Top Ten of the best things you can do to improve your TONE

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by rikvee, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. rikvee

    rikvee Member

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    Please post your personal Top Ten of the ten best things you can do to improve
    your electric guitar tone, below is my own list, in order of importance:

    1. train your listening
    2. experiment with fretting hand touch
    3. explore picks and finger picking techniques
    4. find the gauge AND the brand of strings that sound the best
    4. find an amp that is well matched to your guitar
    5. check out how cable effects tone
    6. play music that allows your guitar tone to stand out
    7. record yourself in a repeatable way and track your progress over time
    8. understand pedals and use them sparingly
    9. but when you use an effect, make sure it kicks
    10. stay up to date with what's out there through TGP!
     
  2. Bobster

    Bobster Supporting Member

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    hmm, i dun understand number 8. , why do we have to use pedals sparingly?
     
  3. todaystomorrow

    todaystomorrow Member

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    Maybe he means use them tastefully not sparingly.:dunno
     
  4. H_V_C

    H_V_C Member

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    I don't get number 6.
     
  5. beachwail

    beachwail Member

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    I agree with most all of yours!!

    My top 5

    1. Record yourself and your shows
    2. Get the best guitar for your style, it's the instrument that makes the largest factor
    3. Get the best amp for your style, it's what people are actually hearing
    4. Listen from audience to another person with a similar style playing your rig
    5. Use your ears not your eyes when adjusting knobs. Sometimes 1 or 10 is the best.
     
  6. Drifting

    Drifting Member

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    Too many effects at once. Some people just throw effects on to throw effects on.

    The wah is a perfect example. Half the time people just throw wahs on 'because'.

    Few people use the wah sparingly and with taste like Hendrix.
     
  7. rikvee

    rikvee Member

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    Thank you all for the quick replies, I put in the "use pedals sparingly" to liven things up a bit.
    Since we're in the pedal forum , I knew that would work! :)
     
  8. Bobster

    Bobster Supporting Member

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    haha alright, sounds reasonable :)
     
  9. rikvee

    rikvee Member

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    A good example for me is Lynyrd Skynyrd: 3 different players, 3 different sounds, all great in their own way, none got lost in the mix.
     
  10. pmtrub

    pmtrub Member

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    This is above and beyond one of the most important ones. Many people tend to apply expectations to certain brands and settings. Use your ears, they will not lead you astray.
     
  11. Iversen

    Iversen Member

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    I would add to the list that once you find an amp you like, you'll want to
    a) Find a better speaker. The money that goes into this are the best spent money bang-for-the-buck wise, so much more important than messing with cables.
    b) Find the right tubes. Again, this has a bigger impact on your sound than changing cables, but not quite as much a new speaker.
     
  12. pmtrub

    pmtrub Member

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    I'm inclined to think that different tubes have a bigger impact on your tone than speakers, because it's influencing what the speakers are amplifying.

    That said, I've changed out tubes on both my amps with significant results, but haven't changed out speakers yet... thinking about replacing the stock speakers in my lonestar with california ceramic webers...
     
  13. norumba

    norumba Supporting Member

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    1. stop posting on TGP and go play your damn guitar!:)

    2. seriously, though, tone is just one of the factors in the means to impart whatever musical conviction you have to convey. Its a means to an end, not an end in itself. While its important, don't lose sight of the end game, which is passion and heart and compelling music. Pedals will serve your vision but they won't on their own make you a better player or create that musical vision for you. Im not saying gear heads dont have vision, but i think its easy , myself certainly included, to get obsessed and lose sight of what its truly all about, what tone should be in service of.

    with that in mind:

    3. You often hear, 'player x can make any gear sound good'. ..So if you can , do a little retreat, what i like to call Pedal Fasting: play every night, 3 hours, for a full week (or if youre hard core, a month) without any pedals at all. Do not use any pedals during the week, period.

    As you play, think and feel about the tone you want, try to really imagine it and internalize it deeply, convey it from your guts and spine and heart out to your fingers. Doesnt matter how closely it materializes or not -- this exercise really sharpens your musical force of will, puts you in a naked, intense, vulnerable, face to face relationship with you and your music.

    allow this to mess with your head: keep that internal sound with you at all times, actively reflect on it when and where you can, away from the guitar.

    After the week, when you plug your goodies back in, you'll have a very different appreciation and sense of what they should be doing for you.

    4. once notes leave the body, then the guitar is the next step, so make sure the guitar is in as good a working order as possble - take it to a good guitar tech for a thorough set up/adjustment.
     
  14. Drifting

    Drifting Member

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    Look at it this way.

    Bad tubes sound bad through bad speakers.
    Good tubes will sound bad through bad speakers.

    Bad tubes sound bad through good speakers.
    Good tubes sound good though good speakers.

    No matter how great your gear is, including something as fundamentally important as proper matched power tubes, it will never sound right with the wrong speakers.

    Speakers are the only part of your rig that actually make sound, so if that sound isn't good off the bat, tubes/pickups/guitars can only go so far.

    That being said, after speakers, tubes are the next biggest matter in tone(if you're trying to get all the tone you can out of one amp, I'm not including different amps, too many for different styles and sounds)
     
  15. rikvee

    rikvee Member

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    Spot on, perhaps that one should be number one!

    Very deep there norumba, almost spiritual..... :)
     
  16. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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  17. norumba

    norumba Supporting Member

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    aw, thanks! the spiritual implications of music-making is pretty much why i make music :) i dont get preachy about that, but i 'll share what works for me when appropiate or if i think its of any use...
     
  18. catalinbread

    catalinbread Member

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  19. mrbluetone

    mrbluetone Member

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    +1
    + get in a band and go gigging and keep those strings fresh!
     
  20. redpill

    redpill Member

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    Honestly, tone is about music, but music is not about tone. Focus on the music, and the other stuff will work out.
     

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