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Music

Quick Tip: How to Create a Jagged Little Flanger Effect

Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Top Sound Design Tuts.
How to Create an Evolving Pad Sound, Using Multiple Modulations
How to make a Reverse Glass Effect

Let's all agree that Alanis Morissette's (spelled right on the first try!) Jagged Little Pill was one of the coolest albums of the mid nineties. Once we can agree on that, I might continue with this Quick Tip. There were all sorts of interesting production value in her songs, most of which came to fruit in Glen Ballard's home studio. His interview in Howard Massey's "Behind The Glass" is a very inspirational piece on how much you can achieve with just a little inspiration.

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Time: 10-15 minutes
  • Requirements: Any software DAW, guitar chord strums, vibrato and
    flanger

  • Summary: Learn a little alternative guitar production, using
    flanger for guitar

There's a cool little guitar
effect on her song Forgiven,
which is the 6th
track on Jagged Little Pill.
I had been trying to figure out that effect for some time until I
stumbled upon something that comes very close to how I hear it. I
won't go so far as to say that this is exactly how this effect was
made, since it seems to have a little more vibrato/tremolo, but it's
close. Besides, this effect is cool enough anyway!

We're going to go for something
similar to this:

I have a similar chord strum part
that I'm going to change into this flangy wobbly part.

Just a strummy DI'd guitar part.
Nothing fancy, and doesn't really sound that good. but it'll do.

First, let's put a vibrato on it.
We want the notes to wobble a bit, and I'm killing two flies with one
stone by using Logic's amp simulator. Amping up the signal and adding
a little vibrato.

Have the vibrato in sync with
your track at 1/32, a really fast vibrato. Almost sounds metallic by
itself.

This is what we've got so far.

By adding a flanger on top of
this we get an almost space sounding effect out of the guitar. The
chords rise and fall in time with this metallic space sound, which
ironically, reminds me of the mid nineties.

I'm using Logic's flanger plug-in
but feel free to copy these settings below in whatever plugin you are
using.

Feedback is at 51%. Any more and
we'll start overloading the track and it'll all end in a big detuned
mess. The intensity slider determines
the amount of modulation we put on the signal. Needless to say, it's
a lot.

Be careful with the speed, since
having the rate of flanger too fast results in the equivalent of a
metallic scream.

Since we have the flanger on as
an insert, let's have the mix on about 50% so we have a little bit of
dry signal as well.

What we end up with is this:

By tweaking the parameters of the
flanger and/or vibrato, you can modify it to suit your needs.
Modulation effects like this, as well as chorus, vibrato and phase
can add a different dimension to an otherwise normal sounding chord
strum. It's basic guitar production, but adding depth and modulating
the signal can do wonders to your song. I know that Forgiven
would probably not have been as cool if Glen Ballard would have
recorded a normal acoustic guitar strum instead of this heavily
produced flange guitar that we heard before. And it's all the better
because of it.

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