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Tutorial: Making The Most Of Your Guitar Tone

By moosers on 12/09/2009 - (Beginner)

Introduction

This tutorial aims to give you guys an overview of some techniques about how to make the most of your guitar tone in the studio and during live shows as well as other effects.  Many players often overlook getting your sound, so I thought I'd shed some light for beginners about tone.  I'll also talk about some basic effects that you might want to use in order to achieve your best sounds.

Step 1

First, let me start off by saying that the best way to get your best possible guitar tone is by simply practicing guitar!  Sure the greats use tone control and effects, but it is all for naught unless you can actually play!  The best possible way to get a better tone is to practice good techniques with your fingers, as no effects can make up for this.  Getting a good guitar tone is a 360 process, meaning both your external settings and your playing need to come together to produce the best sound possible...

Step 2

When considering what type of tone you want to go after, it is of course crucial that you understand what exactly this tone is!  Setting this up in your head needs to happen if you are going to accurately going to go after it.  If you can get an idea of what type of overall sound that you are going for, the better off you are going to be when it comes to actually putting this into motion...

Step 3

In terms of tone parameters, let's talk about some of the basic EQs out there.  As seen on guitar amps, the most basic for of tone knobs is simple bass, treble, and mid range knobs that will each control a fixed group of frequencies.  This can be taken more in depth with a parametric EQ or a graphic EQ, but more many the simple forms of these will work fine.  On my guitar amp I've got three basic tone knobs and it definitely helps me more than enough.  I'm able to get some pretty contrasting tones, and when combined with the tone switch on the my guitar I can take this to another level.  While I don't necessarily think that an EQ pedal is necessary for a guitar player for live shows, this too can help you to expand your tone spectrum.  Properly setting your tone knobs so you don't have too much high or low end or too much or too little of another frequency is crucial, and can only be done by playing around and listening to hear what the best possible combination will be for your sound.

Step 4

Another major thing to consider when constructing a guitar tone is the actual guitar and amp itself.  Beyond your playing, these are the most important aspects.  Different sets of guitars and amps can get widely different tones and it is important to find the best set up for the sound that you are going for.  While I don't think that you can ever go wrong with Fender on Fender, perhaps if you are a jazz player you might want to get a hollow body guitar or another guitar all together to get a different type of tone.  While sometimes beginners don't necessarily have control over the set up that they are able to afford, it is still important to shop around to see what works best for the tone that you are trying to achieve.

Step 5

In addition to your tone knobs and different types of guitar, effect pedals are a great way to get contrasting tones.  In an age where there are so many different types of genres, having pedals around can help you to diversify your sound.  Effects like distortion, reverb, and delay can add character and help to set a different type of mood.  Again, it is important to know what type of sound you are going after and I think it will definitely help to listen to your favorite artists and do some research to see what type of gear they are using, as this may help to shed light on their tone settings.

Conclusion

While I hope that this tutorial will put you on the right track to getting your sound, please remember that simply playing and practicing is the best way to achieve top notch tone!  If you are beginner, I would urge you to not get too wrapped up in your tone settings before you get a good grasp on guitar playing techniques...