I’ve put together a list of things that hinder us from getting good tone....at least I've been side tracked by these along this journey. This is all just light hearted. 1. Volume/dynamics – You play around by yourself with gear (guitars, pedals, amps) at a different volume than you practice and gig at, especially in a music store. All gear responds differently at different levels of volume and signal, especially tube amps. That’s why something can sound great in a store, or even at rehearsal, but just not cut it at a gig. Even if you do get to crank something up loud at a store, 90% of the time you’re not also playing through the remainder of your gear, with a full band. 2. Not keeping the same exact set up for very long (aka G.A.S.) – There’s something to be said for settling on a given set of gear and learning how to squeeze every single little nuance out of each piece. When you’re constantly switching out pickups, pedals and amps, and other stuff, it’s like trying to sight in a gun while the target is moving. If you’re changing your pickups out all the time (several times a year) you’re not giving your picking hand a fair chance to learn how those pickups respond to slight variances in pick attack. The same can be said of pedals, especially overdrives and compressors. 3. Not actually practicing your instrument – I don’t mean learning how to play new songs. I mean learning and practicing scales (with a metronome), learning new picking techniques, studying some music theory and understanding how chords are constructed and the different ways that they fall on the fingerboard. If you desire to improve at guitar, you must spend some regular, quality time practicing. The more you’re able to develop your own personal technique, the more you’re able to control your instrument and what comes out of it. Did your dog learn how to roll over by his self? He had the potential and the ability to roll over, but it took regular sessions of you showing him how to do it before he learned. The difference is that you can teach yourself guitar, dogs can’t teach themselves to roll over on command. 4. Only listening “guitar music” and chasing others’ tone - From the time I began playing guitar (1984 at age 12) up until the time I moved to Nashville in 1996, I listened to music that was predominantly guitar driven. It finally got so repetitious that my playing was just sounding like a copy cat of all of my influences. I finally got tired of always hearing who I sounded like and decided to cut off the input of guitar music. I began listening to horn players, vocalists and keyboard players, and just great song writers. Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Kirk Whalum, Sade, The Temptations, Alison Krauss to name a few. Now, several years later, I can still pull off all of my former licks, but I’m a more rounded musician, and I finally sound like myself. *********************************** You may not relate to all of these, but the bottom line is to identify the distractions that are keeping you from developing your own tone. A lot of us are distracted by gear. You've heard it said of others that they sound like themselves no matter what gear they happen to be using. The same can be true of you.