Use an Acoustic for Song Writing.

inmyhandsinmyhands Posts: 11,591
        When I write songs using an acoustic guitar the songs, almost always, turn out much better. This includes all types of genre. From Blues too Hard Rock, Country to Jazz to Pop or Fusion to Big Band. I've recently been writing multiple songs of all different types relying strictly on either my Furch 6 string or Martin 12 string acoustic. The ratio of songs worthy of "damn fine" to "has possibilities" is much larger than normal. 
        I think the big plus of writing with an acoustic is you don't have anything but the strings and your voice to work with. Great songs will be great for use in multiple formats. They're not dependent on a particular styles type of rhythms, instrumentation or whatever. When the basic song, shed of all guitar / amp / keyboard / effects tones and additions kicks ass you know it's a kick ass song.
        Here's a personal example of what goes wrong when writing on an electric guitar signal chain or an electronic keyboard with tons of onboard voices. I come up with a good possibility for an new song. In my case it may come from a chord progression, noodling on my synth, a bass line that I can't get out of my head or a melody I may have come up with while driving to or from work. If I continue to work on the song using one of the multi-option mentioned above I find myself constantly considering different guitars or, having settled on one, pickup combinations, effect pedals on or off in the chain, choice of amps that sound the best, settings on the amp, all types of tonal considerations, keyboard voice selections that first go to type of instrument and then go to the best example of that instrument for the current song build.
        The problem is too many choices, considerations, combinations, etc. etc. By the time I've found a setup I can live with I've lost the original vibe that started me down the path in the first place. The magic is at least diminished if not gone. 
        When you write a song your focus should be strictly on melody or words first, harmonies, (if appropriate), second, the rhythm section, (drums, bass, guitar, whatever), third and enhancements like tonality, effects, etc. fourth. When using an electric guitar signal chain or a multi voice keyboard synthesizer you'll find yourself trying to do everything at once and totally destroying the original kernel of inspiration that started you down the new songs path.
        An acoustic guitar and the human voice are the perfect pairing for taking a new song from inception to germination to blossom. Concerns beyond what they can produce should all be left outside the curve until the song itself has reached a stage of near perfection. When you can sit in front of a group of people and just sing , strum / pick / whatever your acoustic guitar and garner the response you're seeking you will have reached the stage where you can advance to considering the type of instrumentation, tones, effects, etc. .
        Song writing involves areas of your mind that work much better when left alone to do what they do best. Don't throw in extraneous crap that you can work on later.

Comments

  • I don't disagree with any of that.

    For me, though, the value lies in the fact that I think totally differently when playing acoustic vs. an electric. The physicality of the instrument is different enough that even if I'm just noodling, I noodle differently.  On acoustic, I have heavier strings, seldom play higher up the neck than the 7th position, and spend most of my time in the folk chords position. 

    So different songs come out of me on acoustic.  Loaded Dice, Hudson Valley Stomp, Pearl Devere, and Summer Clothes all came from acoustic. And though I suppose it's possible, I can't see how any of those would have happened on electric. Just like the ones I wrote on electric wouldn't have happened on acoustic.
    I ain't falling for no banana in the tailpipe.
  • M11M11 Posts: 815

    For me, though, the value lies in the fact that I think totally differently when playing acoustic vs. an electric. The physicality of the instrument is different enough that even if I'm just noodling, I noodle differently.  On acoustic, I have heavier strings, seldom play higher up the neck than the 7th position, and spend most of my time in the folk chords position. 
    This for me as well. The same goes when writing songs on a piano, I'll stick to keys that are not "guitar friendly" (e.g. F, Bb) and when arranging for guitar it'll force me to either use those "uncomfortable" chords or use a capo which opens up a lot of sonic possibilities.

    Overall I do agree with inmyhands that when you isolate the songwriting from "distractions" such as tones, effects and focus on the "meat" of a song (melody and harmonic progression) you have a better foundation for a better song. That being said, sometimes I think those "distractions" can kickstart a creative process that can end up becoming something great. I'm thinking of stuff like Van Halen's Cathedral, in which the delay and volume effects are what make the song special.


  • M11 said:
    I think those "distractions" can kickstart a creative process that can end up becoming something great. I'm thinking of stuff like Van Halen's Cathedral, in which the delay and volume effects are what make the song special.

    Guys like The Edge and Andy Summers got rich doing that.
    I ain't falling for no banana in the tailpipe.
  • inmyhandsinmyhands Posts: 11,591
    Yes. They got rich doing it, but, then there's "Yesterday" by The Beatles. A simple acoustic guitar composition that became the most recorded pop song by different artists within different genres of all time. 

    Other examples:

    Dolly Parton .....   I Will Always Love You.

    Badfinger ........    Without You.

    The Beatles, (George Harrison), Something.

            Songs recorded using effects and specific tones become genre dependent. Songs recorded based on words and music can grow wings and expand.
Sign In or Register to comment.