Guitar Tone [Part 1]
You may have asked some of the most profound questions known to guitarist such as: What do I want to sound like? How do I create my own unique sound? How can I get the Tone I like?
Here are some of the things you should consider:
- The type of guitar to use
- The type of pickups to use
- The type of strings to use
- The type of effects to use
- The type of amplifier to use
In this article we will focus on your guitar and pickups.
First, let’s talk about the type of guitar you have and the sound you are trying to achieve.
Electric guitars can be made of many different woods like Solid Mahogany, Hollow body, Alder, Ash, Basswood etc.
These woods will contribute to the overall tone and sustain of the guitar.
Mahogany will give you a good sustain and thick sound while a Hollow body will give
a full rich sound as opposed to a Alder, Ash, and Basswood which will give you a more
mid to high end sound.
The neck will also add to your mix with a range of rosewood, ebony and maple choices. So if you have a guitar that seems to not quite get the sound and tonal range you want, you may need to consider pickup upgrades and or buying another one having your sound in mind.
Guitar Pickups are also a major factor in developing your tone. There are so many pickups out there but they fall into two main categories: Single coil or Humbucker.
Single Coil Pickups
Single coil pickups will usually give more of a twangy and mid tone range. Some Rock legends have used primarily single coil pickups like Clapton, Beck, Hendrix and many more. They tend to have some noise when used alone but when two are on they are quiet. The bridge pickup will be hotter and have a higher frequency range that will add some strong highs. The middle pickup will be a rounded balanced sound, while the neck pickup will have a very warm and bass like sound to it. Also choosing different configurations of pickups that are on or not on will change your tone too!
On the other hand we can have a humbucker guitar or a humbucker with single coil pickups as well. Famous Humbucker pickup junkies are Slash, Page, Tony Iommi, Dimebag and the list goes on. Humbuckers will be “quiet” pickups with no hum, but with a warm rich sound. These pickups tend to make the guitars sound fuller and the neck to bridge sound varies significantly as well.
The Neck humbucker usually is very warm and clean sounding while the bridge pickup will have
a slight distortion sound and slightly hotter sound with a trebly edge to it. The guitars that have both pickups like what Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Adrian Smith tend to use, have the biggest range. For example you may have a Strat with two singles (Mid & Neck) and a humbucker in the Bridge position to give it the hotter full lead range.
Your choice of strings will help you achieve your overall sound as well.
As guitarists we have almost an unlimited choice of strings to choose from.
At the end of it all, it is really up to you, and your idea of what the perfect sound is to your ears.
As the great EVH did, it’s all about experimenting and trying all sorts of combinations.
We can help you sort out some of these details so that you can get the most bang for your buck.
We carry some great strings as imaged below for your consideration as well:
Please see the next article for ways to experiment with your tone such as pedal board options and using different amplifiers to enhance your tone.
If you need any help deciding on how to perfect your setup contact us at 1-877-778-7845 and one of our Guitar professionals will help you.