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To the "tone is in the fingers" people: stop responding to gear related questions please.

M

Member 199413

I'd really like to do my best to respond to this because I think the real answer is buried in here.

First, let's take out the term "shortcomings" and replace it with the term "differences". Let's assume you have two players of equal abilities but substantially different techniques. In fact, I'll be Player 1 and my friend Joe will be Player 2. This is non-hypothetical. We play similar styles of music and even many of the same songs. We both play clean tones only. Joe plays with a flat pick. I play with my fingers. Joe plays in the conventional position about half way between the neck and bridge pickups. I play over the last few frets of the fingerboard. Joe uses heavy strings and low action and plays firmly with authority. I play with light strings and a extremely light touch. The result is that Joe's attack produces more volume than I do, in fact a LOT more volume. None of that makes one player better or worse than the other, just different.

Now someone asks the following question: does a Blackface Princeton have enough clean headroom to get a good clean tone for playing jazz. Because my technique produces a very quiet output, I don't drive the input stage of the amp very hard so my answer is "Yes. I love the sound of BF Princeton". Because Joe's playing produces a much louder signal, he hits the input stage much harder so it breaks up at a much lower volume setting so his answer is "No. A BF Princeton doesn't have enough clean headroom. I'd much rather play through a Twin."

So the answer to the question "does a Blackface Princeton have enough clean headroom to get a good clean tone for playing jazz" is: "It depends on the player". And of course that really means it depends on the player's technique.

This is not theoretical for me. I have gear demos with many thousands of views and a lot of people have bought a lot of gear because they've heard me play it. A lot of them have also sold it later because they didn't sound like me once they played it for a while.
That’s an excellent post but it actually supports the OP’s point. Your response gives a lot of useful information and would help me make a gear decision. “Tone is in the fingers” or “it depends on the player” by themselves give me no useful information and often come across as nothing more than a condescending “you suck and your momma dresses you funny.”
 

killer blues

Member
Messages
3,051
Style is in the fingers. Have two artists use the same exact gear play the same chord in the same way and you won't hear a difference. Have them start playing a song and bingo. All of the nuances start popping. How they mute, pick, fret, etc. will have an impact on the final result, but the fundamental of the tone is the gear.

If gear doesn't make up the vast majority of the tone, then why do people compare a guitarist to different eras of their career? Early VH vs later VH? Strat Clapton vs LP Clapton? Their styles are instantly recognizable, but the tones change.
Playing one chord is pretty generic. once you play a few passages that'll definitely separate the players
 

JPenn

Member
Messages
1,808
just my opinion, but after playing for years & years, players tend to adjust gear until it sounds like the tone they want to hear. at least that's how it is for me. i do think there are better versions of me though!
 

LieInKing

Member
Messages
113
For me the entire premise of the thread is wrong. You can't disprove a proposition made in figurative language by demonstrating that it's not literally true. Of course it isn't.

"The man was a bear". You don't disprove the claim by demonstrating that he was not actually a carnivorous mammal of the family Ursidae.

"Tone is in the fingers" is just a punchy way of saying the player matters more than the gear. Poetic license is involved. The claim isn't that great players would sound identical with different gear, it's that they'd still be great players. And that, especially if they are using relatively mainstream gear - Gibsons, Fenders, Marshalls, this dirt pedal, that dirt pedal, this delay, that delay, this modeller, that modeller, dirt from the amp, dirt from a pedal - they'll find a way of getting as close as makes no real difference to the sound in their head with whatever version or brand they are using.
 

pfrischmann

Member
Messages
3,305
I think it depends. "I want to sounds like Eddie Van Halen" You can get the Northern Ash body and the 9K Paf or Super Distortion (depending on the era) The 12 series Marshall, the basket weave 4-12. The AMT plate reverb etc... but truly, much of ED's tone depends on his approach....his hands. It has to be part of the conversation. At least his technique has to be part of it.

This is really true when listening to Robben Ford. The dude sounds like him no matter what he plays through.

However, that's different than "dude, give up. It's all in the hands" or "practice more".
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
32,064
For me the entire premise of the thread is wrong. You can't disprove a proposition made in figurative language by demonstrating that it's not literally true. Of course it isn't.

"The man was a bear". You don't disprove the claim by demonstrating that he was not actually a carnivorous mammal of the family Ursidae.

"Tone is in the fingers" is just a punchy way of saying the player matters more than the gear. Poetic license is involved. The claim isn't that great players would sound identical with different gear, it's that they'd still be great players. And that, especially if they are using relatively mainstream gear - Gibsons, Fenders, Marshalls, this dirt pedal, that dirt pedal, this delay, that delay, this modeller, that modeller, dirt from the amp, dirt from a pedal - they'll find a way of getting as close as makes no real difference to the sound in their head with whatever version or brand they are using.
This may be perfectly true in a practical sense but addressing a gear issue by posting that that Jack Pearson (whoever) sounds great with a Squier tells one nothing about one's own issue.
'Practice more' is a copout response by those who do not know or are unwilling to explain (perhaps for the thousandth time so I don't really blame him) that the issue can or cannot be resolved through technical adjustments.

His tone was all about his fingers.
That is the approach of an acoustic player, moved to an amp'd setting.
Still, I could come along and ruin his day by setting the amp so as to be unplayable/unresponsive to his finger nuance i.e. change the tone.

The failure is to view tech issues as tech issues, when that is the question asked.
Pointing out technique workarounds to get by can be somewhat useful and worth pointing out but avoids the actual solution.
It's your 'fingers' is not the answer unless it really is.
 

neastguy

Member
Messages
15,068
i shared this long ago and saw it once in another topic, maybe it was mentioned here but i didn't notice it then. Joe Satriani here sound to me min 99% as he always does and he use here some 100$ guitar and dirty cheep equipment.



EDIT i never saw the brand of this startish guitar, wood is god knows which, pickups are for sure those 10$ for a set, i doubt that strings are fresh either...

PS If anyone have ever heard of this brand pls share.
I dont think when you are playing with that much gain and a wha.. that tone isnt a tough one to get IMO.. my .02
 

hippieboy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,289
It's funny how the "tone is in the fingers" camp, insinuate that in some level they believe that the player is not aware or competent or knows a thing about technique hence why it's important to remind them that whenever possible without context, but the other way around is also true, there are some people that don't know how to eq an amp or combine effects or set a delay for a specific sound or stack pedals or use a comp, etc, etc.

Why not assume that and help instead of the snark, that's what I don't get.
 

korus

Member
Messages
1,179
This is simple.

Plug a guitar straight into an amp. Several top players play that same signal chain in the same style.

Eg Burst into Marshall, some well known Burst riffs, Page Gibbons Green Kossoff Duane/Dicky.

Eg players Jack Pearson Greg Koch Joe Bonamassa Josh Smith Ian Bairnson Phil X.

(this is not likely or possible, but we all can perform some counter factual thinking)

We will get similar but different tones. Or we can say - we will get different yet similar tones.

Why?

Because there are 2 tones in each sample going at the same time. These are:

- tone of the gear
- tone of the player

Tone of the gear is OBVIOUSLY THE SAME.
Tone of the player is CLEARLY DIFFERENT.

So we all here are talking 2 different things at the same time while naming them the same.

So, to make it perfectly clear:

tone of the instrument is what NO PLAYER can remove from sound coming out of the speaker no matter how individual player's style is.

Tone which is in the fingers exist but that is exactly the part of tone NOT being discussed when tone of the instrument/gear is being discussed.

It is simple. So simple it takes huge talent and/or deep need not to grasp it. And talent and need are NOT GEAR OR MUSIC RELATED beyond any doubt.

Hence, the OP's request/plea.

Now you all know.
 

davess23

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,395
I was laying in bed the other night, and I couldn't sleep, so I did what I always do when I'm having a tough time falling asleep-- I stuck my fingers in my ears one at a time and listened to all the different wonderful tones.

It always helps me doze off, and my last thought before I fell asleep was that I felt bad for all those poor jerks who have to keep buying new guitars, amps, and pedals,
 
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nmnjs

Member
Messages
187
It is true that each player sounds authentic. But it is down to other factors other than just fingers.
Technique and sound in conjunction, are as big, if not bigger ingredient to tone.

You can see it for yourself.
Try playing some rolling threes and cascading runs with a fuzzy lead tone, and you'll get tone instanty reminiscent of Eric Johnson.
Add in a Les Paul, and replace the fuzz with hi-gain overdrive, and there's your Bonamassa reference.

This is all, of course, just generalization. You would need a lot more than that to hang with the above players.
But, the fact is - gear, technique and fingers are all parts of the equation.
 
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bobcs71

Member
Messages
4,465
It's funny how the "tone is in the fingers" camp, insinuate that in some level they believe that the player is not aware or competent or knows a thing about technique hence why it's important to remind them that whenever possible without context, but the other way around is also true, there are some people that don't know how to eq an amp or combine effects or set a delay for a specific sound or stack pedals or use a comp, etc, etc.

Why not assume that and help instead of the snark, that's what I don't get.
That is a great point. I got the technique before I knew how to set an amp or effects.

I did go through amps and effects thinking I needed better ones. The truth was I needed to know how to set what I had.
 

Lachra

Member
Messages
155
This is a fun silly thread.

Anyone who actually plays guitar knows darn well that it's a combo of both things. You need to have feel, you need to have touch, because that's what guitars need. You need technique.

...But using the correct gear really helps too.
Exactly, Its a combination of both. Anyone that thinks its only one, or the other, doesn't know what they are talking about.

You can't exceed your gears expectation, with a perfected technique, and achieve the desired results. Go ahead and play Gojira through a clean only amp and tell me its the same. Even with Joe it wouldn't be.
But that also works in reverse. You can have all the gear in the world, and have horrible technique, and you will not sound great at all.

Its kind of a sad testament that guitarists have actually been arguing this nonsense for far too long.
 

Telefunky

Member
Messages
2,727
Something to consider: perhaps the debate only continues because the premise is so fundamentally flawed that neither answer can possibly be correct.
The old "chicken or the egg" scenario is a philosophical riddle. You can't choose one because you need both.


Is anyone here really so stubborn as to suggest: "tone is produced by technique OR gear, and nothing else". Because we all know someone can accidentally bump your amp knobs and you INSTANTLY know it changed.

My philosophy is: "tone is 50% technique, 50% equipment, and 50% settings".


Just my humorous way of teaching students that tone is a big puzzle and the sum of every piece in the chain, starting from the player and his knowledge, the musical situation, the other instruments.... and all of that has to come through the speaker cabinet.

But that's just the stuff we can control. Wait 'til you get to weather, humidity, voltages, electrical interference, room acoustics, mic selection and placement, house engineer....

The reality is tone is comprised of three factors we can control and dozens of factors we can't.
 




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