Out of all the guitarists you've listened to, who do you think has the smoothest tone? I'm not talking about "best tone", in case someone tells me to search the thread, but smooth as in like no dirt/grit at all in the distortion/overdrive.

To name a few that I think have smooth tone:
John Petrucci
David Gilmour
Some Vai and Satriani
Carlos Santana

I'm sure there's more that I don't remember at the moment, but I'd like to look into listening to more people with babybutt smooth tones. Pardon the slightly graphic description.

And also, how do you think a smooth tone is properly achieved? (pedals, amps, etc.)
80's queensryche material actually has some pretty smooth lead tones. also check out the metal bands Mercenary and Scar Symmetry. the lead players from each have incredibly smooth tones.

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Was going to post David Gilmour. See you beat me to it. His is just leaps and bounds beyond anyone else's on this count (at least that I know of).

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Joe Bonamassa, occasionally, depends on the song. Some of Satch's newer-ish stuff is too.

To be honest, I think a lot of it is picking dynamics.
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Rolling off some of the treble part can help to get the smooth tone
and of course play with neck pick up obviously
santana smoothest.

gilmour is too, but he changes it up. somes songs hes is really smooth and sometimes he kicks it up a ton and gets a lot of grit nd pinch harmonics in there. i can think of the solos to young lust and parts of the solo and comforatably numb he starts getting more and more intense. he does a lot of double stop bends with a lot of stack and busts out little harmonics in lots of places.
And also, how do you think a smooth tone is properly achieved? (pedals, amps)

I'll try to give a generalized answer.

The amp probably would have some decent wattage so that there is sufficient headroom (a lot of pre-amp distortion is *bad* if you're concerned with "smoothness"!), and the gain knobs on the amps or pedals probably are not too high. As another poster said, EQ settings are likely to be more on the round side (I.E. treble and bass might be rolled off in comparison to mids).

As far as kinds of pedals, an overdrive or boost type pedal with soft clipping characteristics is more likely to come off "smooth" than a high-gain distortion (which can produce a "bees in a jar" type of sound, or harshness). So Tubescreamer or Blues Driver or BB Preamp, or any other pedal similar to those - with the gain knobs low or moderate. I say low-gain is important because of how it cleans up with dynamics and lets the guitar's natural tone come through most.

Maybe something like reverb or delay is there for fullness. It's amazing what a little delay can do to an otherwise pretty weak, low-gain sound. IMO, ambience basically functions to eliminate the "need" for more gain in order to get a powerful sound.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Nov 2, 2011,
eric johnson
andy timmons
guthrie govan

newer satch and vinnie moore are pretty smooth too

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how about paul kossoff? he comes immediately to mind when i think of a 'smooth' tone
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George Lynch
Steve Lukather
Eric Johnson
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Jari Maenpaa, especially with his sweeps. The notes just, "connect" together (listen to the solos in"Death and the Healing" and you'll hear what I mean)

Jun Senoue, the guy who composes the soundtrack for most of the Sonic series. His tones sounded best in Sonic Adventure 1. Brings out the greatness in his SLO-100 (listen to Emerald Coast 2

Also, on Genesis's live album "The Way We Walk", listen to Daryl Sterumer's tone when he plays the "Firth of Fifth" solo in "Old Medley". (can't link to that one. ).
I've given a listen to all of those, and yeah, those are pretty awesome smooth tones. I thought the Sonic one was actually kind of surprisingly cool in that he used delay/reverb/something and made it sound like every note melted into each other.

Also, I just remembered that Neal Schon also has a really awesome smoothness. Speaking of which, I've noticed that Journey gets a lot of hate. I've never understood that. Can someone please explain to me why people hate on Journey so much? I've asked someone before, and they said that Perry was a crappy and whiny singer. I laughed because he was a Rush fan. (not putting down Rush as a band, but...)
You said Vai, but I'll add Brian May. His tone is better than sex. At least, I think. I've only experienced one so ¯\_(ツ_/¯

EDIT: I also agree with Timmons, Johnson, Lukather and Govan.
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I'd have to agree with Steve Vai and Santana

Mmm, Santana tone is amazing. It's like hot chocolate and/or coffee.