Tone is in the fingers?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by lareplus, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. Chris Browne

    Chris Browne Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    627
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2003
    Location:
    New Brunswick, Canada
    To loosely quote Mark Davis...I give a pencil to Picasso and he draws, then take that same pencil and give it to Norman Rockwell and he draws. Then I take the pencil and I draw.

    The pencil itself contributes to the artistic product...you won't ever look at a pencil drawing and think it's a marble sculpture, but for the most part the work of art is the result of the artist (their hand/fingers/mind/soul/whatever you choose to call it).

    We get caught up in the qualities of the pencil because those qualities are easier to discuss and purchase.
     
  2. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    41,629
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    I simply do not believe that. Most players are particular about their gear and own as good as they can afford. Otherwise why spend more than a Tele Affinity cost? Any 100 watt solid state amp would do, and radio shack would be your friend for mics.
     
  3. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    41,629
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    I'm not sure I've met you, but I've met your brother, he always says his opinion is the only one that matters.;)
     
  4. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    41,629
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    I've seen, and heard some guys who could make all guitars sound alike, it was not necessarily a compliment to their playing.
     
  5. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    41,629
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    I put my fingers in my ears and I did not experience a tone of any kind. I did however con Toto into PULLING my finger and we were both rewarded with a ringing E Flat tone that went on for a very long time. I say WE but actually Toto hastily beat it out the back door.
     
  6. Chris Browne

    Chris Browne Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    627
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2003
    Location:
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Yes, but that tone you experienced did not actually originate in the finger...
     
  7. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,465
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Billy Gibbon uses an elaborate eq system to get the same tone out of each of his guitars. That seems weird since I'm sure he uses the same fingers.

    At 8:40 his tech talks about "the secret of the rig" and the eq process they used to match all the guitars to Billy's "Pearly Gates".

     
  8. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    12,621
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2011
    Location:
    Annapolis, MD
    Why have different guitars?
     
  9. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    17,839
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    I pretty much always play an one knob Esquire through a single channel amp so I'll be able to win this argument.
    Just in case it happens to come up.
    Bright speakers, bright guitar, bright amp.
    Have to work hard to make it sound nice and warm.
    No neck pickup or tone control to fall back on.
    No monkey business!
    But the secret is, my tone is actually in my right thumb, so I'm a big fat liar.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2014
  10. MrSea

    MrSea Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    247
    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Location:
    Winston-Salem, NC
    I know the horse is dead but one more story that may be pertinent.

    I have heard Tony Rice play live numerous times (he lives in a nearby town). He has always played only 2 different guitars. One was the highly modified 1935 Martin D-28 that was previously owned by Clarence White (the guitar is iconic in Bluegrass circles). The other is a Santa Cruz copy of the famous 1935 D-28. Every aspiring Bluegrass flat picker that I know attributed Tony's fabulous tone to those guitars. On only one occasion did I hear Tony play a different guitar. It was at some festival stage (I don't remember which one) where he picked up someone else's new(ish) standard D-28 Martin. He only played that guitar for a few minutes but what it revealed was a complete surprise. Tony had to but strum the thing and it no longer sounded like a "standard" D-28. It sounded like Tony Rice playing a guitar. It was amazing to me that a "run of the mill" new guitar could suddenly produce that distinctive sound. So much for the attributes of a vintage guitar being responsible for that unique beautiful tone. And you have to remember that, in this case, we are talking about purely acoustic instruments-no pickups or amplifiers.

    Are we still talking about "tone" or is it something more? Technique? Style? ???

    Got to go lock the doors. I think an alien spaceship just landed in my front yard.
     
  11. Badabing

    Badabing Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,791
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2009
    Location:
    San Marcos, Ca
    Watch Redd play different guitars through solid state or tube amps and listen to his tone!
     
  12. Jimclarke100

    Jimclarke100 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,610
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Location:
    Horsham, UK
    I was at an open mic on Thursday, and the best performer, tone and comment came from a youngish guy with an acoustic that had been repainted so as you couldn't tell what it was. There's the Taylor and Martin owners club crowding round to see what was making this wonderous sound, and eventually one of them asked what the thing was. The reply: "it's an Encore, 89 quid from Horsham Music, a mate of pine painted it black; great innit".

    So yup, whilst kit does affect things, bottom line is tone comes from the player.
     
  13. Wyzsard

    Wyzsard Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,140
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    Location:
    Falls City
    All the experienced player has done is recognize that where you play and how you play with your fingers can change the tone. For example playing near the bridge pup yields a different tone than playing closer to the neck. Using the finger nails yields a different tone than attacking the strings with the flesh only.

    One can also draw on a few different techniques as well. For example, one can snap the strings.

    So it's really just learning how to use the fingers and where to use them in relationship with the bridge. That's with the picking hand. The fretting hand comes into play as well and can further alter the tone via the use of vibrato and other techniques.

    To say "tone is in the fingers" leaves the impression that tone is stored in the fingers and somehow makes it to the speaker or sound hole via some magical route. How we use our fingers affects tone. We don't "release" tone.

    We can't say otherwise without implying that those who play with picks have no tone. Using a pick is no different in that where and how we use one produces a range of tone in the exact same manner as using our fingers only.

    So again, saying "tone is in the hands and fingers" is misleading and is what leads to arguments. Some players simply know better. Including a lot of the ones who have gotten there.
     
  14. Telemarkman

    Telemarkman Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    72
    Posts:
    18,050
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Location:
    Norway
    No, no, no - wrong! Tone is in the fretting fingers, not the picking fingers!:D

    I agree with your conclusion though. If a player has a signature tone it comes from tweaking the amp and guitar controls, maybe a pedal (or 2 or 10), plus of course his personal playing technique which is executed by his fingers.

    I can guarantee you guys that if Keef or Eric or Santana should play my guitars through my amp with my settings, their tone would not sound exactly like their "normal" tone, whatever that may be ... they don't have only one tone you know.
     
  15. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,400
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    Location:
    On the Bayou in da Tundra
    Very nice post, and too true.

    I used to believe that equipment will make the player and in some ways it does.
    But when I started listening to people that were well versed on their instrument, it didn't matter. No matter what they played through they sounded the same.
    Granted there may have been very slight adjustments that had to be made, but most of the time they would plug in to what was handy and sound like themselves.
    Vince Gill is like this, Albert Lee, Chet Atkins, just to name a couple off the top of my head.
     
  16. Chritty

    Chritty Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,227
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2012
    Location:
    Newcastle, Australia
    You can't have one without the other. A guitar can't play it's self and a player without an instrument makes no sound.
     
  17. Bluesy Groover

    Bluesy Groover TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    34
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Most definitely. Tone is in the fingers.
     
  18. brenn

    brenn Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,369
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I agree. I've never really figured out the "tone is in the fingers" guys - either they are new to guitars, especially electric guitars, or they just aren't very good at describing what they are trying to say.
     
  19. brenn

    brenn Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,369
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I'm thinking the "tone is in the fingers" guys either have bad ears or mean something different by tone. Give Eric Clapton (or anybody) a strat and a Fender amp, or a Gibson and a Marshall and he will still play like Eric Clapton, but his tone will be VERY different.

    Do you guys only own 1 guitar and 1 amp, or what?

    Is every great guitarist from Duane Allman to SRV to Eric Johnson to Eddie Van Halen an idiot for thinking his guitar, amp, pickups and gear affect his tone?
     
  20. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,669
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2012
    Location:
    London, UK
    Of course they're particular about their gear - who wouldn't be? But a great player isn't great because of his amp or his pedals. The amp and the pedals are great because of the great player.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.