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> Tone - The Wholy Grail Of Guitar Playing!
Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 7 2013, 12:00 PM
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As some of you guys know (I've noticed you noticed it on Facebook tongue.gif) I've been to one of the greatest gigs on Tuesday - one that I've been dreaming of since around 1997 or even 1996! I'm talking about seeing a live performance of the guitarist responsible for me picking up the 6 strings - Slash!

It was just perfect! Great atmosphere, great sound, awesome playing and as a bonus, I got to see one of my favorite vocalists - Myles Kennedy! Now, I've been amazed by Slash's tone! I've also witnessed the line check done before the show and guess what - his tone is as dry as a desert. Very little gain in there and he doesn't use separate clean or distorted tones but works a lot with the volume knob.

I respect him even more for playing as he does, using a tone on which I couldn't probably come up with a decent phrase, but, to each his own!

We all have all sorts of perspectives on the tones of the great players out there and we usually end up a bit confused by the fact that one tone or the other is not even close to what we actually imagined so I found this article which will offer some good insight in my opinion on some principles involved in building a good tone, by taking care of all the important elements, such as amp and guitar settings or maintenance!

Tone tips

What were your first experiences building a tone? How much do you feel you have evolved in time from that moment till the present day?

This post has been edited by Cosmin Lupu: Feb 7 2013, 12:00 PM


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zoom
post Feb 7 2013, 12:35 PM
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Very cool! Cheers for the post Cosmin.
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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 7 2013, 12:57 PM
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Thanks man! Glad ya like it biggrin.gif


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ItSME3
post Feb 7 2013, 01:54 PM
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important topic indeed. I always thought that players with great tone have a more evolved or holistic way of employing all the possibilities the guitar has to offer. Examples like Slash, Yngwie, Eric Johnson, SRV or so make that very apparent. They constantly switch between pickups and use their tone knobs all the time. They often use pedals for all kinds of stuff like modulation but the amp is just set for some kind of OD or mild gain and all the rest is done with the guitar.

Some good tips here

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mroberts70
post Feb 7 2013, 05:43 PM
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Good post Cos. Plus as an added bonus.... you solved the tone issue with 4 words. "To each his own".

Unless you are under contract to play a certain piece of equipment at a certain setting a certain way...... whatever tone you like IS the perfect tone.

I don't believe that you can compare a Picasso to a Renior to see which is correct in terms of technique, color arrangement and brush stroke..., but merely to contrast. However there will be those who prefer one to the other.

This is why for any takes that I may do here in the future that are based from an "in the style of" lesson format....., my take will not be note for note, but rather my own take on what the instructor is intending me to actually learn from the lesson. Much like when writing an essay, the professor does not expect you to plagiarize your work, but rather to research it yourself and draw your own conclusion based on the facts.

Obviously if you are learning a particular song I would recommend learning it note for note... LOL!

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Todd Simpson
post Feb 7 2013, 07:23 PM
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Super Huge Congrats Cos!!! That's just AWESOME. Slash really is killer player, and I gotta say, undervalued in terms of what he can do with one channel and a volume knob. Most of us, need several channels, fx, etc. Not Slash, an Ancient Marshall, Vintage Less Paul and BAM. It's really all in his fingers. He's a great example of what you can do just with the guitar. He does ad in some fx of course, for some songs, (wah, etc.) but mostly he plays staggeringly dry as you mentioned. Playing with no effects is a great way to display the weakness in anyone's playing, there's nothing to hide behind. And he manages to sound great.


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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Feb 7 2013, 06:00 AM) *
As some of you guys know (I've noticed you noticed it on Facebook tongue.gif) I've been to one of the greatest gigs on Tuesday - one that I've been dreaming of since around 1997 or even 1996! I'm talking about seeing a live performance of the guitarist responsible for me picking up the 6 strings - Slash!

It was just perfect! Great atmosphere, great sound, awesome playing and as a bonus, I got to see one of my favorite vocalists - Myles Kennedy! Now, I've been amazed by Slash's tone! I've also witnessed the line check done before the show and guess what - his tone is as dry as a desert. Very little gain in there and he doesn't use separate clean or distorted tones but works a lot with the volume knob.

I respect him even more for playing as he does, using a tone on which I couldn't probably come up with a decent phrase, but, to each his own!

We all have all sorts of perspectives on the tones of the great players out there and we usually end up a bit confused by the fact that one tone or the other is not even close to what we actually imagined so I found this article which will offer some good insight in my opinion on some principles involved in building a good tone, by taking care of all the important elements, such as amp and guitar settings or maintenance!

Tone tips

What were your first experiences building a tone? How much do you feel you have evolved in time from that moment till the present day?



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klasaine
post Feb 8 2013, 04:39 AM
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Completely agree.
The biggest killer of good tone is too much gain and too few mids.


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Bogdan Radovic
post Feb 8 2013, 10:09 AM
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I think the tone is just another skill to practice as with any guitar technique. I had the luck to perform on stage with my band from the early years of playing/development and it was such a valuable experience. We all learned how to set the tone because we played hundreds of gigs in various conditions from really bad to awesome. Gear was always different - tone stayed the same.

I think that the biggest obstacle in the early playing years is that you need to learn and get a taste for what actually sounds good. Seems trivial, but having an idea in your mind what is a good tone and what isn't is half the job. Once you know what you want - the half of the job is done. Its just moving around a few pots on the amp etc and you should be there.

I always tried to setup a same tone for my bass, on any gear I would play, let me try to put it in words if possible :

* Dark/Black thundering lows that are very clear yet very low
* Good amount of mids to provide definition
* Very clear and bright high end but subtly so that it still contains "mass"
* Overall tone must be punchy
* Dead notes must sound like playing a percussive instrument
* Individual notes should be clearly heard (no mud)

Interesting thing was also that I would get the same character of the tone on both cheapest and most expensive bass and people in the audience (and fellow musicians) wouldn't notice that much of a difference during the performance.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 8 2013, 10:48 AM
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Glad you like the article guys smile.gif

@Bogdan - I know quite a few people which are able to obtain great tones both onstage and in the studio with cheap gear and in nasty conditions, just because they know very well what they want to hear wink.gif

As you say, it comes with experience, so the more we practice, the better we get at it!

Just bumped into a great article -> http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issu...iller_Tone.aspx

Andy Timmons - a master of tone, in my opinion - talks a bit about how he achieves his smile.gif


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PosterBoy
post Feb 8 2013, 11:47 AM
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What sounds like an awesome tone when playing the guitar by itself, doesn't necessarily work in a mix either in a live or recorded setting.

Listen to some of the isolated guitar tracks that are about and the tone can sound awlful, but sounds great and works in the mix.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 8 2013, 11:49 AM
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Exactly! Good point here!


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ConnorGilks
post Feb 9 2013, 06:47 AM
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Very cool man, great post. And congrats on getting to see Slash live! I have to say, as someone who was never into Guns N Roses or Velvet Revolver, or even classic rock, I really think Slash is an underrated player. Great tone, great phrasing, he can even shred a bit (Like in Paradise City - one of my favorite solos)!!

As far as your comments on tone you're totally right! It's always different than what you expect! I'm a big Periphery fan and it's incredible how low gain their guitar tones are. It's interesting how they can make their guitars sound so high gain, but all the power and clarity is from using such low gain levels.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 9 2013, 09:52 AM
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Yes indeed man! I am a great Periphery fan myself! As PosterBoy stated - a tone can sound great on its own and in a mix it can get totally lost, so it's important to relate the tone to the context in which you are playing. It all comes around with experience as Bogdan very well observed smile.gif

Do you feel comfortable with less gain in your tone, man?


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VikingBlues
post Feb 9 2013, 06:09 PM
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Good thread and good linked article(s) - thanks. Finding the right tone can be one long frustrating search.

There's a lot of benefit to be gained from easing back and going for the cleaner sound. SRV went for replacing 12AX7 preamp tubes with a lower gain 5751. Get a cleaner sound and let power tubes do the overdrive with more clarity than the more fizzy clipped preamp overdrive tone.

It doesn't help your search for good tone when your own musical tastes change over time - and what was the right tone starts to be less pleasing, and even unpleasant. I've had a guitar that changed from being my favourite #1 "go to" axe to being one I couldn't stand to listen to in less than a year due to that sort of change in personal musical taste.

In my case swapping Alnico 5 pickups to Alnico 2 seems to have helped me a lot to get tones I like more - whether with humbuckers, single coils or P90 pickups. Though my wanting less "hot" pickups seems to be going against what the manufacturers presumably know is popular - more and more guitars seem to be getting sold with hot high output pickups. Or maybe I'm imagining that?

There's just so many variables ... all the variables on the guitar, the amp, the speaker(s) and cabinet,, the pedals, the pick &/or fingers, etc. Change one piece of gear in the chain, and it's all a blank canvas again. No wonder we can drive ourselves mad in the search for tone.


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klasaine
post Feb 9 2013, 06:56 PM
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I'll play a lot with a fair amount of gain but I too like normal or low output pkups. A2 mags generally. I like to let the amp and even the pedals do the work. I've found that with normal output pkups but higher gain amps and pedals that I get a clearer and bigger tone.


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ConnorGilks
post Feb 9 2013, 08:20 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Feb 9 2013, 08:52 AM) *
Yes indeed man! I am a great Periphery fan myself! As PosterBoy stated - a tone can sound great on its own and in a mix it can get totally lost, so it's important to relate the tone to the context in which you are playing. It all comes around with experience as Bogdan very well observed smile.gif

Do you feel comfortable with less gain in your tone, man?


Right on! biggrin.gif

Yes, very comfortable actually. I am very critical about my technique so when I'm practicing I'm making sure I'm very consistent, and practice on a clean tone mostly. As a result, when I go to use a gain tone of any kind it just makes it easier for me to play! This makes it impossible for me to let myself slack on technique. But practicing aside, I feel like I can dig in more and have more dynamics when using lower gain levels, it also is so much fatter that way too! I used to use a bit of a guitar's DI signal mixed with the overdriven signal when I was recording lower-medium gain guitars to beef it up without losing the sustain the overdriven signal gives you... it's the same principle, just use lower gain live and you'll sound much fatter and fuller, with increased dynamics! It may be tough at first but I'm ALWAYS slowly turning down that gain level until I'm just not playing metal anymore. laugh.gif Then turn it back up just a tad and play!

Did you get that book I sent you by the way?


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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 10 2013, 10:15 AM
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Oh thanks a lot man! I was keeping my head on writing back and saying thanks but I got caught up with stuff and forgot .. shame on me sad.gif

I find myself in a similar situation for sometime now smile.gif Low gain, a bit of a boost from the Shiba pedal and this is how I practice now - the level of dynamic possibilities is way beyond awesome! And you never become a slouch on the technique as well laugh.gif


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ConnorGilks
post Feb 10 2013, 10:17 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Feb 10 2013, 09:15 AM) *
Oh thanks a lot man! I was keeping my head on writing back and saying thanks but I got caught up with stuff and forgot .. shame on me sad.gif

I find myself in a similar situation for sometime now smile.gif Low gain, a bit of a boost from the Shiba pedal and this is how I practice now - the level of dynamic possibilities is way beyond awesome! And you never become a slouch on the technique as well laugh.gif


Oh no, no thanks necessary! Just wanted to make sure you got it and it opened correctly and everything. smile.gif

Exactly! It's done wonders for my technique, it's fantastic.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Feb 11 2013, 09:19 AM
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biggrin.gif Alright!

Guys! Do I have a treat for you!

Click here please: 50 Greatest guitar tones of all time (with audio)


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derper
post Feb 15 2013, 07:30 PM
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Great subject Coz!!! I consider myself to be on a life-long "tone quest".


One of my most important discoveries, was (again... "to each, his/her own!") to keep it simple. I like to be very in control of my tone, and would rather have 2 great, usable tone settings, as opposed to thousands that I just can't seem to dial in.

For example, I mod'd my Parker from S-S-H, to a dual humbucker with a gibson 335 '57 PAF pickup in the neck. Now, I constantly get compliments on the parker's tone, even through a cheap practice amp.


But, I can dial in decent tone on damn near anything I touch....but it took years to learn HOW to do it. And, it will be different for me, than for you....because of how I play, how I pick, how I strum, the angle of my pickstroke, etc.


Other than that, I fell in love with Mesa clean tone. It is so rhythmic, and punchy....my notes just seem to "dance" more.

Oh, and v-picks were the biggest, and cheapest tone upgrade I ever found.


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