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How does one get their own tone?

Musicman

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Feb 27, 2002
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1,856
Now that I'm playing gigs for the first time I'm trying to find my own "tone/sound". Without going broke buying a bunch of pedals that won't suit me I thought I'd ask you experienced forum members for advice. My prefered sound is I guess Schenkeresque. Because of his ability to be beautifly mellow and melodic then grabbing you by the short hairs with authority and punch.

I'm using a Marshall JCM800 4010 with both my newly aquired Studio w/490r & 498T pickups and my trusty R7. I usually just plug straight in sans pedals but the other guitarist in our classic/hard rock band is recommending a chorus and distortion pedal etc.. I'd really like to know how you guys go about getting your own unique setups and sound. I feel I could sound so much better with a few tweeks but don't know which way to turn.

Thanks for any direction you can provide. :2zone
 

tuberide

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Feb 17, 2005
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1,469
Much of your signature tone comes from your touch, dynamics and phrasing. The rest comes with mix and matching everything else. But of course you know all of that. I think it needs to be stated because it is so fundamental to "your tone/sound".

spellcheck :wah
 
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Classic

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Dec 6, 2004
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The suggestions being made by your band mate are neither correct nor wrong and purely subjective preferences. It may be the suggestion for a distortion pedal is because he thinks you need more gain from the amp or thats the way he's used to getting distorted sounds. If you've got enough gain, don't worry.

Chorus is just another flavour to add to the mix but can also be used to thicken up the sound if used subtly.

What I suggest is to think about the sound you want to achieve and what do you need to get that sound? May be a bit of delay would inspire you or would a boost help to liven things up?

A carefully place phaser can change the dynamics of a song. Or a tremolo added.

Find out what the original guitarists used can be a good place to start if you're playing covers. If you're playing original songs, pick a pedal go nuts!
 

Musicman

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Feb 27, 2002
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Much of your signiture tone comes from your touch, dynamics and phrasing. The rest comes with mix and matching everything else. But of course you know all of that. I think it needs to be stated because it is so fundamental to "your tone/sound".

Yes, I do know what you mean and do have my own flavor as far as playing style goes. I'm just wondering what direction to take as far as adding flavor to the sound.
 

Musicman

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Feb 27, 2002
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1,856
The suggestions being made by your band mate are neither correct nor wrong and purely subjective preferences. It may be the suggestion for a distortion pedal is because he thinks you need more gain from the amp or thats the way he's used to getting distorted sounds. If you've got enough gain, don't worry.

Chorus is just another flavour to add to the mix but can also be used to thicken up the sound if used subtly.

What I suggest is to think about the sound you want to achieve and what do you need to get that sound? May be a bit of delay would inspire you or would a boost help to liven things up?

A carefully place phaser can change the dynamics of a song. Or a tremolo added.

Find out what the original guitarists used can be a good place to start if you're playing covers. If you're playing original songs, pick a pedal go nuts!

Thank you for your input. It looks like I'd have to try a lot of pedals to determine what suits me. I was hoping to cover more ground by getting some suggestions from members like you who've already had experiences with these pedals.
 

bigtomrodney

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Nov 7, 2009
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1,448
I think the mistake people make when searching for their own tone is adding things rather than taking things away. A notable tone is one with dynamics and consideration, and while I reject the "it's all in the fingertips" argument I do think this is a big chunk of the equation. Start out with a relatively simple amp circuit, pickups that aren't too focussed on one task (i.e. not super-mids or ultra-high output) and either play directly or with the minimum of interference in between.

If you rely too heavily on a series of effects you lose the dynamic and what was a great tone for one song becomes unusable in another piece of work without becoming grating on the ears. Look at all the tone gurus we talk about, all of those classic tones. It's often just a classic Fender, Gibson, Rick, Gretsch etc plugged into one overdrive or fuzz into a classic amplifier. As things became more complicated it became less interesting. Who wants to listen to a wall of chorus into a Big Muff for four albums straight? You won't get much of your playing through that without pissing off a lot of ears.

Make a list of your top five favourite guitar hero's tones. I don't mean Fripp on Bowie's Heroes...that's a kind of moment in time. But when you start thinking "oh, Page on the first two Zep albums, Greeny with the 'Mac, Duane at Fillmore, BFG on First Album and Knopfler on Brothers in Arms" then you realise it's the simplicity that sticks.

As with anything like this it's best not to track any one hero too closely or you'll end up cloning them. Listen to as many as you can and start letting your own ideas develop.
 

Heritage 80

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Jan 10, 2002
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7,000
Well first off you have a really good foundation to build your tone on (the JCM and LP's). Hard to go wrong there! If you're going for a Schenker sound you'll probably need some gain, not necessarily distortion. The Marshall should provide enough crunch driven with humbuckers. Maybe something like this would be useful for kicking it up a notch for leads:
DV016_Jpg_Large_151324_V.jpg

You can dial in desired gain into the pre-amp section of your amp by raising the gain to the desired level plus you get the added advantage of being able to adjust the EQ of your lead channel.

My go-to DD is this:
BossDD7_01.jpg

Reliable, quiet, relatively versitile. Nice pedal.

For flange, IMO these are the great old standards:
flanger-3_340x330.jpg

Another fine old school flanger:
mxr_flanger117.jpg

And for phase shifters, again the old classic:
csp101sl-l.jpg


Most of these pedals are reproductions. Mine are all original oldies, and I don't know how they compare to the new ones so buyer beware, but if they're similar in sound and durability you can't go wrong.

Of course there are a gazillion boutique pedals that a lot of folks would say blow these old school critters away, but they've always worked well for me, but like they say your mileage may vary.
 

Cogswell

The Duke of Dumbassery
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Mar 19, 2002
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15,716
To set the tap-tempo on the DD-7 you have to hold the pedal down for two seconds? No thanks. I use a DD-5 w/a separate momentary switch for that-
 

Heritage 80

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To set the tap-tempo on the DD-7 you have to hold the pedal down for two seconds? No thanks. I use a DD-5 w/a separate momentary switch for that-

I've been using my old DD-3 for so long that I know where to set it manually without using tap-tempo, so it's no biggie to me.
 

Cogswell

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Mar 19, 2002
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I hear you, but I got hooked on using a tap-tempo pedal & I need it to be quick & hassle free.
 

Big Al

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Apr 24, 2002
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To nail the Shenker tone with your rig all you gotta do is add a wah and use it cocked in the middle were it sounds like Mike.
 

Musicman

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Feb 27, 2002
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I appreciate all of your help fellas. This is the kind of input I'm looking for. Like I said I'm new to the pedal thing and it seems overwhelming all the possible combinations that are out there. I've been playing so long without them I'm kinda worried I'll go nuts and waste precious time and money learning how each one effects my tone.

I may try Big Al's idea and start with a wah and see what that does for me. I also may try that digital delay you guys mentioned.
 

Stephens

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Dec 30, 2001
Messages
400
I've always started with the base of guitar, amp and no pedals. Then from there, play with the settings on the amp AND guitar. Try running the amp wide open, then using the volume and tone knobs on the guitar to see what you can do. You might be surprised what can be done with that alone.

Then, maybe start exploring some pedals one at a time. Don't go buying a bunch of effects just because some one says you need them. Too many effects too soon can be overload and you can lose yourself in all the extra stuff. Do what sounds good to you. If emulating Schenker is where your ear takes you, that's cool too. Just have fun on the tone search!
 

Karloff

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Apr 13, 2012
Messages
142
You already have the 2 main ingredients for A+ tone, a Les Paul and a Marshall.
Don't look to effects to create your sound, let them enhance your playing. Avoid pedals at first. Read reviews on Harmony Central about different pedals. Go to different stores and try them out. But first get all you can out of your guitar and amp.
 

tonar8353

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Oct 16, 2007
Messages
490
The thing I have noticed about the majority of players who have an immediately recognizable sound is their right hand picking technique. I know vibrato style is a big factor too but the right hand is so important. Pay very close attention to how they hold the pick or use their fingers, also where they attack the strings in relationship to the bridge or pickups. If you want have you own sound pay close attention to what your right hand is saying.
 

johnreardon

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Mar 15, 2006
Messages
544
I take a simplistic approach. Plug my guitar straight into the amp I am using and fiddle with the knobs until I get the sound I like. Takes me about 30 secs, the rest is down to me
 

sonar

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Jan 10, 2003
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I'd approach pedals differently than the basis for your signature sound. Think of pedals as fun, somewhat inexpensive coloration(s) to your basic tone.

The thing about LP's is that they really do thrive with less "stuff" in-between guitar and amp, yet there is always room for a little something here and there. Wah, Phaser and Delay can really add some fun to the mix.
 

Musicman

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Feb 27, 2002
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Keep it comin' guys this is exactly what I need to hear! I do love the way my LP's sound throught my Marshall which is why I bought them in the first place. I also have fiddled with the controls and have found a spot where they sound best to my ears. That's why I haven't bothered with pedals as of yet. I think it would be nice to add 1 or 2 pedals to add that color you all speak of. I guess I'll have to just use trial and error at a slow pace until I find what suits me.
 

Pat Boyack

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Oct 19, 2011
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4,161
If you truly want to get your own tone you get it from your own fingers. You don't get it from pedals. Pedals are meant to add a little here and there....or.......to sound like someone else.
 
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