Tone. That word. It's discussed in hushed tones. It's revered by thousands, if not millions. It's talked about between musicians ... "He has a great tone.", "Her tone is fabulous.", "How do I get that tone?" Well, here we go.
Let's bypass all of the pundits who say that tone comes from the gear that you buy. That's ludicrous ... or is it? How about all the people who say that, "Tone comes from your fingers?" They're right. Or, how about this ... "Tone comes from the signal chain, from wood, strings, pedals, cables, amp and processors, with the ultimate origin in the person?"
Any serious guitarist has heard about how Eddie Van Halen has talked about a "warm, brown sound." And, consequently, any serious guitarist has seen countless products claiming to deliver such. What the hell is a "warm, brown sound" anyway? What does Maestro Segovia mean when he says a "fully formed, round note?" What does Miles mean when he's saying a "full, round sound?" Three different instruments, three different approaches to music, but they all have the same common denominator ... great tone.
You can identify anyone that you listen to that has a great tone. Stevie Ray, Eddie, Ella, Sarah Vaughan, Duke, Miles, Satch, Trane, the list pretty much ends there ... one could say E.C., Albert King, Jeff Beck, Billie Holiday, Bix Beiderbeke, Djano Reinhardt ... the list goes on and on. But really, when we are talking about TONE, then it's a short list of the great ones who've had great tone.
The Kinks? Let's hear it. Kurt Cobain? He was an alchemist of great tone. Allan Holdsworth? Truly a giant. Thurston Moore? Yep. Sun Ra? You bet. John Zorn?
Of course. Enya? Now, we're stretching it ... Yoko Ono? You've gone too far.
What is great tone? Let the games begin ... and thank you.