Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: (near) Los Angeles, California
Re: how do you get a better tone?
There are two things which I believe to be THE most important things in achieving good tone, and improving as a player.
1. HANDS! It really is all in the hands.. a lot of people spend way more time worrying about gear and stuff than actually practicing and working to perfect their craft. I used to think all other amps sucked because when I was away from my home rig I couldn't get good tone.. a couple years later that's changed completely. I can pull a decent tone out of usually any amp I try and recently have been rocking one of those little Fender 15 watt starter amps.. the things not so bad!
Practice and confidence are key. Always play like you mean it too!
2. PICK! You're left hand is the key to good tone right? So you have to think about your right hand. I'm not talking about picking fast either, in the words of Paul Gilbert: "Playing fast is useless." What I AM talking about is the way you pick, and your actual pick itself.. I learned very recently that some people are really just born with the perfect bone structure for fast picking.. (Shawn Lane, Paul, etc.) Unless you're related to one of picking masters chances are your bones and muscles are entirely your own.. so why the hell would you copy the way anyone picks? I started out picking my own way.. which I got great at, but realized it was started to hurt my finger (I was picking kind of like Steve Morse) so I had to change it, I tried to adopt Paul's style and have done so almost ever since. Even using the same picks as him and stuff. I kid you not, no matter how much I practiced for over a year I did not improve my picking speed whatsoever.. even with a metronome every day I seemed to reach the limit of what I could physically do. Just a couple months ago I decided to try picking different ways and find out what was most comfortable for me.. it only took a day for me to figure out what worked for me. Basically overnight my picking improved more than it did in the year before.. and since I decided to try out MANY different picks. Of all different shapes and sizes. I've always used thin picks.. for years. And just over a month ago I tried a pick (by accident) that was 1.40mm thick.. woah! It felt like I wasn't even picking. I compared it to the .60mm dunlops Paul uses and it seemed like I was picking with a piece of paper that gave nothing back and just slowed me down...
The moral of all this, is every way you pick, and every pick you use. Will give you different results. You may be restricting yourself just as I did for so long just because you think you're doing it the best way. Different things work for everyone. If you don't believe a pick is a huge factor in tone then grab an ultex .60/73, tortex .60/73, jazz III, and ultex sharp. And play the same thing over and change picks every time. You should be able to notice some will have more bite, give better attack, sound more fat, etc. You need to find the tone that works for you. It all starts there. If you're not 100% happy with your fingers or picking tone then all the Ibanez guitars in the world won't make you any happier.
Sort of went on.. but I never see people talk about this. And I truly wish I had heard this from someone in the past.
But on the subject of how to get tone from an amp, pedals, etc.. you need to play it all by ear. It's basically trial and error. All these guys are right that it's subjective. I've heard people with the most bitching tone in the world and bought what they're using and haven't been happy AT ALL in the past. You just need to listen and listen hard.. just like picking, amp settings, pedals, etc.. see what other guys are using/doing. But don't copy them, use them as a starting point to find what works for you. Being able to manipulate tone just comes with practice. But like has been said many times over. It all starts in the fingers.
I'm going to go practice now.
Last edited by Gilberto99; 01-28-2010 at 12:40 AM.