Obsessing Over Tone More Than Playing

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Wagster, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. HughesP

    HughesP Member

    Jul 4, 2006
    I don't think this is a new thing...

    I recall around 20 years ago going into a guitar shop and they had their electric guitar room closed off - I couldn't go in because there was a client in who came in generally once a week or so and would buy a new custom shop fender/gibson, or new amp each time. He could hardly play, but the shop loved him because he was steady revenue for them.

    Most people can't do that with high end guitars, but pedals can be a bit of an addiction - the newness is part of the fun, and the price makes them more accessible to people. I know I am guilty of flipping/trading/buying pedals a lot more if my gig schedule isn't busy. But when I'm busy, and have new things to work at/learn, I realistically end up just liking consistency and have far less interest in new pedals.

    Both things are journeys though... finding tones you love is a journey, becoming a great player is a journey. As long as you ultimately are involved in both, I think that's fine, and at different seasons you might have your focus more on one than another.
    haslar and Abram4235 like this.
  2. Jacob Van Noy

    Jacob Van Noy Member

    Nov 9, 2005
    Lincoln, NE
    I’m guilty of this.

    Here are some ways to get out of it.

    1. Realize that your mood or psychological state at the time of playing has a huge impact on how you interpret and hear your tone.

    2. Record yourself, record rehearsals, record shows. Often times I found myself totally digging my tone and playing on playback but disliking it in the moment, in the room. Trust that your head is getting in the way in that case and learn to let go and play. If you hate the tone on playback, lose all pride and make adjustments or get rid of pedals and tones that don’t work for the context and move forward.

    3. Most tone problems (psychological or not) disappear when I learn a new and inspiring song, or at the very least just something new like a technique or voicing. This is probably the easiest way to forget about all the tone issues because you have to learn to actually inflect and play the new song properly and that comes down to rhythm and your hands.
    Auditory Driving likes this.
  3. joshofsorts

    joshofsorts Supporting Member

    May 14, 2014
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have gone through phases of tone obsession. Usually it was during a time of high stress in my life with little time to actually pick up a guitar. Instead, browsing on here and ordering pedals on Reverb in spare moments functioned as escapism or a substitute for the creative process I would have rather been engaged in at the time. It has often been an expensive substitute, but over the years, has netted me a great rig that I am happy with. Now that I have a rig I really like, I am trying to refocus on upping my playing abilities & practice instead of tone and gear.
  4. RockDebris

    RockDebris Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    The guitarist who practices more will be able to buy the tone they want one day.

    The guitarist who obsessed all the time about tone as just a factor of gear buying will never have what they want. When the other guitarist comes over and plays their gear it will sound brilliant though.
    LagunaMan and christophervolume like this.
  5. LqdSndDist

    LqdSndDist Member

    Dec 13, 2012
    Maybe more people have come to realize that no matter how much you practice, the odds of “making it big” are slim to none.

    I don’t think I’ll be on the PGA tour no matter how many trips I make to the driving range. I also don’t think I’ll be headlining an arena gig no matter how much I practice, especially at this point in my life.

    So what am I working towards, if I’m not simply enjoying the hobby ?

    Fewer and fewer gigs, little to no pay, not enough time, band drama, venues making you turn down ... what’s the point I’m sure lots of people wonder....

    Nothing ruins a fun hobby more than trying to make it into a job. Most of us already have a job so we want to keep guitar as something fun, and if that means getting new toys instead of running through scales, who cares ?
    Abram4235 likes this.
  6. mikey69

    mikey69 Member

    Feb 6, 2016
    Maybe they just demoing the tone of the pedal and not trying to play you a song?
  7. mdubya

    mdubya Member

    Sep 30, 2010
    Anybody can play well.

    But good tone is hard to come by (or even recognize, for some). :eek:

  8. Sloppyslim

    Sloppyslim Member

    Sep 29, 2008
    sandy eggo
    i haven't jammed much less gigged since getting out of prison 30 years ago.
    i know i'll never perform again, but i still pose because it's the only thing between me and a 3rd strike blaze of glory.
    i'll keep holding my mud till i can call god a liar and tell satan to kiss my ass
  9. MikeMcK

    MikeMcK Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2007
    Jersey shore
    I'm grateful for guys like that. I've seen (and learned some things) from videos that only happened because someone collected enough effects or pickups or tubes to swap them in one at a time and record the results. I saw one and was wondering why the guy was so into guitar when he was a beginner-level player. But he took the time to gather up 20 or so sets of pickups, swap them into a single guitar one at a time, record each one, add commentary, edit the video, etc. That's not something I'd ever do, but I learned something from him doing it. More power to him.

    And yes, some people do "collect", whether guitars or amps or effects. Nothing wrong with that, especially of they're offering comparative info for free.
    Abram4235 likes this.
  10. chankgeez

    chankgeez Member

    Jan 21, 2013
    Wot? Where?
    Haven't read the thread yet (other that the OP), but I'd rather listen to someone with good tone than good technique. :oops: :dunno
  11. gigs

    gigs Member

    Nov 20, 2009
    Pittsburgh - aka SIX-burgh
    Few famous bad guitar players with great tone for good reason.
    christophervolume likes this.
  12. Pick'n'strum

    Pick'n'strum Member

    Feb 17, 2016
    I don't feel like tone-searching and practicing are mutually exclusive. Can't you have both? You can't practice 100% of your time.

    With that said, I personally prefer to practice than mess with gear but I do still like to mess with gear.
    White Limo, Kevy_Metal and Abram4235 like this.
  13. mattjayworker

    mattjayworker Member

    Mar 8, 2014
    I'd say it's mostly a mecanismos de copiado for most of us chasers.
  14. ToneIsKing55

    ToneIsKing55 Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2016
    Ummm. Sorry.... Must’ve taken a wrong turn and ended up in the “playing and technique” forum, meant to go to the “effects and pedal” forum

    Oh wow.... Thats weird, I AM in the right place. Another post where the OP is condescending towards lesser players....

    Joe B., is that you buddy ;)
    Abram4235 likes this.
  15. squishcat

    squishcat Member

    Jan 18, 2018
    Everyone is at different skill levels because that's the natural order of life. If everyone played and sounded like Billy Badass nobody would.

    If you want to learn to slam dunk you're gonna have to get good at dribbling first (accumulating proper gear, tone creation & lots of practice).
    Abram4235 likes this.
  16. Guitarbrett

    Guitarbrett Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    SW Fla
    Then again, a lot of great players have obsessed over their tone for their whole careers.
    thevelourfog and Abram4235 like this.
  17. bobcs71

    bobcs71 Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    Anderson, SC
    Isn't it a sub-section of the hobby? For some the hobby is creating a a tone in their head? Similar to writing a song in your head or playing a guitar part in your head?

    Tone matters to me but what I do with that tone matters even more. I gotta put it in a song.
  18. davidespinosa

    davidespinosa Supporting Member

    Jul 10, 2007
    Silicon Valley
    No need for rhythm, melody, or harmony when you have TONE !!!

    Bill Cooper likes this.
  19. aynirar27

    aynirar27 All You Need Is Rock and Roll Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2011
    Great Barrington, MA
    I'm at a point in my life where playing in a band isn't a possibility at the moment, but I do get 20 mins here and there to let it rip in the basement. so when I do, I fiddle with amps and guitars and tones. I don't have time to practice enough to stay in tip top playing shape like I once was, but I can slam an A cord and watch pictures fall off the wall and it makes me happy
    monty likes this.
  20. Dr.Picklebottom

    Dr.Picklebottom Member

    Oct 8, 2009
    its the same thing w women that love buying shoes and purses. they dont need most of them its just the dopamine spike they get when consuming something that they enjoy.

    a lot of tgp are consumers more than musicians.

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