As guitarists, most of us sooner or later find ourselves in pursuit of tone. A talented guitarist can find a way to make anything sound good, but there should be no doubt that our equipment and the tone it provides can inspire and help fuel our creativity. In pursuit of tonal inspiration, we need to develop a vocabulary to help us find what we’re looking for in our sound.
The Audible Frequency Range
Most guitarists start out by learning the names of the musical notes corresponding to a particular string and fret number, but they are not initially aware that these notes also correspond to the fundamental frequency of the vibrating string. For example, the sixth string played at the 5th fret (low A) in standard tuning has a fundamental frequency of 110 Hz. Any doubling or halving of a frequency is an octave, so the next octave up from 110 Hz would be 220 Hz. In order to develop a vocabulary for tone, we have to think in terms of frequencies as opposed to musical notes. Read more
The heart and soul of an electric guitar comes right down to the pickups. Pickups can be modified and adjusted to change the tone that your electric guitar produces. Messing around with your pickups can be quite the task, but with a little know how you can achieve a variety of tones. Some of these tips are simple adjustments that you can do yourself, while some of them might be a bit more difficult and require you to find someone skilled in the trade. Read more
Tone is one of those things that guitarists look for, long for and obsess over. Non-guitarists often don’t understand our mania for it and our ability to split endless hairs in pursuit of it. We all have our tonal benchmarks that set our ears ablaze and gave us something to aim for in our lives, and it is always interesting to find out what tones inspire what people out there in Gear-Vault-land. To that end, your ever-grooving staff here at GV has compiled a list of favorite guitar tones from the 1950’s-1980’s classic rock period that got most of us going on the tone questing lifestyle. It will surely cause much discussion and argument amongst all of you, but that is kind of the point. Let us know your favorites, too, as we like to keep these conversations going and see who all of you dig. Read more