That perfect tone.... is it an illusion?

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  • amarok1971amarok1971 Frets: 276
    Grunfeld said:
    they look the same to me?

    They don't to most people.  Most people see A and B on backgrounds of two distinctly different shades.
    It's basically a fairly well-known example of Adelson's illusion -- quite detailed explanation here
    You could be an exception.  And there's a phenomenon of participation in psychology experiments, also fairly well-known to researchers, where this is known to happen and affect scoring.
    But for most people the picture is a visual illustration of what happens to your guitar tone depending on what's playing around you (or what isn't!). 
    sorry i misread it as SHAPE lol, yes they do look a different shade  :3
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2677
    edited May 18
    sorry i misread it as SHAPE lol, yes they do look a different shade  3
    haha, makes sense now!

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  • rossirossi Frets: 445
    I think that between guitars its often just a difference ,probably unmeasurable in the way the coiils are wound  and pots made ,caps made ,.I worked in a coil winding shop,it wound  larger coils and coils for resistors etc  and the plus /minus quality control was usually generous.If it wasnt ,production stopped and all hell broke loose as we tried to wind ,machine and by hand ,exactly to spec .So take say a 10%  plus or minus on the pickup ,add in the same from pots and pretty soon you have a fairly wide variety of difference either way.Thats before the same is applied to all the specs of amp componants .Throw in your strings which will not only vary slightly , not stay the same as they wear out ,the player ,the variation in the way you hit the string ,the pickup height,pick , and its easy to see why one guitar may well be heaven and the so called exactly the same guitar to sound not so good .
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  • BarnezyBarnezy Frets: 10
    I guess it’s completely subjective.... I mean what is a good tone? It’s all in the context of the music. I guess for most hobby guitarists it’s more about tone replication or just finding a tone that they like, but as mentioned there are so many variables to this and the guitar is only a one part. 

    I disagree that setup only affects feel. In my experience it can change a tone dramatically, especially when you start playing with things like pole hieghts on the pups. 
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2998
    I think a big factor in tone is how the guitar makes you feel when you play it..
    if it plays really well it can bring out the best in your playing so you can perceive it as having better tone
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 3966
    edited May 19
    There are good tones and bad Tones.

    Examples of good Tones include Iommi, Curtis, and Bennett.

    An example of a bad Tone would be Blair. 
    It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 4531
    Clarky said:
    I think a big factor in tone is how the guitar makes you feel when you play it..
    if it plays really well it can bring out the best in your playing so you can perceive it as having better tone
    agree - I always play any potential purchase unplugged first - if it doesn't feel right and comfortable to handle, then everything else can go in the bin - The more comfortable you are with this aspect of the guitars performance then the more it will enrich your technique - Then go from there - Almost as though you can't get a good tone if it doesn't feel/play right

    Granted  if it plays/feels right, then it doesn't necessarily mean the guitars natural tone will be to your taste - ie you might want hot pick-ups or vintage pick-ups - So often all tick boxes need to be given the green light to complete the whole package - But any initial evaluation to me is unplugged
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  • flying_pieflying_pie Frets: 423
    HAL9000 said:
    There are good tones and bad Tones.

    Examples of good Tones include Iommi, Curtis, and Bennett.

    An example of a bad Tone would be Blair. 
    There are also Schrodinger's tones which are both bad and good at the same time. Neil Young and Dimebag Darrell being classic examples
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  • carloscarlos Frets: 1340
    ATB_Guitars said:

    I think there is a lot more variance in the tone of vintage instruments compared to todays CNC machined, modern guitars. I also think Fenders have more diversity of 'tone' than Gibsons do. Maybe it is the combination of body mass and/or the way the ash or alder ages compared to Gibson's mahogany but I guarantee you two 60's Teles or Strats with identical set ups, strings amps etc will sound subtly, but noticeably different in tone. But hey, this is all part of the fun of vintage which for many is a big part of the appeal...
    A load of bollocks by someone with a business interest in perpetuating a marketing narrative that pays their bills. 

    As for the discussion, £500 spent on lessons or learning time will improve your tone much more than £500 extra on the price of gear. 
    Having said that, placebo effect is very important especially in something as subjective as tone.
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  • dindudedindude Frets: 5476
    carlos said:
    ATB_Guitars said:

    I think there is a lot more variance in the tone of vintage instruments compared to todays CNC machined, modern guitars. I also think Fenders have more diversity of 'tone' than Gibsons do. Maybe it is the combination of body mass and/or the way the ash or alder ages compared to Gibson's mahogany but I guarantee you two 60's Teles or Strats with identical set ups, strings amps etc will sound subtly, but noticeably different in tone. But hey, this is all part of the fun of vintage which for many is a big part of the appeal...
    A load of bollocks by someone with a business interest in perpetuating a marketing narrative that pays the bills.
    Or one mans opinion, put together like an adult, unlike yours?


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  • AnacharsisAnacharsis Frets: 10
    edited May 20
    This is it summed up perfectly in less than 3 minutes 



    I love that Nick Jaffe video. It makes its point quickly and elegantly.

    I don't believe in a perfect tone. I believe in a tone that fits the player and the music and the mix.

    I also think that all I need is to know gear well enough to know what will get me in the general vicinity. An SG through a Mesa Mark I isn't going to get me REM tones. But I don't need a perfect, Stradivarius-wood Rickenbacker with handwound, vintage-correct pickups using alchemist-produced magnets into an AC30 that was left unscathed in the original Vox factory for 50 years in order to get them.

    Get me in the right general area with the gear, and the rest is up to me.
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  • BigsbyBigsby Frets: 222
    carlos said:
    ATB_Guitars said:

    I think there is a lot more variance in the tone of vintage instruments compared to todays CNC machined, modern guitars. I also think Fenders have more diversity of 'tone' than Gibsons do. Maybe it is the combination of body mass and/or the way the ash or alder ages compared to Gibson's mahogany but I guarantee you two 60's Teles or Strats with identical set ups, strings amps etc will sound subtly, but noticeably different in tone. But hey, this is all part of the fun of vintage which for many is a big part of the appeal...
    A load of bollocks by someone with a business interest in perpetuating a marketing narrative that pays their bills. 

    As for the discussion, £500 spent on lessons or learning time will improve your tone much more than £500 extra on the price of gear. 
    Having said that, placebo effect is very important especially in something as subjective as tone.
    Three very good points.

    And when a single vintage Fender can cost you more than buying one of each of the entire range of Reverend guitars, it really doesn't matter if two vintage instruments actually would offer more tonal variation than two modern guitars. The compassion is more like; 'do two vintage guitars offer more tonal variation than 120 modern guitars?'. Unlikely.
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  • jonnyburgojonnyburgo Frets: 6093
    Yep, all in your head, if I'm a bit depressed I can pick up my Tele and think "I'm shit, this is shit, I need something different"
    Next week I may watch a really inspiring guitar vid on youtube, be all buzzed up, pick up the same guitar and feel and sound (to my ears) amazing.

    A good mindset, nicely set up guitar and an amp that doesn't sound like a wasp in a coke can is all you need.

    I just wish I walked it like I talk it though!
    "OUR TOSSPOT"
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  • mkendallmkendall Frets: 13
    edited May 21
    I think if you could extract and record the perfect tone you're searching for from your head at various points in time in your life and maybe even day to day it would be different. I've loved pieces of gear for years and then gone back after a break and not been able to find usable sounds. The person changes more than the gear. To almost anyone else, your playing is all that matters. Great players can play the gear they're using and make it do what they need. 
    However - I think quality instruments and gear are like quality tools - they reduce the barriers to getting good sound and therefore connect you more directly to the music. There's a TED talk from PRS that makes the point quite eloquently about instruments being essentially 'subtractive' - the energy comes from the player and is filtered through the gear. I liked that.
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  • ATB_GuitarsATB_Guitars Frets: 116
    edited May 21
    mr-mac said:
    @ATB_Guitars ;;; wonder if the neck wood has more varience or maybe scratchplate material due to size of plate and mounting of pickups it probs can effect things more than a humbucker ring or pickup mounted direct to body.
    Good question. It could be, certainly as far as the pickups are concerned, Tele pickups for example, will sound quite different to one another as they age. They tend to get more our less microphonic and this does affect the tone. Some players (in fact I would say most) actually like a little bit of Tele microphonics going on as long as it is not too much.

    Fingerbard material also affects the tone and I although I have not done a blind test (that would be interesting..) I swear I can tell the difference between a rosewood and maple board.

    I think there is more to this 'tone' thing than you first think and certainly with vintage, it is not clear cut.
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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 319
    Perfect tone for me was achieved when I realised that no matter what guitar or amp I played I still sounded like me.

    It was quite the epiphany!
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  • shaunmshaunm Frets: 899
    edited May 22
    TA22GT said:
    Perfect tone for me was achieved when I realised that no matter what guitar or amp I played I still sounded like me.

    It was quite the epiphany!
    I absolutely agree with that. 

    The last album recorded I sounded largely the same regardless of which guitar I used

    I sounded shit


    only kidding I sounded amazing regardless. But it didn’t matter if I used a tele/LP or Sheraton I think I largely sound no different on any of them.

    What is far more telling when changing between guitars is how I play rather than what I sound like. I play more flamboyantly on a strat than I do a semi. I have no idea why but it’s true.
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