You are previewing Guitar Tone: Pursuing the Ultimate Guitar Sound.
O'Reilly logo
Guitar Tone: Pursuing the Ultimate Guitar Sound

Book Description

"Great tone" is a combination of many things--electronic, acoustic, musical, physical, emotional, and cerebral. Each player assembles and manipulates those components into a special blend, creating his own unique sonic stew. So how do we get great tone? The answer for most of us is a lifetime of pursuit that is at once equal parts joyous and frustrating, but always rewarding. A big part of succeeding in that pursuit is having an understanding of what goes into making great tone. That's where this book comes in. GUITAR TONE: PURSUING THE ULTIMATE GUITAR SOUND is the ultimate resource for guitarists searching for not just the "best" tone, but also their own individual sound. This book explores all the gear and examines the approaches famous players take to achieve their distinctive tones. You'll look at vintage and new, boutique and mainstream, modern and retro. Along the way, Guitar Tone attempts to sort out the facts versus the myths versus the opinions and explores how each component contributes to the overall tone of our guitars and other gear. The search for tone may not come to a definitive conclusion for most of us, but that doesn't make the journey any less worth taking. It's not easy to achieve great tone, but the reward--the joy of wallowing in the luscious sound of strings resonating in concert with your musical desires--is a reward greater than any other. Better tone awaits!

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. About the Author
  4. Introduction
  5. I. The Tools of Tone
    1. 1. Guitar Types and Construction
      1. Hollow-Body
      2. Solid-Body
      3. Carved versus Flat Tops
      4. Solid-Body Construction
        1. Set Necks
        2. Bolt-On Necks
        3. Neck Through
        4. Necks and Tone
      5. Semi-Hollow-Body
      6. Neck Construction
        1. Neck Carve and Size
        2. Truss Rod
        3. Scale Length
      7. Synthetics and Other Materials
      8. Pickup Placement and Routing
      9. Other Design Considerations
    2. 2. Wood
      1. Types of Wood
      2. Cutting Wood
      3. Weight
      4. Finish
    3. 3. Hardware
      1. String Nut
      2. Frets
      3. Bridges and Tailpieces
        1. Hollow-Body Bridges and Tailpieces
        2. Solid-Body and Semi-Hollow-Body Bridges
          1. Tele-Style
          2. Strat-Style
          3. Tune-o-Matic
        3. Tailpieces
        4. Wraparound Bridge
      4. Tuning Machines
      5. String Trees
    4. 4. Pickups
      1. Types of Pickups
        1. Passive Pickups
        2. Active Pickups
        3. Passive/Active Hybrids
      2. Single-Coil Pickups
        1. Fender Single-Coils
        2. P-90/Soapbar
      3. Humbucking Pickups
        1. Other Humbuckers
      4. Wire and Coils
        1. Wire and Windings
        2. Hand Winding/Scatter Winding/Machine Winding
        3. Coil Height and Width
        4. Resistance and Output
        5. Resonance
        6. Potting
      5. Magnets
        1. Alnico
        2. Ceramic
        3. Samarium Cobalt
        4. Cobalt
        5. Magnet Strength
      6. Pole Pieces
        1. Fender Single-Coil Pole Pieces
        2. Flat versus Staggered Pole Pieces
        3. Humbucking Pole Pieces
        4. Pole Piece Spacing
        5. Slug Side toward Neck or toward Bridge?
      7. Polarity
      8. Wiring Options
        1. Coil Tap
        2. Coil Split
        3. Series/Parallel Coil Wiring
      9. Pickup Covers
      10. Pickup Calibration
      11. Pickup Height and Tone
      12. Matching the Best Pickups to a Guitar
    5. 5. Guitar Electronics
      1. Passive and Active Electronics
        1. Active Electronics
      2. Volume Controls
        1. Tolerance
        2. Treble Bleed
        3. Pot Taper
      3. Tone Controls
        1. Tone Capacitor Values
        2. Capacitor Voltage Rating
        3. Types of Capacitors
        4. Other Tone Controls
      4. Switching
        1. Phase Switching
        2. Series/Parallel Pickup Switching
        3. Other Functions
        4. Switch Types and Tone
      5. Shielding and Grounding
        1. String Grounding
        2. Shielding
      6. The Big Three Guitar Circuits
        1. Telecaster
        2. Stratocaster
        3. Les Paul
    6. 6. Amplifiers
      1. Combo versus Head
      2. Solid-State versus Tube versus Hybrid
        1. Tube
        2. Solid-State
        3. Hybrid
      3. Preamp versus Power Amp
      4. Preamp
        1. Gain
      5. EQ and Tone Control
        1. EQ Bands
        2. Other Tone-Shaping Controls
        3. Tone Stack Bypass
        4. EQ Placement
      6. Built-In Reverb, Tremolo, and Vibrato
      7. Effects Loops
        1. Series/Parallel Loops
      8. Channel Switching
      9. Power Amp
        1. Master Volume versus Non-Master Volume
      10. Power Attenuators
      11. Power Scaling
      12. Output Transformer
      13. Power Transformer
      14. Rectifier
      15. Choke
    7. 7. Vacuum Tubes
      1. Bias
      2. Amplifier Class
        1. Class A
        2. Class B
        3. Class AB
        4. Class D
      3. Negative Feedback
      4. Sag
      5. Preamp Tubes
        1. Phase Inverter
        2. Gain Factor
        3. Noise and Microphonics
      6. Power Tubes
        1. Types of Power Tubes
        2. Matching Power Tubes
    8. 8. Speakers
      1. Speaker 101
      2. Speaker Parts
        1. Magnet
        2. Magnet Size
        3. Cone
        4. Surround
        5. Doping
        6. Voice Coil
        7. Former
        8. Spider
        9. Dust Cap
      3. Speaker Characteristics
        1. Size
        2. Impedance
        3. Resonant Frequency
        4. Power Rating
        5. Efficiency
        6. Sensitivity
        7. Speaker Breakup
      4. Classic Speakers
        1. Celestion G12M “Greenback” & G12H 30
        2. Celestion Vintage 30
        3. Celestion Blue and Gold
        4. Electro-Voice SRO and EVM12L
        5. JBL D120F and E120
        6. Jensen P12 and C12
    9. 9. Cabinets and Enclosures
      1. Types of Speaker Enclosures
        1. Ports
        2. Enclosure Size
        3. Woods
        4. Baffle
        5. Front-Loaded versus Rear-Loaded Cabinets
        6. Cabinet Coverings
        7. Grille Cloth
      2. Multi-Speaker Cabinets
        1. Polarity
        2. Power Rating
        3. Impedance
          1. Parallel
          2. Series
          3. Series/Parallel
        4. Stereo Wiring
        5. Mixing Drivers
    10. 10. Volume
      1. Power and Volume
        1. Watts and Volume
      2. Volume and Tone
      3. Volume-Control Strategies
    11. 11. Effects
      1. Gain
        1. Overdrive
        2. Fuzz
          1. Germanium
          2. Silicon
        3. Clean Boost
        4. Treble Booster
        5. Stacking Gain Pedals
        6. Choosing the Best Dirt
      2. Modulation
        1. Leslie/Rotating Speaker
        2. Tremolo
        3. Vibrato
        4. Chorus
        5. Flanger
        6. Phase Shifter
        7. Ring Modulator
        8. Stereo versus Mono
      3. Filter/EQ
        1. Equalizers
        2. Wah Wah
        3. Envelope Filter/Auto-Wah
      4. Delay/Echo
        1. Tape Echo
        2. Analog Delay
        3. Digital Delay
        4. Modulated Delays
        5. Stereo versus Mono Delays
        6. Tap Tempo
      5. Reverb
        1. Spring Reverb
        2. Digital Reverb
      6. Pitch
        1. Octave Divider
      7. Pitch Shifter
        1. Doubling/Chorus Effects
        2. Pitch Bend
        3. Mono versus Polyphonic
      8. Other Effects
        1. Compressors
        2. Noise Gate/Noise Reduction
        3. Volume Pedal
        4. Buffer
      9. Multi-Effects Processors
      10. Pedal Order and Signal Routing
        1. Effects Loops
        2. 4-wire Rigs
        3. Stereo Rigs
        4. Wet/Dry Rigs
        5. Wet/Dry/Wet Rigs
        6. Loop Switchers
        7. Pedalboards versus Racks
    12. 12. The Little Things
      1. Picks
        1. Shape
        2. Pick Materials
        3. Thickness
          1. Thinner picks:
          2. Thicker picks:
        4. Texture
      2. Strings
        1. String Type
        2. Alloys and Metals
        3. Cryogenic Strings
        4. Coated Strings
        5. String Gauge
        6. String Action and Tone
      3. Cables
      4. Wireless
    13. 13. Modeling and Software
      1. What It Is
        1. Guitars
        2. Effects
        3. Amps
      2. Form Factor
        1. Hardware
        2. Software
      3. The Sound
    14. 14. Iconic Guitars
      1. Fender Telecaster
        1. Tele Tonemeisters
      2. Gibson Les Paul Standard
        1. Les Paul Lovers
      3. Fender Stratocaster
        1. Strat-mongers
      4. Gibson ES-335
        1. Semi-Hollow-Body Stars
      5. Gibson Explorer and Flying V
        1. Radical Shape Shifters
      6. Gibson Firebird
        1. Flame Throwers
      7. Gibson SG
        1. SG Screamers
      8. Gibson L-5 CES
        1. L-5 Lovers
      9. Gibson ES-175D
        1. ES-175 Aficionados
      10. Gretsch G6120
        1. 6120 Twangers
      11. Rickenbacker 360/12
        1. Ricky Janglers
    15. 15. Iconic Amplifiers
      1. Fender
        1. Tweed
        2. Blonde/Brownface
        3. Blackface
        4. Silverface
        5. Modern Fenders
      2. Marshall
        1. JTM45 and Bluesbreaker
        2. Plexi Amps
        3. Metal Panels and the JCM800
        4. Modern Marshalls
      3. Vox AC30
      4. Roland Jazz Chorus
      5. Mesa/Boogie
        1. Mark I
        2. Mark II
        3. Mark III
        4. Mark IV
        5. Mark V
      6. Dumble Overdrive Special
    16. 16. Iconic Effects
      1. BOSS CE-1 Chorus Ensemble
      2. BOSS DD-2
      3. B.K. Butler Tube Driver
      4. Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face
      5. Dallas Rangemaster
      6. Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer Overdrive Pro
      7. Maestro Echoplex
      8. MXR Dyna Comp
      9. MXR Phase 90
      10. Roger Mayer Octavia
      11. Roland RE-201 Space Echo
      12. TC Electronic TC 2290 Dynamic Digital Delay
      13. Thomas Organ Company Crybaby, Vox Clyde McCoy, and Vox V846
      14. Univox Uni-Vibe
  6. II. The Icons of Tone
    1. 17. Jeff Beck
      1. Guitars
        1. Gibson Les Paul
        2. Tele-Gib
        3. Fender Jeff Beck Signature Stratocaster
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
      4. Benchmark Recordings
      5. Getting the Sound
    2. 18. Larry Carlton
      1. Guitars
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
      4. Studio Tricks
      5. Benchmark Recordings
      6. Getting the Sound
    3. 19. Eric Clapton
      1. Bluesbreakers
        1. Guitars
        2. Amps
        3. Effects
      2. Cream
        1. Guitars
        2. Amps
        3. Effects
      3. 1970 to 1985: Blackie and Brownie
        1. Brownie
        2. Blackie
        3. Amps
        4. Effects
      4. Mid-’80s to Mid-’90s
        1. Guitars
        2. Amps
        3. Effects
      5. The New Millennium
        1. Guitars
        2. Amps
        3. Effects
      6. Benchmark Recordings
      7. Getting the Sound
    4. 20. The Edge
      1. Guitars
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
      4. Benchmark Recordings
      5. Getting the Sound
    5. 21. Robben Ford
      1. Guitars
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
      4. Benchmark Recordings
      5. Getting the Sound
    6. 22. David Gilmour
      1. Guitars
        1. The Black Strat
        2. The Red Strat
        3. Other Guitars
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
      4. Benchmark Recordings
      5. Getting the Sound
    7. 23. Warren Haynes
      1. Guitars
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
      4. Benchmark Recordings
      5. Getting the Sound
    8. 24. Jimi Hendrix
      1. Guitars
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
      4. Studio Tricks
      5. Benchmark Recordings
      6. Getting the Sound
    9. 25. Allan Holdsworth
      1. Guitars
        1. Modded Strats
        2. Headless
        3. Fatboy
        4. Strings and Picks
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
      4. Benchmark Recordings
      5. Getting the Sound
    10. 26. Eric Johnson
      1. Guitars
      2. Amps
        1. Clean Amps
        2. Crunch/Rhythm Amp
        3. Lead Amp
      3. Effects
        1. Clean Effects
        2. Crunch/Rhythm Effects
        3. Lead Effects
        4. Post Effects
      4. Benchmark Recordings
      5. Getting the Sound
    11. 27. Brian May
      1. Guitars
      2. Amps
        1. Deacy
      3. Effects
      4. Benchmark Recordings
      5. Getting the Sound
    12. 28. Jimmy Page
      1. Guitars
        1. The Session Years
        2. The Yardbirds
        3. Led Zeppelin
        4. Les Pauls
          1. 1959 Les Paul Standard “Number One”
          2. 1959 Les Paul Standard “Number Two”
          3. Other Les Pauls
        5. Strings and Picks
      2. Amps
        1. Supro
        2. Marshall
        3. Other Amps
        4. Cabinets and Speakers
      3. Effects
      4. Studio Tricks
      5. Benchmark Recordings
      6. Getting the Sound
    13. 29. Brad Paisley
      1. Guitars
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
        1. Fly Rack
        2. Concert Rack
      4. Studio Tricks
      5. Benchmark Recordings
      6. Getting the Sound
    14. 30. Eddie Van Halen
      1. Guitars
        1. Ibanez Destroyer
        2. VH II and Later
        3. Signature Guitars
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
      4. Studio Tricks
      5. Benchmark Recordings
      6. Getting the Sound
    15. 31. Stevie Ray Vaughan
      1. Guitars
        1. Number One
        2. Lenny
        3. Other Guitars
      2. Amps
      3. Effects
      4. Benchmark Recordings
      5. Getting the Sound
    16. A. Tonal Resources
      1. Magazines
      2. Selected Books
      3. Discussion Forums
        1. General Guitar Forums
        2. Non-Manufacturer Forums for Specific Guitars
        3. Amplifiers and Effects Forums