The July 4th weekend is approaching, so it’s time to hit the beach—but you can’t have surfing without surf music, right? So before you start scouting for the impact zone, grab your guitar, import the epic downloadable Ampire preset, and play your guitar until you have noodle arms. Surf’s up!
The Surf Sound—Axe
It starts with the guitar, and your playing technique. Ideally, your guitar will have single-coil pickups, a whammy bar, at least .010 gauge strings (preferably a little heavier), and a hard pick to go with the heavy strings. If your guitar doesn’t have single-coil pickups, no worries—check out the Pro EQ-based Friday tip from November 2018, Humbucker to Single-Coil Conversion with EQ.
The Surf Sound—Amp
As luck would have it, Ampire has exactly what we need (fig. 1). Surf music wants a clean amp (well, maybe just a hint of distortion), lots of treble, and spring reverb. Tremolo is optional. I also use a compressor before the amp, to bring up decaying strings after playing with the whammy bar.
Check out the audio example, I think it nails that mythical guitar sound. And just to be clear, this isn’t about cultural appropriation of surf music, nor is it a parody. This is a tribute—my high school band opened for the Ventures, and I still think the surf guitar sound represents a unique moment in time. Have fun!
Download the Ampire preset CA Surf Music.preset