Do you sound like you, no matter what you play?


New Member
May 12, 2020
People talk about the greats sounding like themselves on any guitar. I'm not a great, but I think I do too.

I played a single HSS Strat nearly exclusively for 18 years.

Picked up a Gibson SG this spring. The guitar had a totally different sound than what I was used to.

I put the biggest flatwound strings I could find on it - George Benson .14s.

I made a recording for a buddy with the SG on the neck pickup. He responds: "great playing! Is that on a Strat?"

He turned me on to a band called Khruangbin. I would've sworn the guy was playing on a semi hollow body or other jazz box. Nope, he plays one Strat, and uses his knobs and an always-on wah pedal to manipulate his tone.

It got me thinking. How maybe when we focus on differences, we hear them plain as day. But then maybe when we set that aside and get back to playing, back to our comfortable zone of how we pick, how we adjust our settings, what we're trying to achieve in a given musical scenario, and use our ears and hands to guide us, that our weapon of choice doesn't matter nearly as much as our vision and capability in realizing that vision (maybe this is a parallel for our sociopolitical differences too. Not the place for that discussion, but food for thought).

I've certainly read about this in magazines, forums, etc. But experiencing it firsthand with my own playing seems to drive it home. If I could package this realization, I'd keep several jars on hand and retire early by selling the rest as anti-GAS medication.

Do you sound like you, no matter what you play? If so, how does that impact which instrument you choose for a given scenario? If not, how do you keep your multitude of options from distracting you from making music?
Like others, I prefer to set up a clean and singing lead tone, and waffle between the two for whatever song is on my playlist.

For the first time in months, I sat down at the computer with my Music playlist and jammed along for the better part of over an hour.

Thought to myself, what's happening? Why does this sound so good? It was then I realized that my practice was more focused and not as "busy" know, what happens when you think about melody and harmony, repeating phrases, putting phrases together, etc?

The practice actually caused me to feel good about myself for once. Usually, my practice leaves me feeling like that was 45 minutes of my life I'll not get back again. This time, my callouses were wearing thin, a smile on my face, and a sense of accomplishment. And the kicker? No injury or pain! Perhaps tomorrow, but for once, I felt I didn't stink.

Would I pass muster in a band? Perhaps not, but no one said there'd be an exam to play in a band...!
I believe so, maybe with different nuances but still like ourselves. If we are trying to produce the tone in our heads and the music we hear in our mind then how could you not sound like you no matter what you play

Phrasing, where you pick on the instrument, your dynamics will always be consistent so yeah. But that's no reason to stop at one instrument! The only way to know for sure is to buy one more and test out the theory!
I'd like to think I have my own voice and style that sounds like me. There have been changes and efforts to diversify, to evolve, over the years, but I believe I've been able to develop and continue to develop something unique for myself over time.

Do you sound like you, no matter what you play?


If not, how do you keep your multitude of options from distracting you from making music?

If any technique comes out sounding poor, I don't use that technique. That then limits what I play.

If a guitar is nicely EQed and the room acoustics are kind, I have no problems. But all guitars sound different nevertheless. My favourite guitars (tone) are the ones that enable me to use all the techniques I have.
Just today i picked up my acoustic and started playing, and thought... damn that sounds like that guy from Queensryche. The more i played the more it sounded like the acoustic part from "Silent Lucidity" Then when i went to throw it onto the looper, i totally lost my groove and thought nope that sounds like Bodia:rolleyes:, only worse.:oops:
Ok, so we all suck. For me that's not the question. Do you sound like you when you suck, no matter which guitar you pick up? Most of us say yes. I am in that category. If so, then why do we have more than one guitar? If there were absolutely no difference whatsoever, there would be no motivation to buy another guitar (in theory). For me that answer is because I still sound like me, but I do sound different on each one. It's subtle but it is enough of an excuse to justify keeping lots of wood and strings around.

While it is true that "tone is in the fingers", it is also true that rhythm, timing, phrasing, and dynamics are also in the fingers and that is what makes us sound like us. It has taken me years, but I actually like my sound. I have achieved what I hear in my head. I still can't play well, but what I play I like. That is a peaceful place to be.