Musician Tips: Building Your Signature Tone

The next time you listen to an album with your favorite guitarist, close your eyes and listen to the guitar. What do you like about it? What makes you want to turn up the volume? It can pretty much be guaranteed that it is not what brand of guitar they are playing or what color it is. In the end, it all comes down to tone, and this article will help you choose the best guitar in that regard.



The Pickups

The types of pickups that you choose are going to impact your tone. There is never a clear cut way of determining how a pickup will sound just based on type and model alone because. As mentioned earlier, there are quite a few other factors that influence the tone. However, you are going to want to look into single coil pickups if you prefer a clean, crisp tone that ranges from mid range to a bell-like high end. On the flip side, humbucker pickups are more commonly used for rhythm applications that range from clean to distorted. Again, this will vary greatly depending on the guitar itself, and even the settings used on the guitar.


Play It Unplugged, Then Plug It In!

Make sure that you first play the guitar without even plugging into an amp. This will reveal many qualities about the guitar that might affect your overall tone, but might not be as apparent when amplified. Be sure that the guitar has adequate sustain, and that there are no odd overtones. Listen for which frequencies it tends to cater toward. To hear more of the body sound, hold you hear up directly to the guitar's body and listen while playing. Even though you will probably never perform without amplification, the tone you hear here will translate into your overall sound.

Plug your guitar in and crank the volume. This is where the fun starts. You can hear all the elements of tone come to life now. Your guitar is now showcasing all the factors that influence tone, from your pick thickness to the string gauge, the pickups, the wood used in the guitar, and ending with your playing style. You will know within a few seconds if it is a winner. Be sure to try on amplifiers that you are already familiar with.


Use Your Volume

Volume control is rarely thought by the guitarists as influencing the tone. As the volume control is turned down, it has an adverse-effect on the equalization. To lower the effect, put the equalizer pedal between the guitar and the distortion pedal or the guitar amp's built-in preamp. Regulate the equalizer setting and the distortion setting till the required tone is obtained.

Tech Tips: How To Use Your Volume Control



The unique sound of a guitar has a lot to do with its tonewood. Different woods give different tones. The tonewoods take various aspects as per the model of the guitar, the parts it's used for and even vary with the maker of the guitar. Mahogany gives a low-frequency sound contrasted to other woods, Indian Rosewoods are known for the higher-frequency it gives, while Alder is light wood which gives full, rich tone.

A Closer Look At Wood Choice And Tone



The thickness of the guitar strings is also a factor. While thicker strings will yield a thicker tone, they are also a bit harder to play on if you're not used to them. Because of this, a medium sized set of strings is better for beginners. Thinner strings are particularly great for solos because there are able to bend easily, although some players find the tone a bit too thin.

Quick Tip: Higher Gauge Strings For Fatter Tone


Your guitar tone is what makes or breaks your sound. Use the advice in this article and the stories linked above to ensure that you know what to listen for because even if you love how the guitar looks and plays, it will not mean a thing if the tone doesn't suit you.

If you're ready to find a new guitar or simply want to browse around, you can check out our entire selection of electric and acoustic guitars right here! Or if you have any questions regarding a purchase or need help finding what's right for you, don't hesitate to contact one of our helpful PAL pros by using the Chat With Us dialogue box below!



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