No Chops = Limited, weak or lousy musical instrument skills
Great Tone = Sound that takes the listener into another dimension (often hiding the fact the player has no chops…)
This site is dedicated to…and created for…all those below-average, stuck-at-intermediate, mediocre, frustrated - but enthusiastic - instrument players that struggle to “play well”, or “sound great”, or “have killer tone” (I especially hate that one - what the heck is “killer” anything??) - and buy piles of books, CD’s and DVD’s, spend thousands of bucks on equipment, all in hopes of finding the “magic bullet” - and still suck!
…which is exactly where I used to be.
For what it’s worth - I’ve been playing for 45+ years and YOU are probably “better” at the basic skills it takes to play guitar than me. I’m no “monster picker”. But I get more calls for gigs, jams and such than I can handle. Why? I’m a magician. A chameleon. A shape-changer.
And I only have two tricks: 1) A simple bagful of basic licks that work in overlapping styles, and 2) Good Tone. You can play slow, simple, basic stuff and blow the doors off a “hot licks” player with just a few simple adjustments to your playing and equipment use. Great instruments, boutique pedals and vintage gear area all wonderful - but NOT mandatory. A FEW quality items, proper guitar setup, a decent amp and very simple playing techniques are all you need.
Note - I didn’t say “Pre-CBS Strat”, “boutique pedal brand #9,387”, or “practice scales 30 minutes a day”. Oh, some are fun…and some are painful.
My whole mantra - No Chops but Great Tone” is based on the K.I.S.S. System - Keep It Simple, Stupid. If that sounds like it might help, look around this site - if not, no worries…but it might be worth a few minutes of your time.
Let’s get one important point out of the way - I’m not selling ANYTHING. No CD’s. No books. No downloaded lessons. No videos. This is just information sharing - and it works both ways: if you have a good tip, idea, gadget, whatever, let me know and(assuming I’m convinced you’re not selling them or that your idea is completely idiotic…) I’ll throw it up (errr…bad choice of words) “post” it on the Tips From Readers page (ready to be launched as soon as you send some!)
Let’s start with the single most confusing subject when it comes to discussions of players’ “tone”: Closely tied in to - and often confused with - tone is “style” - but style is a totally different thing, and many players get tone and style confused. Hopefully I can “de-confuse” you and simplify the definitions. Because to be a solid, useful skillful player takes both ingredients and the will power to work on them - 1) TONE, and 2) STYLE.
“TONE” is the complete sound projected from a player’s instrument or amplifier, and is not a single item; it’s a combination of equipment, how well that equipment is serviced/maintained/set up, instrument and amplifier control settings (and knowing how to adult them for the room conditions), and the player’s use of right and left hand techniques to change the frequency response and volume.
“STYLE” is how a player actually “operates” the instrument - picking technique, phrasing, sustain, vibrato, aggressiveness (or lightness of touch) etc. It’s the physical acts that can make a player recognizable whether he/she is playing a Strat or an SG; a Martin D-28 or a ukulele.
The confusion comes in when listeners mistakenly label “Style” as “Tone” and say things like “He sounds the same no matter what guitar he’s playing”. That statement CAN be true to a point - but when the tag “…and it proves tone is all in the hands” is added the whole statement becomes a load of bull puckey. “Style” is in the hands”; “Tone” is in the whole mess of hands, equipment and how both are applied.
So it’s critical to understand and accept this basic fact: “Tone” is NOT in the hands.
If you disagree - great, tell me why and we’ll get the reader feedback page started. And I will prove you wrong (grin).
Please be aware the almost all of the technical information here that relates to tone is MY opinion. I am VERY opinionated. You
may will disagree with something. No problem.
As moderator, I will carefully analyze each conflict and provide one of the following results: Silverface is right - or you are wrong. Like I said - K.I.S.S.
So enjoy the ride, and email suggestions, comments, opinions…we’re under construction permanently because the whole subject is always in flux! The site will be expanding quickly in response to requests - emails, Twitter “follows”. You tell me - I want this place to be a resource, so I’ll listen to any ideas. And blog contributions will be welcome - and they don’t have to be things I agree with. Unless you want them posted. Or write them on a $50 bill.
Seriousness will be dealt with as harshly as possible.
Personal/“business” note: My day job is (or was) a paint & coatings consultant, and it’s related to my “avocation”- I finish from scratch or refinish solid-body instruments, do guitar and tube amp tech work and guitar setups. I specialize in very precisely-created relic finish jobs. But you can completely ignore that if you want to - or if you want to see examples and get more info click here. And if you send an email asking about finish work, I will NOT spam you with monthly “newsletters” or other such crap - you’ll only get what you ask for. No sales pitch - if you’re interested, you’ll contact me…if you’re not you won’t.