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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Bad Tone = Bad Playing?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by JJtele, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. JJtele

    JJtele Tele-Meister

    Apr 21, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Last night I played at a club on a somewhat awkward stage and was pretty much standing on top of my amp due to space. Anyway, I just couldn't dial in my usual tone no matter what I did and I just wasn't feeling it at all. As a result my playing was just terrible because I just didnt like the sound I was hearing come out. On the flip side of this idea, last weekend I played at another club in a room I'm really used to and dialed in a really killer tone (same rig as last night) and as a result I was really loving my tone and my playing was great! Does anyone else have this issue where if they aren't feeling their tone, their playing suffers??

  2. Teletubbi

    Teletubbi Tele-Holic

    Oct 10, 2012
    standing on top of my amp due to space.
    what? I dont buy that. Get off the bandstand and out in front so you can hear.
    dont allow them to squeeze you mate, put your elbows out. way out ( 8 - )
    If your performance was off it was likely because you were uncomfortable and annoyed.
    your 'tone' didnt cause it. As you know, being right close like that sounds way different than 5-10 paces away. Your setup may have been ok as is but you got fooled into chasing it due to hearing it differently.

    whatever, it might be useful for you (& or rest of band) to experiment with awkward cramped situations in your garage or practice room at your leisure. I bet you can find a better balance doing that or find a good way to compromise..

  3. kevoz

    kevoz Tele-Holic

    Oct 29, 2012
    There's nothing worse than not being happy with your tone, it's so frustrating.

  4. 1955

    1955 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 10, 2010
    Certain uncertainty
    You got to get gig-tough. I'm speaking more for me here, as you might not carry all the emotional baggage that Im gonna talk about. Nevertheless, I'm a critic, a severely harsh self-critic, and it is not good to be a critic while you're actually playing!

    Gig-tough (the term and meaning I got from Steve Rapson) is not letting all the distractions and such get in your head while you are playing.

    You get that way by creating environments in rehearsal that are constantly testing your ability to focus. By practicing under different circumstances. By repetition. By playing many different venues. By forgiving yourself.

    There are nights where you sound bad, where you play bad, where you are you're own worst enemy. That's called performance or situation anxiety. I know because I have it really bad. You can exasperate it by asking a lot of disempowering questions.

    It's a long hard road to being consistent on stage in terms of internal stability. You eventually learn to roll with it or it will get worse. For me, my concentration can go out the window, it's frightening. I mess up really bad. Forget people's names introducing them, Ive even blown it at important moments in front of thousands of people. I've had complete melt-downs and sheer panic before and during shows. Because I care what people think. And also, because if I fail, it is all on me. A lot of pressure.

    The solution is to not take it too seriously. To know your ultimate greater destiny beyond just playing music. Prepare. Practice more. Foresee scenarios. Think it through, 5 moves ahead like chess. Have a plan B.

    When I can't hear myself well, I play harder. Naturally. Well, that's the wrong thing to do. Learn yourself, know yourself, ask yourself empowering questions. Forget your mistakes. Forget that you sound terrible tonight. Live and deal with it. Very tough to do, but it happens to all of us.

    Reality and happiness are all about focus. When things suck, don't focus on what sucks. Draw deep from that inner wellspring of calm stability. That stability comes from health, unselfishness, congruence and sleep. Never let 'em see you sweat on your first cruise.

  5. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    The volume of space the amp projects into makes a huge difference on your "tone".

  6. Mid Life Crisis

    Mid Life Crisis Friend of Leo's

    Jan 12, 2007
    Cambridge, England
    Don't know about that. I'd say having electrodes attached to your private parts and being whipped senseless with a knotted rope is worse.

  7. JJtele

    JJtele Tele-Meister

    Apr 21, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    This is what I am thinking is the main culprit. I am always changing the distance between myself and my amp and it seems the closer I am too it, the worse my tone appears to sound. Last night I had my amp tilted back and it was aiming straight at my head as I was standing perfectly in line with it. About 5ft between myself and the amp seems to be the perfect distance. I guess the whole point of my post was just to highlight the relationship between the sound coming from the speakers and your perception of it in relation to your playing. It's so strange how I can play so well one night, with the same guitar, amp, pedals and playing the same songs - to playing terribly the next all because I didn't like the sound that I was producing. Just hitting 1 notes with vibrato and I can tell the difference and it sets the vibe of my playing... Strange.

  8. mrkenny

    mrkenny Former Member

    Sep 29, 2012
    When things are sounding a off I'm not as comfortable.

  9. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    If you cannot hear then you cannot play.

    You have to be able to hear your amp. If you have to play through a PA then you have to have a monitor you can hear clearly. Your own amp may be that monitor.
    It gets even more complicated with a band because you have to hear the mix too. The determining factor is the loudest acoustic instrument, drums and/or piano.

    In a confined space aim the amp at your head.
    Tilt it back and/or raise it up. A chair may be a suitable stand.
    This also works with an amp that is too loud, that ruins the stage mix too.

  10. 1955

    1955 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 10, 2010
    Certain uncertainty
    My experience was like;

    At first: Different room/venue = unknown/weird = bad = distracted/effected my playing.

    After a ton of gigs in all sorts of scenarios: room/venue + ask good questions quickly and adapt + if my internal consistency is correct = less worry/less distraction = better playing.

    Anything we are not used to can potentially throw off our enjoyment, focus, and ability to perform to our potential. So, creating an ever-changing practice environment to specifically build a more omni-directional blueprint of how we sound is worth the effort. This representation (that we keep in our memory) knows what we sound like and we can lock into what we know rather than what we are actually hearing.

    Very similar kinesthetic ability honed by Grand Ole Opry and Louisiana Hayride performers, where monitors weren't available and certain instruments were not amplified.

    The thick skin of rock-solid concentration is built by practicing regularly with as many unpredictable distractions as we can.

    I happen to be my own biggest distraction, so that is why I keyed in on the angle of the inner-talk regarding this phenomenon, which is mysterious and ever-changing depending on the circumstances.

  11. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity

    Feb 14, 2011
    Annapolis, MD
    I agree you have to be able to hear yourself but I know how my amps sound with various guitars and there is no dialing other than adjusting the bass and treble according to single coil or humbucker. Super simple.

  12. sjruvolo

    sjruvolo Tele-Meister

    May 22, 2013
    New York
    Everyone has good days and bad. Sometimes we just don't feel it. Just human nature. I used to get more worked up. Sometimes I thought that a set was completely terrible and people at the club would come up to the band and think it was great. Bottom line we as musicians are the biggest critics of ourselves. The audience really doesn't notice the little screw ups. No one dies if you make a mistake. Have a laugh at those little mistakes. Have fun with the talent that we have nurtured. Most people appreciate the fact that we can and they can't.

  13. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Feb 12, 2011
    Yea, there are days like those. Our singer keeps whacking the headstock of my guitar,
    the drummer cymbal in my ear and is so loud, cant hear stuff....oh well..part of it,..
    usually there are a couple of songs, that I get so into it...regardless of situation, that
    helps out...maybe in my own

  14. Justinvs

    Justinvs Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 31, 2008
    Wise River, Montana
    The lead player in the last band is an amazing player. The guy can play anything. But, if his tone is off it really puts him in a tailspin. Me, since I'm usually busy rigging things right up to the last minute before we play, I never have a lot of time to work on my tone. Just plug in some pedals and hope.

    The one exception is if I am too loud. I hate being louder than the rest of the band because I tend to pull back instead of really digging into a solo.

  15. telex76

    telex76 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jun 24, 2006
    Fort Worth,Tx.
    If I'm not happy with my sound, I don't have much interest in playing.
    Sometimes you have no choice but to press on.

  16. Brad Pittiful

    Brad Pittiful Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Dec 22, 2008
    Philly Burbs
    im tone is just perfect...loud and distorted!

  17. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

    Apr 14, 2006
    San Jose, CA
    Tone at a gig is extremely variable. How do you know your tone was not awsome for the guy 20 feet back on the opposite side of the stage? Are you sure your perfect tone doesn't suck for the audience?

  18. emu!

    emu! Poster Extraordinaire

    If you are used to standing in front of your amp, you will hear a different "tone" when standing beside it...or on top of it. Human ears are sensitive things.

  19. dburns

    dburns Friend of Leo's

    Just got back into gigging and in the beginning I was using my Blues Jr (instead of the Twin ) for rehearsals. But since we're pretty loud I have to crank the volume and the headroom just isn't there. Now the overdriven tone of the BJ is nice for some leads, but I need cleans.

    Hate making excuses but a couple rehearsals last month were particularly rough, and I know part of that was because of just not being satisfied with my amp. Just didn't sound or feel right. I've since decided to lug the Twin to's worth it.

  20. Wailin' Tele

    Wailin' Tele Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 2, 2009
    My old band opened up for Nashville ***** last summer under similar circumstances. They set up their line and we had to set up in front, which is typical for this kind of gig. But my right ear was right next to my drummers crash, and if I took one step id have fallen off the stage. The place we played at was a great sounding room, I find this has more to do with tone suckage than anything else.

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