Tone, Touch, and Feel…
Hey everyone my name is Jared James Nichols, and this is my first column for insaneguitar.com. I am a guitar picker who loves the blues and blues-rock stylings. I decided to write this column because I want to pass on some things I’ve learned from watching and listening to the greatest blues guitar players in the world, and to also try to express and share things that seem to be the most overlooked aspects of the instrument.
The columns I write are going to be titled “tone, touch, and feel…” I would like to talk about THE MOST important of things every blues player should in their arsenal in order to get their own mojo workin‘! In this first article in particular I really want to start to focus on the big one, the most important one…how to get the tone you want! The elusive sound every musician hears in their head, and will do anything to get it out of their hands and through their instrument. I would be crazy to think that I could possibly cover this entire topic in one article so stay tuned for more columns as the word tone will keep on coming up! So read up, and remember…it’s all in your hands.
Ever hear a guitar sound that just shakes you up?? Something so beautiful that you would think it is almost not of this earth? I think I speak for us all in saying that is why we all started playing the guitar in the first place! Whether it was Van Halen’s “Eruption,” or Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” or even as for me, an old Muddy Water’s tune called “You Shook Me”. Great tone is something you never forget, it sticks in your head for days. You even hear it when you are laying in bed at night. It consumes your soul!
Many guitar players think that it is the gear that gives a certain player such a great sound. Meaning the amplifier, guitar, even to the extremes of the cable brand or size of the guitar pick that a player is using. This is true, up to a point, in my own opinion. I mean you obviously couldn’t go and rock out on stage with a little ¾ size guitar and start playing mean Albert King licks, and then expect the guitar to stay in tune or sound good! But many things come into play that are much more important than gear! I once heard someone say that when you play blues guitar, and really get down on it, it is like your whole life is coming out through your instrument. Which I believe is true, every emotion you can pour into it your playing, the better! This is what the real blues greats relied on to get their own unique sounds, it was all about how they were feeling at that time of the day, or month, or year. The greats never thought about trivial things like, “Man, I would sound so much better if I only had the money to get that new pedal that just came out!” or even. “Well I can’t play THAT guitar; it wasn’t even made in the USA for crying out loud!!” I have seen/heard the best players in the world with some of the worst equipment but yet still sound like that player, and were able to get their amazing sounds. Too many players nowadays worry their time away, thinking about what gear will give them, that “Texas Sound” like SRV or the “Woman Tone” of the early Eric Clapton. In all reality they should just be practicing that certain style of playing the guitar.
I must admit though, I love gear, just as much as the next guy, especially vintage stuff! In the next segment I am going to start to talk about the gear that aided some of the blues greats into getting their tones. Also I will try to attempt to show you how to get some of these tones, using whatever gear you have, just by the way you use your hands to achieve it! Until next time, keep sheddin’ and playin the blues!