#1
I have been a guitarist for about 8 years now, and I've just had an existential crisis.
Although I've been getting by with decent tone thus far, I have NO IDEA what the hell I'm doing to get a good tone.

What exactly is the fundamental or your own personal approach to getting your desired tone?

In my set up I have
Guitar -> Metal Muff -> Peavey Valveking
Essentially I have three different tone settings to work out
Pickup Settings -> 3 band EQ on Metal Muff -> Three Band EQ on Tube Amp

I've never had anyone explain to me how to get a good tone.
Like if I want a thicker sound do I turn up the bass on my Pedal or Amp? Or do I lower the tone on my guitar?
If I want to scoop the mids, do I do so on my pedal? Or on my amp? Or both?

Do you guys have any personal philosophies to juggling tone settings? Is there any links you can give me that can explain how to properly dial in all this tone settings?

Thanks.
#2
I always start with my guitar straight into the amp. Every amp, speaker, guitar, and pedal EQ's differently; so I literally randomly turn the knobs a bit (I mean just from my experience with different amps, I can usually get an idea of where I want things, after moving the knobs a little) until I get something that I happy/mostly happy with.

Then I focus on one knob at a time, turning it up and down, to see if there is a point where for example, the bass gets super mushy or sounds shitty. I pretty much do that with each knob for a bit, until I'm happy with the tone.

After a while your brain figures out what it is you like. Maybe you like having lost of trebel? Then you'll likely look for treble heavy tone when playing with a new amp.

Then continue this process with each pedal. I recommend staring with just the amp first, that way you know you have a starting point that you're happy with, and it's easier to notice if a single or combination of pedals are killing your tone. Also, maybe you we're planning on using an EQ pedal for example, but you now like the tone of your amp, so you can take that sucker off the board!
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#3
I go about it the same way as red.guitar.

I find that the 12o'clock position is a good starting point with EQ settings, then tweak each one until you're happy. Same thing with pedals.

I just fired my Boss chorus ensemble when I went through my pedal chain, and found this thing was causing trouble on and off. I loved that pedal. It's on a farm playing with other tonesucking pedals now.


I'm going through the same kind of thing right now. I just retubed my amp, and I have new speakers coming in a few days. I'm chasing the tone right now, big time.
Last edited by rickyvanh at Nov 22, 2014,
#4
experiment is the best way to see what works for you. keep in mind tha t volume affects your settings as well. what sounds great at practice volumes may not be so great at band volume. when working with a band you have to also take into account the other instruments and how your tone meshes with them.
#5
There is no set formula for finding your tone really. Most the time I hear people saying that they get a sound they like being plugged straight in for starters, but then what if your sound comes primarily from pedals? Then you've set your amp a certain way and when you plug stuff in you may find that the way the pedals interact with the amp makes your settings sound like garbage.

My point isn't to knock anybody's method, but rather to point out that everybody goes about things a different way. For example, I don't like the set everything to 12 method myself, I crank all the knobs and back off of things until I find something I like. If you are getting sounds you like, then you're doing it right.
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Last edited by dementiacaptain at Nov 22, 2014,
#6
There are a few other things to consider, pick and string gauge and even string height.
One thing I've noticed as a recording engineer is that people in general lock into several basic categories.
This is overgeneralization but usually it is:
Fender clean or glassy sparkly Roland JC clean
Vox AC30 Crunch
Marshall or Mesa dirt

So in your case maybe you're using the wrong amp or pedal?
Have you tried over drive or eq boost in front of the amp instead of distortion?
#7
Quote by diabolical
There are a few other things to consider, pick and string gauge and even string height.
One thing I've noticed as a recording engineer is that people in general lock into several basic categories.
This is overgeneralization but usually it is:
Fender clean or glassy sparkly Roland JC clean
Vox AC30 Crunch
Marshall or Mesa dirt

So in your case maybe you're using the wrong amp or pedal?
Have you tried over drive or eq boost in front of the amp instead of distortion?


good points. I do think you need to start with the basics first before fine tuning the little things. you also have to consider your tonal needs. I know many guys say I want a rig that does it all and that usually isn't realistic you end up having to compromise somewhere (unless you have a huge budget). if you primarily play say metal then you should tailor your setup to do that. sure you might need the occasional clean sounds but that is where the compromise lies. since a pristine clean sound isn't the priority then you go for good enough. same goes for the rock player that occasionally plays a song on the more metal side of things. perhaps a more clean sounding amp paired with an overdrive and a distortion pedal will do the job. as far as EQ settings really your ears and the needs of the song will dictate that, it's a totally subjective thing.
#8
the more you play the more you realize what the settings do. a good red flag for me just like playing in a band, is when i play along with music to the track. generally when you play wit ha band you will find out really quick if your tone stands out or not. playing along with a recording isnt really teh same, but the same watered down type thing can occur.

if i get a tone i think i like, and im blaring my music, and i feel like while i play i cant hear myself (even though i knoe im loud) my tone is getting drowned out. i need to change it. it may sound good by itself but after i start playing, i realize i cant hear myself.

if you read my thread about "getting a heavier tone" there are some good concepts.
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#9
For distortion of any level I follow a few basic ideas:

Bass low enough that the low end response is tight and immediate, but high enough that it doesn't sound thin.

Midrange up high, but backing off the instant it sounds honky.

Treble up pretty high, but backed off enough that it doesn't get harsh.

Distortion turned up enough that it just barely hits the point of saturation/compression I find desirable but no more.
#10
first, put a dummy jack in input one and your guitar in two. that bridges the inputs (bridges may not the best word). i would try an OD or Timmy with it. i have a feeling that the typical guitarist with a tube amp would prefer OD to hit the amp harder, and still have the clean tone.

but you may like your metal muff nothing wrong with that.


at least try a boost pedal somewhere, like a tubescreamer, go volume 100% gain 0% and tone to taste.
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