#1
Hi guys.

Before I ask this I just want to say that I understand that most of a player's tone comes from their technique, influences etc. However, I am curious as to how much this is true. By this I mean that I want to know how much different guitars/amps matter.

I have some hypothetical questions that I hope will put this into context for me and I'd really like to hear your opinions on this.

1) If Jimi Hendrix had played a Telecaster instead of a Stratocaster for his Woodstock performance, but not changing all his other equipment, would it be noticeable? Would it still have his classic sound? I know he has used SGs and Flying Vs live and they sound kinda like his strat sound but slightly different.

2) Say we have 2 guitar players using the exact same guitar. One player is good and the other is amazing. We give the amazing one a cheaper amp, say a solid state Mustang III amp, and give the good one a better amp, like a Blues Junior. Will the amazing player get a better tone?

3) Can a player who is very good make an SG sound like a Les Paul? and vice-versa?

4) Imagine you were a famous musician recording an album. Could you record it with a Mexican Fender or Epiphone and make a very good quality recording? or do you need more expensive guitars for studio quality recordings? I've heard Tom Morello uses a stock MIM telecaster but I'm unsure how true this is.

Thanks
#2
When people talk about "tone" they often conflate a lot of things. In my opinion, tone is: amp, cab, guitar, effects, settings, venue. Technique will highly shape a performance but it doesn't really contribute to tone itself. Of course, if you use "tone" to describe a performance as a whole, then yes, tone is very much in the fingers too.

In blind tests, people find it almost impossible to tell even radically different guitars apart, for example, Les Paul vs. Telecaster. I've seen people run such tests and the results basically all say: we hear with our eyes, not our ears.

I think it's more accurate to say that technique of a musician will radically alter the performance and tone may need to be adjusted to reflect that.
Last edited by sea` at Mar 22, 2013,
#3
Of course you don't need an expensive guitar to record an album.

Look at EVH--his guitar was a piece of shit. Sure, he used a great amp, but he still got a great tone with a complete piece of shit guitar.
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#5
Im of the school of thought that a very large and significant portion of tone and sound comes from the players hands and fingers. Small and subtle nuances in playing that give someone a signature sound and style have a huge impact.
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#6
So much facepalm in this thread.

You can't just magically make a tele sound like a les paul.
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#7
i think the extent of the tone in the fingers is just comes from how confident the fretting hand is, i.e. bends and how solidly the notes are being fretted. and of course how much control the picking hand has.

i prefer to call this dynamics (or just whether the player sucks) - tone for me is like the EQ of the amp, level/type of distortion, etc.
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#8
Quote by sea`
In blind tests, people find it almost impossible to tell even radically different guitars apart, for example, Les Paul vs. Telecaster. I've seen people run such tests and the results basically all say: we hear with our eyes, not our ears.


Maybe if you run it through similar effects.....I guess comparing guitars with humbuckers is going to be a lot harder to tell the difference. I find it hard to believe that people were unable to hear any difference between a telecaster and a les paul with as twangy as a telecaster can be. Or a les paul and a stratocaster. The single coil is quite a giveaway. Unless they are deliberately trying to trick people.

I think technique contributes to tone. It is pretty easy to hear a classic Dire Straits song just because of the fingerstyle way that he plays. But I more or less agree that tone is basically the settings and equipment you choose.
#9
it depends, really

personally i separate it into "gear tone" and "player/finger tone".

If you give hendrix a tele it sounds like hendrix playing a tele. that's captain obvious to the rescue, of course, but that's about the height of it.

Also different gear can make people play a bit differently. Hand me a tele and a fender champ and i play differently than if you hand me an ibanez rg and a peavey 5150. I still sound like me, but i sound like a different version of me (a country, inbred version of me ).
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#10
I believe it's the marriage between the player and his equipment.

If you have a great guitarist with gear (whatever that is) that allows him to express himself the way he wants to, that's where it all comes together. A mediocre guitarist will still be mediocre no matter what he's playing.

Of course, changing gear, particularly guitars, will change the character of tone - but not the character of the player.
#11
Quote by vIsIbleNoIsE
i think the extent of the tone in the fingers is just comes from how confident the fretting hand is, i.e. bends and how solidly the notes are being fretted. and of course how much control the picking hand has.

i prefer to call this dynamics (or just whether the player sucks) - tone for me is like the EQ of the amp, level/type of distortion, etc.



I think this is the best answer so far, but its still missing something.

Tone and dynamics are two different things, but having good dynamics certainly affects the outcome of your tone.

They are not the same, but one can certainly influence the other.
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#12
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
So much facepalm in this thread.

You can't just magically make a tele sound like a les paul.


+1. You can't make a Twin sound like a Dual Rec.

It's ridiculous how hard this seems to be to grasp. Your gear creates your tone. Your fingers embellish your style. Everyone sounds like themselves regardless of gear because they are playing with their own style. Playing licks in your style is not the same as making one piece of gear sound like another.
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#13
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
So much facepalm in this thread.

You can't just magically make a tele sound like a les paul.

/inb4butbutbutbutbutjimmy page!
#14
Quote by gregs1020
/inb4butbutbutbutbutjimmy page!


no that was tgp types swearing blind jimmy page tone was a les paul into a marshall before it got out that he was actually using a tele into a supro (?)...

Quote by vIsIbleNoIsE
i think the extent of the tone in the fingers is just comes from how confident the fretting hand is, i.e. bends and how solidly the notes are being fretted. and of course how much control the picking hand has.

i prefer to call this dynamics (or just whether the player sucks) - tone for me is like the EQ of the amp, level/type of distortion, etc.


i dunno if fretting "solidly" (that might just be a poor way you phrased it, which is fair enough) is necessarily a good thing. I'd say a light touch arguably means the player is better than a heavy-handed, cack-handed touch. Also vibrato and other embellishments etc. etc.

Quote by bigblockelectra
Maybe if you run it through similar effects.....I guess comparing guitars with humbuckers is going to be a lot harder to tell the difference. I find it hard to believe that people were unable to hear any difference between a telecaster and a les paul with as twangy as a telecaster can be. Or a les paul and a stratocaster. The single coil is quite a giveaway. Unless they are deliberately trying to trick people.


agreed

"deliberately trying to trick people" is also a very good point. If you hand me a les paul and tell me to make it sound as tele-like as possible there are certain things you can do. I doubt you'd make it sound exactly like a tele (and to the person playing it it'd be obvious that it wasn't a tele, because you'd know the tricks you were pulling to persuade it to sound like a tele), but you may well be able to fool blindfolded listeners.
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I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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Last edited by Dave_Mc at Mar 22, 2013,
#15
Quote by Offworld92
+1. You can't make a Twin sound like a Dual Rec.

It's ridiculous how hard this seems to be to grasp. Your gear creates your tone. Your fingers embellish your style. Everyone sounds like themselves regardless of gear because they are playing with their own style. Playing licks in your style is not the same as making one piece of gear sound like another.


Honestly you two guys are the ones im facepalming. No one is saying that you can make a Twin sound like a Boogie. That's quite obvious. The extent of it pretty much is stating that even though player X has the exact same gear and settings as famous musician Y, player X just cannot get it to sound just like famous musician Y...because the missing blank space is filled by the unique tone of famous musician Y's fingers and technique, which player X neither has nor is able to replicate.
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#16
Quote by Acϵ♠
Honestly you two guys are the ones im facepalming. No one is saying that you can make a Twin sound like a Boogie. That's quite obvious. The extent of it pretty much is stating that even though player X has the exact same gear and settings as famous musician Y, player X just cannot get it to sound just like famous musician Y...because the missing blank space is filled by the unique tone of famous musician Y's fingers and technique, which player X neither has nor is able to replicate.


but see, it isn't 'tone,' it's playing style. having a characteristically rich and wide vibrato has little to do with tone.

different instruments depend differently on the gear when it comes to tone generation. the tone someone gets from playing violin probably depends a lot on bowing technique. the tone someone gets from stomping on a kick drum depends mainly on the beater and drum. i think that the guitar is somewhere in between these two, and closer to the drum.
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#17
1) Almost all of Jimi’s tone was in his hands. It can be emulated pretty spot on, on just about any single coil guitar, through any amp, if the player has his technique down well enough. There obviously is a difference between guitars, and a reason people like myself play certain ones, but from my experience owning and playing a ton of guitars, the only difference would be that a bunch of people would be playing upside-down telecasters these days...

2) I think that is a hard question to answer. I am by no means as capable as Yngwie Malmsteen with a guitar, but am confident I can make mine SOUND better. Your opinion may vary, you know if you like muddy tone. But I guess that’s not really the answer you’re looking for. I play a Fender Twin Reverb live and for most practices, but from time to time I have to play a friend’s small solid state 15W practice amp and I am able to achieve mostly the same quality of sound. Controversial I know... I definitely think the extra 20% of tone quality I get from using tubes is worth it, because nothing is more inspiring as a guitarist than playing through tubes, but with enough patience and adjusting your technique you can make due. I think the reason solid state amps get a really bad rap from tone snobs is partly due to people associating them with the tones they were getting when they first started playing and didn’t have tube amps...

3) I’m voiding this question because if you play an SG and think you’ve got a Les Paul tone, doesn’t that mean its actually an SG tone...? I understand where you’re going with this, though. I would say with high gain stuff you could definitely trick a bunch of people. On cleaner stuff you would definitely notice. Theres a guy on Youtube that compared like 15 different guitars playing all the same riffs, that might be beneficial to you.

4) As long as it is set up well, has capable pickups and is intonated, you’re golden. Don’t worry about who made it, what color it is, who plays them or whatever. If it sounds good, it is good.
#19
Quote by Dave_Mc
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So the real version of you then?


As to the OP/TS, define 'tone' and I'll give you an answer. Until then it's all semantic wankery.
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Last edited by Arby911 at Mar 22, 2013,