One of the less well known guitarists of the last entry is Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. Newer guitarists may not be familiar with Buckingham, but his style and sound inspired several generations of guitarists. He’s probably most well known for hist signing, songwriting and production skills, but his guitar playing was instrumental in Fleetwood Mac’s success, so it’s worth taking a look at. I’m going to take a look at his sound and give you an idea of the kind of setup that’s required to reproduce some of his signature sounds.
The first thing that makes Buckingham so unique is the fact that he uses a fingerpicking style. Originally a Banjo player, Lindsey Buckingham made the transition to guitar, and his virtuoso performances are a signature sound of Fleetwood Mac. Buckingham plays bass lines with his thumb while he uses the other fingers to voice melodies and sweeping arpeggios. The resultant music is truly original and inspiring.
Looking at his setup, one thing that you’ll notice is that he has a truly unique axe. His Turner electric is not a guitar that has much fame, outside of Lindsey Buckingham. It’s shape, distinctly violin like, is one of the most unique features of the guitar. You will also find Buckingham playing an acoustic on various tracks. There’s nothing especially important to be said about his acoustic, other than the way he plays the instrument.
There’s one performance in specific that I’d like to analyze. During one particular Fleetwood Mac reunion, back in 1997, Buckingham performed the song “Big Love”, playing a Gibson Chet Atkins sold-body nylon string guitar. The reason that I’ve chosen this one is because of the unique sound that he got using that particular guitar. You can actually recreate this sound, even if you don’t have this particular axe. Using your acoustic electric guitar, I will show you how to simulate this sound using your guitar and a few simple effects.
In order to simulate this sound, you’re going to need delay and reverb. If you have an amp with these effects built in, that will do just fine. For the delay time, you’re going to want to set it around 125 milliseconds. You’ll need to be able to adjust the blend on the delay, adjusting it to be mostly the direct signal. This is important because when you’re soloing and playing intricate melodies, you don’t want the delayed notes muddying down the sound you’re trying to create. If you’re using a delay unit, such as those built in to some amplifiers, that only allows you to adjust the delay time by tapping a button, you may find it difficult to get the exact sound that I’m trying to teach. You can play around with the settings to see if you can get a sound that’s similar or just use this guide as a way to get ideas for new sounds.
Another adjustment that you may want to consider, if you have a nice delay, is to roll off some of the high end from the delayed signal. Again, this is to make sure that your original notes really sing through. As for your reverb, you’re going to want to reduce the size of the room to around 35 percent. If you’re not allowed to change the room size, don’t worry, just know this is going to be more of a creative exercise for you, rather than an all out recreation of the original sounds of Buckingham. Finally, you’re going to want to roll out a good bit of the midrange from your amplifier (or board if you’re going directly into one). This is going to keep things crisp and clear when you’re really laying on the notes.
While using built in effects are limiting, you can get a unique sound using this guide. For those with a nice effects board or pedals that allow them to adjust all of these settings, you’ll find a deep airy sound is the result of these settings. This is great to add some depth to a track where the main guitar part is played on an acoustic. If you haven’t heard the version of “Big Love” that I’m talking about, get on the net and look for videos or recordings from the ’97 Fleetwood Mac reunion show. It’s truly worth your time & is a great performance! Good luck & happy guitarring!