10 ways to get your gear sounding great to achieve the guitar tone you've always dreamed about. Enjoy!
Tip #1: Experiment with pickup heights
Learn how to lower and raise your pickup heights, pickup heights can make a big difference on volume but can also dramatically change your tone and make your sound "yours" eg. lowering your pickups will decrease your volume, but it's the pick attack that makes the difference, pick gently and lightly, and you'll get a clean yet warm tone, pick deep and hard for increased drive and output. Note: Adjust pickup heights small steps at a time, too much or too little can seriously kill your tone.
Tip #2: Pick your pick
Different picks have different sounds, find one that suits your sound and playing, and you can use the pick to shape your guitar tone. Different sizes, shapes, gauges, and materials all affect the sound. General rule: Thinner, lighter picks give a softer and cleaner sound, harder and heavier picks give a heavier sound and more aggressive attack, because the pick transfers all of the energy into the strings rather than into itself to bend.
Tip #3: Use your volume controls
Most electric guitarists turn the volume control knob all the way to 10 while playing, and maybe roll it back on clean. Some only push it to 10 when soloing-for the extra "boost." Using your volume control the correct way can get your guitar and amp to work together as one. The most common technique is to set your amp to the best lead sound you can get, roll your guitar's volume up to 10 for a crunch then roll it back down for smooth, clean sounds.
Tip #4: Experiment with different preamp tubes
Tubes don't just make your guitar louder, they make it louder with style. If you have already settled on one type of tube or don't want to change stock tubes, experiment with different makes of that tube.
Tip #5: Change the stock speakers
Learn about different speaker types and the characteristics. A change of a speaker can change your tone dramatically, learn about the different sounds you can get from different speakers.
Tip #6: Experiment with strings
Lots of players don't bother with trying out different strings, and prefer to stick to the "Ernie Ball" or "D'Addario" set that came on the stock guitar. Try different gauges, depending on your pick attack and aggression in your playing. Heavier strings are also suitable for lower tunings. Different strings also feel different to you and your string choice needs to be based on both feel and sound.
Tip #7: Pedals
An effect pedal's job is to alter the sound of your guitar before it reaches your amp, and in some cases, after it reaches your amp. You need to have your effects in the right order before you can even start to experiment with them, here's a basic guide to the order of effects:Filters and EQs:
- Graphic EQ
- Octave/Pitch Shift
- Treble Boosters
- Clean Boosters
You also need to know how to handle your effects and use them to your advantage. A few effects can be used to add colour and shape to your tone and give it a bit of your own taste.
Tip #8: Acoustic Woods
Learn about the different shapes and woods used in acoustic guitars and how they affect your tone, this is important because an acoustic guitar is often played... acoustically! So you can't drown it in effects to alter the tone.
Tip #9: Speaker Cabinets
A speaker can't function nearly as well without his house - the cabinet. The "Wooden box with a cloth window" contributes to your tone as much as the speaker itself, learn about the different sizes and woods and how they affect your tone, and learn about the famous question: "Open-back or closed-band?"
Tip #10: The Effects Loop
Some pedals function better in your effects loop, Modulation and Delay effects. Some effects have to be in the effects loop in order to function (Loop, Talkbox). Experiment with different pedals in the effects loop and in front of your amp for different sound. Note: Don't put and Boost/Overdrive effects in the loop or you could damage your equipment.
Thanks for reading, use these simple, yet effective tips wisely, and don't forget-experiment. Happy tone-chasing!