ProGuitarShop

5 Easy Tone Tips

June 21, 2012

By Daniel Brooks

The quest for the elusive perfect tone leads many guitarists down a path that always promises to be satisfying and creative but all-too-often is just expensive and frustrating. From guitars to effects to amps to cables, strings, picks and, well, just about everything you might use to vibrate the air around you, there is an overwhelming abundance of options and it is difficult to know which will actually deliver the sound of your dreams. Fortunately, there are quite a few easy and relatively inexpensive things you can do to make your equipment sound as good as your imagination.

New strings

The first and, hopefully, most obvious way to improve your tone is to simply change your strings. A new set of your old favorites will always restore the clean, bright snap to your guitar’s tonal palette, but maybe it’s time to reconsider the effect the gauge and composition of your strings has on your sound. When it comes to gauge, the simple rule is: Heavier strings sound better. Yes, it takes a little more muscle to fret and bend a heavier string and your fingertips will probably feel the difference. But while your hands build up to the task, the added mass of a heavier string will move more air, and alter the magnetic field of your pickups with much more force and definition, creating more and better sound. Whenever you change the gauge of your strings, it is a good idea to check the set up of your guitar since a heavier string, or lighter string, may affect your intonation
The composition of your strings has quite a bit of influence over your sound. Nickel was the original standard for electric guitar strings in the 1950s and 60s. Many guitarists still prefer nickel strings as they deliver the distinctive sound and feel of vintage rock and roll. If it was good enough for Buddy Holly and Jimi Hendrix then it might be worth looking into. For many years, stainless steel replaced pure nickel as the standard material for guitar strings. It delivers more punch and sustain than nickel, and resists the corrosive effect of the naturally occurring oils produced by the human hand, so it lasts longer. In recent years, more guitarists have sought the tone and feel of nickel strings and the durability and brightness of stainless steel. Ernie Ball Slinky’s are a great example of hybrid nickel wound strings with steel cores that offer some of the best features of both. Ever innovative, Ernie Ball has recently put in a bid for the next generation’s standard with the introduction of their Cobalt Slinky’s made of an entirely new iron/cobalt alloy that delivers a rich spectrum of tones.

Use a buffer

The next improvement on your tone is a buffer, a simple, unpretentious addition to your pedal board. Many effects will degrade the tone of your signal, some more than just a little, even when they are not “on.” Effects with true bypass will allow your signal safe passage and will thus minimize the breakdown of your tone, but a cumulative depletion in tone quality will be heard if your pedal board is packed with effects. A buffer will correct this by restoring the strength and sonic integrity of your signal before it returns to your amp.

Replace your cables

As any stereo enthusiast will tell you, good quality cables are vital to the quality of your sound. The conductive material, shielding and length of your cables will make a difference, so look for a well shielded copper cable with a core diameter of .265 inches in the shortest length you need to do the job. The insulator doesn’t affect the quality of the signal but it will determine the flexibility of your cable. Some place considerable faith, and money, in gold connectors. Gold does have visual appeal and, of course, does not tarnish, but at the relatively low frequencies of a signal plugged into a regular nickel-plated amp, guitar or speaker jack, gold does not add any measurable quality at any price.

Replace your tubes

Though they may make a sound like an eternal force of nature, the tubes in your amp do gradually wear out, so gradually that you may not recognize the slow deterioration in your tone. For the casual player, three to five years of use will degrade your amp’s performance enough that a re-tubing will dramatically improve your tone. Fortunately, the tubes most commonly used in most maps are easily found. For less than $100 you can make your amp sound as good as it did in the showroom.

Upgrade your speaker

Finally, you’ve changed your strings, put a buffer at the end of your effects train, invested in new, quality cables and re-tubed your amp, and still your tone seems just a little less than it could be. You might want to replace your speakers, the component that actually moves air to create the sound you attribute to your guitar, pedals and amp. Like any component in your amp, speakers do eventually wear out, but they can serve you well for years. A vast offering of quality speakers are available, differences in design and manufacture can make a remarkable difference in your sound. Whether you’re looking for bottom-heavy thunder, crisp bright pop, vintage warmth or rich, balanced, full-spectrum sound, there is a replacement speaker that will highlight that facet of your amp’s sound.

 

Comments

  1. Abbacus says:

    We all now live in the golden days of gear. These are the good old days.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 2:39 am
  2. Jon says:

    Is a buffer needed if only 1-4 true bypass boxes are used?

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 6:23 am
  3. Neil says:

    Jon, it depends: if you use 20’ of cable to your pedals, then another 20’ from pedals to amp, when all those pedals are bypassed you’re playing into at least 45’ of cable, which could lead to a loss of high end frequencies in your tone.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 6:31 am
  4. brizzle says:

    yikes…I’m a 3 pedals max, like old strings, use nos tubes and old jensen speaker, short cables and high end is not a problem type of guy.

    Any EQ tips in general or for different rooms or for switching between guitars? Cap suggestions? Pedal order or settings? Ways to achieve thick blues tones?

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 6:45 am
  5. Mauster71 says:

    I’ll have to say that the Speaker upgrade is an incredibly underestimated tone shaping tool - but not necessarily one that will “improve” your tone. Simply swapping out a stock Celestion 75, for example,  for a V30, or a Heritage Greenback will not “improve” your sound but will completely change the dynamics of your sound much the same as using an EQ will.  Changing speakers changes the EQ of your amps tone, sometimes subtly and sometimes drastically, and it really depends on your personal taste when doing this because they all behave different.  You can also use it to enhance or shape the sound of your amp to either boost what’s good or lacking.  I have often thought that in a perfect world, I’d walk into a music store with the intent on choosing a new speaker and have a wall of different (BROKEN IN) speakers to choose from with a big rotary dial, with the intent to find that tone that’s in my head and how I want to sound.  But a lot of this also depends on how you sit in the mix with your own band. I’ve played some speaker cabinets where my guitar just disappears in the mix, and others where it’s like an ice-pick. Speakers can be the most cost-effective way to upgrade your sound, or change your sound. What it all comes down to is the “Tone” is in your hands. Great speakers help bring out what’s inherently good in your guitar tone. Shop around, try craigslist, try thebay or buy new, but don’t be afraid to swap speakers around and truly experiment. It’s rewarding and fun.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 6:46 am
  6. Bruce Morgen says:

    Neil is correct—you recommended replacing cables, included an entirely arbitrary core conductor diameter (there is nothing essential or magic about “.265 inches”), but didn’t even mention capacitance per unit length, which is *the* critical specification in a guitar cable.  Low-capacitance cable is the way to go—you can always add capacitance, but once it’s in your signal chain via the cable(s), you can’t remove it other than by replacing the cables you have with lower-capacitance equivalents!  BTW, the insulation between the core conductor and the shield *does* impact capacitance—different insulation materials have different dielectric (capacitance-related) properties.  Contrary to what is commonly believed, small-diameter cables tend to have lower capacitance than the thicker ones most players use, so choosing a cable’s diameter is often a trade-off between tone-preserving low capacitance and durable stage worthiness.  If your cable resembles a garden hose, you are using a capacitive tone sucker no matter how cool or “professional” it looks to the audience!

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 6:52 am
  7. Andrew says:

    Would a buffer go at the beginning or end of the pedalboard? A recommendations for a good one?

    Thanks

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 6:54 am
  8. Funk E says:

    Stainless steel did NOT replace pure nickel strings as the standard. Nickel plated REGULAR steel became the standard. They rust when the nickel plating wears off !!! And have higher magnetic qualities as well. Pure nickel wrap strings ( all electric strings have steel cores by the way ) were never ” replaced “, but became more expensive due to the rising price of nickel, and therefore less popular. But they always have been available right up to now. Stainless steel wrap strings are indeed available, but are NOT nickel plated, with the exception of a few bass guitar sets. Both pure nickel and stainless steel are non-magnetic, Pure nickel wrap is usually mellower and warmer than nickle plated steel. Stainless wrap is usually brighter and glassier sounding. It’s a matter of personal needs and taste which one you choose. Pure nickel and stainless also don’t rust easily, so tend to sound fresher longer. But a majority of players tend to like the sound of nickel plated steel more.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 7:30 am
  9. filippo says:

    Regarding the buffer, I have 8/9 true bypass pedlas but my last one, the WET reverb, is set to the buffered mode. Is this enough or do I still need a buffer pedal at the beginning of the chain?

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 7:33 am
  10. Jason says:

    I’d have to disagree on putting a buffer at the end of a chain (at least by itself). Buffers first in line make a MUCH bigger difference. though both is good too.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 7:44 am
  11. Josef Kasperovich says:

    Mauster71 stated “The tone is in your hands.” A friend of mine was close to Stevie Ray Vaughn. My friend was talking to a producer telling him: “I’ve been in the studio lots when Stevie was recording and he had different amps in different rooms, Leslie’s, etc. etc. But he’d walk into Antone’s during my gigs, grab my Strat, plug into my Twin and sound the same!!!
    You’re right - it’s in the hands.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 7:55 am
  12. The Telenator says:

    As always great and interesting info from your outfit. Just randomly:

    Thanks so much for starting in with the debunking of gold on cable ends. I wish you had gone further—on to the $200 replacement power cords and all the lies about “oxygen-free copper” and so on that cable makers have been using to bilk especially the younger and more uninformed guitarists into paying outrageous sums for guitar cables. No scientific proof for 99.9% of their claims, and neither do they ever offer any on their websites—since this ‘proof’ doesn’t exist. I’ve watched this phenomenon of only the last 25 years or so, and it disgusts me. W.C.Fields was indeed right—“There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    The mention of switching out speakers? Often the biggest game-changer of them all and its not just about a speaker’s frequency specs, either. Some are more efficient, causing much higher volumes and thus draw on the amp’s power stage. That alone can alter an amp’s sound dramatically.

    Finally, I’ve been telling guys who insist on full-bypass pedals only and a dozen or so of them on those often ridiculously huge pedal boards that there is a good reason their sound is always verging on MUD—but many refuse to listen. The mud guitar sound has reached almost epidemic proportions in the last few years, helping to separate the men from the boys, and leading me to the inevitable conclusion that, just as tone is mainly in the fingers after all is said and done, the lack of good ears is a problem very many players have and one that sometimes cannot be remedied. Ya got ‘tin’ ears? Then it’s not going to matter much what you do.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 8:42 am
  13. The Telenator says:

    EEk! Excuse my error—I meant to say “much LOWER efficiency” speakers for heavier draw..

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 8:46 am
  14. Jamie says:

    the most important way of improving tone is actually practicing playing on your guitar and trying to recreate your “dream guitar” sound in your head as much as possible, just with your fingers. Most of your precious personality, integrity and individual style comes from your own fingertips, that’s why a great guitarist can pick up a pretty crap guitar and get it sounding pretty sweet. dial that before you go spending hundreds of bucks.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 8:58 am
  15. Dave says:

    We all know that tone is in the players own hands first and foremost. We see it everyday with players we love. We see it in ourselves to certain degrees but this article deals with the tools we use to get that tone across. The more variables we adjust to our personal preferences, the easier we can convey our personal voice. I agree Jamie, that practice in re-creating the tone in your head is fantastic however using the best tools available to you is going to help get you there faster and more efficiently. You wouldn’t want even the best mechanic to work on your car with sub par tools would you?

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 9:22 am
  16. Will says:

    A buffer in every set-up, at the start of the chain…...and the secret weapon .......a simple boost pedal to drive that pre-amp. Better still, search for a boost and buff pedal. Not all bells and whistles, but essential. Check out the AMZ site for the technical details about boosts and buffers. Don’t blow your cash on expensive “mojo’ tone caps….buy a good short cable instead. The difference will be real, not imagined. And turn your tone pot up to max, then you don’t need a tone cap, because it wont be in the circuit!

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 9:22 am
  17. Dougie says:

    It’s all in the hands, nothing more, nothing less.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 9:34 am
  18. Jamie says:

    depends on whether he fixed it or not with sub par tools ;-)
    haha just kidding, i completely agree. i just think it should have been mentioned at the beginning of the article. peace.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 9:35 am
  19. Eric Coomer says:

    I want to put a plug in for buffers from http://This1sMyne.com. The one I bought from there works great and it’s way cheaper (and smaller) than most other companies out there. And no, I don’t get anything for plugging them.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 10:27 am
  20. The Telenator says:

    LOVE Jamie’s first comment above beginning with, “the most important way ...” Totally spot-on when you are able to get beyond fooling with your gear. Just wonder how many ever act on solid advice like that.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 10:31 am
  21. Mike Munro says:

    Not W.C.Fields but P.T.Barnum (of Barnum and Bailey Circus) issued the famous quote about suckers.  Most, if not all of W.C.Fields’ quotes had to do with drinking.  But otherwise, you’re right on the money.  I sometimes wonder if I’m reading a New Age mag instead of a guitar mag when I see the claims made about magic cables.  (maybe they contain crystals from Atlantis)

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm
  22. MarcAustin says:

    I too need more clarification on the Buffer concept. I have a BBE Sonic Stomp always on the effects loop. Would that count as a buffer if i put another in front of the amp (Vox)

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm
  23. marcus says:

    Does a TU-2 count as a buffer? I always thought so.
    Speaker is the most amazing difference you can make imo

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 5:37 pm
  24. hlinton says:

    @Will: “And turn your tone pot up to max, then you don’t need a tone cap, because it wont be in the circuit!” This is true ONLY if you have a no-load tone pot in your guitar.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm
  25. Marco says:

    I always thought that a buffer goes at the beginning of a chain. In fact, Pete Cornish builds his pedalboards with buffer at the beginning.

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 8:32 pm
  26. Dayal says:

    What is a buffer?

    posted on June 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm
  27. 690mbcommando says:

    Any quick and easy one is changing picks or having different ones at your disposal. Major change in tone.

    posted on June 23, 2012 at 12:07 am
  28. Will says:

    Responding to hlinton. How much resistance would there be in a maxed out pot? With the no-loads, does the wiper actually leave the resistance track? I built a Lp Jnr Double cut with two mini humbuckers, and no tone pot. I’m thinking that the tone is great without any caps in there at all. After all, tone caps only subtract high frequencies from the signal. They don’t add anything. It’s like the gold plating on jacks…...some people can hear a difference. I am sceptical.

    posted on June 23, 2012 at 12:16 am
  29. Keith says:

    Dayal,  check on Youtube for a vid from rocknrollvintage called “confused about effects pedal buffers”.  It’s really good because in the 1st half he talks ‘practical’ or ‘layman’ speak and if you want to get into the electronics aspects of what buffering is, the 2nd half of Nick’s lengthy video does a great job of nailing that down (accurately I might add) as well.

    Peace.

    posted on June 23, 2012 at 7:57 am
  30. Keith says:

    Also wanted to comment that I agree with all posts here but would add one more suggestion.  I have a Wah, tuner, vibe, boost, fuzz, verb, and delay pedals on my board.  Some might think that’s excessive, but whatever.  It’s my board so I can do what I want.  ;-)  Anyway, as I collected these pedals I was careful to check what my guitar tone sounded like before/after I added in the new pedal… in particular with the pedal OFF.  If you put a pedal into your existing chain of pedals and suddenly you experience ‘tone suck’... you might want to consider jettisoning that new addition.  Of course a buffer might help but in my opinion if you’re using decent gear you shouldn’t need a buffer unless you’re not wireless and using a really long cable to your amp.  Exception: vintage pedals.. they can be magic but they were also designed at a time when almost nobody chained more than 2 or 3 pedals together.  Vintage pedals can <gasp> become tone suckers when used in a pedal board scenario.  Exception to the exception: If you string a bunch of MXR’s together… or a bunch of old Boss pedals together…they were designed by the same company with the same input/output impedances and hence are more likely to work together without creating tone suck.  But who (other than Prince as we recently learned) sees the fun in homogeneous brand name pedal boards??  ;-P

    Peace

    posted on June 23, 2012 at 8:09 am
  31. will says:

    Vintage pedals and tone suckers can be used on your board by connecting them to a ‘true bypass box. You can build one yourself….four jacks, one 3pdt stomp switch and some hookup wire. Great first pedal build. Hit the switch and that noisy pedal becomes isolated from the circuit. You can also group effects into a mini chain and bring them in or out of your main chain with the TBB. Takes up a pedal space on your board, but can reduce the amount of tap dancing to set up a sequence of pedals for one song.

    posted on June 23, 2012 at 10:08 am
  32. Will says:

    Stewmac have a schematic and well illustrated ‘how to’ in their trade secrets section. Warning…......this could lead to an obsessive pedal building frenzy! C’mon, build a true bypass box. It really is that easy.

    posted on June 23, 2012 at 10:11 am
  33. MarcAustin says:

    ((Keith said- check on Youtube for a vid from rocknrollvintage called “confused about effects pedal buffers”.))
    That’s great information. Many thanks for the link !!

    posted on June 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm
  34. Simon Baker says:

    Change your strings. 

    Wash your hands.  Your strings will last a lot longer if you start playing with clean hands.  They’ll sound better, stay in tune and maintain their intonation.

    Use a buffer.  Yes use a buffer.  Stick it in front of your pedals.  if you have a buffered pedal at the end of your chain as well, then that is good.

    Replace your cables.  Yes do this.  Get the best cables you can afford. Here is a link to Ovnilabs (mostly bass oriented, but really useful) page on Cables, and his tests http://www.ovnilab.com/articles/cablechoice.shtml.  (Perhaps get a digital wireless like the Line 6 ones - you’ll hear your guitar with no added capacitance).

    Replace your tubes.  Fair enough.  Email/call the guys that stock a variety of tubes/valves near you, and tell them what you have and what you want to achieve.  They’ll give you options.  (then buy the cryo versions of whatever they suggest!)

    Change your speaker.  Easier said than done. Unless you use a head, and can try other cabs with it, it isn’t going to be easy to do this.  Try different amps.  Research stuff on the internet, but use actual music shops.  They can give you advice and point you toward solutions that you hadn’t considered.

    Play your guitar.

    Wash your hands.

    That’s it.

    posted on June 23, 2012 at 8:37 pm
  35. Bill Wood says:

    Wash your hands. Yes. But clean your plugs once a month with Deoxit or similar, it gets the residue of sweat, beer etc off and gives a better contact between plug and socket.

    posted on June 26, 2012 at 12:35 am
  36. Mason Lamb says:

    A couple thoughts (some of these have been mentioned by other posters, so here’s my two cents):

    In the end, it really IS all in the fingers. Our guitar heroes from days of yore used cheap, high-capacitance cables, lousy-bypass pedals, and road-worn amps. And their tone is still the gold standard. That’s worth remembering. Secondly; accept compromise. Any time you plug something into your signal chain, you begin the process of altering your core tone. You must accept that certain compromises will have to be made the instant you move away from anything more complex than guitar-to-amp.

    Shielding and grounding: Make sure your signal is properly grounded with no chance for ground loops or interference. I’ve seen guys spend a lot of money on noise reduction equipment when their problems could have been fixed by simply tracing down a bad ground scheme in their chain.

    A/D converters: many digital pedals use cheap-o converters which ruin your tone. Avoid them! Jitter and frequency brick walls are the biggest culprits. Digital can be great, but it must be done just right to really compete with analog gear.

    Gold plated connectors: This article nailed it. They do not improve tone at all. In fact, as the gold plating wears off, they can actually gum up connectors. Not worth it.

    Buffers: Not all buffers are equal, and where you put them DOES matter. A cheap buffer can actually flatten and “bland-out” your tone. Do not skimp on a buffer; spend the bread and get a good one (Radial PB-1 springs to mind). But were should it go? Fuzz, wah, and many boutique drive pedals just don’t respond the same (especially to changes in your volume knob) when placed after a buffer. I place my buffers(s) at the end of my hard-bypass pedals. The first buffer your signal sees is the most important one.

    Cables: Capacitance trumps core diameter when it comes to weak, voltage-driven signals (like a guitar). Use the lowest cap. cable you can find to link pedals together. (I use Mogami 2330 cable stock) Your main lead, however, needs to be rugged, durable, and silent when driven. The shorter, the better. Good cables make a difference—but outrageously priced cables are just a waste of money. Again—acceptable compromise.

    posted on June 26, 2012 at 12:46 am
  37. Brother Bob says:

    I think if we would just enjoy the ride on our musical quests and not be so obsessed with the tone
    -the tone element will take care of itself.  In 69, after mentioning I wanted a certain guitar, a musician took my cheap Silvertone / Dano case amp Guitar through his Old Vox Super Beatle amp, cheap coil guitar cord and blew away all that heard him. After he was done with Jeff’s Boogie and Maniac Depression, he handed me my axe back and said,” There’s nothing wrong with this guitar.
    It’s groovy.”  His tone was so good. You could see He was thoroughly enjoying his trip.
    I went home a changed man. I enjoyed the ride after that. Thank You Danny Sanchez.

    posted on June 26, 2012 at 1:10 am
  38. Steve Vaughan says:

    I’ve just installed a set of the Slinky Cobalt strings and find that most of the hype and promises are TRUE!! Great sustain, a more even sound from string to string, feel good to play and did I mention sustain! I also found it easier to set up an accurate intonation. Certainly a tone improvement to my ears.

    posted on June 26, 2012 at 1:17 am
  39. Simon Baker says:

    Clean your plugs +1.

    Regarding gold plugs : - gold plugs inserted into steel/nickel plated/otherwisenotgoldplatedorsolidgold sockets will increase the likelyhood of your non gold sockets corroding (albeit slowly) by the process of bimetallic corrosion.  Nickel plugs will not lead to corrosion or signal degradation

    Expensive power cables - nonsense +1.  If you put the greatest power cable between the wall socket and your amp, how do you improve on the quality of the wiring in the walls to make it as good as the cable to the amp.  It’s complete rubbish.

    Now wash your hands!

    S.

    posted on June 26, 2012 at 3:12 am
  40. Michael says:

    Speaking of guitar cables…

    http://www.guitarplayer.com/article/49-guitar-cables/apr-08/34729

    posted on June 26, 2012 at 3:23 am
  41. Pedro says:

    The Malekko Ekko 616 would work fine like a buffer at the end of my pedals?

    posted on June 26, 2012 at 3:41 am
  42. Will says:

    Are some of you guys saying that the Emperor does wear new clothes? Next you will say that a $100 strap does not improve your tone! I had a $29 strap ruin the tone of a Hagstrom…..er….when it let go and broke the headstock. So many fake ‘mojo’ products now to compensate for the falling quality of guitars from the major companies? Firebird-X anyone?

    posted on June 26, 2012 at 9:45 am
  43. Keith says:

    @Will - LMAO… funny (and true) comment!  ;-)  $29 strap… nuck nuck nuck!!  ;-)  Too funny!
    @Michael - I’ve been a loyal subscriber to GP mag for many many years, but I’ve never seen a review where they loved ALL of the products!  I mean.. there wasn’t a single cable they thought was better than the others?  Really weird.

    posted on June 27, 2012 at 12:54 am
  44. Keith says:

    @Bruce - 0.265 inch wire is for playing American rock.  For British rock one should use a metric cable.  ;-)

    posted on June 27, 2012 at 1:11 am
  45. B Mo says:

    I have a ridiculous amount of pedals/gadgets between my guitars and my amps. Tons of cabling and other high end killing, tone sucking pieces of equipment in my rack. I’m a Gibson guy for the most part but will bust out a strat from time to time. To be honest, it doesn’t seem to matter what I play though guitar wise. I always get tons of compliments on my tone from other musicians. It usually goes like this. “Dude, your guitar tone is amazing. It’s like I can hear every single note of every chord you play and it still sounds ridiculously heavy. Is that the Orange amp or the Egnater?  Or is it something on your board or in your rack?”  My response is, actually the secret is IN my guitar. The first thin I do is cut the tone circuit out. I know this isn’t for everyone, but I don’t use them and it’s an easy way to guarantee you’re getting a mostly unincumbered signal path from your pickups to the output jack. The next thing I do is install a Creation Audio Labs Redeemer circuit IN the guitar. This is the true secret weapon. It’s a buffer circuit that goes in the guitar. What I end up with is a low impedence, line level signal coming out of my guitar. The allows me to put a near endless amount of tone shaping devices and cabling between my guitar and amps without any audible tone degradation. The flip side of this is that I can’t hide my deficiencies as a player behind a wall of mud. The audience hears every little thing I do on stage. It’s made me a better player because of this and it may be a turn-off for some. It’s truly an amazing little circuit and I recommend them to everyone who uses multiple effects or long runs of cable. Check out the demo on their website and you’ll be blown away.

    posted on June 27, 2012 at 1:47 am
  46. Bruce Morgen says:

    @Keith—I tried 6mm diameter cable so I could play British rock properly, but it still doesn’t sound right—must be those danged Yankee Switchcraft plugs.  Do you think Neutrik plugs are made close enough to the UK to fix that problem?

    posted on June 27, 2012 at 2:46 am
  47. Simon Baker says:

    I couldn’t really sing before I bought an SM58.  Now I sound like Bono every time I go near it.  They didn’t tell me about that in the shop.  What gives?

    posted on June 27, 2012 at 3:30 am
  48. Keith says:

    @Bruce - Should do the trick.  Make sure you use a Vox or Marshall amp or no sound will come out at all.  ;-)

    posted on June 27, 2012 at 3:53 am
  49. Bruce Morgen says:

    @Keith—with Marshall amps and Celestion speakers being made in China these days, what’s an aspiring Brit-rocker to do?  It’s all so confusing….  :-)

    posted on June 27, 2012 at 5:27 am
  50. Dallas says:

    These aren’t tone tips, they are tips to spend more money to still not understand how to use your gear.  Understandably there is something to be said for gear maintenance, but there are several tone tips that don’t cost a lot of money. Things like learning to use the tone knobs on a guitar, tips on setting the eq on an amp, mic placement for us gigging guys, these are the tricks where one can learn to shape their tone to be their tone, not just the tone on the forum.

    posted on June 27, 2012 at 5:33 am
  51. Keith says:

    @Bruce - Ohhh… good point.  Depressing.
    @Dallas - Greets from Grapevine!  -Hey, the Reverend Willy G plays 7’s.  I’ve never tried them myself, but when I looked up “Tone” I found a picture of BFG.  ;-)  Liked your comments too… ;-)

    posted on June 27, 2012 at 6:06 am
  52. Will says:

    OK, so how does Seasick Steve sound so good, when he does everything possible, to prove that you don’t need expensive gear. ? I see the ceaseless quest for tone as validation for my ever increasing guitar and toy collection. At the moment, I am fixated on an LP Jnr double cutaway with a lone soapie and wrap around bridge, heavy strings, straight into a Vox Little night Train…...through a marshall quad. At the moment, this is my idea of perfection. This month. Been eyeing off those Airline/Valco, jetson style guitars though, maybe thats it!

    posted on June 27, 2012 at 9:18 am
  53. Javier says:

    Let your speaker BREAK IN !!

    posted on June 30, 2012 at 2:18 am
  54. DAVE NEEDHAM says:

    A COMMON SENSE SOLUTION TO AN AGE OLD PROBLEM.

    posted on July 1, 2012 at 11:32 am
  55. Bruce Morgen says:

    A question for your consideration: Who would you rather hear, a great player using mediocre gear of a mediocre player with great gear.  Set your priorities based on your answer.  :-)

    posted on July 1, 2012 at 11:41 am
  56. Will says:

    A great player on great gear…....but if the choice had to be made…...a great player on any gear would always win me over. You can buy the best oven, set of pots and the worlds best cookbook…...and still mess up the meal. I have seen great players pick up an acoustic guitar that some-one is complaining about an just play amazing stuff. You could hand people Jimi’s Strat and get noise. Seasick Steve seems to be the role model for this theory. Lou Reed once left amps, good ones….switched on in a room and left. The resulting ‘music’ became ‘Metal Machine Music”  Great amps, but on their own, did nothing special. I guess it is why American Idol gets you to audition, unaccompanied .....the gloss and fizz, (auto pitch, reverb etc} only gets added later. Buying the new Slash Wah, won’t make you play like Slash. But why would you want to? He already does, and he is Slash.

    posted on July 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm
  57. David says:

    Speaker change only changes the tone, might be better, might be worse, may be similar.

    posted on July 4, 2012 at 11:09 am
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