"Tone is in the hands" part 2

INRI

Strat-Talk Member
May 5, 2022
21
Norway
Since my last post entitled "tone is in the hands - silliest buzzword of the decade" got so many positive reactions I thought I'd ressurect it. I saw this video by SMG the other day, supporting my claim:



Now, I know that SMG is a metal channel and this is a strat page and yadda yadda: most song productions regardless of genre involves many stages of compression, saturation, eq ++ (when tracking, mixing instruments, on the mixbus and mastering)

I hereby stand by my former claim: the tone is indeed not in the hands, but in the gear that produces it. Individual players "feel" (whatever that means), amount of pressure on the strings, chord voicings, syncopation choices is a seperate discussion and has little to do with "tone". Unless, of course, you want to argue that a sushi-chef's - and a pizza baker's individual cooking styles are what sets their results apart.

Disagree respectfully,

Chris Dourado
 

INRI

Strat-Talk Member
May 5, 2022
21
Norway
Since my last post entitled "tone is in the hands - silliest buzzword of the decade" got so many positive reactions I thought I'd ressurect it. I saw this video by SMG the other day, supporting my claim:



Now, I know that SMG is a metal channel and this is a strat page and yadda yadda: most song productions regardless of genre involves many stages of compression, saturation, eq ++ (when tracking, mixing instruments, on the mixbus and mastering)

I hereby stand by my former claim: the tone is indeed not in the hands, but in the gear that produces it. Individual players "feel" (whatever that means), amount of pressure on the strings, chord voicings, syncopation choices is a seperate discussion and has little to do with "tone". Unless, of course, you want to argue that a sushi-chef's - and a pizza baker's individual cooking styles are what sets their food apart.

Disagree respectfully,

Chris
 
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bluejazzoid

Strats Amore
Silver Member
Aug 14, 2009
8,502
Southeast USA
6d2.gif
 

GhostJam47

Strat-O-Master
Apr 21, 2021
882
Seattle
I hereby stand by my former claim: the tone is indeed not in the hands, but in the gear that produces it. Individual players "feel" (whatever that means), amount of pressure on the strings, chord voicings, syncopation choices is a seperate discussion and has little to do with "tone".

While I agree that when people say it's *ALL* in the hands, that can be an overstatement.

But with certain rigs, the tone is almost certainly dependent on the hands and technique. Someone running very high gain with a very delicate touch can get beautiful edge-of-break-up sustain that is the essence of their sound (see Trey Anastasio). Someone with a heavy picking attack, even if they are highly skilled, could make that same rig sound harsh and loud. Reducing the gain would reduce the sustain, meaning the hands/technique are an essential part the tone.
 

Pandamasque

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 22, 2020
1,351
Kyiv, Ukraine
How to debunk "tone is in the hands/wood/construction/whatever":
step 1: get the grainiest amp available, dime it
step 2: hit it with a distortion pedal... or five. Turn the gain up to where it's practically white noise
step 3: strum with maximum force at all times

Unless, of course, you want to argue that a sushi-chef's - and a pizza baker's individual cooking styles are what sets their results apart.
Exactly! And two different pizzas burn to a crisp doesn't disprove anything.
 

thomquietwolf

Dr. Stratster
Gold Supporting Member
Silver Member
Dec 2, 2010
20,363
Peardale CA
Since my last post entitled "tone is in the hands - silliest buzzword of the decade" got so many positive reactions I thought I'd ressurect it. I saw this video by SMG the other day, supporting my claim:



Now, I know that SMG is a metal channel and this is a strat page and yadda yadda: most song productions regardless of genre involves many stages of compression, saturation, eq ++ (when tracking, mixing instruments, on the mixbus and mastering)

I hereby stand by my former claim: the tone is indeed not in the hands, but in the gear that produces it. Individual players "feel" (whatever that means), amount of pressure on the strings, chord voicings, syncopation choices is a seperate discussion and has little to do with "tone". Unless, of course, you want to argue that a sushi-chef's - and a pizza baker's individual cooking styles are what sets their results apart.

Disagree respectfully,

Chris Dourado

I agree sort of:
With this caveat;
In my case, tone is in someone else's hands...
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,793
Murfreesboro, TN
The whole debate is about people using the word "tone" to mean different things. Personally I think the word is so ambiguous as to be useless for actual communication. If your goal is to troll, then by all means go ahead.

If one is referring to the voice of the instrument, the sound of a particular rig, the better word is "timbre." For example, you cannot create the timbre of distorted metal guitar using only a nylon-string classical guitar. You cannot create the timbre of a saxophone if you're using a flute. Jimmy Hendrix playing 12-string doesn't sound the same as when he plays a Strat. Changing the value of the connecting caps in your amp changes the timbre. And so on. All this is fairly obvious to all of us.

If one is referring to note choice, timing, phrasing, and vibrato--the better word is "technique." No amount of money can buy technique, go practice. You won't sound like SRV because you don't have his technique. Also obvious.

The trouble is when people use Tone to mean technique to the exclusion of timbre, or timbre to the exclusion of technique, or mean it all sort of muddled together.
 

Dadocaster

Dr. Stratster
Mar 15, 2015
28,122
Sachse TX behind the cemetary
The whole debate is about people using the word "tone" to mean different things. Personally I think the word is so ambiguous as to be useless for actual communication. If your goal is to troll, then by all means go ahead.

If one is referring to the voice of the instrument, the sound of a particular rig, the better word is "timbre." For example, you cannot create the timbre of distorted metal guitar using only a nylon-string classical guitar. You cannot create the timbre of a saxophone if you're using a flute. Jimmy Hendrix playing 12-string doesn't sound the same as when he plays a Strat. Changing the value of the connecting caps in your amp changes the timbre. And so on. All this is fairly obvious to all of us.

If one is referring to note choice, timing, phrasing, and vibrato--the better word is "technique." No amount of money can buy technique, go practice. You won't sound like SRV because you don't have his technique. Also obvious.

The trouble is when people use Tone to mean technique to the exclusion of timbre, or timbre to the exclusion of technique, or mean it all sort of muddled together.
Technique does change timbre. You can't separate this out. Legato TECHNIQUE changes timbre. Same with Staccato.

You are also misusing the words.
 

tanta07

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 28, 2019
2,260
Colorado
Unless, of course, you want to argue that a sushi-chef's - and a pizza baker's individual cooking styles are what sets their results apart.

Uh...yes? I'm a very unskilled cook. If you put me in a Michelin-rated kitchen with the finest ingredients, I'd still turn out something mediocre, because I'm not a good cook. Likewise, put that kitchen's chef in my home kitchen, he would still manage to prepare you a spectacular meal, because that's his skillset.

Unless you fumbled your own analogy, you seem to actually be agreeing with the "tone is in the hands" folks.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,793
Murfreesboro, TN
Technique does change timbre. You can't separate this out. Legato TECHNIQUE changes timbre. Same with Staccato.

You are also misusing the words.
Good, good. Great, even. Yes, let's go down this path.

Yes, legato technique sounds different from staccato technique on the same instrument. Picking closer to the bridge makes it sound brighter, too. Turning down the tone knob makes it darker. Each guitar rig has a range of sounds it can possibly make, and it is a great big wide range. But there are limits--no amount of technique will make a Strat sound like a 12-string. That takes gear.

Each instrument has its own voice, its own range of sounds that can be produced. And players all have their own target sound they're trying to hit. And no amount of gear can substitute for technique, either. Even digging up Jimi Hendrix's hands won't help you sound like him, it'll just make your guitar stinky. Technique can be learned, but it can't be bought.

If you've got better words, let's hear 'em.
 

Dadocaster

Dr. Stratster
Mar 15, 2015
28,122
Sachse TX behind the cemetary
Good, good. Great, even. Yes, let's go down this path.

Yes, legato technique sounds different from staccato technique on the same instrument. Picking closer to the bridge makes it sound brighter, too. Turning down the tone knob makes it darker. Each guitar rig has a range of sounds it can possibly make, and it is a great big wide range. But there are limits--no amount of technique will make a Strat sound like a 12-string. That takes gear.

Each instrument has its own voice, its own range of sounds that can be produced. And players all have their own target sound they're trying to hit. And no amount of gear can substitute for technique, either. Even digging up Jimi Hendrix's hands won't help you sound like him, it'll just make your guitar stinky. Technique can be learned, but it can't be bought.

If you've got better words, let's hear 'em.
Nah. Sorry annoyed by the topic and hit you with collateral snark. Going to close my eyes and hope this all disappears.
 

Guithartic

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 10, 2021
1,462
Jacksonville, FL
I think it is semantics regarding the word “tone.” I think by tone, some people are thinking it is just the actual scientific definition of tone, and other people are thinking of tone as a synonym for the general sound, which would include differences made by the player, such as the length of time they hold notes, plucking softly or with more force, the pauses, coming in right before the beat, etc.
If the same player tries some different techniques without changing any knobs or switches, the flavor of the sound comes out different. In that sense, the player’s hands affect the tone (of course so does the gear).
 
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INRI

Strat-Talk Member
May 5, 2022
21
Norway
Technique does change timbre. You can't separate this out. Legato TECHNIQUE changes timbre. Same with Staccato.

You are also misusing the words.
When do people commonly use the phrase "tone is in the hands?"

They usually don't say that as a response to a discussion regarding playing technique (that would be a meaningless comment). It's usually said when discussing recording technique. So it is not me who's misusing the words, I'm just paraphrasing what is said.

Legato and staccato? These terms has to do with the length of each note, not "tone".

Of course technique changes the sound, just like giving the guitar to a squirrel would dramatically "change" the sound. Noone is contesting that. But we have to assume that we are comparing guitarists who has a somewhat good handling of the particular style (f.ex funk, jazz, blues, etc). If they do, then these differences that you talk about are very subtle.
 

Guy Incognito

Senior Stratmaster
May 14, 2019
4,606
Here and now
Why bother do a tone is in the hands video with massive amounts of gain.

If you want to hear what each player sounds like you have as little garbage in the mix as possible. Sadly that video features a style of guitar playing that I can't stand so I'm having a hard time deciding if my problem with the test is the test or the music.

To me if you wanted to prove tone was in the hands you'd just have a Strat, a Twin Reverb and different players.

Of course this video works to prove tone is not in the hands. It's a terrible video.

Now I'm not saying one way or another what my opinion is on whether or not tone is in the hands I'm just saying this video couldn't possibly prove anything one way or the other. It's garbage.
 

GhostJam47

Strat-O-Master
Apr 21, 2021
882
Seattle
While I agree that when people say it's *ALL* in the hands, that can be an overstatement.

But with certain rigs, the tone is almost certainly dependent on the hands and technique. Someone running very high gain with a very delicate touch can get beautiful edge-of-break-up sustain that is the essence of their sound (see Trey Anastasio). Someone with a heavy picking attack, even if they are highly skilled, could make that same rig sound harsh and loud. Reducing the gain would reduce the sustain, meaning the hands/technique are an essential part the tone.
 


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