Which of the following will most improve tone?

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

  1. dual_tone

    dual_tone Tele-Meister

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    i would suggest that, since you're a beginner, you put your time and energies into playing.

    the reason i say that is because 1) you don't really know what "good tone" means yet, 2) you don't know what "good tone" means to you, 3) you can spend a lifetime tweaking and fidgeting and modifying (there may be more Tele pups on the market than any other pickup, for example), and until you know what you're after, it can detract from the real issue, which is PLAYING!!

    then you can start driving yourself insane for that elusive search for the perfect tone.

    good luck!
     
  2. Bill  Hullett

    Bill Hullett Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    well....my 2$

    1. Use heavier gauge strings and/or different brand of strings and/or pick
    Billy Gibbons uses 8's at times tuned down a step and a half....SRV used 13's....although their tone is very different from one another, you couldn't say one is "better" than the other...
    2. Get the guitar re-set up and intonated (last adjustment was a year ago)
    This will make it play more in tune and maybe easier to play ...but this has nothing to do with "tone"
    3. Sell the MIM standard and get a better guitar
    Although their would obviously be a point of diminishing returns on a really cheap quality guitar, I think that a MIM Fender is easily in the camp of a very decent guitar
    4. Get different pickups for the MIM standard
    This couldhelp if you knew exactly what tone you were aiming for, but if you didn't you could get sidetracked for years doing this and never really improve your tone.....have you ever seen a guitar played by one person and it sounds wonderful....then its handed to another person and it sounds lousy.....I've witnessed this many times....

    5. Use a different recording/modeling interface than the toneport
    while I haven't used the interface you're speaking of......Have you ever heard the saying .......Bad tone in = Bad tone out....
    6. Work harder at figuring out how to optimize the toneport settings
    Knowing your gear is important but not directly related to tone....
    7. Get a small amp (I'm in a condo) and record with a microphone (I have a studio projects B1 and VTB1 preamp that I use for vocals)
    this can be helpful but its not a given.....
    8. Take lessons to improve my playing

    This will help your playing a great deal, but not your tone


    Tone....IMHO is a sum total of what you aspire to be...and it may take time, but it will not happen until you can hear the tone in your head, before a note is ever struck....I've heard famous players that had bad tone , and ametures that had killer tone....
    Bill Hullett
     
  3. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

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    sorry, but I couldn't disagree more. the way you pick a string is the most important parameter for your tone IMHO. The source is in the head of a player. What I want to say is: the player makes up a sound in his brain, then he transfers it through his hands, guitar, cable, pedals, amp, speaker (mic, mixer, pa-speaker, cd, home stereo) air. sure it helps if everything in that long chain has a quality that can sustain the player's imagination (and that's why better gear is a tool to make tone better).
     
  4. rrobbone

    rrobbone Tele-Meister

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    I mostly lurk in these forums, but coming from the same “beginning” guitarist status, here are my two pennies. I am just starting “serious” study of the guitar, so make of that what you will.

    I do have plenty of experience in producing electronic music, however, just to give you the quick and dirty of where I’m coming from.

    There are a lot of dissenting and semi-heated opinions here about what improves tone. I believe that it’s a blend of all of these opinions.

    Tone is in the gear, tone is in the fingers.

    In my experience, these ideas are both correct. You can have the greatest gear in the world, but you’re not going to get great tone until you build up your skills. Equally, if you can play well but are playing through crap gear, you aren’t going to get the same quality of tone as you would through a well thought out setup. The Youtube vid of Clapton posted above illustrates half of this, and there’s a vid on Youtube that has Satriani playing Surfing on a crap Squier and in the middle of the song he looks up and says, “I can’t play this part on this guitar.”

    First, you should practice your heart out. That has been the single biggest improvement in my tone, bar none. You can’t ride a bike until you train your mind and muscles to do it. Regardless of anything else you do, practice is a necessity.

    Next, think about what you want your tone to be. Are you shooting for someone else’s tone or one of your own design? Sounds silly, I know. But if you don’t have at least a vague target tone in mind, then your only chance is that you’ll find it completely by luck. If I’m programming a patch on a synth, for example, I will almost always have a goal sound in mind to fit the needs of my current project.

    Get gear, sure, but get stuff that you are comfortable with. A friend of mine has a $3500 Roland synth that he creates amazing sounds with, but he always seems to be floored by the patches I make with my cheap (in the synth world anyway) Korg MS2000, street price: $700. I know that piece of equipment inside and out and I’m very comfortable using it. That’s the difference.

    So, you don’t have to get really expensive gear at all. I have a $100 SX Tele and I can get some really great warmth and bite out of it. I am comfortable with that guitar, it fits my hands very well (after a lot of comparison), and that does factor into how it all sounds. Get/keep the gear that fits you.

    I heard your clips and I don’t really think your tone is substandard at all. It would fit very well in certain styles of music. Consider writing your songs to fit the tone you have now.

    Which brings me to my next point: Work to make a strength out of any perceived weakness. Maybe you’re already at or very close to the tone you need. Of course, that’s subjective and kinda dependant on the style/genre of music you want to make, which you didn’t specify. The point here is: just be happy to sound like you and don’t try to chase someone else’s tone (not to say that you are, just making a point). Although I’d love to have chops like EVH, Trower, Satriani, Gilmour, etc, I don’t really want to sound like them. I want to sound like me, does that make sense? If you’re unhappy with your current tone, decide on a new direction, and head for it.

    You mentioned that you’re recording into a computer. Are you using a dedicated sequencer/recording software? If you have the capability with it, you should really learn how to master your own tracks, paying specific attention to compression techniques. This can really make a huge difference in your end product and there are many tutorials on the net. The tracks you uploaded could potentially sound much closer to your goal tone after a little post work. This applies to recording only, it won’t help you playing live, obviously.

    But since you asked, as for:

    Option #1: This will change the sound of the guitar but not so much the tone, IMHO. I do agree with the advice offered above, 10’s and a thicker gauge pick. I started with the same set up you’re using and I like this better. YMMV. I didn’t notice better tone per se, but more volume and overtones and accents seem to stand out more. This will have more of an effect on how comfortable your guitar is to play.

    #2:You should be fine with your set up. Do you know how to check/perform your guitar’s set up? If not, take the time to learn. This is another small step towards making your current guitar more comfy and a personalization of your tone. Search the net for how to.

    #3: No. Unless you find one that feels better to you. Do not fall into the trap of obtaining gear thinking it’s a cure all. Make the most of what you have.

    #4: This will definitely impact your tone and is a better (and usually cheaper) alternative to a new guitar, just make very sure you have your target tone in mind and that the current set up just won’t get you there.

    #5: The Toneport’s, um, tone (and all of Line 6’s better modeling products) are just fine sounding IMO. It’s their reliability I worry about. The question is: do you like the sound of the Toneport? Those patches are modeled after other player’s tones, after all. Can you get it to approximate the tone you need? Make sure it won’t make the grade before switching and blowing a wad of cash on something very similar.

    #6: Definitely. This never hurts. Go to their forums and ask questions. Learn it inside and out. RTFM.

    #7: More gear = more options and more varied palette, so that wouldn’t be a bad idea. I think I’d explore the gear I already had more fully first, however. See #6.

    #8: Yes.

    I hate to tell you this, but it’s all so subjective that the whole thing boils down to one question: What do you think? When it comes to your playing, everyone here (myself included) is wrong except for you. That said, you may find you agree with some or all of this advice. You just need to experiment, but keep in mind you don’t always need to spend a mint to do it.

    Ask yourself what tone you want before changing anything.

    There are a lot of factors you didn’t mention so it was a tough question to answer, but I hope this helps.

    Noobs unite!



    Then again, what the hell do I know?
     
  5. ole AZ

    ole AZ Banned

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    And then maybe at the end of the day, "tone" is too simple of an idea, yet far too complicated of a pursuit to think too much about.

    Just about everyone who's answered has different answers...so that means that ONE answer simply doesn't exist.

    In my opinion, as with most things, start simple (strings, set-up, EQ settings) and then move to bigger things (new amp, new guitar)

    As with all of us, including the bonafide tone expert that chimed in (Bill Hullett), there is never a time to stop improving your playing...make that the backbone of your pursuit, and you'll find the answer.
     
  6. bloos66

    bloos66 TDPRI Member

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    I completely agree with this. As an 'older' beginner and an avid reader of many guitar and music forums, it's very easy to get sucked into this 'tone' thing. My tone is definitely lacking in many ways when compared to recordings, live acts, clips on youtube etc. But then a lot of people have played for 20/30/40 years, so there's a lot of practice and experience behind it.

    I've stopped worrying about tone. I spent months looking for the right guitar and amp, and even now I question whether or not I should have bought something else - often because of opinions voiced in these forums.

    I'd say stick to what you have and focus on your playing.

    BTW - I have a Line6 TonePort UX2 (with GearBox and Pod Farm) which I use frequently to play around with different sounds. It's a lot of fun and gives me some sort of idea how different gear may sound like. I only use it at home though, no gigging.
     
  7. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    #8. Practice without an amp and you will hear what your natural fretboard playing sounds like. Sustain, clean changes, intonation, clunker notes, clarity of notes in a chord , fret noises, string buzz..etc..all of that stuff can be identified and improved and you do not need an amp, a recorder , any wires, nuthin..just you and the axe. BOND. Once you are pleased with the improvements, then plug her in and see what happens...

    good luck

    tp
     
  8. Steve G

    Steve G Friend of Leo's

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    I find a few of these and I sound AMAZING.
    Seems to wear off the next day though and Im back to me.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

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    The one tone factor that's universal.
     
  10. Rena Rune

    Rena Rune Banned

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    Fff. It's already been explained that's not what tone is...
     
  11. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

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    Explained eh?

    I think one thing that's very clear is that there are lots of different perceptions of what tone is and what affects it.

    tone
       /toʊn/ –noun
    1. any sound considered with reference to its quality, pitch, strength, source, etc.: shrill tones.
    2. quality or character of sound.
    3. vocal sound; the sound made by vibrating muscular bands in the larynx.
    4. a particular quality, way of sounding, modulation, or intonation of the voice as expressive of some meaning, feeling, spirit, etc.: a tone of command.
    5. an accent peculiar to a person, people, locality, etc., or a characteristic mode of sounding words in speech.
    6. stress of voice on a syllable of a word.
    7. Linguistics. a musical pitch or movement in pitch serving to distinguish two words otherwise composed of the same sounds, as in Chinese.
    8. Music.
    a. a musical sound of definite pitch, consisting of several relatively simple constituents called partial tones, the lowest of which is called the fundamental tone and the others harmonics or overtones.
    b. an interval equivalent to two semitones; a whole tone; a whole step.
    c. any of the nine melodies or tunes to which Gregorian plainsong psalms are sung.
     
  12. Steve G

    Steve G Friend of Leo's

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    This is about the one thing we can all be certain of.
     
  13. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    Words mean things. Tone has a definition. Lots of folks on this thread are just making it up as they go along. Again, words mean things. It should not be subjective as to what "tone" is. I feel sorry for the OP, getting some repsonses that while apply to being a guitar player don't answer his question. I wish he has just asked "what can I do to sound better?". But then we'd probably be arguing what sound means.
     
  14. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    I just did an experiment and found that tone is in the fingers. When I used my fingers to turn the tone knob of my Stangray to the left it got fatter and warmer sounding. Turning the other way it got thinner.
     
  15. Steve G

    Steve G Friend of Leo's

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    :lol:
     
  16. twangcaster1

    twangcaster1 Friend of Leo's

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    I did a similar experiment, but the process was much more complicated because I play a SF twin reverb.:cool:
     
  17. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    There are a lot of posters on here claiming skill has nothing to do with tone. To me that is complete hogwash. Of course better gear will sound better, but someone give a Squier to Brent Mason, Ray Flacke, or Redd and see what happens. It will sound amazing, I guruantee.

    Improved skill will improve tone immensely because part of getting better, newer, and different tones is the attack on the strings you have with your pick and/or fingers. You can only hone your attack on the strings by PRACTICING!!!!

    Now if you are already an accomplised guitar player, you can start talking differences in tone, and one person will say its better and the next will say its worse. So therefore,

    Practice is the only thing that will improve your tone, everything else will just change it! Sometimes you will think for the better and other times for the worse! But that will be completely subjective.
     
  18. Leoisgod

    Leoisgod TDPRI Member

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    Colt: I stand corrected on my post. After re-reading Ron's comment you are correct. That's what i get for posting while tired and not taking my time! Guess that Bonamassa incident really effected me. I still don't think he should have dissed the amp and not taken an honest complement. When someone does that they make the complementer feel foolish. I don't think BB did that to him when he was young and starting out. Again my main beef was the inmpression it made on my son too. Great thread, I'll read closer next time.
     
  19. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

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    My first hand personal experience is different. When I started playing my notes didn't ring true or sustain, everything was buzzing, picking was scratchy. I could not make a beautiful note even with Brad Paisley's entire rig. I sounded bad, and for me bad sound = bad tone.
     
  20. Nicky B

    Nicky B Tele-Meister

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    Ill repeat it for good measure, with a new guitarist mentioned (my fave band) and some new additions for more clarification (Im not doing this to spam with repeats or anything, most of this post is new anyway). Note the highlighted parts!

    Hes talking about improving/changing his tone, NOT HIS CHOPS. He wants to adjust his tone, while his playing is another category all together. Obviously if you suck then the guitar will sound like crap. But if you play for a year vs one month, a note is still a note, a chord is still a chord, and a song you play is Still the same, minus mistakes, not tone. He wants to change the gear, which is where the tone comes from.
    And if you think tone is in the fingers, try making it with NO GUITAR.

    I own Alex Lifesons guitar and amp (NOT HIS FINGERS). I certainly don't play as well as Lifeson and i dont have lifesons unique touch or style, but I play well enough so that if I play Freewill with that rig, you can bet I have Lifeson's TONE. If he plays a F#7add4 that opens Rush's Hemispheres album chord with that rig, and then I play a F#7add4 chord with the same rig, any difference in TONEwill be infinitesimal. None. Zip. VIRTUALLY NON-EXISTANT.

    Chnge in GEAR = change in tone.
    Change in skill= change in mistake # and depending on what you do, some TINY differences, but they are barley there unless you do something very different, like picking the bridge or neck, etc.

    So give this guy some gear advice!
     
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