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How to Create a Synth out of Guitar with EQ, Tremolo, FilterFreak & More


Hey everyone. Today, I’m going to be talking about some ways that you can take some traditional fuzzy electric guitar and add some effects to it to make it sound a little bit more like a synthesizer.

I came across this when I was recording a new song for Nation Beat, and there was a temporary track and it kind of had this pulsing synth sound, but the sound itself was a little canned, and we were looking for something that was a little bit more organic.

So what I did was I recorded electric guitar with fuzz just playing single notes, and I used the tremolo plug-in in Logic which can be sync’d to tempo to chop it up and kind of get that kind of stuttered effect.

I recorded an example here using mostly plug-ins. I used the pedalboard plug-in in Logic with a fuzz to get fuzz tone which then is going into the Softube vintage amp room, just on a blackface Fender kind of setting. Pretty clean. Then from there, I’m using this Rosen impulse library with a 4×12 Marshall cab, and that’s just to get the core guitar sound, which is this.

[electric guitar plays]

Real simple, right? I’ll turn the metronome off.

Nothing particularly exciting about that, nor should be because it’s just the bed track for us to mess around with some stuff.

So, what I did is I added a tremolo, which is really cool because you can really adjust the parameters on it to see how much it’s going to cut up signal.

Let’s listen to it on this setting.

[tremolo guitar plays]

It’s almost kind of an 80’s sound.

You can do some cool things with delay with that too.

[tremolo guitar plays with delay]

I’ve got it on a quarter note delay right now.

Now, let’s take this a step further. I really got thinking about it and thought, “well, what else can we do to affect that sound?” The first thing that came to mind was this FilterFreak plug-in from SoundToys which really allows you to do all kinds of things with the signal.

So check this out. This is just a preset I found on here called “Dirty Filter s.”

[guitar with FilterFreak]

We’re getting that tremolo effect, but more. Add the echo on top of that…

Alright, I wanted to take it even a step further and I pulled open this FabFilter plugin. I’m going to take this frequency here, and I’m just going to manually automate it. We could even record the automation so if you want to capture a reoccurring rhythm, you’ll be able to cut and paste that through different sections of the song, which could be really useful. Check this out.

[distorted guitar, FabFilter automated]

You can get rhythmic with it.

Another thing you can do is use an EXS24 to basically trigger the side-chain and the gate. Let’s see what this is like. I basically created a software instrument track, I put the EXS24 on it. I didn’t really pick a sound for it or anything, just the regular sine wave sound that comes up is perfect. I set the output of the channel to a buss, and then for the buss, I just turned it off because we don’t really want to hear that sound.

The gate that I created – I didn’t create the gate, I simply just opened it. I set the side-chain to buss 2. So when I play a note on the EXS 24, I’m just using the musical typer right now so you can see me pressing the note, you’re going to hear the note come through the noise gate.

[guitar plays, automating the gate]

I have the delay on too, I’ll turn that off.

That’s just our regular dry guitar signal.

FilterFreak back in.

[guitar with FilterFreak]

We’re going to record that section right there if we were wanting to quantize that and make that really tight, we’d be able to do that. Just an example.


As you can see, we can kind of do so much with this. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but just a few concepts to get you thinking creatively and outside the box when it comes to guitar tracks.

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC. More at

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