Article by Ian Stahl
Photo courtesy of Steve Jennings for Mix Magazine.
I was at a local show recently featuring some young up-and-coming bands. Being the geeky musician that I am, I took note of the gear that was being used. Also due to my nature as a musician, I smugly listened with an overly critical ear and formed an opinion, which I will now unabashedly share with you, as it is better than your opinion.
Tone – the quality of sound you produce – is nearly as important to your success as a band or musician as is your songwriting and stage presence. Bands and musicians whose music stands the test of time have an immediately identifiable sonic quality. Beyond the notes they’re playing, something about the way they sound sets them apart from other musicians.
How do we get good tone and sound unique? I came across an answer to this question in a 1960 edition of the Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method, vol. 1:
“TIMBRE [or tone] depends on the skill of the performer plus the quality of instrument on which he [or she] is playing”
There we go! We have an answer on how to get good tone. It looks like there are two parts to this answer: 1) skill and 2) quality of instrument or gear. I’ll discuss these two aspects of sounding good in following posts.
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