Welcome to Tone Tips Part 4! In this series, we're going to help those of you out there learn how find and create pretty much any tone imaginable! It’s not as hard as you might think. It's all about learning the key players involved in tone, their signature sound and how they react when paired with each other. We're talking pickups, an instrument's body type, amps, effects and even choice in plectrum (picks)... all ingredients to a recipe where the main dish is your tone!
Remember, back during the days of Cream, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles there was no digital. Every effect had to be done manually through in studio manipulation and trickery. Echoes, delays, reverb and flange all had to be done in their own meticulous way. Nowadays, all of that is as easy as stomping an effects pedal or adding a plug-in on a certain music software. Although I’m not going as far as to suggest that you try getting those vintage sounds through similar means, there are plenty of effects pedals out there that remain true to their analog roots. It doesn’t take much time to find out either, and since there are far too many different effects out there, rather than simply giving off a list of good vintage sounding pedals, it is a good rule of thumb is to simply stay away from anything digital based. Also, remember the sound that you are going for and the type of effects prevalent in that genre. Distortion, fuzz and overdrive and absolutely a must for any kind if ‘60s rock and if you are into those screaming solos by the likes of Clapton, a Dunlop Crybaby Wah is your best bet.
One last thing…
Essentially, the best way to start looking for that signature vintage tone is by studying the gear used by your favorite old-school players along with avoiding anything that sounds too modern, such as solid state amps and digital effects. Also, think about what the player had to work with back in their time, the prevalent characteristics in their genre as well as certain effects or tricks synonymous with their sound, such as Clapton and his famous “woman tone” setting on his Marshall Bluesbreaker amp. And don’t forget that it’s never a bad idea to add a little bit of your own style in there as well, because the only thing better than a great vintage tone is an original one!