Which of the following will most improve tone?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by AgaveBlueCaster, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. randomhitz

    randomhitz Tele-Meister

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    Here's something I discovered just the other day. Use your VTB1 as a tube front end. Plug into the HiZ input on the front, turn the tube drive all the way up and turn down the output so you don't overdrive the toneport. Warms things up in a subtle, musical way. Also experiment with different picks. I don't like the sound of nylon picks very much. My current fave is Jim Dunlop Gel picks.
     
  2. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    It's funny, when I take lessons even the guitars I leave at home seem to get better!

    I'm with the "#8 is the answer" crowd, because you said "most improve". If you want quick improvement, most of the others will do. #3 is the least likely to have any effect at all on your tone.
     
  3. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I'd say: Make sure you guitar is set up to play in tune (take it to a decent tech and get it done right...when you get proficient you'll learn to do it yourself), get a tuner and make sure you play in tune, fresh strings, lessons.

    That will take care of it.
     
  4. fws6

    fws6 TDPRI Member

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    For me it would be #7 (#8 is so obvious that we dont need to discuss)

    I would say that the Toneport is a really cool toy (I use one too) but the way your guitar sounds through computer speakers is WAY different from how it will sound to a real amp.

    If you want to get some "real" tone in stead of computer simulation I'd say that would be a great improvement. The response & dynamics you get from a nice small TUBE amp is very different, and can be an inspiration to your playing you'll be amazed.

    When I was still living in a very small apartment I had a Fender Twin :p Still I never had to argue with the neighbours. I told them in advance that I was playing guitar, and would only use the amp for 1hr (or less) per day, between 6 and 8 in the evening. They understood, and as long as you stick to your own promise noone will complain.

    If you dont tell the neighbours and start using it at a different time each day, you get a war. But most people will understand if you are serious about learning to play and make good arrangements on beforehand. It would be similar if you were studying the piano, violin, saxophone or so.
     
  5. Cole

    Cole Tele-Meister

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    I agree with randomhitz... I personally don't favor nylon picks. But they do have their place depending on what you're trying to achieve. To me, pick/string types & gauges (and your playing style) is the cheapest and fastest way to get you down the road of creating your own personal tone that compliments your playing style best. That's something you can do now. Once you lock into that satisfactorily and feel good with that, then you may or may not feel it necessary to spend lots of cash on guitar parts & other gear.

    One time I was convinced that the road to great tone is only paved with lots of dollar bills... so gear was my big focus. After a few thousand dollars I was still hitting the brick wall. When I began to invest in my own talent with lessons and practice I became aware that all the great gear in the world couldn't make me feel better about where I wanted to be. I just got caught up with being distracted with the gear thing was the answer.

    It sounds like you have some pretty cool gear that will easily keep up with you no matter how far reaching your imagination & talent takes you!
     
  6. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don't see a link to any of your recording but I'll take a shot in the dark. How about working on your recording technique? You don't need to be Steve Vai or Vince Gill to sound good. You need to have a good recording. Guitar choice is fine, Toneport is fine, strings, picks, etc. are fine. let's hear what you're doing and see if there is a problem. I hate to tell you but none of us ever sound as good as we think we should. But keep trying!
     
  7. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    one thing not mentioned is adjusting your pickup heights ... that can make a startling difference if they're too high/too low for your sound.

    as for your list, besides the obvious No. 8, it seems to me a .60 pick would be pretty flimsy for anything besides brushed rhythm... a beefier gauge might get you more definition.
     
  8. AgaveBlueCaster

    AgaveBlueCaster TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the helpful comments everyone! Here is what some recordings sound like with the MIM Std tele and Toneport with Tweed B-Man patch:
    http://www.4shared.com/file/71952035/e3e931a7/ChordsNeck.html
    http://www.4shared.com/file/71952057/5bbdf70d/ChordsBridge.html
    http://www.4shared.com/file/71951981/1a14b814/NotesNeck.html
    http://www.4shared.com/file/71952011/d6b2973c/NotesBridge.html

    Of course I should learn to play something more interesting; mostly I've focussed on strumming my acoustic and singing simple songs. For example, this turned out ok, I think:
    http://www.4shared.com/file/71647912/bb82965e/Yesterday.html
     
  9. shakewithsquier

    shakewithsquier Tele-Meister

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    I know theres a fella on these forums somewhere with the sig that says "tone is in the underpants"

    oh and "people forget that 75% of tone is from the amp"

    just nuggets of tdpri info ive picked up!
     
  10. Mike Fleming

    Mike Fleming Tele-Meister

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    I think you have some good tones there. I'm with some of these other guys, i say get a thicker pick, it will sound a lot better. Then pick lighter with your thicker pick and it will sound even better.
     
  11. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Practice!
     
  12. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    While I do agree the player's skill is the most important factor and the tone on the video is good, the guitar EC is playing is not really a MIM "Standard" . EC sent the guitar the the Fender Custom shop to have the neck and electronics from his signature model installed.
     
  13. pengipete

    pengipete Friend of Leo's

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    Number one should be - patience.

    No-one was born knowing how to play, very few of the great players took lessons or changed their equipment early on. They just listened to everything, played what they could and tried to play better the next time.

    It's far too early to be looking at pickups and unnecessary to look at buying new equipment - new or more expensive is not the same as better.

    I'd start with the strings - GHS Boomers are really nice (I just started using them after reading what a few people wrote on this forum) but I'd go for 10's. It's not too big a leap in terms of how they feel to play but they do sound better then 9's for a Telecaster and they'll give you that extra bit of tactile feedback in both hands.

    Lessons - if you can afford them - are a great idea. You may also gain a lot by meeting other guitarists - swapping ideas and playing together is priceless and a very quick way to pick up some tips as well as possibly expanding your horizons.

    Definitely spend some time learning how to program the TonePort. It may seem like a distraction from actually practicing but an understanding of how tone, effects and volume work together is extremely useful. You'll be amazed at how good you existing equipment can sound with just a minor tweak such as varying the EQ midrange. The same goes for your computer software - put a little time aside to really get to know what it does on the most basic level - ignore any fancy VSTs and concentrate on the recording and mixing sections.

    You also missed solution #9...

    Spend time on this forum. There are some very experienced people here who are only too happy to pass their knowledge on to the rest of us. I'm not going to embarass anyone but there are half a dozen people here who I regard as the best teachers that money could buy. I've learned more in the last year than I did in the previous twenty and not only about Telecasters.
     
  14. tpaul

    tpaul Poster Extraordinaire

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    Lower your pickups, use heavier strings and a thick pick, get a small tube amp and practice as much as you can. A little reverb never hurt but stay away from too much in the effects department until you can play at least some of what you hear in your head.

    As for recording, it's a science in itself. Others can better advise you on this than I.
     
  15. admiralbob77

    admiralbob77 Tele-Meister

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    The simplest, most impactful thing I did to improve my tone, especially given the microphonic tone of a Telecaster... was lose the plectrum. I learned to play with my fingers. So I'd vote #8, too.... little things about your playing, finding out who you really are as a guitar player, will really help more than any pickup swap or bridge mod.

    One of the best Tele tones I ever heard was some guy playing on a nearly destroyed 1965 Telecaster that had the electronics half shot, and what he did have going driving vintage noiseless pickups (which aren't reputed to be the greatest.)

    He loved that guitar, and knew it like a lover... and as a result, played the heck out of it.
     
  16. fuzz1812

    fuzz1812 TDPRI Member

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    +1 - Nothing will ever sound right if the guitar is not in tune. Most beginners really struggle with this, and mistake bad tone for a guitar that is not properly tuned.

    If you haven't done so already, get a tuner, even a cheap one for $20-$30.
     
  17. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Do you know how to check your intonation? It is actually very simple to check and intonate your own guitar. It will improve your confidence playing and setting up your own guitar as well. There is no way to hurt your guitar doing it either, unless you start banging your guitar with the screw driver.
     
  18. Rena Rune

    Rena Rune Banned

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    Being better at playing isn't the same as getting the tone you want. "TONE IS IN DA FINGARS" is way overstated, basically once you learn to phrase your notes by wiggling your fingers and rotating your thumb you have most of it.

    Not everyone is in to technical, complex playing. Some people just like spamming chords and simple licks. For that sort of thing, your tone definitely makes a big difference.

    People who get into the TRUE DEPTH being your technique forget that there are a lot of great guitarists, some of my favourite telecaster players for sure, that use their guitars to build up sound and texture.

    Besides having a good sound can really inspire you. I enter mod/tracking competitions where we compose songs in an hour based on the samples we get. How good my entry is, is generally down to how much the samples inspire me. If the sounds don't give me an idea, I won't.

    I think what the OP is missing is inspirational sound, his personal sweet spot of tone. All the playing tricks and technique in the world won't give you that. If you can't hit an E powerchord and like what you hear, it's hard to put your heart into it.

    The reason some guitar geniuses can get "good tone" out of crap guitars is because the tone was never that bad to begin with - people tend to be more judgemental of "tone" if they don't hear impressive playing. Even crap guitars and crap amps have their uses. Heck just look at the solid state vs. tube debacle. It's not that SS is bad, just that it's different. People aren't going to blast Zappa for using a pignose, but they will some beginner, I see it all the time. If they can be used by the right person in the right context - they'll sound great. But if you're looking for your inspirational lead tone, something that sounds off to you isn't going to cut it - all the vintage guitarists with limited choice were people who clicked with those sounds to begin with.

    At the end of the day, your playing is the picture you paint - your gear is your brush, paint, and easel. You may encounter a savant at fingerpainting but it doesn't change the fact that you should have the tools most comfortable to you.

    A bad workman may blame his tools, but a terrible workman will convince himself they don't matter. The right tools for the right job.
     
  19. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Now that I am older and can get around OK on the guitar, I practice for feeling. I keep a book of licks that I find act to unlock ideas in a similar vein. I play these with backing tracks, through my pedals and amp. I really try to zero in on the tone. Everything comes into play, and if you make an adjustment with one thing, it throws everything else off. Chasing the tone in this way will teach you a lot about how your equipment works. Maybe you could add 1/2 hour a day practicing like this. Needless to say, working on phrasing, finger pressure, angle, slurs, and especially bends is time well spent.
     
  20. superchicken_VI

    superchicken_VI Friend of Leo's

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    I'd say what I heard from the clips is that you just need to play more. There were little things like sympathetic-ringing strings and timing that wasn't comfortable. So, I'd say play a lot more. That's different from practice a lot more, too. Making music with others will teach you a lot. Get a few lessons, practice what your instructor gives you to work on, and find somebody to play with.

    As far as hardware goes, try moving up to 10s with a heavy celluloid pick. Do a quick search on setting intonation, and do it yourself. If you don't already have an electronic tuner, get a $30 Korg and get used to doing your own intonation. It's easy and will save you time and money.

    I have little experience with using amp emulators. I just enjoy amps too much. You can get a good-sounding small amp for a few hundred bucks and mic it to record. What I hear though, is more of an attack and confidence thing.
     
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