Perception is a funny thing. If you’ve ever listened to your voice on a recording, or caught your reflection in a mirror and didn’t recognize yourself for a second, you know what I’m talking about.
Sometimes we have a way of perceiving things the way we want them to be, rather than the way they are. There are times when this can be a good thing: I know that if I feel like I’m looking sharp I’m probably going to leave the house feeling more confident than if I’m wearing my ‘everything else is in the wash’ outfit, even if I forget that my version of ‘Sunday best’ is ripped jeans and a Van Halen shirt (but it’s a really nice Van Halen shirt, right?).
But there are times when it can be a bad thing. Like if you’re around someone who’s had a few too many drinks and they’ve lost the ability to regulate their volume so they’re shouting at the top of their lungs when they think they’re speaking at a normal level.
Guitar playing is a lot like that. If you feel like you’re having a ‘Good Tone Day’ you’ll play more boldly and more confidently, like nothing you could play could possibly be wrong. But sometimes what we’re hearing in our head isn’t what we’re putting out there. Sometimes we may think we’re speaking in an authoritative Darth Vader voice when we really sound like Moe the bartender. And sometimes we may think we’re playing with all the rhythmic precision of a James Heftield when really we’re flailing about with the abandon of an [insert least-favorite guitar player here].
That’s why it’s so important to record your playing and listen back to it with a critical ear. This helps you to spotlight and refine all sorts of issues with your playing. And that’s what makes Gibson’s new Memory Cable™ so useful: in addition to being a premium cable, it’s an ideal tool for songwriters as well as those just wanting to refine their technique.
So with that in mind, here are some ways that the Memory Cable™ can improve not only your guitar playing but your entire musical expression.
When you’re in the zone it can be difficult to discern whether you’re playing at a steady tempo or not. We all have the tendency to speed up when we’re excited. Sometimes this can even add a sense of excitement and energy to a piece - if the whole band is doing it at the same time. But unrequested tempo adjustments can kill the vibe of any gig. When you remove yourself from the passion of performance and listen back to what you’ve just played, you can pinpoint any little issues with the way you’re handling the tempo and the even-ness of your attack.
Here’s another one of those things that can escape you if you’re rocking out too hard: the tendency to either accidentally nudge a note out of tune by applying too much finger pressure during normal fretting, or to push it out of tune when attempting to bend a string. Again, sometimes an over-bent string can be a cool thing - there’s a particularly great one in Jimmy Page’s “Whole Lotta Love” solo - but in most cases a little reckless abandon is best employed as a deviation from the main program in the form of a cool little moment here or there, rather than playing an entire set of imprecise, over-reached notes. When you listen back to your playing it’s a lot easier to identify problem areas, particularly if you’re bending just one string of a particular chord slightly out of tune. Once you’ve identified the issue you can work on it until the ‘right’ way becomes habit.
Tone doesn’t necessarily mean just the settings on our amp. It can also refer to what your fingers are squeezing out of your guitar. Ever notice how some players are able to coax almost wah-wah-like sounds out of their guitars even when they’re not using a pedal? Steve Vai is a great example. There’s a certain technique you can use where you sort of push the string into the fret a little harder than usual to achieve a sharper tone. Fret very softly and you’ll get a softer, warmer tone. When you record your playing you’ll be able to more clearly zero in on these moments so you can develop more control over them.
Perhaps the greatest reason to record your playing is so you can capture those magical little moments that would otherwise be lost forever, be they melodies, licks, songwriting ideas or one-off impossible-to-replicate spontaneous flukes. And with the Memory Cable™’s Reamping ability you can come up with an idea while jamming, then transfer the file into your recording program to re-amp physically or digitally.