Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums

So, WTH is "Great Tone?"


charlie brown
 Share

Recommended Posts

My "jazz guitar" for years was that Guild S100c that's functionally an SG clone.

 

It has marvelous "jazz" tone even with the 8-38 strings on it that some would say are "wrong" and I should use 22-155 gauge for jazz.

 

It wasn't until around 2003 that I messed with that 175 hidden for over 20 years in its dusty case that I went "archtop" for most playing. And that's with 9-42.

 

OTOH, I used an old '50s single pup archtop for country/rock gigs in the late '70s and it worked quite well for CCR songs and such as well as more traditional country and pop for small town saloon audiences. Yes, 9-42.

 

m

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Too, what is a "jazz tone?"

 

The Roy Buchanan voice on the start of this little piece is a tribute to the still-great Mundell Lowe who's old enough to be my Dad and still's apparently pickin'.

 

Buchanan has the Tele still pretty much sounding like a Tele, and who's to say what he does ain't "jazz" any more than Joe Pass?

 

So... with apologies to "tone," and praise to pickers who both "Play the song" on very different instruments and with very different technique and versions...

 

Which is "better" or even "more appropriate" tone?

 

Or is it just the song and great pickers with how they hear it?

 

Misty...

 

Roy...

 

 

Joe

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting comments about Joe Pass. His tone definitely did change when he started playing with fingers instead of a pick most of the time. It became softer and warmer as you would expect (even though his amp setting probably stayed the same). Yes, you could still tell it was Joe, but I liked his playing and tone more with a pick, as it sounded more aggressive and biting. He said in an interview I saw once that he found he couldn't play as fast without the pick. My favourite period of Pass was the 70's and especially the 1975 Montreux concerts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing about Jazz guitar though, is that its not hard to find a great tone.

You use a neck pickup, and clean signal and a clean amp channel. You are also not playing at high volume, so the amp is unlikely to be driven hard.

 

Exactly. Change the pickup, dirty it up, volume it to 1978 levels, and you got rock. None of it is hard, it's all been done, and it isn't hard to find the things to do it with.

 

rct

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Too, what is a "jazz tone?"

 

The Roy Buchanan voice on the start of this little piece is a tribute to the still-great Mundell Lowe who's old enough to be my Dad and still's apparently pickin'.

 

Buchanan has the Tele still pretty much sounding like a Tele, and who's to say what he does ain't "jazz" any more than Joe Pass?

 

So... with apologies to "tone," and praise to pickers who both "Play the song" on very different instruments and with very different technique and versions...

 

Which is "better" or even "more appropriate" tone?

 

Or is it just the song and great pickers with how they hear it?

 

Misty...

 

Roy...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5_kkK8Y2Ts

 

Joe

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaxU0TzdMbM

 

 

 

2 of my favorites right there.

 

as far as what is great tone, I can't put it into words, I just know it when I hear it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree, deeman...but, my "great tone" seems to change, almost daily! LOL It's like getting a new pedal, or amp,

or even guitar, and "loving it," for a time...then, for some reason, it SEEMS to become less intriguing. So, I/We

go for something else. Then we (often) re-discover the one we had abandoned, as "again" having "Great Tone!" So,

I'm not sure, what "Great Tone" is, anymore. [tongue]:rolleyes:[biggrin]

 

 

CB

 

 

 

 

ya daily. I mean I will have the perfect tone dialed in, then after i wake up, (sober), it sounds like ****. idk

 

Great tone is definitely a direct result of great weed. gotta be.

 

One of my favorite tones is "Lonely is the Night" Billy squire, but that is not the tone i would use all the time.

 

It really is like sex. You get that taste the first time and it is euphoric then you can chase it the rest of your life...

 

great tone is a mood rather than a sound, a mood that fits the song you are putting it in.

 

oh yea being in tune is very helpful too (heeheehee)

 

mho

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I am hearing from a few here what I asked a bit back. Tone should fit the mood and song too. Just looked up the definition of tone and sound. A little different from what I thought but say I'm a paying customer to your concert. I like CCR and the wife and I attended one of their concerts. Say they started out with Susie Q and ended with Bad Moon Rising. They have their Tone. When CCR plays, there is no doubt who it is. At the end, we both thought every song sounded the same. You can blend in one song after the other. Same tone and sound every song, very boring actually listening to it for 2 hours. Same thing with ZZ Top. They all sound exactly the same no matter what song their playing. I guess that's why I personally prefer bands who can mix it up and make each song sound different from one another. Is that finding the perfect tone and sticking with it like ZZ Top or changing it up according to what song you play? It was like being in heaven listening to Pink Floyd the first time in concert doing their Wall album. I'll always remember that one. The Eagles and different artists we've seen kept us coming back. Some others like CCR, once you've heard them there's no need to hear them again. To me I guess since I'm not a professional it doesn't matter weather that tone comes from the fingers or the amps and guitars or pedals as long as the songs sound different from one another. I like a surf sound to sound surf and a rock song to sound rockish. I guess I'm just asking overallall, is there such a thing as a perfect tone or doesn't that perfect tone match what the artist is playing at the time? To me, isn't that why professional bands have different pedals and synthisizers, different guitars on stage to play different songs, some tuned to E and others D tuned and so on producing different tones. Heh, I'm just a novice trying to learn and understand the experts here and I know their are many. Or just tell me to shut Up! Lol msp_flapper.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Retired...

 

I think you have a great point, but we're talking kinda two different things.

 

The "tone" of an individual instrument vs the book selections for a gig.

 

When I was doing saloon band stuff, yeah, frankly we tried to mix things up in terms of general sound as well as tunes.

 

But that's different IMHO from what one expects from an amp from one's electric or one's acoustic through a mike.

 

I see what you're talking about more on the lines of how swing bands would toss in different section and individual solos regardless that their arrangements in general reflected a more identifiable feel. Glenn Miller vs Benny Goodman for example.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1485293146[/url]' post='1830212']

Retired...

 

I think you have a great point, but we're talking kinda two different things.

 

The "tone" of an individual instrument vs the book selections for a gig.

 

When I was doing saloon band stuff, yeah, frankly we tried to mix things up in terms of general sound as well as tunes.

 

But that's different IMHO from what one expects from an amp from one's electric or one's acoustic through a mike.

 

I see what you're talking about more on the lines of how swing bands would toss in different section and individual solos regardless that their arrangements in general reflected a more identifiable feel. Glenn Miller vs Benny Goodman for example.

Thanks for answering my question Milod. I had to read your answer through a few times and think what you were saying. Maybe I sound dumb for asking but I think I might understand what your saying. So it's not the song you guys are talking about, but that speacial tone you guys can create through your creative style that sets you apart from everyone else. So that could be in the way you finger pick or whatever. So am I closer now to understanding this thread? Actually I thought about sending you an EMail and asking just you to explain it to me so I'm glad you responded.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for answering my question Milod. I had to read your answer through a few times and think what you were saying. Maybe I sound dumb for asking but I think I might understand what your saying. So it's not the song you guys are talking about, but that speacial tone you guys can create through your creative style that sets you apart from everyone else. So that could be in the way you finger pick or whatever. So am I closer now to understanding this thread? Actually I thought about sending you an EMail and asking just you to explain it to me so I'm glad you responded.

 

My thoughts: You own your tone. Whatever that is, up to you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My "jazz guitar" for years was that Guild S100c that's functionally an SG clone... It has marvelous "jazz" tone even with the 8-38 strings on it that some would say are "wrong" and I should use 22-155 gauge for jazz.

m

 

I think when most say "jazz tone" they are referring to the traditional jazz sound... a warm and woody, clean sound without much treble, which of course, you can approach with most guitars using the right settings and setup.

 

Most jazz players today would acknowledge that you can play jazz on a ukulele if that's the sound you want, and loads of jazz players actually prefer a Tele.

 

Jazz with a twang:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1tNOLsMZiI

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I am hearing from a few here what I asked a bit back. Tone should fit the mood and song too. Just looked up the definition of tone and sound. A little different from what I thought but say I'm a paying customer to your concert. I like CCR and the wife and I attended one of their concerts. Say they started out with Susie Q and ended with Bad Moon Rising. They have their Tone. When CCR plays, there is no doubt who it is. At the end, we both thought every song sounded the same. You can blend in one song after the other. Same tone and sound every song, very boring actually listening to it for 2 hours. Same thing with ZZ Top. They all sound exactly the same no matter what song their playing. I guess that's why I personally prefer bands who can mix it up and make each song sound different from one another. Is that finding the perfect tone and sticking with it like ZZ Top or changing it up according to what song you play? It was like being in heaven listening to Pink Floyd the first time in concert doing their Wall album. I'll always remember that one. The Eagles and different artists we've seen kept us coming back. Some others like CCR, once you've heard them there's no need to hear them again. To me I guess since I'm not a professional it doesn't matter weather that tone comes from the fingers or the amps and guitars or pedals as long as the songs sound different from one another. I like a surf sound to sound surf and a rock song to sound rockish. I guess I'm just asking overallall, is there such a thing as a perfect tone or doesn't that perfect tone match what the artist is playing at the time? To me, isn't that why professional bands have different pedals and synthisizers, different guitars on stage to play different songs, some tuned to E and others D tuned and so on producing different tones. Heh, I'm just a novice trying to learn and understand the experts here and I know their are many. Or just tell me to shut Up! Lol msp_flapper.gif

 

 

 

 

i think the clarification you may be looking for is the bands overall sound verses the guitarists chosen settings that he/she prefers for their own sound. ZZTop gets most of the bands sound from billy gibbons, but his tone is immediately identified when you hear it, you know thats billy gibbons because of his personalized tone. As a result the bands songs do blend after hearing a few in a row. The worst experience I had with bands that blend into a lop of blah is when i joined a club by mail and the first grunge music i ever heard was 14 cd's of stone temple pilots , pearl jam, alice in chains... 14 cds!! WAY TOO MUCH . I never liked any of those bands after that and i can only tell the difference by the tone of....THE DRUMS!

No need to shut up i find your post to be a nice addition to this thread. also zztop drummer went to DW drums and it makes everything better... (reference mescalero cd)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just read through the entire post. Thought I would throw my $.02 in.

 

It's a very broad question for sure. The same question gets asked of V-8 engines what's a good exhaust note.

 

Specifically for guitar tone. I agree with some previous posts that said it is very much like cooking.

 

Great tone is a sum of the elements, All of the elements contribute.

 

I think everybody's comments are Sometimes trying to to oversimplify that Tone is one thing and one thing only. perhaps Not.

The elements have sweet spots as well, if one is overdone or low quaility(cheap guitar), The tone decays like a house of cards.

 

Great tone is in:

1. in the fingers

2. In the pickups

3. In the guitar woods/ bridge/ strings

4. In the amplifier/ speaker

5 The volume

6. The EQ

7. the pick and/ finger

8. The other instruments or sounds in the background.

 

When a good artist like Slash for example Adds a little bit of each element to the recipe you simply have great tone. That sells millions of records. when many people enjoy it, that is a signal of good tone.

even then people still want to add a little salt and pepper and say that it's not quite their flavor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That sells millions of records.

 

Haha! While I do agree with most of your post, I came to the conclusion long ago that promotion, hype and annoying music videos sell millions of records and it's not so much to do with talent and / or tone! The general public will listen to any garbage that is spoon fed to them through the television, media and other outlets.

 

That's not taking a shot at Slash either, I was a huge G N' R fan in the 90's and still like them today (although I could have done without the 20 year gap minus Slash & Duff and also the terrible Chinese Democracy!). Bring back Izzy for the songwriting department and make another album! Many people hate G N' R though, so it shows tone is as subjective as bands/ artists we like or dislike.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1485636271[/url]' post='1831252']

i think the clarification you may be looking for is the bands overall sound verses the guitarists chosen settings that he/she prefers for their own sound. ZZTop gets most of the bands sound from billy gibbons, but his tone is immediately identified when you hear it, you know thats billy gibbons because of his personalized tone. As a result the bands songs do blend after hearing a few in a row. The worst experience I had with bands that blend into a lop of blah is when i joined a club by mail and the first grunge music i ever heard was 14 cd's of stone temple pilots , pearl jam, alice in chains... 14 cds!! WAY TOO MUCH . I never liked any of those bands after that and i can only tell the difference by the tone of....THE DRUMS!

No need to shut up i find your post to be a nice addition to this thread. also zztop drummer went to DW drums and it makes everything better... (reference mescalero cd)

Thanks and I do know what your talking about now. Yes, I can tell when Joe Walsh plays, the Ventures and so forth so thanks for you guys helping me understand. You guys are kind!msp_thumbup.gif

 

1485645780[/url]' post='1831264']

I recently got some wood picks from Thalia. They sound great on the cat gut ukulele strings.

 

Thalia-Wood-Pick-sampler.jpg

Surfpup, I do have some Stone Works picks. Saw them on Facebook and ordered some because I thought they were cool. I use thin picks and not thick so I didn't order them to play. After time I was curious and tried one and was surprised how mellow they made the strings sound.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, I'm late to the party. Here are my thoughts, YMMV.

 

1) There is no such thing as great tone, just different tones. What is good and bad is totally subjective.

 

2) Great tone in ad-speak is just something to get you to buy something

 

3) My tone depends on the song I'm playing. I might want clean, neck P90 for one song, compressed and fuzzy bridge humbucker for another. I have P-Rail pickups and I use them in all 4 configurations, I have many different settings on my amp/sim/fx box, and I twiddle the tone knob on my guitar.

 

The public doesn't care about your tone nearly as much as they care about what you are playing and how you are playing it. If you are conveying your expression to them, that's all that matters.

 

After all:

 

1) They listen to low bit-rate mp3s on earbuds. Before that there was a string of low-fidelity, tone robbing formats like cassettes, 8 tracks, 45RPM records and so on.

 

2) If they cared about tone singers like Dr. John, Stevie Nicks, John Lennon and so many others wouldn't have ever had a hit record. But these people expressed themselves in a way that affected millions of listeners.

 

3) Who has good tone on the guitar anyway: Hendrix? Pass? Slash? Burrell? Santana? Les Paul? Wylde? May? Gale? Hall? Clapton? Page? Beck? BB King? Albert King? EVH? SRV? May? Young? Richards? Satriani? Guy? Lifeson? Garcia? Malmsteen? Hammett? Walsh? Petrucci? Howe? Prince? Moore? Dimebag? Berry? -- and on which guitar? Which amp? Which FX? Which Song? Jimmy Page got more out of an el-cheapo Danelectro than I can get out of my Parker with Duncan P-Rails.

 

IMO if the tone is 'in the ballpark' for the genre of music you are playing, it's great tone. Now what matters most are the notes you choose to play, the dynamics you play each note, the subtle timing that you play them, and all the playing effects/ornaments like attack, bends, hammer-ons, attack, slides, vibrato, whammy, wah, and so on. Can you give your guitar playing vox humana? If so, nobody is going to care if your tone is the greatest.

Does that mean we shouldn't care about our tone? No, I didn't mean that. I think we shouldn't obsess about it, and pay more attention to technique which allows us to get what is in our heads to the ears of the listener.

 

You have the right to disagree.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Notes_Norton i see your point about NOT obsessing on tone, but wanted to add that if you are not happy with the tone you are getting it is very difficult to focus on your "technique which allows us to get what is in our heads to the ears of the listener." or i would say making the guitar convey the message you want it to convey, giving it life, and a voice of your expressions, but besides that i mean that if you are not getting the tone you want, you cannot express yourself the way you want to, well, not as easily. It puts more struggle into your development. However if you do get a sound you are pleased with you become more creative, inspired, motivated and you can focus on your skills without the annoyance of all your "guitar time" trying to get a tone that pleases you.<br style="color: rgb(28, 40, 55); font-size: 13px; background-color: rgb(250, 251, 252);">

Related experience...I once asked a guitarist friend of mine, (total pro), this very question. (Is the quest for the perfect tone an endless quest?). His answer was "well what sound are you looking for?" I told him, you know, that raw les paul sound directly into a marshall stack. He knew i had LesPaul so he said, simple as this: "Get a Marshall stack".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Notes_Norton i see your point about NOT obsessing on tone, but wanted to add that if you are not happy with the tone you are getting it is very difficult to focus on your "technique which allows us to get what is in our heads to the ears of the listener."

 

 

I would say this is only true of a player that isn't very good.

 

Joe here is playing a $100 guitar through a $25 wah pedal into a $50 amp. By any measure just a big pile of Chinese junk. But Joe still sounds like Joe even without his very expensive, usual rig.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...