When did a guitarist's tone first catch your attention?


Gold Supporting Member
I blame Eric Johnson and his incredible ability to hear the difference in tone when he places a Tube Screamer facing north vs. south (tongue planted firmly in cheek, here) for the silly dialog that exists today regarding all things affecting tone, but really... (Heck, his first album was titled 'Tones'!)

I had my Ipod on shuffle yesterday and The Cars' 'Let the Good Times Roll' came on. I remember thinking when I first heard this song in the 70's what a great, in your face recorded tone that was coming from Ric Okasek's guitar. The same thought hit me when the tune came up on my Ipod - what a great recorded guitar tone!
I also seem to remember getting psyched when I first heard J.Y. Young's ripping solo on Styx's 'Renegade' back in '79 - again, at the time I thought, 'great recorded tone'.
The guitar sound on the intro to Billy Squier's 'Lonely is the Night' also got my attention. In fact, the solo in that song is the very first solo I learned way back then.

So, I'm not talking 'coolest riff you've heard' - this is about the TONE that made you first really perk up your ears, and the song whose tone really got your attention?


I noticed Santanas tone in high school. I dug Peter Framptons talk box thing in jr high.

I liked the sex pistols tones in high school. The more distorted the power chords, the better.


Silver Supporting Member
Young's tone on Renegade was among the first for me as well.
Brian May - Killer Queen, etc.
Mark Knopfler's tone from DS's first album.
Robbie Blunt on Plant's early solo albums.


Senior Member
SRV - Lenny for clean and Beatles Revolution 9 for overdrive are the first ones i can recall actually listening to the tone as well as the song. For a TGPr, I still don't pay much attention to others' tone most of the time, just the song. (i do obsess about mine, though, lol)


Larry Carlton for me I heard and saw him in the mid 80's and loved but couldn't figure out how he go that smooth distortion. Robbed ford came after that and had a similar tone but Carlton really perked up my ears. I suppose Robert Fripp's lead tone always was a buggy for me. But I'll stick with Carlton.


The Hollies' "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" made me fall in love with the sound of an electric guitar. Kiss' Rock and Roll Over album made me fall in love with the sound of a distorted electric guitar.


I dunno for sure but I still shake my head whenever I hear Hendrix starting The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock. Like a spaceship taking off. I don't think we'll ever hear anything like that again. Just too loud for anyone anymore.


Platinum Supporting Member
For me it was always Don Felders thick juicy solos and the song that sticks out were Already Gone and Victim of Love. It took me many years to achieve that tone also.

Another is Hendrix. Most of his live material sounds awesome. Especially from Woodstock. The Isle of Wight show was phenomenal too. Machine Gun is the ultimate tone factor. Ive never had a song that helped me visualize his message like that song does. He was like a poetic painter!

David Gilmours Wall stuff always amazed me. When the album first came out it always sounded eerie. Way ahead of its time too!


When I was a little boy, my parents bought a console record player from a neighbor, who threw in a big and varied collection of LP's. There were a ton of those box sets like "Boston Pops Plays Your Favorite Melodies" or "Reader's Digest Collection of Big Band Hits."

One of those collections had Horst Jankowski's "A Walk in the Black Forest." I listened to that song over and over just to hear the twangy little guitar part, which I thought was the coolest-sounding thing I'd ever heard.

Then I heard the Beatles.

Then I heard Kiss. Game over.

Guitar part at 1:11


I first notice a person's tone when the song they are playing catches my ear! If the song doesn't move me I could care less about their tone.

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