#1
Hi all Im researching guitarists and how they create their tone. My aim is to understand whether the legendary tones from famous guitarists come from the player themselves, the gear they use or both. Can someone tell me what their opinions on this subject matter is.
#2
Definitely both. There are amazing guitar players that, in my opinion, have definitely had bad tones in their career and their playing barely made up for it.

But like the saying somewhat goes, a great guitar player can sound good through bad gear, and a bad player will sound bad through good gear.
#3
Man, you are opening a can of worms. There have been many threads on the subject in the past. Many folks say tone is purely in the fingers, while others say the equipment plays a big part.

I don't think you'll get the definitive answers you are looking for.
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#4
it's very hard to argue that it's not a bit of both. of course, the real question is how much of each, and i'm not sure there even is a verified answer to that.
Quote by crownegamers
I saw in a couple of pictures that on Bucketheads Les Paul (only some pictures) that his neck pickup is painted in white. Can anyone explain to me why he would do this, and if there are any pros and cons.

Quote by dspellman
The guy wears a KFC Bucket and a white mask during performances, and you're interested in the color of his pickup covers?

#5
Let's not forget what the sound guy (or the recording engineer) contributes.
What you hear as "tone" from a guitar player is, these days, frequently a clean track that's been re-amped (very often with no "gear" involved), doubled, compressed and much more, and has little to do with what came out of his rig.
#6
dspellman

Yes, I think that is very important. I once had an email discussion with a lap steel player, and commented on his fantastic sound. His response was that it was just bog standard when he recorded it, so it must have been a bit of sound engineer's wizardry.

When this kind of discussion comes up, I think of Ry Cooder as a master of both technique and tone.
#7
Quote by mcc13198990
Hi all Im researching guitarists and how they create their tone. My aim is to understand whether the legendary tones from famous guitarists come from the player themselves, the gear they use or both. Can someone tell me what their opinions on this subject matter is.


tone is a combination of the player and the gear used. as mentioned this includes recording or sound at concert. all tone starts with the player though as they are the ones that decide what they want to sound like.
#8
Quote by dspellman
Let's not forget what the sound guy (or the recording engineer) contributes.
What you hear as "tone" from a guitar player is, these days, frequently a clean track that's been re-amped (very often with no "gear" involved), doubled, compressed and much more, and has little to do with what came out of his rig.


yep that's a good point
Quote by crownegamers
I saw in a couple of pictures that on Bucketheads Les Paul (only some pictures) that his neck pickup is painted in white. Can anyone explain to me why he would do this, and if there are any pros and cons.

Quote by dspellman
The guy wears a KFC Bucket and a white mask during performances, and you're interested in the color of his pickup covers?

#9
" Tone" is primarily in a player's attack, timing, pitch and articulation. The gear compliments that to fill it out. Watch any demo of a player playing through a practice amp to confirm my point. Eric Johnson playing through a cheap Fender modelling amp still sounds like Eric Johnson. It's more apparent the better the player.
#10
Count me as voting for "your tone is in your gear, your technique makes you good to hear" camp. There's a reason why guys like Eric Johnson are super-picky about their gear.

My opinion is that tone is primarily in your gear (especially amps & pedals), and all the techniques you use with that tone are in the fingers.

The techniques, phrasing, attack, taste preferences and other skills that make your playing stand out are all a product of all the things you've learned and internalized over years of playing, and show as you express yourself. That is what really makes you stand out, even from others using similar gear.

But you put Mark Knopfler on Brent Hind's rig and make him start to play without changing amp settings, he won't have the same tone. He won't sound like Mark Knopfler, he'll sound like Brent Hinds imitating Mark Knopfler's style.
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#11
don't listen to these guys.

tone is in the fingers (tm)
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#12
Depends on the player. Someone with unique or recognisable phrasing is always going to sound like that person. I'm pretty sure I could identify Paul Gilbert's playing regardless of what gear he is using. With someone who doesn't use phrasing like bending, sliding, muting, vibrato etc it will be much harder to tell. Lead players definitely are going to be more recognisable.
#13
Quote by reverb66
" Tone" is primarily in a player's attack, timing, pitch and articulation. The gear compliments that to fill it out. Watch any demo of a player playing through a practice amp to confirm my point. Eric Johnson playing through a cheap Fender modelling amp still sounds like Eric Johnson. It's more apparent the better the player.



Whenever this question comes up, people always make that point. Eric Johnson will sound like Eric Johnson because he is phrasing like Eric Johnson and doing vibrato like Eric Johnson and articulating things like Eric Johnson. In other words, Eric Johnson's playing will sound like Eric Johnson's playing. That doesn't have anything to do with tone though. Eric Johnson playing a different rig will sound like Eric Johnson's playing without Eric Johnson's tone.

Tone is all about timbre and not note choice or whatever. In general, guitars are probably less tonaly dependent on technique than a wind instrument for example. Obviously some parts of technique on guitar can affect tone such as pick attack (how hard, the angle, the distance from the bridge, etc) and whether you prefer to play the same notes on lower or higher strings or open versus closed, but that's pretty limited and won't change the timbre of your instrument nearly as much as sweeping the mid frequency on your parametric mid control on your distortion pedal.

Your fingers just won't have a huge effect on the timbre of your instrument relatively speaking. Effect pedals and whatever can completely change the sound of your guitar so that it doesn't sound anything like a guitar. Your fingers can't do that -- unless you count twisting knobs as your fingers affecting your tone.
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#14
Everything theogonia777 said.

Find a jazz player with a semi-hollow, give him a high-gain metal rig, and see if his tone is still the same.