"Ideal Settings"


Page 1 Panel 1.

Ken stands in a blank white void. He says, "I'm Ken. This is the World on a String. It's a teaching comic for guitarists. The first of its kind, as far as I know." Text below reads, "Volume 1, number 1. CC BY-SA Ken Alleman 2019."

Page 1 Panel 2.

Ken, in closeup, says, "New gear is always exciting. Guitars, amps, effects. But it can be hard to know where to start with it. There's a lot of possible settings for each control, in countless possible combinations.

Page 1 Panel 3.

Ken holds an overdrive pedal in the foreground, called the Westech BS-9. It has knobs labeled "drive," "tone," and "level." He says, "This is a brand new overdrive pedal. It has three controls. I'll be using this for demonstration purposes. This could be any piece of gear that has knobs, switches, or sliders. The goal here is to get a good sense of how each control affects the overall sound, and the full range of sounds available. Once you have that, you can find any sound you want and figure out what's right for you.

Page 2 Panel 1.

Ken says, "Start with everything halfway up. This will give you a little bit of everything. One by one, turn each control down, then up again until each one is maxed. Make these changes little by little. Play a little every time you change something. Get a sense of how it sounds and feels."

Page 2 Panel 2.

Closeups of each knob at various settings. With the drive knob at halfway, Ken says, "A goodly amount of drive. Maybe too much?" With the tone knob at halfway, Ken says, "Pretty close to well-balanced." With the level knob at half way, Ken says, "Pretty close to unity." A footnote explains, "[Unity is] when the volume is the same, whether the effect is engaged or not."

With the drive knob at minimum, Ken says, "Very subtle. Too subtle?" With the tone knob at minimum, Ken says, "A little on the bassy side. Could be useful." With the level knob at minimum, Ken says, "Well, that's not anything."

With the drive knob at maximum, Ken says, "Whoa, that's hot!" With the tone knob at maximum, Ken says, "Very bright. Harsh, even. Ouch." With the level knob at maximum, Ken says, "Pushing the amp, even without the drive control. Nice!"

Page 3.

Ken stands before a pile of gear. Amps, cabinets, effects, guitars. He says, "This isn't meant to be world-changing. You may already be doing it. Just think of it as a step-by-step process instead of random hunting. Once you know your gear, you can find the right sound for you. Remember: if it sounds good, it is good!" End.

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