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View Full Version : Are You Master Of Your Own Tone Domain?



LSchefman
11-30-2012, 11:00 AM
So, copping your favorite artists' tone, or creating something that's more your own these days?

Lots of players want to sound like someone else; other players want to carve their own air. Which are you?

While you're thinking about your answer, I'll explain my perspective on this stuff.

My ad music work requires me to be able to work in a huge variety of compositional styles, from orchestral to hip-hop to rock to folk and even jazz. But whatever style I work in, I bring my own tonal palette along for the ride. I stopped trying to sound like other players when I was a kid. It never truly happens, anyway. Everyone sounds different. Most importantly, everyone's phrasing, timing, picking technique, and note selection is unique to them. Heck, two piano players sound different on the same piano, and they don't even directly touch the strings. So differences between players are even more apparent with guitar.

I choose tones that I think are appropriate to the work at hand, and they sound like I want them to sound. I try to sound the way I hear things. Not to say there is a better or worse way to think about music. There certainly isn't. This is just how I think about it.

I find that with PRS guitars, I can cover an awful lot of bases with a minimal number of instruments. They're that flexible, and they are wonderfully responsive. They have a unique voice. That works for me. But there is no "right way to do this" when it comes to making music. It's what works for the individual player.

Do you try to sound like a favorite player or band? Or do you do your own thing?

Twinfan
11-30-2012, 12:20 PM
I do my own thing, and always have - chasing the tone in my head. I've recently got there, and it's been one hell of a journey. 'My' tone is:

PRS Collection V -> Klon clone -> 65 Amps Empire

solacematt
11-30-2012, 01:09 PM
Hmmm. It wasn't really up until maybe 3 years ago I started to have my own sound in my band and the other one's I played in on the side. For quite a few years, even in my band, I had used a sound that was close to Billy Corgan's of Smashing Pumpkins. It took a few years but I finally realized that for the tunings I use and the way my voice sounds it just doesn't work too well. That's when I abandoned using the muddy sounding Marshall JCM800 and switched to Mesa, from there I just kept exploring trying to carve out something that worked for my music and felt like it was mine. I agree with what you said though, there really is no way to sound just like your favorite artist; so much of it really is all in the hands and not the gear.

sergiodeblanc
11-30-2012, 01:11 PM
I honestly don't know, can I say both?

Just like Les (but not nearly as successful or handsome) I have to provide a certain amount of "familiarity of tone" for my musical exploits, in the past it was for "sound-a-like" music for cheap commercial and advertising work, and now for creating "royalty free" hip-hop and reggae samples that recreate a certain time period or vibe.
I found that having a "signature" tone was way more consuming when I was playing music that was very guitar centric, like in my old rockin' days where guitar was about 50% of the song.

My last real band experience used to tour a bunch, and in the end it became more common to do fly-in dates where I would rent an amp, or use whatever backline the event provided. It should also be known that at the time I was playing guitars made out of frickin skateboards!, not exactly the recipe for world-class tone, but you know what? I sounded exactly like me, no matter what I did or what I played through, it was kinda liberating in a way.

I will still rent or borrow an amp if I am playing a show that my trusty Cyber Deluxe can't make it to, and I have fallen in love with Amp Designer in Logic Pro and don't feel like I am cheating anymore when using modelers or a preamp instead of an amp. I like to do my own thing, but I find it is more helpful to be flexible with my signal chain and settings, if somebody says make it sound like "Who's that Lady" I feel as though it's okay to turn on that phaser, because I will never be Ernie Isley but that point of reference, if serving the song and my client, is important.

John Beef
11-30-2012, 01:57 PM
I have always gone after what sounds best in my own head. But then, I've primarily done original material my entire musical life. I've never been in a traditional cover band (except the very 1st one I was in when I was 15. At the time I had the biggest and loudest amp with my solid state Crate G20 (20 watts) 1x12 combo. It sounded like poo, so did the whole band, but we had fun.) so I've never felt the need to have a do-it-all rig, or try to sound like some hero I had. That's why I've stuck with the same amp for 13 years, a USA made Egnater TOL50. I knew the 1st moment I strummed a chord through it that it was what I had been looking for.


do fly-in dates where I would rent an amp, or use whatever backline the event provided. It should also be known that at the time I was playing guitars made out of frickin skateboards!, not exactly the recipe for world-class tone, but you know what? I sounded exactly like me, no matter what I did or what I played through, it was kinda liberating in a way.

I was in a band for a while that would do the fly-in & use the backline provided thing, and almost always hated whatever tone I was getting. :) Except that one show at Defcon in Vegas, they rented us some JCM900s of all things and we sounded friggin awesome!! I had JCM900s several times and they almost always sounded bad to my ears.

Harker1440
11-30-2012, 08:58 PM
I would like to think I have my own sound

LSchefman
12-01-2012, 10:41 PM
Interesting that the majority of replies are by folks who go for something in their heads. I wonder if that's something that's typical of PRS owners, who are not playing the "usual suspects" in the first place?

jfb
12-01-2012, 10:49 PM
Tone wise I try and sound like this or that and riff wise I try not to sound too much like this or that.

Dirty Bob
12-01-2012, 10:51 PM
Ok...so no matter what, guitar, amp, pedal, cable, strings, pick, etc....I use I end up tuning things for a very specific feel and response. I have certain tones in my head that I consider to be some of the best generated from the the following but certainly not an exhaustive list....Albert King, Derek Trucks, Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Warren Haynes, Grissom, Knowles, Hendrix, Brad Paisley, Tim Reynolds (for clean type tone), Slash, EVH, etc...even when I get something close...

it ends up sounding like me...because my uniqueness(mistakes) leave their own tonal fingerprint....whenever I try to be a chameleon it can only go so far...eventually it comes out me.

Dirty Bob
12-01-2012, 10:55 PM
I do my own thing, and always have - chasing the tone in my head. I've recently got there, and it's been one hell of a journey. 'My' tone is:

PRS Collection V -> Klon clone -> 65 Amps Empire


which Klone? I've been using the JHS....it kills.

AP515
12-02-2012, 12:50 AM
I am another who has found the tone in his head. For me it is my PRSi direct into my LoneStar. That's it. So many variations by choosing a different PRS, or turning the volume knob, or splitting coils, and the LoneStar itself has 100 different flavors hidden inside. When I first got it was the first time I heard what I thought sounded like me. I might try to play a riff as close to the original as possible, but I don't chase the tone. I try for the best me I can get and that is when I grin from ear to ear. :proud:

Twinfan
12-02-2012, 04:42 AM
which Klone? I've been using the JHS....it kills.

I have 3 built by a mate of mine, I think they're based on the Madbean(?) board which is no longer available and then compared to an original and tweaked accordingly.

veinbuster
12-02-2012, 06:43 AM
It is too frustrating to try to match someone else. I will try setting I see other people use for reference, but always go back to things I like.

Dirty Bob
12-02-2012, 07:03 AM
I have 3 built by a mate of mine, I think they're based on the Madbean(?) board which is no longer available and then compared to an original and tweaked accordingly.

That is really cool....wish I had friend that could build me pedals...really awesome.

Dirty Bob
12-02-2012, 07:07 AM
It is too frustrating to try to match someone else. I will try setting I see other people use for reference, but always go back to things I like.


You and me both....reference settings for the big name acts never work....so many other factors a big one being the stage volume they play at make those settings completely meaningless to me when playing at practice or in a bar/club or when I'm at home.

Twinfan
12-02-2012, 08:38 AM
That is really cool....wish I had friend that could be build be pedals...really awesome.

Yeah, he's a top guy who does great pedal work as a hobby :)

vchizzle
12-02-2012, 10:40 AM
I haven't tried to cop a tone in many years. I occasionally want a new or different tone, but not because of someone's tone I enjoy.

MykeWright
12-02-2012, 01:08 PM
I'm getting there. It's probably an amalgam of many of my influences and favourite players but I'm starting to really know what I like....and like what I have. The Bogner Duende was a big part of that as were the 57/08 pickups in my McCarty (thanks again Z).

I now have a good friend building me a very special pedal - it won't actually do much on its own, but plug a few pedals into it and it will do things no other pedal can do. The idea came to me from the Empress Multidrive, great idea, but what do you do if you already have a great bunch of different drive pedals........this is where this box of tricks comes in. It's a 4 channel (plus 1 direct) parallel effects splitter/mixer. I think it could be used with time/frequency/modulation effects as well. Once it arrives I'll be able to see how far I can push it!.

crgtr
12-02-2012, 01:52 PM
I just do my own thang. Even when I'm hired to do the rare (nowadays) studio session, they call me to sound like me. I'm not sure how to explain my tone.....just know it when I hear it.

LSchefman
12-02-2012, 07:33 PM
I just do my own thang. Even when I'm hired to do the rare (nowadays) studio session, they call me to sound like me. I'm not sure how to explain my tone.....just know it when I hear it.

Your tone is instantly recognizable. Even in your many pickup tests, guitar comparisons, etc. Sounds great, by the way.

darktone
12-02-2012, 07:47 PM
I would like to think I have my own sound

you do. but you still have some from the influences. look at what we buy to get as close as we can. it is fun......expensive to some. i'm at the point where i can look at most of what i use & feel good with it. best advice.........turn up. that brings out plenty of tonal character.........when you can & not get the cops called:wave:

crgtr
12-03-2012, 06:37 AM
Your tone is instantly recognizable. Even in your many pickup tests, guitar comparisons, etc. Sounds great, by the way.
Thanks Les. I used to think it was a work in progress, but I finally gave in to what seemed to always happen naturally.

Goldtop
12-03-2012, 12:55 PM
As far back as I can remember, I've always had the tones in mind that I was after, and I've always worked towards getting them. I've never been very good at copping someone else's sound or style, so I just do my own thing. Whether it's good or not to anyone else is another question...

Lloyd

Danerada
12-03-2012, 01:01 PM
Slowly but surely I am becoming my own tone master. I am figuring out the wood/pup/amp combos that work for me. It's a lot of fun figuring all of that out. All of this might mean something if I were a working musician, but I am not. So for whatever its worth...yeah I am finding it and having fun doing it...I guess that is the point though, huh? :)

kingsleyd
12-03-2012, 08:16 PM
I do pay attention to some other players -- but it's more about trying to learn things that will help me get my own sound more together than it is trying to sound "like them." I've played for long enough that I sound like myself whether or not I'm consciously attempting to do so.

Here's what I sounded like as of last week. (the track is a demo of a tune for a hopefully-gonna-happen-soon new CD)

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=939428&songID=12025507

LSchefman
12-03-2012, 08:51 PM
I do pay attention to some other players -- but it's more about trying to learn things that will help me get my own sound more together than it is trying to sound "like them." I've played for long enough that I sound like myself whether or not I'm consciously attempting to do so.

Here's what I sounded like as of last week. (the track is a demo of a tune for a hopefully-gonna-happen-soon new CD)

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=939428&songID=12025507

Kingsley, I just listened to the demo, and loved it! The writing is together, the tones are great, the playing is superb. I especially loved it when you cut loose toward the end.

Impressive stuff!

garrett
12-04-2012, 10:13 AM
After hearing two live recordings of myself, made two years apart, with different bands and different gear, I've realized that for better or worse I sound like me.

When I started out, there were a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughan-abees out there, so I really resented sound-a-likes. I've taken a lot of inspiration from players, but never tried to cop style or tone exactly. Possibly at first because I didn't have the skill and I decided to carve my own way.