Setup a good guitar tone

1: Warm it up

When using a tube amp; warm it up first. Switch it on and leave it on standby for at least half an hour and your tone is much warmer. I know people who wait two hours before they start playing, before that they just can’t stand the sound.

2: Controls at 12 o'clock

Set all equalizing controls (treble, middle, bass) at 12 o’clock. Switch off the reverb or any other effect. 

 

3: Listen to your tone

Preferable use a clean or semi clean sound so you can really hear all the tones you’re playing while tweaking your sound. Listen to the dry an pure sound. that’s the pure result of the sound of your guitar in combination with your amp. Equalizing is meant to equal out the tone. Use your ears and not your eyes with this. Listen to the pure tone. If it’s too harsh, use less trebble. If it’s too boomy turn back the bass control until it’s fine. I always turn the middle tone control from completely anti-clockwise to the middle position and then completely clockwise to hear what it does to the sound. Middle tones are the most important tones for quitar playing. Tip: when you play in a band and have trouble hearing yourself, try tweaking the middle tones. Reason is that the drums and bass eliminate your highs ans lows. So the only way to stand out is by tweaking the middle tones

4: Tweak

If the tone it’s too harsh, use less trebble. If it’s too boomy turn back the bass control until it’s fine. I always turn the middle tone control from completely anti-clockwise to the middle position and then completely clockwise to hear what it does to the sound. Middle tones are the most important tones for quitar playing. Tip: when you play in a band and have trouble hearing yourself, try tweaking the middle tones. Reason is that the drums and bass eliminate your highs ans lows. So the only way to stand out is by tweaking the middle tones.

5: Add effects

Now you can add effects to it. Remember when using reverb that the more you use, the more it will soak up your sound and put it further away. It will affect your direct tone. I like it when the direct tone of my guitar and amp is prominent and you can hear the reverb underneath, far away but noticable. You can do this with the effect level. You can have, for instance, a long reverb, but still far away so that you can hear the direct tone of the guitar. Same with delay. Tip for using a delay/echo: try to get it at the same tempo as the song you’re playing. Or the same as the rhythm you’re playing.

 

6: Effectsloop

When possible, use an effectsloop. My experience is  that it will sound better because the guitar goes to the pre-amp first and then to the effects before it reaches the amp and speaker. Otherwise the guitar sound will be affected before it even reaches your preamp. That can result in a weaker signal and therfore the amp will not use your guitar’s full potential. When using the effects loop the signal will still be affected by the effects. Compare the guitar level with the effects off and on. If there is a difference try the input level (if there is any) of the effect to compensate, so that both signals have the same level. So if you switch off effects or switch on effects you can’t hear a difference in volume level.

 

7: Gain

When you find your sweet spot for your guitar, you can turn the gain up until you like it. Sometimes this gain will affect your tone by adding more compression, middle tone, bass or treble tones. Listen carefully while turning the gain up. When you begin to hear a difference to your original settings you can tweak until it’s balanced again. Until you reach the amopunt of gain that you were looking for. Same goes when turning up the volume wich most of the time results in more treble tones. In the end it’s all a matter of taste, there is no right of wrong. Just use your ears.