if tone is in your hands, how do you get better tone from your hands?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by JHand, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. PaulHudgins

    PaulHudgins Member

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    For the most part I agree with this but I actually think playing with a low to medium gain level is better. By that I mean a gain level that can track clean with a light touch or sound distorted with a more forceful one. From a dynamic perspective you really get the feel of how your right hand can go from playing light and getting a clean sound to playing more forceful and causing the amp to distort. It also forces your muting more as strings that ring out are more prevalent with a little distortion on them.
     
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  2. p.j.

    p.j. Member

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    Critical listening of yourself and others...
     
  3. galibier_un

    galibier_un Supporting Member

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    I'm too lazy to record myself (I should). I play with my eyes closed (at least on stuff that's easy for me). It heightens my critical listening to my technique.

    ... Thom
     
  4. Tootone

    Tootone Member

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    This might have been mentioned already...

    Take a note.... any old note... and see how many different sounds you can get from that one note....

    palm mute
    play at the bridge
    bend it then pick it
    fast vibrato
    slow vibrato
    slide up to it
    slide down to it
    slide down to it from an octave above

    ... and so on.

    Articulation. It sounds corny to suggest it, but YouTube is festooned with "Correct Notes, Zero Articulation" and it sounds like cardboard.

    Pete Thorn is a Grand Master of articulation... it seems like he became an avid student of every great guitar player that ever lived, and I'm sure he did. Pete's trick bag must weigh a ton.
     
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  5. BlueRiff

    BlueRiff Member

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    This is a huge point. I played acoustic first and put a lot of years in on it. It's easy to underestimate how that and clean amp playing develops your ear of what is coming from the instrument itself.
     
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  6. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    Or even just unplugged electric...
     
  7. cam0122

    cam0122 Member

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    Practicing fret hand:
    vibrato (wide, shallow, slow fast)
    bends
    play notes with your finger tips whenever not barring.
    play one note, let it sustain, listen to what it sounds like.
    Play same note on adjacent strings at different fret positions. Notice how the same note sounds different when played on different strings.
    Use a light tough with fret hand.
    Let your strap, not your hand, support the weight of the guitar.

    Practice holding pick at different angles, find the attack that produces smooth tones.
    Use picking fingers sometimes, along with the pick. Playing with fingers gives a different tone, from playing with a pick.

    Listen to every note you play.
    Play every phrase, line, note deliberately, slowly, and evenly.

    Synchronize your picking and your note fretting to where you eliminate slop, string noise, hand noise, pick noise, etc.

    Listen to the greats. Try to emulate their sounds.
     
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  8. veinbuster

    veinbuster Member

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    Here are some things I remember working for me:

    Play slow enough that you can hear differences in what you are doing, like adjusting pick angle, which edge of the pick you use, how much of the pick contacts the string, how far from the bridge you strike the string. When you can hear the differences, you can incorporate them into what you are doing.

    The notion of turning the amp loud was interesting, but I went opposite and played unplugged. To me the point was to get comfortable with changing the volume and/or intensity just with my fingers. I find this easier to hear the differences with nylon strings, but I do it with any guitar. Now I rarely use the volume to change how loud I am, I just change what I do with my picking hand - my volume control is more to get into the sonic space I want to be in for a song.

    As to defining tone, I kind of don’t think it matters. However you define tone, there is a great deal of impact you have on the resulting sound by how you use your hands.
     
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  9. The bear

    The bear Member

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    Practice what?
     
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  10. The bear

    The bear Member

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    For me, playing electrics unplugged most of the time has helped a lot. Also playing classical guitar.
     
  11. Mooselake

    Mooselake Member

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    This. I get the biggest bang/buck putting a lot of focus on control/dynamics with my picking hand. I also like to watch video of players whose tone I like and observe how they pick/sound the strings. Vibrato and aspects of fret-hand touch are important, but great fretting techniques doesn't do much if the attack is suboptimal.
     
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  12. ivers

    ivers Member

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    I think there's not necessarily one way for everyone at any point in their development. What Bryan T mentioned about ability to hear oneself is crucial, and people get at that at different points. Someone like Julian Lage gives a vibe of being a very natural listener, while some will struggle for decades to get their listening skills where they can identify what they need to work on in terms of nuances in technique.

    I played for a lot of years mostly on a nylon stringed acoustic and unplugged electric, rarely loud or with distortion, and wasn't mature enough in my listening skills to really hear the nuances and little cues that could be used to refine my technique then. Then when I tried to play with higher gain again, it sounded awful and some shortcomings became much more apparent to me – like for instance how my heavy handed fretting made the playing out of tune (and even I noticed, who hasn't got a precise ear for out-of-tuneness!).

    So for me it made sense to practice more with what seemed to provoke some weaknesses in a very obvious way. But the work I've done with higher gain playing and louder amps the years after being horrified by my high gain playing has helped me to better identify problem areas when practicing unplugged electric or on classical.
     
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  13. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    I relate in an opposite way.
    I come from a Rock background so for me it used to be muting with high gain in my formative years and unplugged playing.
    Anyways, a while back I discovered that my muting had me rub my palm across the bridge (audibly).
    I changed to a floating position for anything. Well obviously not notes that were palm muted. I was concerned about errand noises, even considered putting a scrunchy on the neck.
    What I found was that I could mute just fine with the left hand.
    Further I realised that my previous playing position kinda choked the tone while making it honky.
    In further looking at stuff I experimented not with angle and distance as I already had but completely different hand position.
    As in the awkward floating Benson thing, a less extreme version with anchoring, the floating Gypsy Jazz thing and of course the position that i use most my life...anchored via palm.
    Also since I go between fingers, pick n fingers and pick I came across that when playing Rasguedo on nylon string the difference of having the thumb on the top of the guitar vs the e string impacted bottom end.
    Kinda why I think guys say to practice standing up.
    Again different for me. I went to laying flat. Used to be cause of a bad back but realised I could control my breathing better. Took that ability to standing and sitting position.
    AND once again realised that sitting I draped myself against the guitar smothering it...changing the vibrations by absorping parts of it.
    Obviously easier to spot on acoustic but possible on electric and what contributes IMO on the difference in "bone tone" between players.

    And while I'm being esoteric, and what started me on that was back a good ten years ago when Steve Kimock cane through town and I hung and played with him.
    To me the right hand is the attack and the left forms the decay and release.
    Just like when I learned while taking lessons from Garsed some 3 decades ago that it sounds different going to descending notes by hammering on rather than pulling off. This is when the right hand isn't obviously incontrol of the attack with the note beginning going mmmwaah rather than mmmweee when pulling.
     
  14. CarpathianWhips

    CarpathianWhips Member

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    Some excellent advice in this thread. Yes it’s all about getting good fretting and picking dynamics working in synergy, but let’s not forget timing too.

    On that note also do practice with a metronome. I thought I was a good player for a while before I realized my timing sucked, esp. when playing by myself, esp. solos.

    And yes record yourself often!
     
  15. ivers

    ivers Member

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    That struck me when I was looking at some close up Vicente Amigo vids, how he seemed to be careful to let the guitar breathe and just balance on the leg rather than be smothered as you say.

     
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  16. jimijimmyjeffy

    jimijimmyjeffy Member

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    You have to able to play simple things well. Today was playing Greensleeves as a simple melody, and was getting a nice tone, with no amp. Nothing was lacking or boring. I was bathing my ears so to speak, and have been playing since a kid.

    Play simply with feeling. Even without an amp. Light touch generally.

    Part of the reason Gilmour gets good tone is he started playing simply.

    You should be able to play four notes as good as your heroes. Not copy them necessarily, though that is good for learning.

    Also really listen at all times. Don't look at your hands so much. Close your eyes and listen.

    Also different styles of music can add nuance. Tone is nuance in some part.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
  17. jimijimmyjeffy

    jimijimmyjeffy Member

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    yeah that dude has world class tone. Love him.
     
  18. ahhlou

    ahhlou Member

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    Your tone is a gumbo of your influences. Be sure to add as many different ingredients as possible to the pot...
     
  19. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    I got that from Django footage lol
     
  20. strumminsix

    strumminsix Supporting Member

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    Practicing more
    Playing more
    Acoustic more
    Clean more
    Dynamics more

    Then when going electric find that right amp where you can control almost all of that through your emotions since you're so well rehearsed. That was what I found years ago. Sadly, I'm working my way back to that. The whole guitar directly to low wattage amp thing has been my greatest ally in that.
     
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