Tone is in the fingers?

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

  1. MrSea

    MrSea Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    247
    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Location:
    Winston-Salem, NC
    The great players do not have a distinctive sound because of the equipment. The make their mark by the way they play. They do have preferences for certain equipment but it is a mistake to think that having that equipment will make you sound the way they do.
     
  2. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    12,719
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2011
    Location:
    Annapolis, MD
    No. And the anecdotal stories about people sounding the same on different instruments are individuals perception. There's no measurement to prove it's same. Every guitarist has preferences, in what they use and how their instrument sounds, how it's signal is processed. It's all highly subjective though. What I hear isn't necessarily what you hear.

    All that aside, it's a two pronged thing, technique matters, and to me is more important than an endless quest for some perfect tone. Perhaps this phrase that causes so much consternation was meant as a comment on technique? Who said it first?
     
  3. william tele

    william tele Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    19,146
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Location:
    Kansas City, MO
    If a person plays a song clean and normal straight into an amp, then that same person (using the same fingers) plugs into a wide open fuzz pedal and amp and plays the same song again...of course his tone will be different. It seems to me that some people are taking this as the literal example and therefor can't understand the "tone is in the fingers" statement.

    That example isn't what "tone is in the fingers" means and if you can't see that then you probably ain't going to.
     
  4. Telepathist

    Telepathist Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,334
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Location:
    Oregon
    My primitive tone is in my stiff shoulders. :) image-1221773750.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2014
  5. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    25,993
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    Location:
    Port Moody, BC
    The "tone is in the fingers" guys are always trying to tell the gearheads that their focus is on the wrong thing.

    However, there is a real difference between style and sound. Style is in the fingers. Sound is in the gear.

    Obviously, tone is affected by gear, but tone can also be affected by how you play, meaning "the fingers." But to say that tone is ONLY in the fingers is clearly wrong. Otherwise, why would you switch pickups in the middle of a song if you can simply get the sound you want by adjusting the way you play?

    The other problem (god, am I saying this again?) is that "sound" can refer to both style and tone. Mark Knopfler gets all kinds of different tones, but he always sounds like Mark Knopfler. That's because he has a signature style, not a signature tone.

    The guys who try to argue that good players always sound like themselves no matter what gear they use, are actually saying that good players always play like themselves. That statement, pithy as it sounds, is about style, not tone.

    Tone is in a combination of fingers and gear that creates the quality of noise coming out of the speakers. Tone is a combination of sound and style.
     
  6. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    42,075
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    Yep, and the guy that said just one note showed a guys tone may be right, but it ain't never gonna be a hit record.
     
  7. Tommy B

    Tommy B Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    298
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2013
    Location:
    Lost In Time
    Based on my observations that an all original unplayed 7.5/10 vintage guitar with the correct amount of Mojo inside it's OHSC under a bed beside an unplugged and de-energized vintage amp with original speaker and NOS tubes makes no musical sound what so ever:

    A guitar or amp with "great tone" has no tone unless it is being played - with fingers or an object being held by fingers. Therefore, the guitar or amp only has potential for "great tone" and does not inherently have "great tone" simply because the guitar or amp exists.

    Guitars and amps with "great tone" require a means to initiate the tone. The initiator(s) is the player's fingers. Notwithstanding remains the fact that different players with varying degrees of skill will coax varying qualities of tone from the guitar and/or amp with potentially "great tone".

    That being the fact, it is still inaccurate to say tone is in the fingers. Fingers only have the ability to initiate and sustain tone and do not inherently have tone. The ability to initiate and sustain "great tone" is limited to the skill of the player.

    Lastly tone quality is subject to the listener's likes and disliked. This listener perception portion of tone cannot be quantified. Listeners are unpredictable and often times fickle in their likes. At worse they are inebriated in the establishment where they are to perceive tone and have not been educated in nuances of tone. Further, some listeners have formed biases based on age, configuration, color, authenticity, origins, brand, and mojo level of the instruments' and/or amplifiers potential tone.

    Unlike skill and tone potential, the listener perception variable cannot be replaced with an integer. Therefore, until all listeners can be taught how they are to perceive tone all variables removed and a value assigned this equation can never be solved. Even in this scenario, the value assigned to listener perception can only be approximated.

    V= age of guitar or amp. M=mojo. B=brand. S=skill. P=potential tone. L=listener perception. T= Great Tone.

    V•M/B = P

    (S•P) /~L = T

    (8•7.3) /~? = T

    (8•7.3) /~? = ?

    ? = ?

    We cannot solve for Tone. Since we cannot solve for tone, we cannot determine the origin of Tone. I do not believe tone is inherently present in fingers or guitars and amplifiers - only tone potential. We must forever debate the possible solutions to this equation on Internet forums, guitar show venues, concerts, and Guitar Center and Sam Ash sales floors.

    This unanswered question will haunt mankind forever just like the question of the chicken and egg. Now there is another question we must ask in this debate: "Is tone in the ears?"
     
  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    18,417
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    Trying to apply the tone is in the fingers concept to all players and all gear is a losing proposition.
    And players that believe differently are not likely to read a magical post and change their minds.
    To me, I want gear that basically goes away when I play. It needs to respond in different suitable ways according to how I'm playing, without getting in the way.
    Distortion channels and pedals are fun, but take away dynamics. Less tone for the fingers.
    One example that comes up a lot is the suggestion that Santana will sound like Santana no matter what he plays through.
    This is IMO a load of crap. If Carlos tried to play Black Magic Woman through a PRRI he would sound nothing like what we think of as Santana sounding like Santana.
    In his case, his playing is uniquely superb, but also very gear dependent.
    Plugging into an early Boogie with an Altec it is comparatively easy to get that sound and phrasing.
    OTOH, plugging into a cranked vintage Marshall stack it is actually quite difficult to sound like early EVH. While his sound is also gear dependent, controlling it is pretty demanding.
    I'm not talking about tapping through a DS-1 into a Peavey. That would be phrasing.
    A cranked vintage 100w Marshall has a lot of plans that may not be on your list of sounds you want to make. A very loud amp with massive dynamics and little compression is a great lesson on how tone is in the fingers. Of course if you stop damping the strings for a moment the tone is somewhere else entirely.
    The point is that with an amp that has a large dynamic range and little compression, you can reign in the volume and brightness with CONTROLLED PICKING, fretting and muting, allowing you to release either brightness, volume, distortion or sustain at will, without pedals or channel switching, or even adjusting the guitar volume.
    A more modern compressed distortion channel or pedal can be set to do exactly and only what you want. With modern high gain processing not much tone control is left to the fingers.
    Each player has exceptions, but SRV or Clapton or BB King or Mark Knopfler are probably more able to get the same low gain sounds out of different low gain amps.
    With a high gain amp or pedal, the tone is mostly in the gear, but the phrasing is still left to the player and their fingers. Not the same as tone.
     
  9. daveandshelle

    daveandshelle Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,055
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Location:
    london, Ontario great white north
    Its the person...good gear helps but the hands do the playing ..
     
  10. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    9,820
    Joined:
    May 12, 2013
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Tone IS in the fingers.. I sound like me through any rig...... Stupid fingers!!! (>_<)
     
  11. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    42,075
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    I'm still callin' BS on the fingers thing. I heard Earl Scruggs play live on his 5 string banjo, then he switched and played an old D-18 he didn't sound anything like Earl playing a 5 string banjo so there. If he had taken his finger and thumbpicks off he woulda sounded a lot different too. If his fingers had been manipulating an accordion, he woulda been famous in his backyard. (I know he liked fingerpicks but whoever heard of a guy playing an accordion with a thumbpick and fingerpicks?)
     
  12. Cooper Black

    Cooper Black Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,221
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Haven't read the whole thing but I do see a problem with the logic of this OP.

    If tone is in the fingers, and we each have different fingers. There needs to be a whole wide variety of amps/pedals/guitars/pick-ups, all to make sure our fingers get paired to the right gear for the best tone.

    No conflict at all, at least the way I'm thinking about all this.
     
  13. Cooper Black

    Cooper Black Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,221
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Oh... and worrying about if the audience can tell the difference seems a lot like asking someone else if my shoes fit.
     
  14. L.A. Mike

    L.A. Mike Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,196
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2014
    Location:
    somewhere over a rainbow (Ex-L.A. resident)
    What about BODY MASS ??? We are playing a instrument that resonates. And body mass can absorb that resonance and make it stop. Lay a large forearm on the face of a guitar or a large torso against the back of a guitar and you are absorbing resonance. The "finger" tone is more of a personal touch on the instrument. Playing hard, soft, vibrating, etc.
    So, that means skinny guys notes sustain longer, while big guys always sound plunky.
    Hmmm, that's not really true is it?
    Never mind.
     
  15. Virgman

    Virgman Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    248
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Location:
    Joisey
    I've been reading your posts and laughing. Funny stuff! :lol:
     
  16. rokdog49

    rokdog49 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,358
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Location:
    Ohio
    +1
    I know it when I hear it and I don't have it but I'm getting there :D
     
  17. Tommy B

    Tommy B Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    298
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2013
    Location:
    Lost In Time
    Earl actually used his nails to fret notes instead of his fingers. I met him and asked. He showed me the groves in his nails.

    So, is tone in the nails and by osmosis it ends up in the fingers?
     
  18. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    42,075
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    Thanks! What I lack in quality I make up for in quantity! :D
     
  19. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    42,075
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    That doesn't explain why his banjo don't sound like his D-18! ;)
     
  20. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    50
    Posts:
    15,104
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2012
    Location:
    Seattle
    Can't say it much better than this, though kelnet IS educated in articulation...
     
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.