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...
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? :)
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)
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.