Obsessing Over Tone More Than Playing


A lot of hobbyists mainly. Some people get more enjoyment/excitement out of buying pedals and amps than practicing and getting better. Personally I like having a lot less stuff and getting better because I find the more I play/practice the more I get out of each piece of gear and same with the tones. I like shaping and building my own sound but I hate adding in more and more stuff because it just complicates it, so I've bought way less gear in the past few years.

Its easy to fall into the gear buying trap but a lot of the time you are better off just playing what you have IMO.


I found oddly that moving to digital (AxeFX) cured my GAS. I still keep/buy some pedals with unique sounds but I mostly practice and gig with the AxeFX.

I found some presets that I like and that work live, and I barely tweak or play with them, they sound great and it gives me more urge to just practice rather than tweak.


I get the intent here, but this line of thinking can easily become a form of gatekeeping where you have people essentially saying that "x" guitarist isn't good enough for them to bother having nice tone.

There's got to be a balance - what someone might consider "good enough" will vary considerably. Without actually knowing the person, you can't really know how much work they are actually putting into practice - maybe they aren't as inherently talented as others and had to put hours upon hours to get as good as they are.

It's a hobby. Tone sculpting is a part of it. So is practice.


Silver Supporting Member
Supporting Member
I go back and forth between the two. The only thing that bothers me are the thousands of youtube demos that suck so bad you have no idea what the gear even sounds like. If you can't play then just say no to demos. It makes it hard to tell if the gear sucks or its just the player.
I notice a trend with players obsessing over their tone more than playing. When they post clips of their tones it's obvious that they're not putting in the time on their instrument. It's as if some magic pedal's gonna align the Universe.
It may be they just didn’t put much time into the clip. A clip to demo a tone is not a statement of the player’s musicianship. It’s a pretty generous gesture to do the clip in the first place. If I want to “judge the player” and evaluate their “use of time” I would need their musical product to start.

The most important aspect of all of this is that people enjoy THEIR time doing whatever it is...playing the instrument, playing with the gear, doing clips, making music, etc.


Are the tone chasers hurting anyone? We all do it from time to time. I suspect there are as many good guitarist chasing tone as bad.

Honestly... I assume that everyone just looks for a change in their tone every so often... You hear something and think... "that's what I'm after". You figure out how to do it and spend some time with that in your tone arsenal. A few years later you hear something and want that tone and chase it... more than likely it was a recording of yourself the previous year!


A lot of guys who are 'gear obsessed' are super into guitar/music but just lack the time or desire to put in serious practice. It's a lot easier to mess around on gear forums at work than it is to spend hours away from family or commitments after work hours.

Matt Sarad

When I play with the country quartet, our volume is reasonable. I get the tone I want with a Tele and a Boss ‘63 Fender Reverb Pedal into a Tweed Deluxe, either the old Fender or 2002 Victoria.

When I play with the blues band, the addition of keys increases the need for more volume on guitar. The Tweed Deluxes can’t cut through. I switch to the Deluxe Reverb or PRS H 50 watt with a single 12” Jensen MOD.I go back and forth among the Tele, PRS with Soap Bars, Strat with Onamacs, SG with Throbaks, old Melody Maker with TTop PAFs, or ‘58 LP Jr.

I get the tone I love before the band kicks in. Once we start, the richness disappears and I struggle mentally to keep it together. I use the Zendrive with the Deluxe Reverb and fiddle with the drive channel on the PRS H. I’m never satisfied with my tone.


Amen t
I notice a trend with forum members obsessing over what other people do, more then just do their own business.
Amen to that.

That said, I'm consistently working on a disciplined approach to practice. Part of the never ending journey.


Gold Supporting Member
I notice a trend with players obsessing over their tone more than playing. When they post clips of their tones it's obvious that they're not putting in the time on their instrument. It's as if some magic pedal's gonna align the Universe.
I would say it has nothing to do with gear or guitars. Most people do not put in a lot of time developing the knowledge on how to do things well and then working toward that end. Some do, but the majority of humans are not going to be above average or work towards that goal. Let's face it, there is a reason sports, TV shows, and internet activities such as Twitter, are popular. People don't put hours into watching football, GoT or Twittering because they play football, do whatever people in GoT do, or hope to one day start their own highly successful media platform. But for many the enjoyment from these types of activities seems to relate to aligning something in their Universe...or just soaks up time, which also seems to be something we all do (as we sit on TGP typing to each other rather than accomplishing other things in our lives ;))

So gear fun is all good. I do agree though that a clip where the person is not playing well is not something I enjoy hearing. I try to only listen to demos by specific demo guys if I can. Not that I think they are amazing players, but they are very solid and consistent in how they do things and it's clear that they have put in time on the instrument and know how to sound their best while doing demos.

Trending Topics