The term ‘tone’ is used every single day by millions of guitarists worldwide. And often used to sell products, whether it’s guitars, amplifiers, pedals, or guitar-centric records. But where does your electric guitar tone actually come from?
Where Does Tone come from?
It certainly emanates from either the equipment we choose to use, or maybe even from the player themselves. And yet the debate still carries on to this day: Where does your electric guitar tone come from? An interesting video has popped up online in the last fortnight, posted on YouTube by content-creator Jim Lill. In the video, just under 12 minutes long, Lill attempts, as best as possible, to break down the guitar into its constituent parts, to try locate where exactly the tone of the guitar comes from.
Searching for Tone
Jim asked three guitar makers he respected, “What 5 factors in an electric guitar make the most difference in the amplified sound?” Each one gave different answers to this, including things like the player, the woods used for the neck and body, the pickups, the hardware, and the construction.
Breaking It Down
What is quite funny to watch, is Jim slowly but surely, breaking down an electric guitar component by component, and bit by bit going from a Telecaster-style instrument, all the way down to a bridge, pickup and a set of tuning pegs with a nut. Along the way we get comparisons to the original guitar tone of his Anderson T-Style guitar, which uses the same pickups as his test guitar. This lets us gauge the tonal similarities, as the instrument is slowly stripped back to the essential basics.
No Body, No Neck
I like that he uses a piece of 2×4 timber at one point, and eventually manages to do away with both a guitar body and neck by the very end of the video. If you haven’t already, I suggest you take 12 minutes out of your day to watch this video and see what you think of this attempt to find where the electric guitar tone comes from.
Did the video confirm your opinions, or did you disagree with any aspect of it? Let us know in the comments section below.
- Jim Lill searches for the tone: YouTube/Jim Lill
- Jim Lill's Tone Search - The Five Questions: YouTube/Jim Lill