Re: how do you get a better tone?
A very difficult question to answer. In fact there really is no answer that will work for everybody.
Like others have said, tone is strongly associated with technique but this is not a very helpful answer IMO. You may not play music that is heavily reliant on technique, though you should strive to play well, whatever or however you play.
I am by no means a tone expert, having still yet to discover my own 'true' sound, in fact I'm super-unqualified to talk about gear to be honest.
There are some things I'd suggest.
Figure out what you are looking for in terms of sound. Listen to players you like and investigate what gear they used on that particular recording, or what gear they generally use. Have a look round and buy either the same gear or similar - of course only if you have the money to do this.
You get two extremes, and everything in between when it comes to tone and equipment. One end of the spectrum you have the very basic guitar staright into the amp setup. On the other end the guys with stacks of fx units etc.
IMHO a half decent amplifier and a good guitar with nice pickups should be able to sound good.
EQ-wise I usually set the treble, mid and bass to between 5 and 7 for each. (out of 10)
Some amps are more bright, others are more boomy so again it's a case of time and patience.
There are hundreds of ways to hook up your fx into the chain.
I am terrible in this area too, so have a read around the forums and elsewhere online to find the information you need.
Tone is a hugely individual thing. There a many, many styles of music out there and many styles of guitar playing. We all have different tastes and influences and it would be hard to get a room of guitarists to agree on a good tone. Much easier to agree on a bad one perhaps!
Try being a little more specific about what tone you want to achieve and I think that you'll get better answers!