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Author Topic: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.  (Read 33492 times)

Offline Paul Marossy

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90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2011, 12:22:04 PM »
OK Luc, where shall we meet to duke it out?! [:D]

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90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline Scanman413

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90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2011, 08:34:41 AM »
OK guys, I'll hold your guitars so they don't get hurt! [:D]
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90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline Paul Marossy

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90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2011, 09:34:29 AM »

Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline bembamboo

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2012, 02:22:01 AM »
So how come clapton doesn't get better tone? of course his tone is purist whatever, and i'm not talking about the old days, but we all know he has got fingers of god.  he just doesn't care to be a gearhead.  i don't like beck's tone that much either these days.  elegant tone is in exceptional gear.  and please, it is not in the ear of the beholder.  just because you like it doesn't make it great tone.

and, vibrato is not tone, btw.

there is a reason strads are king and queen.

i am sure i will regret this post. 

Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline Paul Marossy

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2012, 09:07:00 AM »
elegant tone is in exceptional gear.

I totally disagree. Find a few Seasick Steve videos on YouTube and see what he is playing. He has a crappy $50 pawn shop guitar and some kind of weird no name amp with duct tape on it, and he has a great sound. No one will ever convince me that you have to have a $10,000 amp and a $10,000 guitar to have great tone (and it's simply not true anyway). I know people that could get a good tone and still sound like they do with what most people would consider crap. Therefore, I do not believe that all of someone's "tone" comes from their equipment. That has not been my experience at all.

and please, it is not in the ear of the beholder.  just because you like it doesn't make it great tone.

Says who? Who is the authority on this? You? Ask six different guitar players (or average non-musicians) what "good tone" is and you will get six different answers. It's TOTALLY subjective.

and, vibrato is not tone, btw.

No, that's technique, which should enhance the overall vibe of the player in his setting.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 09:09:42 AM by Paul Marossy »

Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline jpleong

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2012, 01:24:53 PM »
So how come clapton doesn't get better tone? of course his tone is purist whatever, and i'm not talking about the old days, but we all know he has got fingers of god.  he just doesn't care to be a gearhead.  i don't like beck's tone that much either these days.

I think Clapton and Beck's tones are reflective of the styles (schools) they came from. They aren't "better," "modern" tones in the Vai/Satriani/Johnson sense and I actually appreciate that. And I do think Clapton is a gearhead... he's just not a technical-one. He has a sound he goes for and when he finds it he latches onto it; hence, his signature guitars and (now) amps. He also doesn't have one tone, either, as he's known simultaneously for bucker midrange, strat in-betweenies, Marshall, Soldano, and now Fender sounds.

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elegant tone can come from exceptional gear...
How I would have phrased it...

Quote
...it is not in the ear of the beholder.  just because you like it doesn't make it great tone.

As a sound engineer, I see this as a half-truth. Some tones are, indeed, utter rubbish... but the question isn't actually, "Is the tone good?" Rather, the question is, "Is the tone useful in the context it's used?" Take the Big Muff sound -I love Gilmour tones, Smashing Pumpkins tones, Hendrix tones, etc... but I have a Big Muff... it sat on my pedal board for nine months and never got turned on. For my music, it never gets used and I will probably never use it. I keep trying to incorporate it but that sound just doesn't gel with what I play.

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there is a reason strads are king and queen.

But they aren't. Assuming you're referring to the Stradivarius-family of string instruments... If you actually look into it, you'll find that a large portion of the top violinists actually prefer instruments from Guarnieri, Amati, or even modern instruments. Many of them "started" with Strads but as they aged their sentimentality changed, along with their bodies and skill; they hopped to something else. Stradivarius, being the most numerous examples of the Golden-Era violins, has become the slang when referring to these best-of-the-best instruments.

A famous violinist once had a fan compliment the tone from his Strad at which point he lifted it to his ear and said something like, "Funny, I don't hear it making any sound."

Quote
i am sure i will regret this post.

Me thinks you're trolling for fun ;) But it's a good topic to keep debating.

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline Paul Marossy

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #21 on: July 25, 2012, 01:30:17 PM »
As a sound engineer, I see this as a half-truth. Some tones are, indeed, utter rubbish... but the question isn't actually, "Is the tone good?" Rather, the question is, "Is the tone useful in the context it's used?" Take the Big Muff sound -I love Gilmour tones, Smashing Pumpkins tones, Hendrix tones, etc... but I have a Big Muff... it sat on my pedal board for nine months and never got turned on. For my music, it never gets used and I will probably never use it. I keep trying to incorporate it but that sound just doesn't gel with what I play.

Good point. It is very much about the sound of the guitar fitting in context with the rest of the music. I can totally relate about certain pedals not fitting with what I play/my style. But I still sound like me no matter what I choose to use.

Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline lifeguitar

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2012, 10:18:52 PM »
Unfortunately I bought a lot of gear before I realized that it was me, and not the gear, that was getting in the way of the tone I wanted.  Still not sure that I agree that it is 90%, the hands, but I think they have far more of an effect on getting great tone than most people realize.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2012, 10:20:47 PM by lifeguitar »
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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline Paul Marossy

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2012, 08:48:58 AM »
I think they have far more of an effect on getting great tone than most people realize.

That's really the essence of what I was trying to say. It depends on your definition of tone. One could say tone is a sound at some certain frequency with some kind of certain characteristics (like overdriven, fuzzy, etc) and another could say it's the guitarist's whole approach, kind of like when someone says "the tone of your voice" meaning how you are saying what you are saying. When I hear the word "tone" in the context of a guitar, I think of both. And it IS both.  ;D

I've seen over and over where people try to sound like some certain guitarist, so they will get the exact same guitar(s), amp(s), etc. as their guitar hero and they still don't sound anything like that guitarist, and never will. It's really chasing your own tail going down that road. I wasted a lot of money over the years not because I was trying to sound like anyone else, but because I was trying to find my own voice and sound. There is a certain amount of experimentation involved when you go that route, especially in the days before the internet where you could just watch a YouTube video to get an idea of what something sounds like.  :-\

Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline Umphreak

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2012, 02:38:07 PM »
Just my take on the subject:

I do agree that the player substantially provides the majority of what we consider a guitar player's "tone." I play in a hobbyist band (we're a combination of nerds as lawyers, chemists, engineers, energy employees, etc). I'm the poor chemist (well, working as a grad student on my PhD) and the lawyer is the other guitar player. He and I often don't see eye-to-eye on gear/tone issues. When we formed the band, which is of the progressive hard rock variety, he bought a bunch of genre-specific gear. He started using a G&L strat with a hot rod deluxe with an xotic bb plus overdrive and a few other pedals (we had previously been in a southern/classic rock cover band). He upgraded to a gibson SG and bought a hi gain distortion pedal (the Blackstar one with the 12AX7 tube in it) and later purchased a custom-made guitar by Steve Benford (strat style HSH with dimarzio SD[bridge] and AirNorton[neck] pickups to obtain what he felt was the necessary sound fitting the style.

Just for a reference I changed my guitar from a washburn LS-103 strat type to my parker fly deluxe and my amp from an el-84 based class A to Traynor YSR-1 (EL-34). What I found was (and confirmed because we record ourselves at every practice) his tone more or less stayed the same. He has a signature "hollow" sounding playing style. Its difficult for me to describe; it is not bad sounding, just characteristic. It stayed with him and was the most identifiable part of his sound with a little flavoring from the new equipment. He often told me that I needed to upgrade to some new high-gain pedals like him (or a Mesa V-twin or H&K Tubeman) or else I wouldn't sound right with our "style" - geesh, lawyers (his wife who is also my sister is a lawyer). Well, even with the amp and guitar changes (I only changed mine because I blew up my old amp and got the new guitar because I wanted the playability and versatility of the fly) I still sound very much like me when I was playing my strat. My bandmate is convinced his tone is infinitely better than before and is convinced that more expensive equipment = better tone. My other bandmates and I have seen and heard the evidence and we agree that the most identifiable part of a players "tone" comes from the player not the equipment.

I think as players we unconsciously adjust our playing technique to the equipment we had at hand at the moment and rarely does it change when it comes out of the speakers. In otherwords, we always sound like ourselves. Unfortunately for me, that means i'll always sound like crap. But at least I know that there's no need for me to save up for that expensive Engl.
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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline Paul Marossy

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2012, 02:42:40 PM »
Just my take on the subject:

I do agree that the player substantially provides the majority of what we consider a guitar player's "tone." I play in a hobbyist band (we're a combination of nerds as lawyers, chemists, engineers, energy employees, etc). I'm the poor chemist (well, working as a grad student on my PhD) and the lawyer is the other guitar player. He and I often don't see eye-to-eye on gear/tone issues. When we formed the band, which is of the progressive hard rock variety, he bought a bunch of genre-specific gear. He started using a G&L strat with a hot rod deluxe with an xotic bb plus overdrive and a few other pedals (we had previously been in a southern/classic rock cover band). He upgraded to a gibson SG and bought a hi gain distortion pedal (the Blackstar one with the 12AX7 tube in it) and later purchased a custom-made guitar by Steve Benford (strat style HSH with dimarzio SD[bridge] and AirNorton[neck] pickups to obtain what he felt was the necessary sound fitting the style.

Just for a reference I changed my guitar from a washburn LS-103 strat type to my parker fly deluxe and my amp from an el-84 based class A to Traynor YSR-1 (EL-34). What I found was (and confirmed because we record ourselves at every practice) his tone more or less stayed the same.

Ha! That's funny. He didn't have to spend all that money, but I guess if it helps pyschologically...

Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline lucgravely

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2012, 07:51:02 AM »
Gear is for us (and the sound guy) not the audience. I have the gear I have because It's what I hear in my head and it has the frequency response that is pleasing to MY ears. But I've had a friend hear me play through Marshalls and Fenders and Mesas and he's like, "oh that's Luc playing. I'd know him playing anywhere."  I tend to think my gear give me MY tone I like and my playing gives me my voice that everyone else hears. Just my 2 cents because like Paul says it's really all in the definition of "tone". I think my "tone" and my guitar "voice" are two different things but often times people confuse for the same thing.
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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline jpleong

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2012, 08:45:55 AM »
Hah. So, we're running into a problem with words. Tone, timbre, "sound," style, etc... all different ways to describe sort-of the same thing but with varying degrees of difference. And there certainly are different minutiae to what we're talking about...

I was listening to my "Robben Ford" channel on Pandora the other day and could easily recognize when it was one of his tunes or some other blues artist. I've not even been that "in" to him until recently but his "sound" and "style" are instantly recognizable. What was interesting, to me, was that I could also sometimes tell when he was playing through a Fender Deluxe Reverb and when he was using his Dumble ODS (and I'm no Deluxe Reverb or ODS user). So his amps' different tones and timbre colored his playing style. It was still him, just either a mid-scooped or "throaty" version of him.

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline Paul Marossy

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2012, 09:14:06 AM »
Just to clarify, tone and timbre are NOT the same thing by definition. People see them as the same, but they are two different things.

"Timbre" is what makes a particular musical sound different from another, even when they have the same pitch and loudness. For instance, it is the difference between a guitar and a piano playing the same note at the same loudness. That's how we know a cello or a violin when we hear one. That's how we know a guitar from a banjo. Or a saxaphone from a trombone. There's an attack, an envelope, a decay and various harmonic overtones that makes certain instruments recognizable just from our hearing it.

"Tone" is really a term used to describe if it's bright, harsh, dark, etc. Like when a trumpet player uses a mute, it changes the sound, but it's still recognizable as a trumpet.

The rest of whatever we hear is coming from the player. It's how he brings the instrument to life.

Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.

Offline Noodler

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Re: 90% of guitar "tone" IS in the hands.
« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2012, 12:28:12 PM »
Thanks for posting that distinction between the definitions of tone and timbre.  You beat me to it.   :P