Skip to content
Close

Forum

Notifications
Clear all

Searching for Tonal Happiness


(@kcfenderfan)
Reputable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 473
Topic starter  

I am searching for tonal happiness. I have a Mexican Strat and a Squier '51. I play them through a clean channel on my Crate amp. I play clean because I want to be able to hear what I'm doing right and wrong. The Squier sounds great, but the Strat just doesn't do anything for me. I like the action and feel, just not the tone. Now, I'm sure that this is in part due to my playing ability (or lack of), and I am trying to keep that in mind.

Now my question is this? Do I try a different amp or a different guitar? I have been to GC, they will give me about $150 for the Strat on trade. I have looked at the Squier Tele Custom (not the P90 version) and an Epi SG and I like both of those, but I'm not sure about letting the Strat go so cheap or at all. Right now, I could probably spend about $150 toward something without the trade-in. This will probably be my last purchase for a long while. I am starting to get this when I talk about trading or adding gear

Jim-Bone


Quote
(@hyunjae)
Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 62
 

Well... I'm not experienced enough to give you good advise... but I suggest you get like a... VoxAD30VT or something of the VoxAD__VT series :?
For these guys have (IMHO) a VERY big tonal selection :D

It's just my suggestion but I think playing the guitar is for fun, not to hear what you're doing right and wrong =x


ReplyQuote
(@demoetc)
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2168
 

I am searching for tonal happiness. I have a Mexican Strat and a Squier '51. I play them through a clean channel on my Crate amp. I play clean because I want to be able to hear what I'm doing right and wrong. The Squier sounds great, but the Strat just doesn't do anything for me. I like the action and feel, just not the tone. Now, I'm sure that this is in part due to my playing ability (or lack of), and I am trying to keep that in mind.

Now my question is this? Do I try a different amp or a different guitar? I have been to GC, they will give me about $150 for the Strat on trade. I have looked at the Squier Tele Custom (not the P90 version) and an Epi SG and I like both of those, but I'm not sure about letting the Strat go so cheap or at all. Right now, I could probably spend about $150 toward something without the trade-in. This will probably be my last purchase for a long while. I am starting to get this when I talk about trading or adding gear

Jim-Bone

You might try adjusting the pickup height on the Strat; maybe a bit lower from the strings. Sometimes they get a bit...blocky sounding when they're too close.


ReplyQuote
(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6353
 

keep the strat for now. skip the squire custom. I played one and thought it soundd mushy.
you dont want that.
improving an amp is a good first step. it will help the mex strat.
check string pickup height.
some of it is in the fingers.
but if one guitar performs and the other doesn't,
considering all things being equal, it could be the guitar.
if you like the feel of the strat hang on to it.
upgrade the amp. check out a simple overdrive stomp box for
boosting and a little grit. that will change what you hear.

finding one's tone takes time. took me years and years and piles of pedals, strings, adjustsments.
it will come eventually. the more you don't like the easier it gets.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


ReplyQuote
(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 8306
 

if you like the way the fender feels, i'd switch out the pickups rather than buy a whole new guitar, unless you really want one of these other guitars instead.

i have a crate gx80 with the reverb broken. i got it cuz it was cheap and loud, but the tone on it -stinks-. a decent amp would probably brighten your day faster than a new guitar.


ReplyQuote
 Mike
(@mike)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2931
 

- Check the pup height. Barre the strings up high (20-ish) and then adjust. I like mine up close and personal, but that's me. Mess around till you hear something you like.

- Invest in an EQ pedal - (worth its weight in gold!) Can't say it enough. Joe and Wes both turned me on to them and I can't thank them enough. Danelectro makes a 7 band EQ called the, Fish & Chips. Plastic housing, but still a good pedal. Just don't throw it at your brother because he gave you a wet willie. Before long you'll have them in-between each effect for maximum sound shapeage! (<- say that 10 times fast! )

An EQ pedal will give you the ability to control each of the 7 frequencies individually (speaking for the Dano and most others. You can get up higher though. The usual suspects are 3, 7, 15 and 31 IIRC). The Dano will set you back @ 30 or 40 dollars. Not bad considering how much you get out of it.

What "sound" are you going for anyway? Slash, SRV, etc......


ReplyQuote
(@hyunjae)
Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 62
 

Not sure if this makes a difference... but you COULD try changing picks...

For example: When I play with a plastic Fender pick, I get a sharper, brighter sound, with a Dunlop - not so much... and so forth

So in my opinion, if you want a sligth change in tone, you could also try experimenting with different picks :?


ReplyQuote
 Mike
(@mike)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2931
 

So in my opinion, if you want a sligth change in tone, you could also try experimenting with different picks :?

Oh, it's not opinion, it's a fact!

Good ear.


ReplyQuote
(@chris-c)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3460
 

Now my question is this? Do I try a different amp or a different guitar?

Jim-Bone

I'd be tempted to try different fingers first. :) Maybe see if you get find a good player to play them both for you and see what they can squeeze out of your gear. It will give you a better idea of what is down to you, what the amp can do, and how much is really down to the guitar.

My guess (as an amateur myself) is that the order of importance goes something like this:

  • 1. Quality and skill in the fingers. This takes in not just experience and ability, but the knowledge of how to match your playing style to the gear and to the style of song you're playing.

    2. The amp/effects. Again, not just the gear itself but the knowledge of what all those knobs really do and how to set them to suit what and how you're playing.

    3. The guitar. Yet again, there are things to know about how to get the best out of each guitar. A good player can make a mediocre guitar sound great, but a fanastic guitar will sound no better than ordinary in the hands of a beginner.

  • However, playing guitar isn't all about logic - emotion and motivation come into it too. So if buying a different amp will juice up your enjoyment then that's worth it too. But don't expect too much from the exercise - maybe more like another good step along the long road to tonal bliss, rather than a complete answer.... 8)

    Good hunting.

    Chris


    ReplyQuote
     Taso
    (@taso)
    Famed Member
    Joined: 19 years ago
    Posts: 2852
     

    KC what tone are you looking for?

    Do you want something warm? Fat? Thin? Round? Bright? Creamy? Describe what you are looking for and it'll be a lot easier to figure out what your problem is.

    IE: If you want a fat warm tone, then the Strat isn't going to do it for you, and I'd suggest something with humbuckers like a Les Paul.

    http://taso.dmusic.com/music/


    ReplyQuote
    (@citizennoir)
    Noble Member
    Joined: 15 years ago
    Posts: 1248
     

    Hey KC :D

    Hmmmm,
    Well, 'tone' is a pretty broad thing.
    It means different things to different people.

    I've never heard a 51, so I'm not sure what the possible differences could be.
    51's have a HB I think, and I'm pretty sure your Strat has a HB in the bridge pos...?
    Is that correct????

    So I guess the pup configuration is about the same.

    Strats are a strange and acquired taste most times.
    Especially clean.
    They make many weird noises.

    I'm wondering if maybe you just need to get used to that 'Strat' sound.
    I have 2 Strats, and it still took me awhile to get used to the sound of my 71, and I LIKE Strats!!!!

    Some suggestions....

    If it's too thin sounding, back off the tone a bit.
    You should have tone control on all 3 pups.
    Turning the tone down to zero on the neck pup gives that nice Clapton Cream era 'Woman' tone.
    Maybe play with that.

    If your amp has EQ control (High/Mid/Low), I like to turn the Mid & Low down to about 1/2, and the High up to 10.
    This gives it a bit more 'bite'.
    Things can sound too rounded off with the low/mid up too high on the amp otherwise.

    Yes, the first thing I thought of after reading your post was - adjust the pup height.
    Seems to be on a lot of other peoples minds as well.

    I like mine adjusted so that I get a nice EVEN frequency range.
    With the pups flat, the lows are too heavy, and then to me sounds akin to being out of tune almost.

    Drop the pup down under the low strings, and raise it under the high strings.
    Strum the strings and dial the height in more precisely.
    As I said - so it's nice and even.

    I was thinking that maybe you are playing it and it's just sounding out of tune because it's not properly intonated.
    to some people, that might equate to a 'tonal' problem.
    Strats are notorious for being out of intonation.
    Especially the B & e strings.

    As it's been said, if you are looking for a certain tone or know what it is about the sound you have, let us know
    and we can furthur guide you.

    Best of luck,
    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
    (@margaret)
    Noble Member
    Joined: 16 years ago
    Posts: 1689
     

    This may make a less dramatic difference than changing out the pickups or altering the pickup height, but you might consider changing strings.

    I now have 10s on my Hwy One Strat instead of 9s (and a different brand, too), and I like the tone much better.

    A combination of the suggestions given might make your strat sound like a whole new guitar.

    Oh, and you can try out a lot of tone variations for $100 with a Vamp2.

    Margaret

    When my mind is free, you know a melody can move me
    And when I'm feelin' blue, the guitar's comin' through to soothe me ~


    ReplyQuote
    (@stormymonday)
    Reputable Member
    Joined: 19 years ago
    Posts: 436
     

    For example: When I play with a plastic Fender pick, I get a sharper, brighter sound, with a Dunlop - not so much... and so forth

    That's interesting. I use both Fender and Dunlop (Ultex) picks and feel the opposite to be true. To me, the Dunlop gives me a harsher, sharper tone whereas the Fender gives me a mellower, warmer tone.


    ReplyQuote
    (@kcfenderfan)
    Reputable Member
    Joined: 15 years ago
    Posts: 473
    Topic starter  

    Good suggestions all, and I appreciate it! And I should have been more clear as to what tone I am looking for. I like Southern rock, blues, ZZ Top. Oh, and can I throw in the Beatles and the Ventures? Maybe that will help narrow the broad gap I have created.

    Now to clear some other things:

    I do use hard picks (Fender medium) as opposed to Dunlop. I started with Dunlop mediums and could not stand the clicking sound they made.

    My Strat does have the HSS configuration. As far as lowering the pickups, I may try that at some point. Same with the EQ pedal.

    When I bought it, I could only play a few open chords and had the sales guy at GC demo it for me. I was impressed, but what did I know? And he may not have been playing through a clean amp/channel. As far as having someone else play it, that's a good idea but I would want them to play through my amp, so I'm not sure how I would do that. I could have my guitar teacher play it, but he is a hardcore Strat guy so he may be a bit biased.

    Jim-Bone


    ReplyQuote