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A serious question that may sound like trolling.

I can get what I want out of a pretty wide range of amps. I do sometimes make a point of playing different tones, just because it is good to know what you have available to you.

For a while I played guitar through crap and in that time I just worked on my skill set. In the late 80s I got a Boogie Mark III and dialled in a couple of variations of the tones in my head - I still have the cheat sheet to get back there. After that, amps didn’t matter to me.

In the last decade, my wife has added a Mark V and an MDT. I mimicked the Mark III briefly, then set them up to four different tonal spaces.

Short answer: amp matches to the sound I want
 
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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."
There are many of these stories. The issue I have with them is the use of the word “sound.” Because, by “sound like me” they DO NOT mean that Nuge playing the Frankenstrat>dimed but variac’d Plexi sounds like Nuge playing his Byrdland through his deluxe. What they mean is the PLAYING “sounds like Nugent.” NOT THE TONE! And thus, not the “sound.”

The old “I sound like me no matter what I play through” statements are misspoken, in my opinion, because they are using “sound like” with an implication of tone, when what they really mean is “plays like.” So the proper way to say it would be “no matter what I play through, THE PLAYING still sounds like me.” Cause the tone SURE AS HE77 does not “sound” the same. The players style being recognizable, is not tone! Style is not “sound.” Tone is sound... see, I’ve got this all figured out (MANY years ago. LOL).

That’s why I’ve always felt those comments were at least misleading as they imply something that is not true, and are seemingly used to intentionally create the misinterpretation.
 
I may be in the minority, as I like to set up a few “usable” sounds and then twiddle with settings and effects with the hope that it will unlock something in my head or inspire me.

The first bank on my Katana is my ‘covers most bases’: Clean, Crunch, Lead, Acoustic Sim.
The second bank is seemingly random patches where I can futz around with nonsense like octaved phaser on the brown channel with a huge mid hump.
 
There are many of these stories. The issue I have with them is the use of the word “sound.” Because, by “sound like me” they DO NOT mean that Nuge playing the Frankenstrat>dimed but variac’d Plexi sounds like Nuge playing his Byrdland through his deluxe. What they mean is the PLAYING “sounds like Nugent.” NOT THE TONE! And thus, not the “sound.”

The old “I sound like me no matter what I play through” statements are misspoken, in my opinion, because they are using “sound like” with an implication of tone, when what they really mean is “plays like.” So the proper way to say it would be “no matter what I play through, THE PLAYING still sounds like me.” Cause the tone SURE AS HE77 does not “sound” the same. The players style being recognizable, is not tone! Style is not “sound.” Tone is sound... see, I’ve got this all figured out (MANY years ago. LOL).

That’s why I’ve always felt those comments were at least misleading as they imply something that is not true, and are seemingly used to intentionally create the misinterpretation.

And here endeth the lesson;)
 
There are many of these stories. The issue I have with them is the use of the word “sound.” Because, by “sound like me” they DO NOT mean that Nuge playing the Frankenstrat>dimed but variac’d Plexi sounds like Nuge playing his Byrdland through his deluxe. What they mean is the PLAYING “sounds like Nugent.” NOT THE TONE! And thus, not the “sound.”

The old “I sound like me no matter what I play through” statements are misspoken, in my opinion, because they are using “sound like” with an implication of tone, when what they really mean is “plays like.” So the proper way to say it would be “no matter what I play through, THE PLAYING still sounds like me.” Cause the tone SURE AS HE77 does not “sound” the same. The players style being recognizable, is not tone! Style is not “sound.” Tone is sound... see, I’ve got this all figured out (MANY years ago. LOL).

That’s why I’ve always felt those comments were at least misleading as they imply something that is not true, and are seemingly used to intentionally create the misinterpretation.

This. Different rigs get different toanz just like I still use the same vocabulary if I have a cold but the sounds come out slightly different.

I think a lot of the differences we hear among amps, guitars, etc ends up being negligible once you throw a band mix into it.
 
Generally, I look for instruments that have a certain sonic range I’m after and then tweak my gear to get the sound I want.

However, about 15 years ago I asked Ron Thorn to build me a guitar with a very specific sound in mind. To this day it remains one of my favorite instruments, although I strongly doubt anyone else would like it’s tone. The design, wood choices and electronics were all chosen and/or created by Ron and I to make it sound very midrange-heavy and dark. Much like an Oboe, Cello or Viola - which were the sonic inspirations for the design & build choices.

This guitar has a very particular sound/look/feel, which I find very inspiring for lead work. Again, I highly doubt anyone else would like it but for me it’s perfect.

Hope that helps!
 
For me, it’s essentially about getting close to the tone in my head. The reason I got rid of my former guitars and now own all PRS is because I watched a YouTube video with Bryan Ewald demoing an SE Standard 24. I was stunned by the clarity and snap of the 85/15s pickups. Now, I own two SE CU24s and an S2 Standard 24, all with those pickups. So I literally bought the gear that matched “my” sound, whatever that is.

But I still don’t play as well as Bryan Ewald.
 
Is it you or the gear?

Useless question that conflates technique with timbre! They're two different concepts (even though they're interactive)!

It's you, because you're touching the strings and manipulating the gear as only you can.

It's the gear, because that's what produces sound caused by the player's intentions and personal abilities, and adds its timbre.

The gear can't overcome your manipulations, physical characteristics, abilities and intentions. But your physical characteristics, abilities and intentions are equally impacted by the gear filtering and amplifying your musical choices and individual technique, and adding its own timbre to the mix.

You sound like you on an electric guitar, an acoustic steel string, or a nylon string guitar. You're touching the strings and doing the thinking. On the other hand, no listener will be confused about what type of guitar you're playing because their timbres are different.

You can play a ukulele, and you'll sound like you on that. You can play a piano or synthesizer and you'll sound like you on those, too. Because it's your brain and technique making the gear work! But you'll certainly sound different on a ukulele than you do on an electric guitar or a piano.

You'll also have a different timbre playing through a cranked Marshall stack than you do a clean Twin.

Second thing:

When people say, "The audience can't hear a difference," they're making a lot of assumptions. Of course the audience can hear the difference - the question is whether that difference matters to them as much as it matters to the player!

As an audience member, I've left many a show because I hated a good player's tone. I listened to many a lesser player's music because I loved the tone. Everyone's different in what appeals to them. Your audience is composed of individuals, not a block of people who think identically.

Conclusion:

Embrace the fact that you sound like yourself. That's a good thing!

Use the gear to add its timbre, and enhance your sound. That's also a good thing!
 
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I should also add my philosophical ten cents:

Music is an art form. As with any art, there's a certain amount of mystery involved in its creation. There's very little to be gained in disassembling it and trying to figure out why this thing appeals, and that thing doesn't.

You can apply all the science you want, and it still comes down to that indefinable quality art and artists possess. Painting by numbers is not the same as creating art.

Creating your sound is part of creating musical art, and being a musical artist. Do that, and make it work for you in the way you think is best. The rest simply does not matter.

You cannot control how the world responds to your artistic work. All you can do as an artist is to make the work happen. Hopefully, the world likes it, but the most important thing, the true starting point, is whether you like it.
 
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I find that it's a bit chicken and egg. I also sound like "me" whatever I play (I use a modelling amp so that probably doesn't help as the sounds are broadly similar regardless of the instrument being played) but the instrument very much determines what I want to play - or the way in which I approach the piece I am playing. For context, my Custom 24 is the best part of 2lb lighter than the LP and has lighter strings, so they are very different beasts and strapping each on makes me want to play different things or play in a different way.

So I will use my PRS with certain effects and my Les Paul with other effects to get the sound i want to hear for a particular song. I suspect no-one apart from me even notices...
 
I find that it's a bit chicken and egg. I also sound like "me" whatever I play (I use a modelling amp so that probably doesn't help as the sounds are broadly similar regardless of the instrument being played) but the instrument very much determines what I want to play - or the way in which I approach the piece I am playing. For context, my Custom 24 is the best part of 2lb lighter than the LP and has lighter strings, so they are very different beasts and strapping each on makes me want to play different things or play in a different way.

So I will use my PRS with certain effects and my Les Paul with other effects to get the sound i want to hear for a particular song. I suspect no-one apart from me even notices...

Repeat after me: "I am not a robot." Seems the data is a bit skewed in favor of "chickens" these days. o_O Just be careful of the fog.
 
Generally, I look for instruments that have a certain sonic range I’m after and then tweak my gear to get the sound I want.

However, about 15 years ago I asked Ron Thorn to build me a guitar with a very specific sound in mind. To this day it remains one of my favorite instruments, although I strongly doubt anyone else would like it’s tone. The design, wood choices and electronics were all chosen and/or created by Ron and I to make it sound very midrange-heavy and dark. Much like an Oboe, Cello or Viola - which were the sonic inspirations for the design & build choices.

This guitar has a very particular sound/look/feel, which I find very inspiring for lead work. Again, I highly doubt anyone else would like it but for me it’s perfect.

Hope that helps!

OP - Lifes too short for crap guitars. Every PRS has put a smile on my face. I love my strat too!

Serious Poo - That special build would be great for the Bjork stonemilker riff

 
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There's another piece to the OP's question that isn't getting addressed, and it's the most important part to me.

I have a LOT of guitars. I didn't get a single one because it had 'my tone'. I want a guitar to have it's OWN tone -it's own voice. As a musician, my connection with the instrument is important because the music I play comes through that connection, and the strength of that connection rests on how well I understand what the instrument brings to the dance; what it likes to do, what it doesn't like to do, and the intricacies of all that. I don't want a guitar that 'sounds like me'; I don't even know what that is (or care). I want a guitar that has it's own voice that I can dance with. I should add that my days of playing in cover bands are long gone, so since I'm really only doing original music at this point, I have the luxury of not needing to get a particular sound to match a particular song, I can do whatever I want.

I was a sax player before picking up guitar, and that may have colored my approach. The part of a sax that makes the sound is inside your mouth. It's a very intimate connection. There are all kinds of subtle things you can do with your breath, tongue, cheeks, etc. that effect the sound, and all of these become elements of expression. What makes a good sax player has MUCH more to do with what's going on inside their mouth than what they're doing with their fingers, which are really just pushing buttons. So the place where a musician's body physically touches the sound generation is where the expressiveness, the emotional intimacy, gets translated through the instrument into music. So for guitar players our fingers (and picks) are really also like a horn player's mouth.

So, at home I really make an effort for the first few minutes of playing a different guitar to really listen to it. Each guitar sounds a different from the others, but more importantly also responds differently. How does it like to be played? Where are the sweet spots? How do I get it to bark? What sort of right hand techniques works best with this instrument? Some guitars like to be hit hard, and some hate it. Some are more flexible. Some are more rigid. I know many players do what they do and search for guitars that fit them. That totally makes sense, but for whatever reason, I'm more interested in seeing what a particular instrument brings to the table, and then maximizing that to make something new.

I switch around guitars a lot; I have a small number that I gig with; because I know them the best. But at band practices I often bring a different guitar each time, because the way it sounds and responds when I play at home will be totally different at volume with a band, and practices are my chance to dance with this partner and see if the combination is a winner. The music I play is a partnership between me and the instrument, and the better I know each guitar, the better music I can make with it.

That's where my signature comes from. As a musician, the music that I make is FAR more important to me than the instrument itself, which is only important to me to the extent that I have a powerful connection with it while I'm playing it. I've ended up with a pile of guitars and so I guess I'm a 'collector' in that sense, but I don't feel like a collector. I feel like someone fortunate enough to have a large group of musical collaborators, and the way I dance with one is different than the way I dance with another. What I like is the dance.
 
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All guitars sound different.

All guitarists sound like themselves.

Try to put those two ideas together and guitarists will get confused.

Don't conflate the two ideas. They are seperate because they are different. Leave them seperate and confusion will dissipate into the atmosphere and leave you ready to play your guitar unfettered with doubt and uncertainty.
 
This would be a good place for the meme that has a picture of Jimi playing at Woodstock and says “Jimi Hendrix seemed to enjoy himself at Woodstock despite the fact that is pedals were not true bypass.”
 
There's another piece to the OP's question that isn't getting addressed, and it's the most important part to me.

I have a LOT of guitars. I didn't get a single one because it had 'my tone'. I want a guitar to have it's OWN tone -it's own voice. As a musician, my connection with the instrument is important because the music I play comes through that connection, and the strength of that connection rests on how well I understand what the instrument brings to the dance; what it likes to do, what it doesn't like to do, and the intricacies of all that. I don't want a guitar that 'sounds like me'; I don't even know what that is (or care). I want a guitar that has it's own voice that I can dance with. I should add that my days of playing in cover bands are long gone, so since I'm really only doing original music at this point, I have the luxury of not needing to get a particular sound to match a particular song, I can do whatever I want.

I was a sax player before picking up guitar, and that may have colored my approach. The part of a sax that makes the sound is inside your mouth. It's a very intimate connection. There are all kinds of subtle things you can do with your breath, tongue, cheeks, etc. that effect the sound, and all of these become elements of expression. What makes a good sax player has MUCH more to do with what's going on inside their mouth than what they're doing with their fingers, which are really just pushing buttons. So the place where a musician's body physically touches the sound generation is where the expressiveness, the emotional intimacy, gets translated through the instrument into music. So for guitar players our fingers (and picks) are really also like a horn player's mouth.

So, at home I really make an effort for the first few minutes of playing a different guitar to really listen to it. Each guitar sounds a different from the others, but more importantly also responds differently. How does it like to be played? Where are the sweet spots? How do I get it to bark? What sort of right hand techniques works best with this instrument? Some guitars like to be hit hard, and some hate it. Some are more flexible. Some are more rigid. I know many players do what they do and search for guitars that fit them. That totally makes sense, but for whatever reason, I'm more interested in seeing what a particular instrument brings to the table, and then maximizing that to make something new.

I switch around guitars a lot; I have a small number that I gig with; because I know them the best. But at band practices I often bring a different guitar each time, because the way it sounds and responds when I play at home will be totally different at volume with a band, and practices are my chance to dance with this partner and see if the combination is a winner. The music I play is a partnership between me and the instrument, and the better I know each guitar, the better music I can make with it.

That's where my signature comes from. As a musician, the music that I make is FAR more important to me than the instrument itself, which is only important to me to the extent that I have a powerful connection with it while I'm playing it. I've ended up with a pile of guitars and so I guess I'm a 'collector' in that sense, but I don't feel like a collector. I feel like someone fortunate enough to have a large group of musical collaborators, and the way I dance with one is different than the way I dance with another. What I like is the dance.

Good post! Yes, I am of a similar ilk/approach (so I must sound just like you. :rolleyes: )

I have a select few guitars I use for gigging, primarily due to their broad capabilities and to limit the number I take out for insurance purposes, though my new policy seems a bit more relaxed in that regard.

But at practice I will select a "different" guitar sometimes just for fun. Unless we are in the last serious practice before an important gig - then I practice with what I'll play.

And like you, I have a variety of guitars because I expect them to sound differently, which offers me a chance to explore tones that I hadn't found on other instruments. My WL 509 sounds very different from my P245SH which sounds very different form my RL SH Vela. And I get inspired in different ways correspondingly.

And I need to remember that line about not collecting guitars, but rather having a large group of musical collaborators that happen to be guitars. I wonder if my wife will appreciate it? (She "collects" basses, though not to the same extent...)

So this post is really just a long-winded "+1".
 
Tone chasing and gear collecting, even though I do it and enjoy it, is hilarious to me. I'll always be tinkering as long as it stays fun. However, coming from the classical music world, it's just ridiculous. How many sax players have a dozen saxes? How many pianists own 30 pianos and debate the best way to string a piano? Heck, brass players don't even have consumables like strings or reeds. They may chase tone with different mouthpieces or a few different horns, but as referenced above, the tone comes from within. Marketing and GAS seems to have hit guitarists harder than any other modern musician... except maybe electronic producers with regards to plug-ins and loop packs.
 
Tone chasing and gear collecting, even though I do it and enjoy it, is hilarious to me. I'll always be tinkering as long as it stays fun. However, coming from the classical music world, it's just ridiculous. How many sax players have a dozen saxes? How many pianists own 30 pianos and debate the best way to string a piano? Heck, brass players don't even have consumables like strings or reeds. They may chase tone with different mouthpieces or a few different horns, but as referenced above, the tone comes from within. Marketing and GAS seems to have hit guitarists harder than any other modern musician... except maybe electronic producers with regards to plug-ins and loop packs.

Hey, us trumpet players have got valve oil, slide grease and mutes!;)
 
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