"Tone is in the hands" part 2

INRI

Strat-Talk Member
May 5, 2022
22
Norway
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.
Nope, actually tone is timbre. Youre making it sound overly complicated. You can however affect the timbre using technique, but claiming that the technique (and therefore hands) are more important than say the choice of amp, speaker, mic position etc is stretching it way too far.

By the way, Ive heard several youtubers get very close to the SRV sound. I think this idea is more of a wishful thinking. It is tempting to mystify these things
 

INRI

Strat-Talk Member
May 5, 2022
22
Norway
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.
I think youre supporting my point by saying reducing the gain on the amp reduces sustain
 

INRI

Strat-Talk Member
May 5, 2022
22
Norway
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


Exactly! And two different pizzas burn to a crisp doesn't disprove anything.
The other end of that argument is having two guitarists play, one of them plays bar-chords, the other plays single notes - and then remarking how much the tone must be in the hands, because they sound so different.
 

INRI

Strat-Talk Member
May 5, 2022
22
Norway
My opinion regarding where tone comes from is derived from listening to hundreds of people play up close and personal as oppossed to recorded and produced. Redefine the words however you like...
Im assuming that they played different songs, different equipment, possibly even different genres? But still the hands are the most important variable?
 

Stu78

Senior Stratmaster
Apr 20, 2019
2,208
Scotland
Even though I can't recall what I stated in "tone is in the hands part 1" I believe that that was my definative opinion on the matter. Therefore I have nothing more to add. 🤣
 

INRI

Strat-Talk Member
May 5, 2022
22
Norway
It seems to me that the reason many of you think the tone is in the hands isn't that the hands are shaped differently, therefore sounding different. What I get from the most of you is the argument of "choice". He chose to hit the strings so and so hard, articulate himself this and that way, with lots of legato.

These are things that can be learnt and copied. Oftentimes, if the guitarist you are emulating isn't too much more skilled than you, you can get quite close to playing the same with some practice. But it wont sound the same. Why? His setup is completely different than yours.

I think the use of the expression is best when talking improvisations. One guitarist may chose a different note - or even different scale , than the next. This is hard to fake in a live setting cause you dont have time to think. In this situation the guitarists "hands" (or rather how he choses to use them) has a big impact on the result. Its still not accurate, but at least it makes sense.
 

GhostJam47

Strat-O-Master
Apr 21, 2021
921
Seattle
I think youre supporting my point by saying reducing the gain on the amp reduces sustain
No. I'm saying an essential part of Trey Anastasio's tone is his picking technique. Without the that right hand touch, it can't be replicated.

I'm not arguing that the gear doesn't play an important role.
 

StratUp

Most Honored Senior Member
Sep 5, 2020
9,051
Altered States
This video is a summary of my objections to almost all youtube gear demos... gobs of distortion on max. I can't tell anything about a guitar, pedal, amp, or player, when the distortion is this high.

This guy is unapologetic about that "This is a metal channel" and that's fine. But I find the video useless for the rest of us.
 

pazman6

Senior Stratmaster
May 28, 2014
1,975
Prairieville, Louisiana
I think tone is in the equipment and technique is in the hands. If you programmed a robot to play a particular series of chords and notes, the technique would be identical for each song with only the tone changing based on guitar, strings, pedals, amps, mics, room acoustics, etc. Having EVH play his signature riffs on my metal rig, a strat with a clean amp, or even a good acoustic would yield different tonal result, but most people would know who was playing by his technique. What makes a particular performance "great" is a combination of tone (equipment) and technique (hands/brain). I think really technically talented players (guys like Satriani/Vai) could play an SRV/EVH song on SRV/EVHs equipment and sound exactly like him. But neither could ever write a new song and make people believe it was SRV/EVH. The key to the genius/beauty of an EVH/SRV is their technique coupled with their brain.
 

Stone

Most Honored Senior Member
Dec 17, 2019
7,585
Mean Streets
Many high gain or distortion players all have Unique Distinctive tones, too think the whole Idea that Heavy OD or distortion yields the same tones is quite unreal
 
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Stone

Most Honored Senior Member
Dec 17, 2019
7,585
Mean Streets
I think tone is in the equipment and technique is in the hands. If you programmed a robot to play a particular series of chords and notes, the technique would be identical for each song with only the tone changing based on guitar, strings, pedals, amps, mics, room acoustics, etc. Having EVH play his signature riffs on my metal rig, a strat with a clean amp, or even a good acoustic would yield different tonal result, but most people would know who was playing by his technique. What makes a particular performance "great" is a combination of tone (equipment) and technique (hands/brain). I think really technically talented players (guys like Satriani/Vai) could play an SRV/EVH song on SRV/EVHs equipment and sound exactly like him. But neither could ever write a new song and make people believe it was SRV/EVH. The key to the genius/beauty of an EVH/SRV is their technique coupled with their brain.
This ^^, Jim you hit the nail on the head with this :thumb:
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
7,020
Murfreesboro, TN
Nope, actually tone is timbre. Youre making it sound overly complicated. You can however affect the timbre using technique, but claiming that the technique (and therefore hands) are more important than say the choice of amp, speaker, mic position etc is stretching it way too far.
I personally agree with your definition of tone, but the people who say "tone is in the hands" are using a different definition.

Technique and gear add together to make the total sound, you can't have one without the other.
 


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