Improve your guitar tone for free!

It's misleading to describe tone as solely a function of hardware and software. There are plenty of things you can do right now to improve your tone that cost you nothing!

Range subtle v obvious

The average tone knob on a guitar is useless. It ranges from muddy to thin, due to the limitations and nature of subtractive circuits. My guitar doesn't have one and I'm perfectly happy! It does have two switches - to tap center coil and select pickups. That's more than enough diversity of tone and more accurate to select than a knob when under stress on-stage.

We all like to think that the audience is hanging on every note of our guitar solos, but the reality is unless they are guitarists themselves they probably have other priorities; getting a drink from the bar, pulling etc. Attention spans are short and often people simply switch off to what you're playing if it's monotone i.e. 'samey'.

Solos need to be reinvented every 16 bars and that applies to tone too.

Tone is something that should be constantly reviewed/renewed/revised throughout your guitar solos in order to keep the listeners attention.

• Simply selecting a different pick up revitalises and refreshes your tone for the listener, to recapture their attention.

• Playing closer to the bridge brightens up your tone, closer to the neck fattens it.

Another great tone trick is to simply back off the volume or, more fundamental than that, play softly when soloing. It is a great temptation to play flat out all the time to play hard and loud. You're stressed, you think everyone is looking at you.

Varying intensity is the difference between an amateur and a pro and is called dynamics.

This is more subtle than kicking a different effect in on your pedal board, that usually sounds contrived, much better to stick with one effect sound and use good old musicianship to add tonal flair.

These are a couple of suggestions to improve you guitar tone that are free.

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