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Old 05-04-03   #1
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What musical equipment is used to achieve common goth sounds?

For the 80's sounding jangly guitar, a semi-acoustic guitar is a must. This has a more natural, medieval mandolin sound than an electric guitar, but packs more punch than an acoustic when used for melodies.

Drenching any guitar with a chorus effect seemed pretty much mandatory at one stage (most Mission, first Sisters LP). Flange the bass if you want to sound like the Cure or Souxsie, or just turn all your effects up to 11 and jam around if you want to sound like Bauhaus. The only mob with more effects than your average goth band were the shoegazers.

Digital synths such as the Yamaha SY and Korg M series can produce some excellent string sounds which have become more popular with 90's goth music. Don't skimp on your synths; old synths and home keyboards can sound cheesy with too much squeaky treble. A good digital synth should be able to produce deep, resonant string sounds. Choral sounds are also the domain of the digital synth; look for a range of human waveforms which can provide bass notes that don't sound too breathy and soprano notes which don't sound like the Smurfs. The Yamaha SY35 and SY22 have some stunning string and choral patches as factory settings (although they may require some fiddling with to make them more punchy) and can be bought second-hand for GBP250 or less.

The reverb effect is the most popular goth effect and is also the most expensive. It provides a cathedral-like echo used to make jangly semi-acoustic guitar riffs and haunting, swirling vocals. Units start with budget floor pedal boxes from GBP60, then quickly progress into MIDI multi-effects units and on to expensive dedicated reverb units. For synths, it is often better to look for a synth with reverb built-in as this usually allows for reverb on one voice whilst leaving other voices alone. Synth reverb is especially effective on string arpeggios, choral chords and staccato woodwind melodies.

A gate effect is popular with industrial crossover bands, to chop up vocals or guitar to make them sound more artificial. Repeatedly triggering gates from MIDI sequencers can make electric guitar chords sound like punchy rhythms. Gate effects can be found in many MIDI multi-effects boxes and some analogue synths, in addition to expensive dedicated racks.

Analogue drum machines were used on early 80's goth music and are becoming popular again, although you're going to have to fight a lot of techno-heads for them. These can produce very artificial sounding rhythms using white noise and basic waveforms through analogue filters. A good model is the Notavation Drum Station which retails for around GBP450 new, but if you don't have time to program your own drum sounds, you may be better off with a synth or sampler equipped with a good set of TB808 drumkit samples. For the adventurers, the Roland MC-303 Groovebox GBP500 seems to be an ideal piece of kit as this combines analogue drums with analogue synths, as does the Yamaha CS1X GBP600 which has a full sized keyboard. For purely analogue synths try the Notavation Bass Station at GBP350. If you have money and patience, some of the 'classic' analogue synths are worth a look (Prophet V, Jupiter 8) if you can find a good one.

Goth has been going for around twenty years now, so you'll need plenty of imagination and inspiration if you don't want to sound like Goth By Numbers.
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Old 05-20-03   #2
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Feck the expensive reverb units, you can download VST plugins which do the job just as well... There is one called reverb32 which is absolutely excellent.... CoolEdit has a great reverb in it as well, but it prints instead of inserting, so you have to make a backups...
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Old 05-22-03   #3
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well yeah......... these days i guess you could always do that too haha ........... but that just takes the fun out of it.... not to mention the quality
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Old 05-28-03   #4
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Old 06-13-03   #5
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Quote:
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well yeah......... these days i guess you could always do that too haha ........... but that just takes the fun out of it.... not to mention the quality
I don't think there's any need to be afraid of computer plugins any more, although until recently they pretty atrotious... Now that it is a simple matter to render audio in 24 bit at high samplerates, outboard units are really not as necessary as they used to be, except maybe in a livesound setup...

I would defy anyone to listen to one of my recordings and tell me which time domain effects came from a lexicon unit and which were from plugins...
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Old 06-13-03   #6
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Did I mention that when you use plugins, your studio doesn't end up like a snakes wedding with all the cables patched in and out?
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Old 07-02-03   #7
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haha this is true
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Old 07-04-03   #8
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I love when a violin is used or a cello.
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Old 07-10-03   #9
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agreed ... the violin is quite relaxing
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Old 07-23-03   #10
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It sure is... There is an amazing range of moods that the violin can evoke...
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