What is Tone?

Music moves us with a sound that vibrates through our souls. The guitar string vibrates us in the same way. This is tone, the moving of our bones.

The conundrum of tone is elusive to most, yet some have it naturally and some can create it. Some get it through practice and some fall short. This quest for perfect tone can become very expensive. There are so many variables that have an influence on the creation of tone.

When we think of tone, we can say it’s the night and day of sound, the brightness and darkness or bass of the high frequencies and low ones. Somewhere in-between is the perfect tone. What most people don’t realize is that low and high frequencies have both in them. You get bass notes that sound bright, and or muddy.  The difficult part is that we are all different in our perception of great tone.

Tone is also created by the way we play, and how we move our hands, what kind of plectrum  we use and strings to just mention a few. String height can also help you in getting a better tone. Most guitarists want the strings very low over the fretboard. This keeps the string from fully vibrating and affects the tone.

Electronics like pick-ups, pots, caps, pedals and amps also have a big influence on the way the tone is created. Change one element and it all changes. I think a big part of how we experience tone have a lot to do with how we feel. If you are in the zone of a great Jam, then your tone seems better. Is tone based on memory, just like chocolate to our taste buds? Science says we only taste the first bite after that it’s all memory. Maybe we had a moment at a concert or radio, and heard a guitar with the perfect tone. Do we then go on memory and search for that sound our whole life?

Don’t miss the next one, see you soon.