Guitar Tone Tips

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Electric Guitar Tone

There are several factors to consider when establishing a good guitar tone. Here are some guitar tone tips. ┬áLets start with electric guitar tone. With electric there are three major factors to consider…the guitar, the amp, and the effects. There are all types of guitars with all types of pickups. Single Coil pickups and humbucking pickups are the two main pickup categories. I prefer humbuckers for the simple reason that they are less noisy. I like the tone of a good single coil pickup but I have never had much luck with keeping them from buzzing terribly. This is especially a factor when you are playing gigs in dive bars or clubs with bad electric wiring. You are much better off with a humbucking pickup. If you are gigging musician I would suggest having at least one in your arsenal. Generally speaking your Fender strats have single coils and your Les Pauls have humbuckers.

Guitars with maple fretboards tend to be brighter whereas rosewood gives a little darker tone. The thinner the body of the guitar the less resonance and the less meaty the tone. Compare an SG with a hollow body guitar…the hollow body will tend to have a much fuller, bigger tone.

Picking the Right Amp

Now lets talk amps. I have always felt like you could hand me a great guitar played through a bad amp and I would get a bad tone. However, I can make a bad guitar sound decent through a good amp. The amp, in my opinion is the most crucial part of your tone. I always prefer tube amps that deliver a much warmer, natural sound then the solid state counterparts. However if you are play jazz or something that requires a clean crisp sound, a solid state amp good be great. All the great rock legends used tube amps such as Marshall Plexi’s, Vox AC30, Hi Watt, Fender Twins, Fender Bassmans etc. Now days they make all kinds of boutique amps that are modeled after these classic amps. Matchless is my amp of choice which is loosely modeled after the Vox AC30.

Keep Effects Simple

As far as effects go, you just have to experiment. Just keep in mind that the more you add in the signal chain the more likely you are to have unwanted noise. I like to keep it simple. My effects pedals consist of a Boss Tuner, Boss Blues Driver, Boss Tremelo, and occasionally a Wah pedal. But that’s just me. We just have to experiment.

Acoustic Guitar Tone

As for Acoustic guitars go, you are somewhat limited by the make and model of the guitar. You can make differences in tone by the type of picks you use and also the thickness of your strings. Actually the string factor goes for both electric and acoustic. The thicker the strings the fuller the tone. Its kinda whatever you can stand on your fingers. I like to use 11’s. Stevie Ray Vaughan used crazy thick gauges of strings and had an incredible tone. Bottom line…you have to try different things and experiment to find the right tone!