A serious question that may sound like trolling.

danktat

Award winning tattoo artist ... Amateur guitarist
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When it comes to tone, is it important to find equipment that has the tone that you are looking for......OR.....is it more of a thing to allow the equipment you HAVE to define your tone?

Depending on which side of this question you fall, it seems an easy question. However, when you dig into it deeper, you may find it more difficult to answer than you think.

Many of us are "gear snobs"....But, what I have found, is that no matter WHAT I play with, or through, it still just sounds like ME. And YES, there is much to be said about feeling GOOD about playing through certain instruments, or amps, or effects, or whatever. My audience never seems to know the difference. And when I listen to it recorded and played back. . .I still just sound like ME.

Not trying to start an argument. Just an open discussion over the "gear" issue.
 
It's a good question, but I think I tend to try to look for amps that I know will sound what I like, not have the amp define how I sound.

In past years, many bands had their individual sounds that defined them (Boston's Tom Scholz, EJ's combination of various vintage amps, etc) but that was their choice to sound the way they did. It may have been a conscious choice, but in reality, it's your ears that will tell you what you like and what you won't.

Given that freedom of choice, it's entirely up to the individual to determine how he will sound, given what skills and abilities he has. While it sure doesn't hurt to have nice gear that will help you sound the way you want, not everyone can own nice gear that defines how they sound.

"Oh, yeah, that guy? He sounds a little like Bo Diddly and Chuck Berry. Can't play like either well, but has the same chops and tone." You get the idea.
 
It's not difficult to answer at all. This only goes one way. I find equipment that matches what I hear in my head, not the other way around. I will grant that what I hear in my head may change a little as I get better gear and can reach a higher level of Nirvana than I had before, but it's still just getting closer to what I hear in my head. And, by the way, I've reached Nirvana. I have what I hear in my head. I've stopped the search. I'm home.
 
Here's an interim thought. Over many years, I've tried to find Robin Trower's sound on "The Day of the Eagle." While the tone quest has been elusive, I've not let it define who I am as a guitarist. I still get chills when I hear that song, because it was an anthem to me years ago. Yet, did I ever locate the amp or guitar that defines Robin's tone? No.

I've heard plenty of his songs to realize that if I wanted to sound like somebody else, I'd be them, not myself. There is a trueness to one's own self that defines who we each are as individuals, and not letting others define who we are makes for good conversation, if not a spirited discussion.

A few days ago, I heard someone say, "I am not a robot." While mildly offended, I realized that many often judge on what they perceive to be their idea of reality, not their own perception of what someone else says is reality.

I also realized that if you want to give a good gift to your significant other, pray be it that nice piece of jewelry, and not the stand mixer.
 
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Yes, I sound like me no matter what I play through. But when I play through equipment that enhances my sound, it is more enjoyable and I feel more expressive. When I have to struggle with finding my way through the elements working against me, it comes across in the lack of fluidity of my playing. Still sounds like me, but not a comfortable me. I try to find gear that I don’t have to work for the results.
 
Tone is subjective to each and every guitarist. I’ve heard from so many “name” guitarists, that tone comes from the player’s hands, mind, and heart..and I’ve come to believe it. I’ve sold gear for many years and heave been fortunate enough to meet many “name” guitarists, and it didn’t matter what guitars, amps and pedals they used, they still sounded like them, whether it was a Squier through a peavey classic thirty, with a tube screamer they still sounded like themselves.
My favorite example is Jeff Healy. He sounded amazing playing a danelectro through a blues jr, and a fuzz face, I have Many examples, but the point is, its an individual thing for everyone. We all have a tone in our head, and our hands, bring it out through our gear . As we progress as players, it becomes more refined and at some point, we achieve our own personal Nirvana...at least that’s the hope! YMMV...Peace.
 
It’s interesting that the pursuit of good tone has no bearing on one’s innate ability, either natural or taught, to play music. Granted, if one has little or no talent, that can pose a severe detriment compared to one who is practiced and skillful.

Case in point, Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin released an album some years ago that celebrated Spanish music, some of which used elegant gypsy jazz and Eastern European scales and modes. Because these seldom-heard scales are not familiar to AOR radio, both artists received only praise from their loyal fan base, and not the general public.

Nevertheless, the level of practiced expertise set the album apart from popular music that received far greater acclaim. What I find more interesting is that a person’s wealth or collection of boutique gear does not automatically cause him to receive acclaim from others outside of his fan base.

The hard truth we must all swallow is that our collection of nice things is appreciated only within the fan base of this forum. Any extra exposure one receives exists outside of this forum, and cannot be enumerated because the relationship between collector and forum would effectively be one of disloyalty to our forum.

The question exists, Why would anyone risk their relationship unless for whatever reason, they saw something better than what they currently had? To tie this together, if we are faithful, not only do our words carry more weight, they also help us see where we may be risking what existing relationships we’ve already cultivated play havoc in our minds.

Regards owning gear that defines your sound, perhaps it’s time to step away from your comfort zone of gear and expand your horizons once again. Because we never stop learning, we should realize that how we sound will gradually change over time, and that we all must adjust and adapt to the ever-changing world around us. The better we can adjust and adapt, the more suited we will be to live in the future. If we fail to adjust and adapt, we all may just be left behind...
 
I was a seeker for many years. The problem, like AP515, is that I was looking for specific sounds I heard in my head. While I love Albert King to death, I have no interest in sounding “like” him. I’ve always been trying to get a certain tonal balance between the high and low end for rhythm playing, and then a different sound for various soloing styles. The first time I hit it was with a PRS Se Singlecut P-90 and a tech 21 Trademark 60. Hardly the gear of snobs, but it was there. Better gear, in my mind simply means an easier time getting the sounds I need. Yes, I have more than one guitar and amp, but each one I have is for a tonal reason. I can finally quit looking for my gear and focus on what’s left of my hands. It’s largely because of my PRS, and not because my axes are the most expensive. They’re in every price range, but they all deliver. I couldn’t get that with other brands, and I spent 40 years looking.
 
It's not difficult to answer at all. This only goes one way. I find equipment that matches what I hear in my head, not the other way around. I will grant that what I hear in my head may change a little as I get better gear and can reach a higher level of Nirvana than I had before, but it's still just getting closer to what I hear in my head. And, by the way, I've reached Nirvana. I have what I hear in my head. I've stopped the search. I'm home.
I agree here... with the exception that I haven't yet considered myself "home"--I'm still chasing "my tone," although these days I'm much closer to it than in the past. Any changes now tend to be fine-tuning.

I will also say, though, that I might get curious to try a new pedal or pickups, and viola! it's like a find a new tool available to get into a zone that I like. Again, though... that change might have been imperceptible to the wife and/or other non-discriminating ears, but it changed--and maybe more importantly, inspired--my playing to a new spot.

Not "trolling" at all OP, this is a real/legitimate topic.
 
Regardless of amp or guitar I try and dial in the sound I am used to , I don't play very loud for the most part so I prefer amps with a good master volume so I can dial in gain at a low level
 
Tone is subjective to each and every guitarist. I’ve heard from so many “name” guitarists, that tone comes from the player’s hands, mind, and heart..and I’ve come to believe it.

On the (recently ended) Van Halen tribute channel on SiriusXM, Steve Vai told a story that he was working in his studio when Edward dropped by. Vai had his stuff set up for what he was working on, and EVH said, "Let me show you this thing I've been working on" and grabbed Vai's guitar, and in Vai's words, "he had the audacity to sound exactly like Edward Van Halen. With my gear!" Ted Nugent used to tell the story that he paid EVH's tech to let him play through EVH's stage setup, and he said, "It sounded like me, not Eddie."

And there's always this...


As for myself, I think I've finally found gear that gives me most of what I want tone-wise. My amps cover pretty much everything I need - the Archon and MT-15 both have great clean channels and versatile dirt channels. My Budda has a spark and snap that I like in certain situations. And I do love to open up the 2-channel C for some tones. That doesn't keep me from finding some nuance that another amp can deliver, but I'm really happy with the amps. And I have guitars that cover just about all the ground I normally traverse (even though I still want more!). But as others have said, more and more I find that whatever I play through, I sound like me, for better or worse.
 
It's all about the gear for me. But, that's because, like others have said, it always sounds like me. So, now I look for gear that I enjoy playing through, that gives me the motivation to play more. Regardless of the gear, one day I am completely happy with the tones I am achieving, and two days later, with everything the same, it sounds like garbage.
 
It's all about the gear for me. But, that's because, like others have said, it always sounds like me. So, now I look for gear that I enjoy playing through, that gives me the motivation to play more. Regardless of the gear, one day I am completely happy with the tones I am achieving, and two days later, with everything the same, it sounds like garbage.

Sounds like we have the same gear.
 
Regardless of amp or guitar I try and dial in the sound I am used to
I think THIS may be it ... at least for me.

Because no mater what I am using, I seem to adjust it to suit my tastes. And though some equipment are better or worse at achieving it, it always ends up being similar after I make my adjustments.

The question came up because I reposted a song [on social media] from a gig I did last year before the pandemic started. It was at a time that I ran into some financial issues that forced me to sell of my PRS guitars. So, when I performed, I used another brand (that wouldn't have fetched as much on the used resale market) to play the show. Not even my band mates noticed any difference in tone (at least not enough to say anything about it.). And when I listened to it from the repost, I remembered that I wasn't playing the guitar that I WANTED to play for that gig. But, I didn't really notice much of an audible difference on the playback. (Maybe if I did the song again with my PRS, and A/Bed it I could have).....but from the video, I still just sounded like me. So I figured I would put it out there to see where others are on this issue. Obviously, I have stuff that I LIKE more than others. But no matter what I am playing on, I still sound like me.
 
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For me, I find the gear that helps me get the tone I want. When I play through a rig that does not have the right tone I really struggle.

PRS Cu24, High gain amp with hot rodded Marshall tone and a good delay. Those are my building blocks.
 
I have discovered that I have a lot of tones I want to cover. I guess due to the nature of the band I'm in, we cover a lot of territory, plus I have my own more extreme tastes. I could cover most of it with a vanilla gear set-up, I suppose you could say, but I find having specific gear to attack a certain tonal quality I am desiring helps a lot towards getting in the groove.

And as others have said, sometimes I pick up the right guitar plugged into the right amp, with the right effects (which might be none), and I still struggle to sound any better than a drunken trout.
 
I think THIS may be it ... at least for me.

Because no mater what I am using, I seem to adjust it to suit my tastes. And though some equipment are better or worse at achieving it, it always ends up being similar after I make my adjustments.

The question came up because I reposted a song [on social media] from a gig I did last year before the pandemic started. It was at a time that I ran into some financial issues that forced me to sell of my PRS guitars. So, when I performed, I used another brand (that wouldn't have fetched as much on the used resale market) to play the show. Not even my band mates noticed any difference in tone (at least not enough to say anything about it.). And when I listened to it from the repost, I remembered that I wasn't playing the guitar that I WANTED to play for that gig. But, I didn't really notice much of an audible difference on the playback. (Maybe if I did the song again with my PRS, and A/Bed it I could have).....but from the video, I still just sounded like me. So I figured I would put it out there to see where others are on this issue. Obviously, I have stuff that I LIKE more than others. But no matter what I am playing on, I still sound like me.

I think sometimes we tend to get almost surgical about what our gear sounds like, especially when we play alone, and we notice nuances that aren't noticeable in a band/mix situation. I'm not in a band, but I've noticed on my recordings that if I don't make a note in the DAW about what guitar I used, for the most part, I can't tell you if I used my PS or the DGT, etc. It's always struck me as somewhat odd because when I play them, I notice things that are different, but in the final mix - and perhaps importantly, separated from the physical experience of the guitar - those subtleties go away.

That said, PRSh has said if you like a particular guitar, you'll pick it up and play it more.

For me, I find the gear that helps me get the tone I want. When I play through a rig that does not have the right tone I really struggle.

I think a lot of us associate this sensation with being at our various levels of playing, but I remember reading interviews with Randy Rhoads where he said pretty much exactly that - if his tone was off, he struggled with playing his best.
 
It's all about the gear for me. But, that's because, like others have said, it always sounds like me. So, now I look for gear that I enjoy playing through, that gives me the motivation to play more. Regardless of the gear, one day I am completely happy with the tones I am achieving, and two days later, with everything the same, it sounds like garbage.

Ach! You just want an excuse to buy more shoes!:p
 
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