Tone from Guitar
One really enlightening aspect of working at a music shop is being able to observe patterns or trends common to most musicians in terms of their habits. Since all of us here at the shop are musicians ourselves, more times than not we are much like our average customer (as if any of our customers are average) when it depends on how we buy. Recently, we all had a discussion spurred on by an observation that is both obvious yet rarely fully examined. The observation is this - as guitar players we love to buy guitars, but how much of our tone comes from the guitar? Could it be that we would be better served expanding our guitar amps collection? It was a great discussion among some true "gear addicts" and we feel that there were some pretty interesting points made.
Why the obsession with guitars?
What a stupid question, right? As guitar players, there are not much things more satisfying than pulling the trigger on a new guitar. As a result, we amass huge collections in most cases. That is something truly magical about the curves and lines of a finely made instrument, it is a magic that someone who does not play will never fully understand. We do appreciate the subtlety of a hand-applied lacquer finish and the seemingly flawless attention to detail that only a master is capable of when it comes to fretwork. You don’t have to justify the value of such things to us, as evidenced by the fact that most of us own no fewer than 5 guitars.
The purpose of our discussion was not to downplay the importance of the guitar in our music or even to try and curve the obsession with acquiring more guitars, anyone who plays will say that is a fruitless task. We just simply wanted to examine how much impact the guitar has in the grand scheme of things. There were still some very interesting takes on the subject.
How much of the tone is coming from the guitar?
Every guitar sounds different, not only from brand to brand, but from guitar to guitar. All of us have played that guitar that just had the "it" factor. You could play 10 more that were identical, but this one just had something extra. That is the fact that keeps us buying guitars. It always have the saying that the very basic elements of most modern guitars are pretty similar. Like most guitar bodies and necks, they are constructed of some type of hardwood material. The bridge assemblies and frets are made of some sort of steel or alloy and most pickups are still copper wire wound around plastic bobbins containing magnets. To be honest, this formula has not really changed much in almost a century. It is how the elements come together that makes one guitar different from another. Why we are pointing this out is to demonstrate that the difference from one guitar to the next is really more in the realm of nuance than a "night and day" comparison, at least when all things are considered. Though Fano is a completely different animal than a Suhl, the basic elements are the same and in a very general sense tha they both sound similar.