Are you a guitarist looking to expand your sound?
For many guitarists, there's nothing more enjoyable than the endless tone quest. If you spend any amount of time on YouTube (or any of the popular internet forums), there's always another pedal, amp or guitar to buy. Not that we mind, of course! But we thought we'd ask guitarists to consider something a little outside their wheelhouse for their next purchase in their endless tone quest: a synthesizer. With that said, here are seven compelling reasons why every guitarist should own a synthesizer.
1. It's time to add a little variety to your sound
Synths can create a wide range of sounds, from chugging bass parts, to cutting leads to expressive, evocative pads. Even with a pedal board full of the latest and greatest, it's easy to find yourself hitting a tonal wall. Whether it's bristling with knobs you can tweak, full of inspiring presets, or maybe even both, a new synth will inject major life into your sound.
Offering 12-voices of true analog sound, Behringer's DeepMind 12 is capable of creating incredibly evocative and lush pads.
2. Synths can handle some of the heavy lifting
Depending on the makeup of your band, you may be responsible for handling all of the guitar parts yourself. Unless you're using a looper pedal, it can be more than a little difficult to play multiple parts at once. The good news is that most synths can create some convincing guitar-like sounds and typically have an arpeggiator or sequencer that you can program in advance and latch on to play throughout a song (or a section). Take the Roland JD-Xi, which offers hybrid digital and analog synthesis as well as a variety of built-in drum sounds, all of which can be sequenced for playback. Let the synth handle the heavy lifting while you solo and have all the fun.
Take a closer look at Roland's JD-Xi. At about 4:15 in, we can see how easily you can sequence drum sounds, utilizing the classic sounds of the CR-78 CompuRhythm drum machine, originally released in 1978. Other classic Roland Electronic Kits and acoustic kits are included.
3. Is that a modular unit or a pedal?
Some of those modular units sure look a lot like pedals, don’t they? If you’ve ever spent hours tweaking knobs and swapping stompboxes in and out of your rig till you find the perfect sound, you’ll have no problem getting on board the modular synth train. With plenty of patch points and plenty of knobs, modular synth units are as inspiring as it gets, and they can be just as much fun as pedal tweaking.
Go in-depth with Pittsburgh Modular's Analog Replicator, an analog delay module designed for integration in Eurorack modular sytems.
4. You'll become a better musician
Writing for and with a different instrument will get you out of your comfort zone and force you to grow as a musician. Thankfully, keyboards are laid out in a very logical way and will provide you with an excellent platform for expanding your music-theory knowledge.
Non-keyboardists find these E-Z Play Key Stickers from Hal Leonard handy for finding their way around keyboards.
5. Synths can make pretty cool effects processors
Many synths allow you to connect your guitar (or other external devices) via a 1/4" input allowing you to process your audio through their envelopes, filters and effects. Thanks to the synth’s sound-shaping capabilities, you’ll find yourself building signal chains and effects settings you might have never otherwise considered.
In addition to being a very cool and unique sounding synth, Korg's MS-20 Mini allows you to connect external inputs for processing through its very aggressive filter section.
6. You can sync everything up!
Most synthesizers employ MIDI. Without getting too technical, MIDI allows instruments to communicate with each other, transmitting things such as what notes you play, what tempo you're working at and what knobs you're twisting. So, what does that mean to you exactly? It means you can sync what you're doing to other instruments. Layer sounds and effects using, for example, tempo-synced delays. Or sync to lighting rigs or music software running on a laptop. Depending on how far you want to go down the rabbit hole, such layering can add a lot of impact to your performances leaving your audience impressed while giving you a bit more control over the proceedings. And, when you're ready to sit back down in your home studio, you can use your synth, for example Roland's JUNO-DS88, as a MIDI controller with your software of choice!
Roland's JUNO-DS88 Synthesizer offers a plethora of sound options including pianos, organs and more. It also features 88 weighted-action keys, making it the perfect MIDI controller for any home studio.
7. You'd be in good company
You know that cool French horn-ish sound on the Beatles song "Because"? That's actually an early Moog synth, played by George Harrison. You know that crazy Pink Floyd song,"On The Run"? Most of that comes courtesy of an EMS Synthi AKS, played by David Gilmour. If two of the most iconic guitarists of all time can find a use for synths, you probably can, too.
The Moog Mother-32 Semi Modular Synth Module offers classic Moog vibe at very attractive prices, courtesy of its classic Ladder Filter and oscillator designs.
Need help choosing a synth to expand your musical horizons? Call a Musician’s Friend Gear Head at 800-449-9128 for expert, friendly advice.