Skip to content
A question of tone ...
 
Notifications
Clear all

A question of tone . . .

18 Posts
10 Users
0 Likes
3,509 Views
(@yashicamat)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 271
Topic starter  

. . . fairly back to basics really, but this one struck me this evening. :D

Playing identical settings on my amp, swapping between my 7 year old Epi LP and my 18 month old Yamaha Pacifica, there was a really marked difference in tone. OK, so nothing new there, one is a LP copy, the other a Strat-based guitar design. However, tonal differences in terms of the "body" of the sound (LP having a fat tone, the Pacifica a snappier one), the thing that really struck me was how much more the LP "sings", in that the sound is so much smoother. Now, I've heard very smooth sounds coming from a Strat (Derek & the Dominoes "Layla" is one which springs to mind) . . . but whatever tone / volume / pickup combinations I tried, I just couldn't get the same, well, refinement from the sound!

Got me thinking this - is this difference an indication of the quality of the wood? Given that a good Strat is clearly capable of a creamy smooth distorted lead tone, would this be a clear indicator of the budget nature of the Pacifica? By contrast I am very happy with the tone from the LP.

Thoughts? :)

Rob

If something's not worth doing it's worth forgetting about.
Epiphone Les Paul Std - Yamaha Pacifica 112XJ - Takamine EG340SC - Taylor Baby - Grainger Hammerhead 50 - Grainger Valve Five
http://www.youtube.com/yashicamatonline


   
Quote
(@crkt246)
Honorable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 592
 

The tone that comes from a guitar is a combo of pick ups the wood and the scale ofthe neck.
haveing a longer scale neck like the strat has a 25 1/2 inch neck wil have brighter tone
and a les paul will have some thing like a 24 3/4 inch neck wich will have a melower sound.

and single coil pups will also give a brighter tone and humbuckers will give you a fater tone.


   
ReplyQuote
(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

Clapton favors a very strong midrange boost on/in his Strats. These days, it's actually built into his guitars and also included in his signature Strat. That boost (up to 20 dB IIRC) will go a long way towards removing the typically scooped Strat sound and deliver a tone nearly as thick and creamy as 'buckers.

<speculation alert> Layla probably predated the Clapton built-in booster, and the effect may have been achieved by a combo of OD pedal and EQ. If so, that probably was the inspiration for the electronics built into his later guitars.

-=tension & release=-


   
ReplyQuote
(@jeffster1)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 231
 

Or you can buy a fat strat :D


   
ReplyQuote
(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

Or you can buy a fat strat :D

Always an option - and cheaper than that Clapton Strat, but doesn't really answer the OP's Q re how can singles can possibly sound like 'buckers.

-=tension & release=-


   
ReplyQuote
(@scott58)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 44
 

I'm interested in getting a set of EMG SA's to be put in a strat. Not exactly humbuckers, but they are active
and it does seem to even the odds a bit.

Dean Icon PZ
Line 6 Variax 700
Dean 79 ML (silverBurst) Dean 79 ML Arctic White
Dean V-Wing Dove
Wampler SuperPlextortion - Skreddy Lunar Module
Peavey Transtube 110 EFX - Vox DA20 - Valve Jr Head/Cab
Phonic 620 Power Pod PA
Line 6 Pod HD
H2O Chorus/Echo


   
ReplyQuote
(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

I'm interested in getting a set of EMG SA's to be put in a strat. Not exactly humbuckers, but they are active
and it does seem to even the odds a bit.

They may have output level parity with humbuckers, but I doubt the timre/tone is the same unless specifically designed and marketed to emulate humbucker characteristics, as are some single-coil form factor pup such as SD's JB Jr. Some people do like single coil tones, but would like to have the less noisey, cable-driving characteristics of actives ("low impedance") pups. According to MF, the SA emulates vintage alnico Strat pups with more midrange and output. While it's a step in the direction of thicker, it probably means a somewhat beefier, but still characterically Strat-ish sound. That would imply the tight lows and chimey highs are still there -- def not a humbucker characteristic.

-=tension & release=-


   
ReplyQuote
(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 3221
 

That would imply the tight lows and chimey highs are still there -- def not a humbucker characteristic.
Aside from the possibility that the Pacifica has POS pickups, couldn't a little EQ go a long way toward getting a smoother tone?

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
ReplyQuote
(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

Maybe. Especially if one ignores the attack and decay of the notes/chords. But that's a pretty big thing to ignore.

EQ is a linear process that effects changes to the freq/phase/amplitude characteristics of the output signal from the pup. It does not directly change all dimensions of created-at-the-pup non-linear characteristics. EQ only boosts or cuts the frequency content that already exists at the pup output. So if something is "missing" from a pups output signal (e.g, particular harmonics), EQ cannot create it. EQ can effect certain, broad-brush characterics such as generally thickening midrange and boosting/cutting highs and/or lows. But EQ's effects on attack-decay-sustain-release, pup amplitude compression, microphonics, fundamental harmonic generation (due to magnetics, noding of string, pup placement, coil configuration) are limited.

-=tension & release=-


   
ReplyQuote
(@yashicamat)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 271
Topic starter  

That would imply the tight lows and chimey highs are still there -- def not a humbucker characteristic.
Aside from the possibility that the Pacifica has POS pickups, couldn't a little EQ go a long way toward getting a smoother tone?

I have a Kent Armstrong "Hot Rails" in the bridge position and it sounds no better than the standard Pacifica pickups so I don't think that's it. Clapton's tone is still "Stratish", even though it's really smooth.

I'm following the discussion with great interest though. :)

Rob

If something's not worth doing it's worth forgetting about.
Epiphone Les Paul Std - Yamaha Pacifica 112XJ - Takamine EG340SC - Taylor Baby - Grainger Hammerhead 50 - Grainger Valve Five
http://www.youtube.com/yashicamatonline


   
ReplyQuote
(@xylembassguitar)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 66
 

This is a good discussion.

Back to your original question yashicamat, in my experience, the wood of solid bodied guitars has a fairly small effect on tone. Granted, it will contribute to the tone, but not nearly as much as the pickups, scale length, player's ability/style, and overall build quality.

Since overall build quality is a factor, it is possible that the budget nature of the Pacifica does play in to its seeming inability to produce that "smooth creamy" tone.

Also, the fact that the humbucker is in the bridge position in the Pacifica may contribute to its "snappier" tone, even though it's a humbucker. I'll bet if there was a humbucker nearer the neck in the Pacifica, the guitar would at least come closer to a smoother, less punchy/snappy tone.

Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars


   
ReplyQuote
(@citizennoir)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1247
 

Ooooohhhhh.... :D
A tone thread!

Always good to see you on board Greg :)
Clapton favors a very strong midrange boost on/in his Strats. These days, it's actually built into his guitars and also included in his signature Strat. That boost (up to 20 dB IIRC) will go a long way towards removing the typically scooped Strat sound and deliver a tone nearly as thick and creamy as 'buckers.

<speculation alert> Layla probably predated the Clapton built-in booster, and the effect may have been achieved by a combo of OD pedal and EQ. If so, that probably was the inspiration for the electronics built into his later guitars.

As far as the Layla set-up goes.... Clapton played an early year 56 2 color burst Strat (Brownie) on that album.
It was stock as far as I know.
The early 56's had Ash bodies; which tends to lend a more top/bottom end sound to the tone.
Strats by design lean a bit to the midrange, so IMO Ash is the best choice for body wood.

Clapton played 'Brownie' on his first album, then on LaoALS (LAYLA) - then made the switch in favor of 'Blackie';
A composite or Frankenstein Strat made from 3 (I think) different 50's Strats.
The body on 'Blackie' is Alder; which is very mid-rangy.

(I have both an Alder and an Ash bodied Strat, and I find both claims to be accurate)

Clapton has stayed with alder bodies thru his sig Strats - probably due to his preference for mid-range.

Clapton's tone on the Layla album isn't even close to sounding buckerish.
In fact it's quite thin (most likely due to the stock 56 SC Pups in Brownie).

He's playing thru a Fender Tweed Champ amp (5 watts).
He had a variety of them in the studio at that time, and even went so far as to have Duane Allman use one a couple times.
(As far as I know, Clapton's use of a 5 watt amp in the studio for Layla was what led others to follow suit in order to get a HUGE sound on recordings - Billy Gibbons of ZZ-Top used low watt amps to record some of the early stuff)

If you are hearing a 'smooth, creamy' HB-esque tone on Layla, it's Duane playing his HB loaded Goldtop.
(His GT was gone by the time they did the overdubs - and so he did the OD's with his LP sunburst).

IMO - Good tone wood makes a huge difference in the scheme of things.
A guitar is (even a solid body electric) first and foremost an acoustic instrument.

If you want a clean, woody, dry, twangy, airy, jangly, note swelling sound.... Forget electronics; It's all about the wood!

Ken

"The man who has begun to live more seriously within
begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles


   
ReplyQuote
(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

Interesting discussion.

I have been playing my Fender American Tele a lot lately, and it has a much thinner, twangier tone than my SG and LP. I have really had to readjust the EQ settings on my amp and EQ pedal to get a thick tone. Took some real experimentation, but I am getting a great tone out of it and the guys in the band say they love the tone of this guitar. I had to really cut the high frequencies, and boost the mids and bass quite a bit. I also use the BBE Sonic Stomp last in my chain, again boosting the bass (lo contour)and cutting the highs (process) a bit. The Sonic Stomp is really a fantastic pedal, I would recommend it to anyone, it will really add fullness to a thin tone and makes your tone come very alive.

BBE Sonic Stomp

I will also use a Behringer TO800 Vintage Overdrive to thicken up the tone. I keep the gain about half and tone settings around 12 o'clock also. I never get tired of telling people how great this pedal is, you would have to own one awhile to really appreciate it, it is my go-to-pedal.

Sounds like a lot of trouble, but I get a thick, super-smooth singing tone out of my Tele with this setup. :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
ReplyQuote
(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

So many pedals! I put a P90 in one of my Tele's neck position -- thickened the tone right up :wink: Kinda confirms the fact that a pup can greatly affect an electric's tone.

Wes: The BBE pedal sounds interesting. I wonder if the MF description of its processing is accurate. Leads one to believe it mainly does phase versus frequency corrections to compensate for speaker phase delay distortion. But from your description, it must be doing more than that. Does it add gain?

Ken: The saturated Champ is believable. I haven't listened to 'Layla and Other ...' album in a long time, so don't recall the exact sound, but saturated plus Strat would sound thicker, though not as creamy as Duane's LP of course. Did EC play any of the slide on that collection, or was it all Duane? My memory of Why Does Love Have to be So Sad is of a crunchy, rude (non-slide) Strat lead, probably EC.

-=tension & release=-


   
ReplyQuote
(@enosmac1972)
Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 24
 

Or you can buy a fat strat :D
I second that... my brother just picked up a Fender Highway One HSS. Its really nice. Got the ability to get the Strat sound with the neck pickup, and then can get fat (though not quite a fat as an LP) with the humbucker. Plus made in the USA for under $800. Its a nice geet.

Agile AL-3100 Cherry Sunburst Slim Neck (2008)
Dean Vendetta XM (2008)
Line 6 Spider III 15W
Line 6 TonePort UX1
Marshall MS-2 5W


   
ReplyQuote
Page 1 / 2