Does the guitarist or the gear set the mood?

ndcaster

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"Which is more important: the tone from the gear or how the gear influences your playing?"

let's see, if you sound like sh*t, you're not going to be happy, and that means you'll be stewing about how sh*tty you sound as often or more often than thinking about delivering the music

when the gear sucks, I feel like I'm inflicting pain on people that I don't want to inflict, which isn't a productive headspace to be in

in my experience there's a Minimum Acceptable Tone Level that prevents the rising sewage level of discontent and the consequent distraction that comes from it -- for better or worse, I've been playing mediocre gear for so long that it doesn't take much to take my mind off the gear so I can focus on not sucking (at least not consistently)

conversely, when I play Awesome Gear, usually because of sheer luck and the kindness of strangers, I feel more confident in the sound the gear itself is providing such that whatever my modest talent can add on top is just gravy -- good gear takes the pressure off me a little, and that freedom helps me play better

the influence between gear and player is mutual, and it's way more important than tone all by itself
 

adjason

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One of the things I admire about JJ is that is seems to play quite a few different guitar and amps- does not seems to be a "vintage is better" kind of guy and he always played great. I get what you are saying a different amp and guitar will make most people play a bit differently- I'm going to go look for those recordings :)
 

Fiesta Red

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Does the guitar stay in tune?
Is the action at a usable height?
Is the amp not too shrill or too muddy?
Can I get at least a little overdrive?

If the answer is yes to those four questions, I can use just about anything for a gig…even if I don’t like the looks or feel.

During a jam one time, I had only brought one guitar (tuned to open G) and didn’t feel like retuning to standard/440…so I borrowed the other guitarist’s backup instrument…a double-humbucker’d, Floyd Rose-inflicted, super-thin flat-necked Ibanez shred machine that weighed about three pounds…I played it for a song or five, into his Marshall combo.

It was not a normal/comfortable fit for me, and I would never use such a guitar (especially the Floyd Rose thing)…but after a song or two, I was able to adjust and play my normal stuff (albeit with a bit more grunt and grit from those pickups).

One thing I noticed—I felt like I was going to break the guitar (it felt “delicate” compared to my Telecaster), so I noticed I played “lighter”, and in turn, a bit more tentative…it made for some interesting differences in the texture of the solos…I thought it was going to sound very different.

But listening to the cell phone video later, it still sounded exactly like me, just a little more Marshall-y and lighter in touch.

The gear will affect things, but ultimately the player will be the largest part of the equation.
 

wulfenganck

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Definitely the player.
I've been playing mainly hollowbodies from 2012 to 2021 and only last year returned to a solidbody. My sound has become a bit more grittier, but the style hasn't changed that much.
Same with amps, I'm playing my main amp since 2013, but I have played on different amps. There will be slight differeneces, but the basic clean and overdrive sounds will be pretty much what I'll do with my main gear.
If the guitar stays in tune and has a suitable (for me, that is) string setup and neck, if it's some amp that provides a solid tone in general, I will get along and feel comfortable. It will probably not be my best playing, but it will be convincing enough.
If JJ Cale sounded remarkably different than his usual lifesound.....well, maybe he was bored and was just fine with trying something new?
I like to use stuff like wah, octaver or delay. But I also played gigs with just my guitar, a one-channel-amp and a dirtpedal.
 

Happy Enchilada

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Tone and talent: Both reside in the fingers and heart of the player.
And in the corroding 9 Volt inside your OD pedal.
And don't forget your strap ...

Older I get, the more I realize that it's just as much about what notes NOT to play as which ones to play.
Leaving some "breathing room" in there is often more tasteful than filling the sky with lead. Or lead.
 

Happy Enchilada

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Does the guitar stay in tune?
Is the action at a usable height?
Is the amp not too shrill or too muddy?
Can I get at least a little overdrive?

If the answer is yes to those four questions, I can use just about anything for a gig…even if I don’t like the looks or feel.

During a jam one time, I had only brought one guitar (tuned to open G) and didn’t feel like retuning to standard/440…so I borrowed the other guitarist’s backup instrument…a double-humbucker’d, Floyd Rose-inflicted, super-thin flat-necked Ibanez shred machine that weighed about three pounds…I played it for a song or five, into his Marshall combo.

It was not a normal/comfortable fit for me, and I would never use such a guitar (especially the Floyd Rose thing)…but after a song or two, I was able to adjust and play my normal stuff (albeit with a bit more grunt and grit from those pickups).

One thing I noticed—I felt like I was going to break the guitar (it felt “delicate” compared to my Telecaster), so I noticed I played “lighter”, and in turn, a bit more tentative…it made for some interesting differences in the texture of the solos…I thought it was going to sound very different.

But listening to the cell phone video later, it still sounded exactly like me, just a little more Marshall-y and lighter in touch.

The gear will affect things, but ultimately the player will be the largest part of the equation.
I would LOVE a photo of Buck Owens with a BC Rich ...
 

SPUDCASTER

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I saw The Steve Morse Band years ago.

I was as equally impressed with his playing as well as his equipment.

I've seen Jack Pearson play his Squier Strat. I'd have to say I was more impressed with him.
 

OmegaWoods

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Umm was it Loudwire that used to do the Hello Kitty series? Professional guitarist and drummers using the cheap hello kitty toy instruments.
Jimmy Fallon also does a series on his show like this. My favorites were Metallica and Adele (at different times).


(love Lars on that tiny drum)


(I could listen to Adele sing the phonebook with Elmo on kazoo)
 

Jakedog

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The gear is insanely important. Every bit as important as the player.

That’s not to say it has to be top shelf, vintage, custom, hand wired, or whatever. That part actually doesn’t matter. But as the OP points out, different gear makes one play differently, and if it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. My performance is very much influenced by which guitar and amp I’m using. A Les Paul makes my brain and my fingers do totally different things than they do with a strat. And a telecaster is wholly unique. I play stuff with one I wouldn’t come up with anywhere else.

It’s everything from the sound, to the feel, to the ergonomics and setup. Every different guitar I play makes me play a little differently. Yeah, it all sounds like me to most people, but I can definitely tell the difference. Which is why sometimes when I plateau or get stuck, or I’m having issues with staleness, I’ll buy a new guitar, amp, or both.

Will spending money make you a better player? Nope. But switching up your gear can definitely bring out things in your playing that you didn’t know were there. And different sounds can inspire you to take things in directions you might not otherwise have thought of. It won’t change your skill set. But it can take you in new directions with it.

So yeah, gear definitely makes a difference.
 

Frontman

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Definitely the guitarist. Most people wouldn’t know a Morris from a Martin, but they do understand mood and good music.

When I was in 3rd grade in a rural New Mexico, our teacher often played his guitar and sang for us. He was one of those hippies who wasn’t good enough to teach in California, so ended up in New Mexico. He had more hair than Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, and was a fun guy. We learned lots of songs and guitar chords, but not much reading, writing, or ‘rithmatic.

Before playing a song, he would tell us a story of what the song was about, and this always made song more interesting. I don’t remember what he played, it was just a guitar.
 

dspellman1

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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?
Neither. I grew up playing the piano. Started at 5 years old, standing in front of a spinet. Started playing wedding receptions at 11 years old on a Hammond, about the same time I was getting brides down the aisle on pipe organs in church. I've gone through a ton of keyboards from an old Farfisa and a Fender Rhodes 88 to a Korg Kronos and a PA3X today, with a kajillion "tones." I'm of the opinion that it's the musician that's the most important thing.

Ditto guitar playing. I've got something over 50 guitars in different shapes, sizes and numbers of strings. 15 tube amps and a ton of options on a Helix these days. I've found that I generally don't need to have a specific guitar for a specific genre, nor does a particular amp influence me unduly. That's for the Marketing folks and the kiddies who are influenced by their favorite YouTubers.
 

1955

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Intent sets the mood. it can become clouded and corrupted by lust, fear, bitterness, greed, etc. Purity of intent determines the level of positive connection with the audience.

The more fragmented and uncontrolled a performer’s desires are, the more broken and desperate the audience members that are attracted. Carnality is the bottomless revenue of lost souls, and the mirror is the handsome microphone.

A musician reaches to another through their instrument only by the convenience afforded by circumstance, yet the content of their heart is able to leap walls, grab throats, and beguile. In rarer instances, the heart can inspire, elevate, humble, and heal.
 

Billy3

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Wasn’t it Miles Davis who said something to the effect of
“It’s 10% the note and 90% the mofo playing the note”.
I really do agree with that.
As said before. A good musician can make just about anything sound good. A crappy musician can make a great instrument and gear sound like bung. Practice Practice Practice...
 

Peegoo

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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


If you're bringing data to the argument, make sure you can back it up with facts, as follows :cool:

Most-Accurate-Pie-Chart-Ever.jpg
 




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