How I know tone is NOT (just) in the hands

Tom Gross

OG Forum Member
Gold Supporting Member
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6,153
You know how I know that tone is not just in the hands?

Cause there are no guitarists that don't give a damn what they use regularly.
OK, great. You can show a video of Robben/Santana/Eric Johnson/Gilmour/SRV/Jeff Beck whoever playing a Squire Strat through a solid state Peavey and he sounds just like himself!!!! See- Gear doesn't matter!!!

Well, I defer to the guitarist's judgement.
And none of them EVER says "you know, I'm an idiot to worry about my Dumble/old Marshall/old strat/Boutique amp/custom axe. I should just go with this $300 rig. I can change my tour rider and say to give me any old backline, whatever."

So for some reason, all of the guitarists with great tone who seem to be capable (according to an anecdote or a youtube video) of sounding exactly the same through any old thing, choose not to do so. All of them.
In fact, I've never met any guitarist, at any level, who doesn't care at all.

Some do find nice inexpensive solutions, of course. But nobody doesn't care. If tone was exclusively in the hands, I would think folks would.
 

CyberFerret

Member
Messages
10,036
I think it stands to reason that a $100 cheapo guitar will not be as easy or comfortable to play as a $1500 one.

At a minimum, I think any artist will require gear that feels good, is comfortable to play and doesn't have any extraneous noise etc., and then be able to reproduce their tone.

In my opinion, once you get to a certain quality of gear, say a $1500 guitar or amp, then moving further up from that will enact the law of diminishing returns. Anything below that and ANY player, rookie or pro, will struggle to make a nice noise.

So, in effect, give any of those guitarists you mention a reasonably nice rig, and their own distinct tones would be evident I believe.
 

Turbo Gerbil

Member
Messages
5,341
I think people confuse tone and phrasing. Tone is dependent both on gear and hands. Artists are recognizable more due to phrasing than pure tone, IMO.
 

pete kanaras

Member
Messages
2,947
tone is in the hands. you're entitled to your opinion, but if it's one thing i've learned after 4000-plus gigs, and countless backline amps of all stripes that you're forced to use, it is this: tone is in the hands, period. it's not about not caring, it's more about learning to Not care, because you gotta wrung what They brung. that's the gig, in the here and now, and you gotta deal with it. and it's a very freeing feeling to know, learned through hard-earned experience, that you will sound like yourself no matter what crap they throw at you. the hands have it, hands down, in my experience
 

kselbee

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,574
I think people confuse tone and phrasing. Tone is dependent both on gear and hands. Artists are recognizable more due to phrasing than pure tone, IMO.
I agree. Phrasing, vibrato, style and other things make up the largest part of what makes an artist identifiable. I can change my tone by using a different pick... to me that proves plain and simple that it's not just in the hands.
 

Turbo Gerbil

Member
Messages
5,341
tone is in the hands. you're entitled to your opinion, but if it's one thing i've learned after 4000-plus gigs, and countless backline amps of all stripes that you're forced to use, it is this: tone is in the hands, period. it's not about not caring, it's more about learning to Not care, because you gotta wrung what They brung. that's the gig, in the here and now, and you gotta deal with it. and it's a very freeing feeling to know, learned through hard-earned experience, that you will sound like yourself no matter what crap they throw at you. the hands have it, hands down, in my experience
If I'm a metal player, and the backline consists of a Fender Twin, it aint gonna be happening no matter what I do with my hands.
 

taco-man

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,255
Slayer on JC120 amps.
Wes Montgomery on Mesa Rectifier.
Jaco Pastorius on washtub bass.
Kraftwerk on grand piano.

They probably wouldn't sound like themselves.
 

Cody

Well, look who’s undead!
Messages
5,532
Babe Ruth with a wiffle bat isn't going to beat any home run records... therefore it can't be the skill of the athlete, but the quality of the gear!

Some of the "logic" presented here floors me.

:facepalm
 

tiktok

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,754
You know how I know that tone is not just in the hands?

Cause there are no guitarists that don't give a damn what they use regularly.
OK, great. You can show a video of Robben/Santana/Eric Johnson/Gilmour/SRV/Jeff Beck whoever playing a Squire Strat through a solid state Peavey and he sounds just like himself!!!! See- Gear doesn't matter!!!

Well, I defer to the guitarist's judgement.
And none of them EVER says "you know, I'm an idiot to worry about my Dumble/old Marshall/old strat/Boutique amp/custom axe. I should just go with this $300 rig. I can change my tour rider and say to give me any old backline, whatever."

So for some reason, all of the guitarists with great tone who seem to be capable (according to an anecdote or a youtube video) of sounding exactly the same through any old thing, choose not to do so. All of them.
In fact, I've never met any guitarist, at any level, who doesn't care at all.

Some do find nice inexpensive solutions, of course. But nobody doesn't care. If tone was exclusively in the hands, I would think folks would.
Tone is in the hands.

Neurosis is in the gear.
 
Messages
17,699
If I'm a metal player, and the backline consists of a Fender Twin, it aint gonna be happening no matter what I do with my hands.
bing bing bing we gots a winner

give the edge an ovation accoustic/electric and a vox pathfinder and tell him to play an entire u2 gig with only this...IT AINT HAPPENING
 

Britishampfan

Member
Messages
3,036
I am going to have to say,

I started on solid state crap, years later I play an old 100watt Marshall superlead and a Les Paul with bareknuckle pickups.


Night and Day.


Responding to famous guitarists playing solid state or whatever:

How many professional sound engineers does it take to make it sound good?

A-2
B-4
C- A team of scientists in the broadcasting booth with the artists personal tone consultant.
 

medrawt

Member
Messages
559
Babe Ruth with a wiffle bat isn't going to beat any home run records... therefore it can't be the skill of the athlete, but the quality of the gear!

Some of the "logic" presented here floors me.

:facepalm
who was talking about skill?
 

Mule

Member
Messages
1,017
IMO tone is the combo of your hands and gear. Yes I will still sound like me through someone elses gear but I wont sound the same as if I play through my own gear. I played throgh a different speaker cab at my last gig and the "tone" was different, though I still sounded like me.
 

lhallam

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
17,234
Ed D pointed out a trueism a couple of yrs ago, that no matter what electronic equipment one uses, a conscientious player will attempt to dial in the timbre that he likes.

There is a lot to be said about that.

I went to jam once and ended with a broken Peavy. I discovered if I used a heavy attack on the bridge pup I could get a passable sound out of it.

It didn't sound nor feel anything like my Two Rock, I just got as close as I could via volume, tone ctrls and technique.

People compensate.

I've got a few amps and gtrs, they all sound different. I use the tele and fender with a compressor to get a country twang. I use my Howard Roberts through my cowtipper to get a classic jazz sound, I play my LP with a marshall 50 to get an Allman Brothers timbre, etc, etc
 

stratpaulguy86

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,895
tone is in the hands. you're entitled to your opinion, but if it's one thing i've learned after 4000-plus gigs, and countless backline amps of all stripes that you're forced to use, it is this: tone is in the hands, period. it's not about not caring, it's more about learning to Not care, because you gotta wrung what They brung. that's the gig, in the here and now, and you gotta deal with it. and it's a very freeing feeling to know, learned through hard-earned experience, that you will sound like yourself no matter what crap they throw at you. the hands have it, hands down, in my experience
THIS. I'll add that most players who have been at this a while have a certain "tone" in their head that they strive for. Yes, I can approximate the sounds in my head with cheap POS gear but it takes way more time and effort than the stuff I choose to use. I will always sound like me through anything because I will TWEAK THE GEAR to get "my sound". You give 100 guys a Stratocaster, 100w Superlead Marshall, a fuzz, overdrive, and maybe some delay and I guarantee you that you'll find 100 completely different itterations of the same rig. Different pedal settings, different pedal orders, different amp settings ect....all to achieve "our tone". So yeah, tone is in the fingers but tone is in our heads too.

:bonk
 

stratpaulguy86

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,895
Ed D pointed out a trueism a couple of yrs ago, that no matter what electronic equipment one uses, a conscientious player will attempt to dial in the timbre that he likes.

There is a lot to be said about that.

I went to jam once and ended with a broken Peavy. I discovered if I used a heavy attack on the bridge pup I could get a passable sound out of it.

It didn't sound nor feel anything like my Two Rock, I just got as close as I could via volume, tone ctrls and technique.

People compensate.

I've got a few amps and gtrs, they all sound different. I use the tele and fender with a compressor to get a country twang. I use my Howard Roberts through my cowtipper to get a classic jazz sound, I play my LP with a marshall 50 to get an Allman Brothers timbre, etc, etc
Yep pretty much what I was saying. You beat me to it!
:aok
 

Rena Rune

Member
Messages
3,218
There's only so much you can do with 3 EQ knobs and a gain knob. If it was something like one of those Engls or Mesas with a ton of switches, then yeah. A guy who always uses Pro Juniors isn't going to be able to "dial in" that tone on a Krank Jr.
 




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