Fender.com's Hilary Brown offers five tips on how to improve your electric guitar tone.
We all want perfect tone.
Some of us spend our lives pursuing it. We scrutinize every note with painstaking detail, and we look to our guitar heroes with godlike admiration. Most of the time, perfect tone is an upper-echelon goal we only dream of reaching.
Some say perfect tone is a mindset. Indeed, confidence and discipline are fundamental to great sound and technique. But good tone can become great tone with other small tips and adjustments. There may not be a one-size-fits-all formula for amazing tone, but there are some helpful ideas to keep in mind. Here are five.
1. Have a Well-Organized Pedal Board
Effects pedals are a terrific way to develop your own tonal identity. One basic thing to remember while turning your pedal board into your sonic playground is that certain types of effects sound best when placed in a specific order. While there’s no rigidly “right” way to arrange your pedals, many frequency-shifting effects can disrupt the signal path, discolor the tone or cause clipping when placed in certain sequences with other kinds of effects. Consider these general guidelines when deciding which effects pedals go where.
You should also know whether any of your pedals feature true-bypass switching, and how that feature affects your signal. When an effect pedal with true bypass is off (in bypass mode), the signal flows directly from the pedal’s input to its output without passing through any other internal circuitry, essentially acting as if the pedal wasn’t there in the first place.
True-bypass pedals are great for offsetting signal-chain noise and can help maintain the integrity of your original tone. However, they can also lessen treble frequencies if you’re dealing with many effects units and all the extra cable they require (more about cables in a moment). If you have a larger pedal board with lots of true-bypass effects, consider putting a buffered pedal somewhere in the effects chain. It will compensate for signal loss and improve high-frequency response.