Does the guitarist or the gear set the mood?

Bjackcity

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With regard to BoomTexan's parameters and description of the left and right limits for our consideration, this below is how I would describe it. (In my life's experiences as both a performer and an audience member. )
:)
View attachment 976343
I agree that Mental/emotional state is a big factor… both listening and playing…that is a topic worth discussing for sure.
How many times has an artist you listen to been in town and you skipped out? Not because you couldn’t go but because you were not feeling it.
 

Lou Tencodpees

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An unskilled player will sound unskilled with any number of guitars and amps. A skilled player can Bob Ross (verb) those same pieces of gear.
 

Fiesta Red

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I’ll admit the gear will push or pull me a particular direction to a small degree, but I don’t suddenly become a shredder when somebody puts a pointy-headed Kramer or BC Rich in my hand…I don’t start chicken pickin’ if a Dyna Comp is slipped into my pedal chain…I don’t become Angus Young when playing an SG into a Marshall…

You get the point.

So I play a little more classic-rock-y when playing my Dean VX (flat 16” fretboard radius, Gibson scale, twin humbuckers), and a little more delicate and intricate with my ‘62AVRI Strat (vintage 7.25 radius fretboard, SP-90 pickups, modified electronics), and a little rougher and wilder on my ‘72RI Telecaster Deluxe (12” radius fretboard, dead stock otherwise), and a little more jazzy and darker on my 1980 G&L F-100 (series II neck profile, phase- and coil-tapped Humbuckers) and all those things combined on my pinstriped “Big Tex” Telecaster (9.5 radius fretboard, P-90 in the neck/flat pole Tele bridge pickup, 4-way switch, No-Load tone pot), but I still end up playing like me, just emphasizing particular aspects of my style with those particular instruments…
 

Sparky2

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Hey you left out the VENUE!

Fixed it.
Good catch.

contributors to the mood guitar.jpg
 

That Cal Webway

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- In the late 50s to the mid-60s the MC set the mood.
- In the late '60s and '70s, drugs set the mood.
- In the '80s Boy George set the mood.
- In the 90s North West plaid shirts and rainy-muddy distortion set the mood.
- Since the 2000s recording computer algorithms have set the mood during their union breaks.

I, Robot
(See: Alan Parsons Project & Austin Powers)

.
 

Killing Floor

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I’d sound like me playing through EJ’s rig. EJ would sound like EJ playing through mine. For comparison, my sound would be like if you yanked your silverware drawer too hard and it all spilled on a tile floor. Just saying. It’s the player and the gear just adds salt and pepper.
 

nojazzhere

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I love JJ Cale. Super laid back and relaxing music. I've been looking at a lot of his stuff recently, and just stumbled upon a performance he did at the Roxy in the 80s.

Just a little background. His style of music greatly favors older American guitars. He toured with a highly modified Harmony, a Tele, and a Strat, running into silverface Fenders for a cleaner sound.

Thats why I was surprised to see him playing a gig with a Kramer running into a Marshall JCM800. Apparently someone at Kramer loved his music and made him a custom Kramer Ripley, one of around 20 ever made. The Roxy had a Marshall backline and he gladly obliged.

And here's the thing: he sounded fantastic. The darker Marshall and higher output humbucker brought out a moody sludgy feel to his music that is just totally missing in other live recordings. It felt like a live version of Naturally, primal and stripped down, with a dark and dim undertone.

However, there's a big difference between his playing style that he used in the performance and how he normally played. During a version of Hit the Road Jack, he was EVH-style tapping. On Lies, he got one of the meanest sounding solos I've ever heard from him.

Basically, this post is kind of a chicken vs egg thing. Which is more important: the tone from the gear or how the gear influences your playing?
Back to JJ Cale for a minute......
For years, I'd seen articles on him, mostly in Guitar Player, and they would always mention his old Harmony archtop, with no back, held together with guy wires internally, and about a jillion different pickups......a true Frankenstein model. (sorry Eddie)
Then later I saw and was shocked by him playing his pointy-head Kramer, and I thought at first it was an impromptu gig, and that was all they had for him to grab. Nope! And he sounded just like himself. Of course, he didn't have a wildly personal sound, but still, he sounded good.
My vote goes with most here.....it's the "Player".....not the "Played". ;)
 

jays0n

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The gear is the expression of the guitarist. It’s not chasing the gear. It’s that gear which hits you at the prime moment and you turn into your “thing.”




Speaking of gear, I can imagine Albini playing an aluminum necked guitar with the Fanny Pack waist strap hearing Shellac here. But, he would probably make my Squire Tele and Champ sound the same. It’s definitely in Steve, not his gear.
 

loopfinding

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Speaking of gear, I can imagine Albini playing an aluminum necked guitar with the Fanny Pack waist strap hearing Shellac here. But, he would probably make my Squire Tele and Champ sound the same. It’s definitely in Steve, not his gear.

In his case 90% is just middle position on a single coil guitar through a cranked/pushed fender with the bass all the way down. If you gave him your rig, he might sound like albini to you, but not entirely to himself.

I think however he stumbled on that sound is unique to him (as it is to anyone). A lot of this stuff is I think is circumstance and then becomes incorporated into conscious choice. A blend of having a vague idea of tone or attitude or playing style in your head and just dumb luck as far as available gear pushing you or your technique in one way or the other.

So yeah, not sure it’s an either/or like OP or all “in the fingers” either...it’s all mixed up, a symbiotic thing. An expression of the player’s history, what they hear, and their response to a number of conditions.
 
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Sparky2

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Very nice. Liquor probably deserves a little slice of that pie too.:)
That's a given.

But alcohol is a variable of indeterminable value or measure.

Some of us can hold our liquor quite well and remain steady and even-tempered.
Others are 'two-can Sams', and get all thick-tongued and slurry after just two beers.

:(
 

BoomTexan

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Back to JJ Cale for a minute......
For years, I'd seen articles on him, mostly in Guitar Player, and they would always mention his old Harmony archtop, with no back, held together with guy wires internally, and about a jillion different pickups......a true Frankenstein model. (sorry Eddie)
Then later I saw and was shocked by him playing his pointy-head Kramer, and I thought at first it was an impromptu gig, and that was all they had for him to grab. Nope! And he sounded just like himself. Of course, he didn't have a wildly personal sound, but still, he sounded good.
My vote goes with most here.....it's the "Player".....not the "Played". ;)

Well, its a weird gear timeline, because his gear changed about 4 times in 10 years. Harmony broke and became irreparable, so he started using a Stratocaster. Then, when he got the Kramer, he used that for about 6 months to a year according to his wife. Then, he moved back to alternating Strats and the Kramer for a few years and in the early 90s, he changed over permanently to a Danelectro Convertible, which is what I associate him with in my mind.
 




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