Top 5 Tone Tips For Improving Your Tone

Top 5 Tone Tips For Improving Your Tone

By Stefan Vos
In Aug 20, 2019

Acolytes of Tone, gather round, as I share with you my top 5 tone tips for improving your tone! Let me preface this, however, with a disclaimer: tone is, by its very nature, a very subjective thing. Often, tonal differences come down to the individual player’s personal taste. Don’t stone me for my suggestions, rather let your ears guide you and go with what makes you want to pick up your guitar and PLAY!

That being said, the days of truly bad tone – which, believe me, really did exist before the golden age of pedals and the boutique boom that we have all immensely enjoyed over the last decade, with its proliferation of relatively affordable and widely-available decent pedal options – is a thing of the past. Today, there really is no excuse for a really bad, gum-itching, ear-bleeding guitar sound. There is no end to the high-end boutique options that approach tonal nirvana, and equally, there are many easy-on-the-pocket and great sounding options for the young cash-strapped tone seeker.

Tone Tip 1

Now, this may seem like a stretch, but stay with me here. My first tip has nothing to do with technologically advanced gizmogery! Or indeed, even in the ephemeral magic that resides in the player’s hands. My first suggestion to improve your tone is to exercise your ears! Listen to your favourite players and the acknowledged masters of the guitar closely and with intent. Pay attention to each nuance and ask yourself, “What am I hearing?” Becoming a discerning listener should unlock for you more specificity with regard to what you are after, tone-wise.

Tone Tip 2

Be picky! Are you one of those players who was offered a pick when you started out and have just gone on with it forever and ever, amen? It may be time for you to experiment. There are so many picks available, in so many diverse materials and shapes, that your favourite may still be waiting for you to discover it! Guitar Excellence pupils, take your pick from our online shop at the best price around. Click here.

Tone Tip 3

Pickup something new! One of the most popular upgrades to any guitar is the pickups. Transform an average axe to a super tonal beast with a simple swap of the pickups! There are so many after-market options now that offer a myriad of varieties that focus on different aspects of tone suited to different guitar styles and musical genres. A personal suggestion is to try some lower-output passive pickups. Trust me. Google should reveal a rabbit hole for you to fall into. You’re welcome!

Tone Tip 4

Speaker of the house! Similar to the way a set of replacement pickups can breathe new life into your axe, a speaker upgrade can transform your go-to amp. The difference a speaker swap can make to the sound of your amp is truly remarkable and needs to be heard to be believed. Too much shrill treble for you, try a different speaker. Clean sound breaking up too early on the volume knob? Or too late? A different speaker could sort you out toot sweet. A quick swap out of three or four different speakers may seem too much of a chore, so perhaps read up on the tonal differences and just make a choice and see what happens.

Tone Tip 5

String along. My final suggestion is a bit of a no brainer. Recently, string manufacturers have enjoyed a breath of fresh air in the technology department. Many brands offer new fancy coatings and treatments that will prolong your string life, and offer all manner of tactile advantages for your fingers. Your chosen genre, the player you may be attempting to emulate, or even the tuning you favour can be enhanced by the type and gauge of string you use. Guitar Excellence pupils, string up at our online shop at the best price around. Click here.

The journey to achieve the ultimate tone is, for many of us, never-ending. However, you can’t deny that it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on! Let your ears be your guide. I hope these 5 tone tips will help you on your journey to guitar greatness!




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* Has played in the UK with the band Lightning Type on stages like the Camden Barfly, Dublin Castle and The London Astoria * Has recorded at Beethoven Street Studios, previously owned by Seal, through a mixing desk once used by David Bowie, with one of Brian May's amps * Has played with local rock superstars Cassette * Has been teaching for the last 10 years to all ages and levels * Listens to and enjoys playing ALL styles of music * Has spent years refining the POWER STANCE for maximum on-stage rocking * Has dedicated himself to the lifelong pursuit of ULTIMATE TONE: The Way of the TONE Master * Has never played "Guitar Hero"

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