10 professional tricks for a better tone

10 professional tricks for a better tone

Have you ever heard, or maybe even seen a guitarist live on stage, who moved you just by striking a single chord or playing a single note? That was sure to be a good guitarist with a good tone.

What is “Tone”?

Tone is the timbre of a tone, scale. The tone depends on various factors. It is influenced, among other things, by the playing technique and the equipment used such as pickups , amplifiers , guitars, guitar woods, strings , picks, pick-up position, box, etc. In guitar forums it is often controversial whether the tone comes from the fingers or the playing technique or from the equipment. The truth is, both parameters together determine good and bad tones. However, you will have already made the experience that a good guitarist can make even the junkiest equipment and get a good sound out of it. Conversely, a complete beginner on a high quality guitar won’t sound as creamy as Slash. There is a lot to suggest that the clay comes out of the finger; and it is indeed the case that playing technique has the greatest influence on tone. Equipment and effects can only process what comes out of the guitar and what comes out of it, your fingers determine.

How can I improve my tone?

In short, through experimentation. Every guitarist has his own tone and it has to be developed. In the following list, I’ll give you 10 tips that you can use as a basis for your experiments.

Plectrum Position

The angle at which you hit the strings with the pick has a significant influence on your sound. If your pick runs parallel to the string, you will get a more angular, harder sound. If you play at a slight angle, it will be easier to play and your sound will be rounder and more flattering. If you hit it hard you can still hear that the string is “cut”. A slightly angled pick position creates a nicer sound for many ears.

Touch hardness and dynamics

As a rock guitarist, you always want to try to hit the strings hard. This is especially true for distorted rhythm guitar parts and solos that are supposed to sound powerful. Try it! A hard attack works wonders and makes your sound cleaner, clearer and more expressive. Of course you should keep in mind that dynamics are an important part of good music, but it is more difficult to hit hard than soft. If the situation is right then just take the power out of your touch and discover the wonderful world of dynamics.

Picking direction

You should play everything with alternation, because downstrokes set limits in terms of speed early on. But play a rocky riff and absorb yourself. First you play it with alternating beats and then only with downstrokes. And yes, the second variant sounds a lot more powerful, precise and tighter. This is because your downstrokes will always be harder than your upstrokes. That doesn’t mean that you should always play everything with downstrokes, but you should have had this experience in order to be able to decide which touch technique is best for which riff or lick.

Stop position

Rather banal, but by no means negligible: the sound varies depending on where you strike the strings. If you play the strings at the back of the bridge, the result will sound very treble-heavy, something like a banjo. The further you move towards your neck, the more bass your sound gets. The stop position is also extremely important when dampening with the right hand palm muting. If you mute towards the neck, the sound will be drier and tighter than if you mute towards the bridge. There it becomes more open, wetter and fatter.

Guitar pick texture

What touches the string naturally also affects its sound. There are picks in different materials. The thickness of your pick also plays a big role. Thin, soft picks produce a higher-pitched, clear sound than thick picks, which sound more soft and bass-heavy. Also try striking the strings with your fingers or thumb. You will notice how almost all of the “attack” disappears, resulting in a very delicate sound.

Finger pressure

How hard the fingers of your gripping hand press the strings into the frets has a significant influence on the intonation and thus, at least for the listener’s ear, on the sound. In general, try to apply as little pressure as necessary to make the covenant sound resonate. If you want to sound a little harder, you can also increase the pressure. In general, however, experience has shown that the required pressure varies from guitar to guitar, which has to do with the position of the strings and the height of the frets . The same applies here: try out what sounds good.

Fingers per fret

To be honest, I can’t really explain why it is, but let’s say you play the 7th fret on the B string with your index finger. Compare that to grabbing this one tone with your ring finger and placing your index and middle fingers on the strings behind it, so that they dampen the actually non-sounding part of the string. Sounds better to my ears and probably has to do with silencing the part of the string that vibrates between your finger and the saddle of the guitar.


Actually logical, but consistently ignored by many beginners- the possibilities of phrasing. Whether you slide into a note, play it on or pull-off, or bend into it, add vibrato or not all of these shape your tone. Make a conscious effort to experiment with the various phrasing options you know to find your sound.


If you think about the sound of individual notes, you will notice that, for example, the second fret on the G-string sounds different than the 7th fret on the D-string even though you are playing the same note. In generally, the further you push the fingerboard, the softer and more bass your sound will be. In the lower registers, on the other hand, the guitar sounds crisper and richer in treble.

Guitar Controls

Most guitarists always have the guitar in a standard position- bridge humbucker on, volume and tone control fully turned up. But what happens if you play outside of the usual guitar settings? Switch to the clean channel and turn your tone control all the way down. Although this sound doesn’t have a lot of assertiveness, I think it’s beautiful. You can also use the Volume slider to control the amount of distortion. The same applies here, as with all of these tone tips: trying is better than studying Of course you have many other possibilities to tinker with your clay. Which did you discover for yourself.

Hey check out How often should you change guitar strings

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