but with less for tighter chugs or more gain for chunky chords? There’s no better or cheaper way to do so than with a graphic EQ pedal.

For any of you metalheads out there, a great trick is to use a lower gain setting for tight, heavily-noise-gated sections to add clarity, tightness, and dynamics, then bumping it back up for sections that need more aggression and saturation. Just put the EQ pedal before your amp and/or drive pedals and lower or raise the gain as necessary!

Find Your Own Voice

No matter what your use for the pedal is, the bottom line is that it can help you find a much more unique voice than your amp can on its own. It’s one of the most beneficial tools in tone that we almost never use.

So let’s change that – enough with having 4 overdrives on our board or 7 different routing configurations. Let’s keep it simple and use that pedal to add some polish, balance, and extra… everything.

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