Your own tone never satisfying?


This might be hard to explain - I've been playing guitar for some time now, been through a lot of gear and i still don't think i ever feel satisfied with my tone - there always feels like there is a better sound to get.

Currently i play either my 62 RI strat or my 52 RI tele.
I use either a 65RI Deluxe Reverb or a Vox AC15.
Pedals for drive currently include a BB Preamp and a TS808.
(Been through FD2, TS9 with 808silvermod, OCD, Super 6, RC booster, BYOC Screamer, Rat, and many more - cant seem to recall them all)

I wonder if it is just me hearing my own sound and criticizing it too easily or if it actually isn't me - but the actual tone.

I play my tele i think it can feel a little harsh, brittle - my strat a little muddy and clustered.

I listen to a lot of youtube demos of other gear and some of those tones are soooo smooth and perfect! Some of the Tim clips especially. Its not my clean tone i am worried about but my overdriven sound. It never sounds great to my own ears.

Anyone else spend way to long thinking their own personal tone sounds average compared to others?


Play with some friends or to a backing track. You will quickly adjust your definition of what tone works.

So many times we judge good tone on listening to a guitar by itself, forgetting how much things change in context.

If you still don't like your tone, try adjusting your pickups. Are they too close? Does your guitar need a good setup?


Mickey Shane

Silver Supporting Member
Me too. I play Gibsons through Tweed Fender amps these days with a loop-master full pedalboard set-up. Personally, I've always played BB King clean. But I understand the need for a good distorted, sustaining sound these days. I found the distorted sound that I like by pushing '50s tweed amps.

I have my sound now. Which is good because I'm in my '50s. Only 45 years left to play.


Silver Supporting Member
Hitting the right tone at the right time (and playing the right notes, occasionally) is my dilemma. If you have the time and opportunity to fine-tune the rig in the room and play at your preferred level it make things better tonally.
And, if you can cover your needs with a simple setup, that helps.
Problem 2- swap your sc guitar for a hb and some things become so much better, then, vice versa. Yep, frustrating at times.


I think for those of us that are not gigging out, we have way too much time to analyze our tone.

When your gigging every weekend plus holding down a real job or a full time performer, you simply don't have that much time to mess with it.
You are learning new tunes and always in a rush to get somewhere.

But when you're a bedroom jammer, you think to yourself, man that mid scoop sucks or that fuzz pedal ain't gettin' it anymore.
As long as your band mates are happy and the sound man isn't plugging his ears, you're probably OK.


There's always more avenues to explore when it comes to tone.

I experimented with guitars, pickups, pedals, amps, preamp tubes, power tubes, speakers, and speaker cabinets. And they certainly all had a noticeable impact and a lot to teach me.

But then there were a few surprises to me: how much the guitar's TONE CONTROL had an effect on things. D'oh! All that experimentation and there was an easy (and free) answer to tweaking my tone in a big way.

And of course there's room sound, which to me is HUGE. Particularly when dealing with a cranked amp.

The points the earlier posters made about getting out there, playing and having fun is important, but I guess the quest for tone is never-ending. Maybe that's a good thing, though. It's fun to experiment!


It surely is a never ending journey as some have mentioned.

I have a compressor pedal too. I play in a band, and always receive good feedback about my tone from others... But other peoples opinions are not as determining as my own.

Might spend some more time rolling my tone knob around and adjusting settings for the rest of the gear.

I use an analogman comprossor - thinking about getting a less obvious compressor like the Barber Tone Press which has the Blend knob. Something i could leave on 24/7.

Thanks for the reply's.

Don A

Gold Supporting Member
At home I'm very critical of my tone. With my band I usually like my tone a lot.


IME, playing an O/D pedal into a clean amp is seldom a satisfying experience but that maybe just me.

Analog Dog

Ever since I started playing through a Lonestar special things have come around for me. I love the tone and it doesn't really sound like any other amp but it sort of sounds like all my favorite amps. Perfect!!!


Platinum Supporting Member
Before or after TGP?! HAHA! I swear getting on here revamped my entire sound. Funny enough, I've nearly come full circle with it.

Since joining TGP late last year, I bet I've gone through at least 15 different guitars (all one at a time of course! I don't have the cash to do it otherwise!), a few pedals (not a huge pedal guy), and several different amps.

I've ended up with a '62 Historic SG and am in the market for a vintage Super Reverb right now. Its been great trying everything out and I'll continue to do that as I can.

As for tone, there are times in my life where is was just ON. Other times, it was off and I couldn't figure it out but looking back on it, there are so many factors to take into account. Like, for ex., performing in a coffee shop that also sells books - its amazing how they will suck the sound out of the room! What sounds great in your living room could be completely different on stage or even in another room for that matter!

mad dog

Silver Supporting Member
I'm not dissatisfied with my sound. Most times greatly enjoying it in fact. It's not so much about gear ... started years ago when I recognized I did in fact have a characteristic sound. All this gear juggling -- great fun it is too -- is not about correcting/improving that tone so much as taking it elsewhere, diversifying.

It's a huge difference, to approach new amps and guitars (in particular) with a positive attitude. Without the negatives, you can hear better what stuff might actually be able to do for you. As George Clinton used to say, "Free you mind and your ass will follow."

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