Live: Mark Johnston shows you how to build beautiful guitar ambience

Get a masterclass on soundscapes and effects use. Live: Mark Johnston joined the event over the weekend to give a ground-up overview of his approach to ambient guitar.

A central theme of the lesson was “you’re not going to use as much reverb as you think,” something Mark was keen to focus on as an aspect of subtlety when weaving ambient guitar soundscapes.

Johnston’s approach to ambient tones is less abstract than some, as he explains: “A lot of ambient players tend to like that droning thing, which is really amazing – just not something that I really dig into. I like a lot of my ambient guitar compositions to still feel like something resembling guitar, or synths or keys – dry textures that are accentuated by wet effects, not just wet effects for wet effects’ sake.”


Speaking of effects – these are of course integral to creating this genre of sounds. Mark’s signal chain at the moment consists of a 29 Effects Luna buffer, a Meris Enzo, a Chase Bliss x Benson Automotone preamp, a Chase Bliss Thermae, a Chase Bliss x Cooper FX Generation Loss, a Hologram Microcosm, a Meris Poilymoon, and a Meris Mercury 7 and finally a Strymon Iridium amplifier. Related to the subtle use of delay and reverb, Johnston was also keen to note the importance of good dry tone – hence a lot of the pedals he uses have some sort of dry signal-shaping effect.

You can watch the full in-depth class above.

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