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Author Topic:  You can't BUY Tone.
Rick Abbott


From:
Indiana, USA
Post Posted 17 Jun 2017 1:50 pm     Reply with quote

And guaranteed to be black Laughing
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RICK ABBOTT
Sho~Bud D-10 Professional #7962
Gibson Console Grande, Lazy River Wiessenborn
Session 400, Bassman Amp W/Altec 418,
1953 Stromberg-Carlson AU-35
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Robert Cates


From:
Maine, USA
Post Posted 17 Jun 2017 1:56 pm     Reply with quote

Well said Fred
Jerry Overstreet said it well also. I agree with him
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Justin Griffith


From:
Taylor, Texas, USA
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 5:09 am     Reply with quote

Jerry Overstreet wrote:
Yes you can buy tone. What you can't buy is technique, ability, execution, feel and heart. Things happen when the big boys are in their element. We've all witnessed that.

But, I'm always vexed by statements by those of you that say equipment is not a part of tone. I bet I can find posts here from nearly all of you that contradict what you say.... talking about this, that or the other guitar, amp, pickups, picks, bars, electronics of one sort or another too. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any market for this stuff.

I'm not sure we're as clever as we claim.

Of course equipment is a part of tone. Just because an experienced player can sound good through a coffee can speaker and a lunch box amp doesn't mean they won't sound better with superior gear.

An example of such a case comes from an acquaintance of mine who plays guitar. Gorgeous US Tele, nice blackface twin and the usual complement of electronics. All the right stuff.

He has a gorgeous classic tone with the classic Tele grip.
Playing the classic Tele vamp in first position A sells that, but past that he falls short in the heat of the battle. Even though his execution and delivery fail, that tone remains.

The steel guitar and electronic gear you use are most definitely in the tone equation and you can buy that.

My 2ȼ before you close it out.Smile


This!

The player has a lot to do with it, but your equipment is a big part of the equation.
Amps, pickups, cables, volume pedals matter as well.
A Carter isn't going to sound like a Perm, an MSA isn't going to sound like an Emmons p/p, etc.
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Larry Bressington


From:
Kearney Nebraska
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 5:19 am     Reply with quote

I toured with a guy years ago who did a Jimi Hendrix tribute set, even went on T.V (BBC). He did everything to look like jimi and people loved his vision.

It was bloody amazing, great player, killer definition and dedication to the hendrix theme, ALWAYS playing through a pre-amp straight to the board, No amp!

1) When you CLOSED your eyes, it was OMG a carbon copy of Hendrix, note for note, no questions asked in tone, guitar, or equipment flavour.

2) When you OPENED your eyes, it was a Les Paul jr with one pick-up.

3) Then that changed everything!

Although he did NOT play a Strat, he always said he probably should because 'People HEAR with their eyes' mate
and that's....Just how it is.

*Agreed; Poor equipment will hold you back and deliver bad tone, but great equipment and multiple purchasing wont create good tone if you can't deliver it.
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Last edited by Larry Bressington on 19 Jun 2017 5:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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Marco Schouten


From:
Assendelft, The Netherlands
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 5:51 am     Reply with quote

Larry Bressington wrote:

Although he did NOT play a Strat, he always said he probably should because 'People HEAR with their eyes' mate
and that's....Just how it is.


This is very true, Last week I went over to my friends place, He has 2 push-pulls and I took my JCH. I played my JCH and then his Emmons, it sounded different. He played his Emmons and my JCH and again, both sounded different. Than we decided to do a small test, I was standing in a place I could not see him playing, he played my JCH and his single neck push-pull and honestly, I couldn't hear any difference between the 2. Maybe I hear with my eyes as well.
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Marco Schouten
JCH SD-10, Quilter Steelaire, Evans SE200, Sho-Bud Volume Pedal, Sho-Bud bar, zirconia bar, Emmons bar, John Pearse bar
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Johan Jansen


From:
Europe
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 6:07 am     Reply with quote

Please, can we have agood definition here of the word Tone? And also one from Sound?
Confused
JJ
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Larry Bressington


From:
Kearney Nebraska
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 6:13 am     Reply with quote

I have done this test many times, as i own 3 different guitars, Mullen, MSA and Sho-bud, they all are beautiful and yes they all have different timbre to their wood nature, they should they're from a different tree, different DNA.... all 3 are equipped with George L's E66.

Test;
I had a few mates come over to the house not long ago and i was jamming on the steel downstairs. All 3 guitars were set up. My good friend who'm we have great road memories with immediatley said; Ahhh i love the Sho-bud that's the best, you played that one for 20 years.

1) I asked if he would step out of the room whilst i played him an old familiar instrumental song, he chuckled and said ok, i told him i was trying a new amp and wanted his opinion without seeing the amp....You see, i don't own an amp, i play direct with Pod xt.

2) As soon as he left the room, i quickly grabbed the Mullen and started wailing on Hwy 40 blues for 30 secs, he shouted; Oh hell yes SOUNDS GREAT, love that old sho-bud through that new amp.

3) I then switched to MSA and said; What about Now? He said, Yip still the same, GREAT AMP...

4) I then asked him to come into the room as i started playing again, he started laughing and said; OMG i'm a sucker, it's all in the hands baby, i couldn't hear a difference... Although i could in timbre, my TONE was pretty much the same, and he has a hell of an ear as a musician and discriminating piano tech/tuner/rebuilder.

He then said; Wow dawg, loving this MSA and... Werz the amp?? Smile
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 6:50 am     Reply with quote

Larry, that reminds me of the recent thread here about what listeners hear vs. what we hear as players. We obsess about the tiny perceived differences in our guitars while the audience doesn't even know where the sound is coming from, who is playing what instrument, and what a steel guitar is! Surprised

I've played a few different steel guitars in bands in the past 45 years and whenever I've asked my bandmates what they thought of a steel I was playing vs. my other one... they didn't notice any difference. And they are musicians!

Maybe we should think in terms of percentages. In other words, what percent of a player's overall sound is in the player himself and what percent is in the gear?

95% player / 5% gear
80% player / 20% gear
60% player / 40% gear
...etc.

I'm going with 95% the player, or maybe even 98%. I'm not talking about the difference between steel guitars, p/p vs. all pull, humbucker vs. single coil, wood neck vs. metal neck. I'm talking about the overall sound that we hear coming from a player.
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John Sluszny


From:
Brussels, Belgium
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 10:20 am     Reply with quote

Larry Bressington wrote:


...You see, i don't own an amp, i play direct with Pod xt.



...He then said; Wow dawg, loving this MSA and... Werz the amp??

Yes Larry,I have the same question ! What was he hearing your playing with ? Thanks !
!
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Larry Bressington


From:
Kearney Nebraska
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 10:27 am     Reply with quote

A small Studio powered mixer with 6 inch speakers JBL.
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Stefan Robertson


From:
London, UK
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 10:58 am     Reply with quote

Love all these comments.

Have to put my 2 pence.

For me:
As long as the equipment works and isn't faulty
Fulfils functionality requirements

Tone chasing is nice. However if you can't play doesn't matter.

Also there is so much I need to get right. I think tone chasing for me is fun but nothing more than that.

Once I get the technique and theory right I hope I'll get good enough to quibble over tone. Until then. No need.
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Josh Braun


From:
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 11:02 am     Reply with quote

My $.02:

I concede that there's some truth the idea that tone is "in the fingers/technique."

But...

As a listener, I've recently seen two steel guys around town playing through non-steel amps (one was an Orange, not sure of the other one), and their timbre sucked pretty hard. It competed with the guitar, was terribly mid-rangy, and neither had that bell-like beauty so many contemporary steels have (e.g, almost any Greg Leisz recording), nor had that late 60s/70s twangy/mid sound that I hear on Loretta Lynn or Gram Parsons records.

There were both fairly new to the steel, but still - their gear (or at the very least, their EQ settings) set them in the mix in a bad way. Given what I know of Orange amps, I suspect the fellow using it was just using the wrong tool for the job.

I'll add (vis-a-vis the Jeff Beck anecdote), I've gone into recording sessions & gigs where I have to fight the equipment being used. I may have still sounded like "me" at the end of the day, but I could have done so without the fight. Nowadays - if I have budget - I spend money on music equipment that makes my playing life easier instead of harder, even if I can get to the same place the hard way.
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Larry Bressington


From:
Kearney Nebraska
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 1:01 pm     Reply with quote

I think of it this way...'Horsepower' sells cars...'Torque' wins races! Very Happy
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 2:44 pm     Reply with quote

Johan Jansen wrote:
Please, can we have agood definition here of the word Tone? And also one from Sound?
Confused
JJ

Whole nuther discussion, but an appropriate question for this thread. So basically...

Tone is the quality of the sound a player is making with his instrument. You can play all the right notes to a piece of music and still sound like crap because of the quality of the sound coming from your instrument.

We obsess over our tone because playing the right notes is NEVER enough, for player or listener. It has to do with the finding the right combination of bass, midrange, and treble frequencies that make us say "Yes! This is what my pedal steel should sound like."
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 3:35 pm     Reply with quote

Tone is roughly synonymous with "timbre."
The nerds and boffins who work with sound for a living tried a few years ago to pin down "what is timbre/tone."
After much argument and discussion, they got no further than "that portion of a sound that is neither pitch nor envelope."
Some gear sounds better than others,but if you're trying to make that sound most of us think of when we think of pedal steel, if you can't get REALLY CLOSE to it with a fairly normal pedal steel and a $350 Peavey amp, that Milkman or Little Walter isn't going to break you through.
I'm fond of saying that my $175 Session 400 (actually, I paid $175 for an LTD, which I traded for a Session 400) is 95 percent as good as the $2150 Milkman. I'm grateful my wife got me that Milkman, but I think I sound almost as good through the Peavey that cost less than a tenth (in the shootout video, some like the Peavey better).
Ypu can chase tone, but until it's coming out of yer hands, you won't catch it.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 5:56 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
...if you're trying to make that sound most of us think of when we think of pedal steel, if you can't get REALLY CLOSE to it with a fairly normal pedal steel and a $350 Peavey amp, that Milkman or Little Walter isn't going to break you through.


Smile Very true, Lane. So many players buy expensive (and unnecessary) equipment, hoping to find the silver bullet that will put them over the top. Well, that silver bullet is called PRACTICE.

I'm reminded of the local player I met 45 years ago when I was learning to play pedal steel. He told me... "We'll never get the sound the pros get in Nashville. They use special pickups." Rolling Eyes
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Dave Stroud


From:
Snyder TX
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 6:23 pm     Reply with quote

If you're already good, then yes, money will buy better tone.

And if you don't sound good, money will still buy better tone. But it won't make you sound better.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 6:32 pm     Reply with quote

That's why Title of this thread is so confusing...

If you consider the word tone to mean "a good sound"... no, you Can't buy that.

If you consider the word tone to mean the characteristic sound of a certain guitar... yes, you Can buy that. Anyone can. Just buy the guitar.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 6:56 pm     Reply with quote

Before we get on with another hundred replies on the definition of tone, I'm just going to agree with everyone right from the start because it already looks like we are all going to say roughly the same thing with different words, just like we have with the OP's topic.

You can't buy the optimum quality of sound that your instrument can produce, but you can buy the optimum quality instrument.
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Eric Philippsen


From:
Central Indiana, USA
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 7:07 pm     Reply with quote

What Dave Mudgett said. And....

Ever plug into a guitar or amp and after two notes say, "Whoa, what is this?"? Something that grabs you right to "who you are"? Something where you say to yourself, "I don't care what brand or name it is. This is it."? THAT doesn't happen very often at all. When it does you better buy it 'cause there's more at work in that moment than marketing.


Last edited by Eric Philippsen on 20 Jun 2017 2:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 8:35 pm     Reply with quote

Doug Beaumier wrote:
That's why Title of this thread is so confusing...

If you consider the word tone to mean "a good sound"... no, you Can't buy that.

If you consider the word tone to mean the characteristic sound of a certain guitar... yes, you Can buy that. Anyone can. Just buy the guitar.

Doug, you are a perfect example of what this topic is about. You have found the unique tonal characteristics of all your guitars and manage to sound great on all of them. Would you say the instruments in your collection vary in absolute sonic quality? Are some of them more "you" than others?
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 19 Jun 2017 8:57 pm     Reply with quote

Doug Beaumier wrote:
That's why Title of this thread is so confusing...

If you consider the word tone to mean "a good sound"... no, you Can't buy that.

If you consider the word tone to mean the characteristic sound of a certain guitar... yes, you Can buy that. Anyone can. Just buy the guitar.


I disagree I knew a guy who played a Baldwin Crossover, but sounded like Jerry Byrd or Don Helms. I sat down at his rig and I sounded like a cross between me and Lloyd. Without touching the knobs.
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Bryan Staddon


From:
Buffalo,New York,
Post Posted 20 Jun 2017 6:20 pm     Yes you can. Reply with quote

Flanagan and Hollander crossroads,anytime day or night,just south of Hollandale Mississippi. Price is pretty steep though. Just hang out and look for a really tall dude, Whatever you do , do not flirt with his girls that's a deal breaker.
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Larry Bressington


From:
Kearney Nebraska
Post Posted 20 Jun 2017 7:19 pm     Reply with quote

I did not say at any point in this thread, that you cannot BUY equipment, of course you can and of course that does matter, as a voice for you to be carried.


I challenge this: take 20 steel players, put them in a room with just one steel guitar played through one Nashville 400. Let them each dial in their tone, and each play for 30 seconds and tell me that all 20 guys sound the same?

Well they should they are all playing the same guitar through the same amp, Right???? Wrong, everybody dials in their own frequencies, its EQ mania.

The tone is in the human, in his DNA, and in his ears and brains, it works and weaves with his picking techniques that's been developed as a whole, it's been developed over time, he could win the lottery tomorrow morning and buy a $30,000 rig, and when you go see him play tomorrow night (with your eyes closed) you will here no difference.......unless he sounded bad prior because of defective equipment, so yes you can buy good equipment, but it won't change a thing unless there was a gear related issue!

Most of this gear buying and swapping is just an illusion, it's brain trickery, just like when somebody asks you to turn down, and you just touch the knob asking if that's better? And they say: oh yes much thank you.

Hey, listen to that guy over there on TV he's a monster, quick let me get a close up, what's he playing??? Oh it's an Emmons.....Oh No, I got a Sho bud I gotta dump this lot and get an Emmons. You buy an Emmons and nothing has changed except your bank account is dry, and the name tag on the front apron....We hear with our eyes!!!!

Thank you for all the replies, all have great points, it's a good rant!
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 20 Jun 2017 8:06 pm     Reply with quote

Larry, that experiment might provide some interesting results, but then try this too---
Get just one competent player and put him in a room with 20 different rigs, all with varying price tags.

My guess is that you will hear 20 different tonal varieties. Some good, some great, some not so much. The player might even choose to alter his technique slightly to accommodate the various shortcomings in some of the cheaper setups, or even play a different musical style or genre.

Then ask the player which setup he would buy, right now, if you gave him the money.
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