Guitar Tone

(12 posts)
  1. Matt

    How do you guys think of tone - is it technique, gear, spirit?
    Do you think there are ways of improving tone, if it is a technical thing?

  2. Sandemose

    I would say it mostly is a technical thing, about touch and your contact with the instrument. I guess its also about gear set up. I recently raised my string level/hight and my sound got so much better. My guitar actually got easier to play even though I raised the strings quite much which surprised me. I would say that technice/touch comes first, set up, gear after that. Spirit, is that liqour?

    Best, Sandemose

  3. Quintricacy

    Yeah, I would go for a mixture of technique and equiptmet. I just bought a 7 band EQ pedal and the difference it made to my sound was amazing. I would definitely recommend this to all guitar players.

  4. Sandemose

    Quintricacy: What EQ is that? A Boss or what?

    Best, Sandemose

  5. Quintricacy

    I got a Dan Electro Fish and Chips EQ. It's pretty cheap but it sounds great.

  6. I think tone is 99% right hand. After I've employed my forearm (slightly) and got rid of anchoring, my tone made a huuuge step into the right direction (and my speed, too). The relationship between forearm, wrist and fingers cause angle and power of the pick hitting the string, and that's what tone is. The pick itself is also important, and after that it's strings, pedals and amp, in that order. The guitar is way less influential.

  7. silverwater

    Metheny did a Q&A (no pun intended) after one of his shows one time, and someone asked him the same question. He said that one time his gear didn't make it to a show, and he ended up having to play the gig with a crappy amp and guitar. I forget the exact details of the story because it was like 8 years ago, but I remember him saying that he, much to his own surprise, still sounded like himself. He then rhetorically asked why exactly he was paying for truckloads of gear to be hauled from show to show, and answered that tone was 95% from the player, and 5% from the gear, and that extra 5% is worth it (to him).

    Putting Pat aside for a sec, I will say that everything effects tone, and what kind of pick you have is one of the most important, yet overlooked factors. (It's definitely the cheapest!). And like the Dude said, the way you attack the strings is also huge.

    Other important factors: String thickness, action height, and how much relief you have in your neck.

    The most overrated factor is probably the price of the guitar.

  8. Sandemose

    I think the best guitar sound Ive ever heard, all categories, is Kurts on "the Next step". What is that? A cheap Epiphone, not even a Sheraton perhaps? Polytone amp, LXP-1 reverb, DL4 delay unit. Thats totally affordable. Still, the best sound Ive ever heard. Perhaps the main factor is what sound you produce in your mind that you strive for? Mustnt you imagine a sound first, before you can manifest it? Some people can make the transition from mind to body so transparant.

    Best, Sandemose

  9. Matt

    I agree! the next step is incredible.

    however, i like the dichotomy of jazz to really heavy emo/screamo stuff. i the guitar is such a manipulable instrument.

    sax players are jealous :)

  10. Rosenwinkel on "The Next Step" -- his sound/tone is unbelievable -- soaring. (Plus the record is so good). It's a very good point about the "sound you hear" -- I suspect it has a lot to do with his sound.

    It's interesting that all of these great players like Rosenwinkel, Scofield, Kriesberg, Adam Rodgers, all masterful users of effects -- at their core have a pretty straight-ahead sound, especially in their recordings. Adam Rodgers on "Sight" isn't that far from a Pat Martino sound!

    Even Rosenwinkel recorded with a pretty straight ahead sound on Intuit ) though clearly his "core sound" -- maybe as on "Reflections" or "East Coast Love Affair" -- is processed. And of course there is his singing with the guitar. Kreisberg doesn't seem to use delay (in particular) on some of his other albums (Nine Stories Wide, Trioing). To say nothing of Peter Berstein or other more traditional players (who are also great, btw) who must think effects blow.

    There is something so beautiful about guitar that sounds like guitar, something with all the great effects devices etc. out there should not get lost.

    I think it's yet another reason why I like Scofield a lot, his "twang" and muffled, short sustain -- I don't think he'd be caught dead using a delay. Delay kind of wears me out, it's fatigueing, I can't listen to Frisell much for example. On the other hand, his use of distortion I think is really pretty novel -- who else would play "Alfie" so beautifully, and with a little distortion, as Sco did on "EnRoute?"

    I like Kriesberg's "Autumn in New York" delay use too, or Rosenwinkel on "Use of Light" and many other tunes., but I'm thankful at the end of the day that I can find recordiings where they just play without delay.

    In particular as a guitar player, I like to hear what's coming from the guy's hands and head/heart, pretty directly. There is something cool and self reliant about just plugging your chord into an amp and playing, not to mention the fact that effects can distract you from your ideas / music (well, they do me -- I'm not great with them).

    I do think though that "innovation' in tone is a good thing, we have our Wes albums, our Pat Martino and George Benson (thank god), so anyone who learns how to use their equipment to get that 5% out -- it's a good thing. It's probably true -- 95% from the player, 5% from the equipment (unless it's *bad* equipment or bad use of equipment, in which case it's 95% player and -45% equipment).

    But why are many of us 95% obsessed with guitars/amps/pedals and 5% obsessed with practice? :-)

  11. Matt

    the 'enlightened' 5% want to express themselves in ways no one has yet heard. so they practice.

  12. JorgeRubiales

    I don't think effects need to be banished from the jazz guitar world. As long as they become tools to enhance your expression, I think they're pretty fine.

    The piano has pedals to alter its sound, the trumpet trombones et al. have various mutes for the same thing. I use delay to give the guitar an extra resonance, as if I was playing in a big concert hall, almost as a natural reverb sort of thing, plus I like it to be darker than my clean tone so it doesn't get in the way, just addingn a bit of warmth, piano-like sound.

    Of course, not everybody likes effects, but I think if you play with them and take some time to learn how to use them to COMPLEMENT your sound, you'll end up liking them.


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