In a recent post featuring Adrian Legg`s keith tuner fingerpicking genius I slyly and quietly suggested that Bill Frisell was definitely another idiosyncratic guitarist to look for in your listening research.
Bill has always been an exponent of an healthy array of effects – most notably delay, reverb, chorus and more rarely pitch shifters to create unique tones and sounds; a uniquity exaggerated by his jazz leanings combined with clean sustain and an emotionally oblique sense of melody.
He does however ensure that his use of processing, or effects, don`t colour his sound in a way that might obscure the emotional intent or message and seems incapable of descending into gratuitous, meaningless affectation. Bill often sounds as if his notes are shards of ice slowly melting as they descend through warmer water and the overall impression is of a glacial and ambivalently jazz-blues fusion. It`s a novel approach to sound, feel and melody that conjures up a sense of constant ideation….like your distortion – sometimes it only counts when you turn it off. Use it in your own playing. If you`d like to achieve similar sounds consider adding a good old Fender twin reverb (or similar) to your set up, a delay pedal for broad stereo ambience, a touch of lexicon reverb and a little chorus effect.