Eye-opening tonal upgrades -- things that surprised you

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by LordThurisaz, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. LordThurisaz

    LordThurisaz Member

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    Dunno if this is the right place for this thread or not. Sorry.

    Anyways, the point of this thread is to discuss -- as well as maybe share some insight to others -- about things that have had a big impact on your tone for the better. I posted a comment in another thread, and this got me thinking about what others have discovered.

    Perhaps it was swapping speakers, different cables, a different type of pick, etc.

    For me, it was changing speakers. I had struggled with my tone for years, thinking it had to be this piece of gear or that piece of gear, but turns out it was the speakers. I swapped them for something different on a whim. Lo and behold, that was the ticket.

    In addition, another tonal upgrade that really opened my eyes was trying different guitar picks. The right thickness, shape, material, etc. has a very noticeable impact on your tone. I think I discovered this when I bought one of those random assortment of Dunlop picks sort of deals, where they include just about every type they offer. I spent a weekend years back going through each one. Someone were immediately enjoyable or disliked, while others took awhile to decide. I narrowed it down to two, and have stuck with them.

    The two I like are the Tortex variety as well as the nylon guitar picks. Pretty standard, but they were a step up from what I was using before. Then I just tried various thicknesses, and eventually settled on what worked. For Tortex, I prefer the green and yellows, but I forget what nylon thicknesses I prefer. Probably 0.88 and the next one up.

    So, what have you discovered had a huge, pleasing impact on your tone?
     
  2. snow and steel

    snow and steel Supporting Member

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    Moving to very low powered [weak, even], bright humbuckers - clearer, cleaner, and more control over my tone.
     
  3. Cgkindler

    Cgkindler Member

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    I think picks is a MUST try for EVERYONE - it's incredible what can happen with a new pick!

    Strings is another thing...even resetting the guitar up with thicker strings and taking it down 1-3 half steps can make for a totally different experience...one of my favorite things to do when I get creatively bored is to kick on the EHX PitchFork to 100% mix, and down 2-5 steps...it just makes for such a fun time!!

    Oh, and one other is trying to play clean with a little bit of dirt on it...or even with just more volume...again, it's so interesting how the tone can change with just a bit more volume!
     
  4. therhodeo

    therhodeo Member

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    Dedicated practice everyday.
     
  5. Class5

    Class5 Member

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    I was quite disappointed with the tone of my Lonestar Special for a long time. That is, until I disengaged the effects loop which also engaged the Global Master Volume and Boost function. With these out of the circuit, the amp sounded fantastic. Now I love this amp and I really have trouble with why Mesa continue to do things in this fashion, for the amp truly sucks using these features.
     
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  6. LordThurisaz

    LordThurisaz Member

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    Along similar lines as that of strings would have to be setting up and intonating your guitars. I think doing this is essential and sometimes overlooked.
     
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  7. T Dizz

    T Dizz Member

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    Same here.
     
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  8. LordThurisaz

    LordThurisaz Member

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    Why bright instead of more even pickups?
     
  9. Johnny Fuzz

    Johnny Fuzz Member

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    The biggest difference I’ve ever had from a minor change in gear / minor upgrade was changing speakers. I hadn’t really done that until after 20 years of playing! That was really eye-opening for me.
     
  10. Chandyland

    Chandyland Member

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    Probably only bright by comparison. If you're coming from overwound HBs to a more vintage-spec PAF, they'll seem bright at first, but then you just realize they're more balanced.
     
  11. T Wilcox

    T Wilcox Member

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    adding a suhr reactive load for re-amping and sending signal to my DAW opened up a ton of possibilities that I couldn't safely achieve with my NMV amps. Being able to crank a 4 hole plexi and then add delay and reverb and play at talking volume is simply amazing. The amps wattages no longer matter also. I can crank my tweed champ, plexi, trainwreck etc..to their sweetspots and then match volume. So I make my champ sound as loud as a 50 watter and my plexi sound as quiet as my champ.
    Anyways this has been the best thing since sliced bread for me
     
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  12. captaincoconut

    captaincoconut Member

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    Using an attenuator with my amp - killed my desire for any additional OD pedals, except a boost. It was really eye opening to play my Super Reverb with volume on 8-10.
     
  13. LordThurisaz

    LordThurisaz Member

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    Ah, fair enough then. I was just wondering if there was a reason to go for bright pickups over more even or possibly dark pickups.
     
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  14. snow and steel

    snow and steel Supporting Member

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    I require versatility because I may play 10 different styles over the course of a month, depending on what job I get. To that need I find low output pickups will let me get great cleans, and when high gain is required I can get it from the amp or amp and pedals. I also find pickups with bright, clear highs and a healthy mids are helpful. I can scoop mids if needed but I can't add it back in if its not there to start -same with the treble; I can cut treble or roll a tone knob back but can't add it if its not there. Cutting both will make it bassy if that's required too.

    In that regard - I choose the Seymour Duncan Jazz neck and '59 bridge. they match each other tonally and output wise very well, and give me everything I need. Matched with 500k pots and either 50's style wiring or modern wiring with a "treble bleed" [bandpass], it should deliver the goods.

    I should note that I've always dialed in my amps the old fashioned way; dialed to the neck pickup set for a clear, bell like rhythm tone. This usually means the bass is cut back and the treble is a little high. Then I'll select the bridge pickup and see if I'm getting any pick noise or "icepick in the ear" tones, and if so I roll the tone knob back on that pickup until it sounds right to adjust the presence.

    Several times I've had guys look at my amp and say something like "Wow, you like a really bright tone. That's got to be murder at high volume!" and they haven't heard me play a single note yet. Whenever that happens I know they don't dial for the neck pickup, and they are usually the players that live on the bridge pickup.

    The downside to that in my mind is there are all kinds of great tones you can get out of a clear neck pickup that you've completely lost when you dial your amp for the bridge only. Generally, these type of players bump the bass up trying to get some thump out of the bridge, and have the treble more towards noon or even under on some amps - which means they only have two tones - bridge and "woman tone" neck - because essentially this technique usually makes the neck pickup pure mud. I firmly believe guitars do not need 'thump'. Let the bass guitar and bass drum do their job. Stop angering the sound guy. Stop making your mix awful. Most of all - get more tones out of your instrument! Most 'classic' set ups [page, Clapton, VH 'brown sound', etc etc] were actually very bright with lots of treble, very heavy mids and the bass turned down.

    With that being said - if your amp is set this way, and you dial to the bridge pickup and your aren't cutting through with the tone on full - there is something very wrong.
     
  15. LordThurisaz

    LordThurisaz Member

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    Thanks for typing that up. Good read.
     
  16. Mayo5

    Mayo5 Member

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    A good teacher. Completely changes your playing.
     
  17. jimijimmyjeffy

    jimijimmyjeffy Member

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    switching to ultex xl jazz iii picks added some delightful chirp and mids to my tone on the attack. Kind of in the general direction of Brian May, but a bit more subtle. They are good if you like to dig in sometimes and pick for tone instead of speed, not that those are slow playing picks at all. It also made technical practice more fruitful.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
  18. Riffa

    Riffa Member

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    This, decent (thicker) picks and new tubes.
     
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  19. axdxm

    axdxm Supporting Member

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    For me, learning the value of rolling back your volume and tone controls was life changing. I used to just roll everything up to 10 and play...and frankly, talking to a lot of other gigging guitarists, that's how many others do it too. It took me a ridiculously long time over my playing career to figure that lesson out, haha.
     
  20. monty

    monty Member

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    Agreed on the picks, very underrated part of the tone.
     
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