When it comes right down to it, there are a variety of different things that can affect your guitar tone. From the guitar you are using, to your amp and your pedals, to the strings or the pick, your tone can vary significantly depending on what you are trying to achieve and what sounds good to you.
Use the following tips to tweak your guitar tone and find your desired sound.
1. Pickup Height
The height of your pickups can affect the quality and characteristics of your guitar tone. It would be worthwhile to enlist the help of a qualified tech or to learn how to adjust the height of your pickups on your own to achieve your desired tone.
2. Plectrum Selection
As was alluded to earlier, the pick you use can really affect your tone. Try a variety of different picks (size, shape, thickness) to get a feel for what you like.
3. Set Up Your Guitar
If your guitar is set up correctly, not only will you sound better, you will also play better. You can learn to do this yourself, but if you are unsure, seek the help of a qualified guitar tech.
4. String Choice
It may seem like a small thing, but strings are not all created equal. The material, the thickness, the production process and other factors all make a difference.
As a sidebar, Eddie Van Halen always preferred to use old strings on his guitar. So if you think that strings don’t matter, think again.
5. Input Selection
Some (but not all) guitar amps come with two different inputs (the high gain and low gain channels). The natural temptation might be to plug into the high gain input, which may work in some instances, but the low gain input may provide surprising results and curtail unwanted noise besides.
6. Wood Choice
Guitars are made of wood, and different woods have varying tonal qualities. Make sure to choose based on what kind of sound you’re after.
7. Pickup Selection
There are more and more pickups to choose from these days. The important thing to remember is that different pickups work differently depending on your guitar/amp combination. Choose for compatibility in addition to sound.
8. Volume and Tone Knobs
As it turns out, the knobs on your guitar aren’t just for decoration. They can alter and modify your tone significantly. Make use of both your volume and tone knobs to tweak the quality of sound and output of your guitar.
9. Fret Selection
The frets on your guitar will affect the tone of your instrument as well as playability. Again, it may seem like a small thing, but cumulatively, the small things add up.
10. Guitar Cables
Yes, even instrument cables can play a part in your sound. It’s worth investing in high quality cables that preserve and accurately transmit your guitar’s tone.
11. Amplifier Selection
Amp selection is probably one of the more obvious things that will affect your overall tone. It’s wise to have different amps for different applications. If you often play out, remember to match the amp to the size of the room.