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Old February 23rd, 2012, 04:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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The myth of "tone"

Not troll bait, but why does anyone give a crap about their "signature tone"? I claim there is no such thing. Every player's tone is different at different venues, with different gear, even at different volumes. I love listening to isolated tracks sometimes, and the guitar tone might just make you cringe, but in the mix it sounds amazing.

I think what we really strive for is "style". Any recognizable guitarist is recognized by his style. That's why we say it's "in his fingers". Yet people go out and spend $$$$ on gear to achieve a certain "tone" that's just not gonna be found except for maybe one perfect fleeting moment.

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Old February 23rd, 2012, 04:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I disagree. Clapton sounds like himself with his equipment, Bonamassa with his, ZZ Top with theirs, Walter Trout, and Robert Cray with his and so on.

We care about our "signature tone," because it's one of the things that sets us apart from others...aside from our style of play.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 04:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I wish folks would just start agreeing with me. ;-)

I think all of those you mentioned have a very different tone on everything they play. Maybe it's how I define tone, which has more to do with the amount of highs, miss, lows, distortion, and modulation in a sound. I agree that all of those cats are recognizable, but I don't believe it's because of their tone, but their style.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 04:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Ehhhh....

It's all good.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 08:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by flyingbanana View Post
I disagree. Clapton sounds like himself with his equipment, Bonamassa with his, ZZ Top with theirs, Walter Trout, and Robert Cray with his and so on.

We care about our "signature tone," because it's one of the things that sets us apart from others...aside from our style of play.
The old "he sounds like himself" argument. Of course they all sound like themselves, but they don't always have the same tone.

Do you think Eric Clapton had the same tone on Disraeli Gears that he does on The Road to Escondido? Sure, it still sounds like him, but I don't think the tone is the same.

Not sure what some people think tone is.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 08:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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We care about our "signature tone," because it's one of the things that sets us apart from others...aside from our style of play.
I Like this sentiment, and wish it were more often true. Unfortunately, I see SO many posts asking how to get someone else's tone, whether it's Clapton, SRV or Brian May.

I'm going to have to side with the OP on this one. As long as it's not painful, I don't care what someone's "tone" is, especially if they play well.

Screw yr toanz. Kill yr idols. But mostly, just play your damn guitar and stop worrying about whether or not your "syrupy" enough
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 08:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Its in the players fingers that give a lot of the players distinctive tones. My bass player always says I have the same tone no matter what gear I use. I know it varies a little from different guitars but my touch and technique stays the same which is the backbone of any guitar players signature sound. IMO
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 08:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I would much rather have people recognize my style than my tone...whatever that is anyway.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 08:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The old "he sounds like himself" argument. Of course they all sound like themselves, but they don't always have the same tone.

Do you think Eric Clapton had the same tone on Disraeli Gears that he does on The Road to Escondido? Sure, it still sounds like him, but I don't think the tone is the same.

Not sure what some people think tone is.
I agree with you. Clapton's style is recognisable. His sound - from the Bluesbreakers to 5/10/15 years later - is whole other thing. Much of it down to recording technology and such I'd imagine. I don't hear a Clapton 'tone', I hear his style of playing.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 09:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I find it ironic that we spend millions of man hours on this forum discussing the subtle nuances of pickups, wood, finishes, pedals, amp circuits...and then boil it all down to "tone is in the fingers. "

Hilarious.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 09:03 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I would much rather have people recognize my style than my tone...whatever that is anyway.
Well put. Players have styles. Guitars [and equipment] have tone.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 09:11 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Durtdog View Post
I find it ironic that we spend millions of man hours on this forum discussing the subtle nuances of pickups, wood, finishes, pedals, amp circuits...and then boil it all down to "tone is in the fingers. "

Hilarious.
The thought has struck my mind a couple of times too - but then I like irony.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 09:33 AM   #13 (permalink)
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If by 'tone' you mean 'timbre', ie, the quality and characteristic of your guitar/amp's sound...then why in the world would anyone not be interested in it?
It's part of the tool for creating that 'style' people are saying is all that really matters.
Why use an inferior tool if you don't have to?
With the best (and by that I mean 'most suitable', not necessarily most expensive or whatever) tool you'll be more likely to do better work.

Sure, BB King or Clapton or Larry Carlton or whoever may play as well through cheap nasty gear and will still be recognizably 'them'...but I'm glad they try to find the best sound.

And I disagree about the 'fleeting moment' bit. Acoustics and sound does change from place to place and situation to situation, but, in general, gear that has a good sound will tend to 'work' in most of them.

Incidentally, I don't think much of the way the word 'myth' is used these days. It always seems to imply derision of other peoples' point of view with the added implication of gullibility and foolishness.
Not a very respectful way to discuss things, IMO.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 10:08 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I think that's a bit sensitive. Myths abound in internet land, where people accept conventional wisdom of a given forum or subject - often to fit in straight away. As such they become passed on truths and ways of seeing things.

TBH, I never knew this whole idea of tone ever existed til recently, and I'm not totally convinced of it. Although half joking and playing the smart arse, Keef was fond of answering the lazy journo's question of his fave guitar sound by answering 'Give me 5 minutes and I'll make em sound the same'.

By that, I read he doesn't see a massive difference in the equipment that can't be tweaked with to produce very similar sounds - along with his world famously recognisable riffs. Is that his tone, or just his trademark style?

A bit like this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azo9bwSYDuA
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 10:16 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Durtdog
I find it ironic that we spend millions of man hours on this forum discussing the subtle nuances of pickups, wood, finishes, pedals, amp circuits...and then boil it all down to "tone is in the fingers. "

Hilarious.
It's easier to sit at a computer talk about all that stuff, buy more stuff than it is to sit down and practice.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 10:22 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Bright tone------> [Treble knobs way up high]......///...... Dark tone------>[Treble knobs way down low]............... I hear a difference.... Nylon string vs. steel string,........ over drive vs. clean....... with stomp box vs. without stomp box...... Lots of TONE today...
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 10:58 AM   #17 (permalink)
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It's easier to sit at a computer talk about all that stuff, buy more stuff than it is to sit down and practice.
Precisely.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 11:12 AM   #18 (permalink)
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It's easier to sit at a computer talk about all that stuff, buy more stuff than it is to sit down and practice.
+1000 ...exactly, well said, hooray and huzzah...this should be a disclaimer on every thread in this forum.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 11:17 AM   #19 (permalink)
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It's easier to sit at a computer talk about all that stuff, buy more stuff than it is to sit down and practice.
While I agree with you 100%, I'm not sure what it has to do with the "myth" of tone.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 11:28 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Durtdog

While I agree with you 100%, I'm not sure what it has to do with the "myth" of tone.
I will try to explain the best I can.

Each person has there own tone due to body chemistry and fingers. To bring out a persons tone they must practice practice practice.

But, it is much easier to sit infront of a computer and cyber chase tone or drop cash on things than it is to spend the blood sweat and tears it takes to bring out each persons best.
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