There are many things can cause plenty of tone problems. These tone slayers can come in different forms, some of which you might never have suspected. Luckily, you can avoid them by knowing what they are, how they can ruin your tone, and how to avoid them altogether. Below, we take a look at a few common causes of tone problems that you might not have considered and tips on how to beat them.
Worn Out Strings
One of the most common causes of reduced tone quality is on crusty strings. As the result of the frequent use, guitar strings corrode and eventually lose the liveliness and crisp tone of a new set. All too often, players wait until one or more of their strings break before they change to a fresh set. But more often than not, the strings have already become dull and old. Also, simply changing the one string that broke might give you an unbalanced sound, so it’s better to just change all of them at once. Remember, strings are a major component of a guitar’s sound so treat them like the important piece that they are.
While strings are the first in line in your tone chain, speakers are at the other end. And just like strings, speakers will eventually live out their usefulness and begin to cause problems. While you won’t be changing them anywhere near as often as a set of strings, replacing your old, worn out speakers can do wonders for your entire sound. Even if your current speakers still have life in them, trying out a new set is a great way to give your tone a new coat of paint. Today’s guitar speakers come in a wide variety of sonic flavors. Whether you like the smooth, clean sound of American voiced speakers or the mid-range punch and grit of a British-flavored model, a brand new speaker is a great way to sculpt your personal tone.
There are few things are prized in the world of electric guitars than a tube amp. Unfortunately, they require plenty of care and maintenance. One such component of these amps that is particularly fragile are it's vacuum tubes. Tubes don’t have a set lifespan so it can be hard to tell when they need changing. The best way to tell is simply by listening. If you notice that your once rich, smooth tone has begun to lose some of its kick, or maybe even hearing some noise or a slight hiss coming from the amp, it’s definitely time to change those tubes. Like strings, it is usually recommended that you change all of your tubes at once in order to maintain good overall performance.
And finally, the last tone killer on our list is – us! In the end, the bulk of our tone comes from us. You can have the best gear in the world but it will still sound bad if your technique and ability isn’t great. The remedy for this is, of course, practice – and plenty of it. Our guitar heroes weren't born with their amazing abilities and they also didn't get them from just a few months of practice. It takes years of learning and practice to reach that level. And even then, you have to keep training in order to maintain your skills. The good new is, with enough practice and determination, pretty much anyone can be a great guitarist.
As you can see from the list above, the biggest sources of tone killers are also the major components of our sound. Another recurring theme is that they all need regular attention in order to be their best. Whether that means changing strings when they get old, replacing tubes before they break or practicing consistently, great tone is the result of taking care of your entire chain.
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What are some other common causes of tone problems?