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Endless Pursuit of Tone

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Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 312
Topic starter  

Hello again everyone. Well, here I am again posting about tone.

Ever since I started playing guitar, I have searched for years to find different tones that I need. Without these tones, my playing is depressed so greatly that I sometimes stop playing.

I know you have all heard everyones tone complaint but come on people I have been spending hundreds and hundreds for years.

Heres the situation.

I have 4-5 different tones that I want. simple. I wont ever need any more then like these 5.

-Lead/Solo -
This is pretty much 80% of what I do in my band, in my recordings, everything. My favorite guitarists are Yngwie Malmsteen, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch, Etc.
My most precious tone that I have been searching for, for so long is my lead tone. Over the years I have conjured up that I like chorus, delay, and possibly reverb in my high gain leads.

Rhythm -
This one has been the most difficult. My favorite rythm I have ever liked was on a randall cheapo 300$ solid state head. Best sounding rhythm ever. My style of rythm tone Is John Pettruci w/ dream theater. His lows are great.

Stratocaster Lead
Same as the first lead, just needs to be altered because of the single coils.

Stratocaster Rhythm
Read Above ^

Beautiful Clean-
Usually combines chorus, reverb, with the option of delay and real thick mids.

Clean is almost usually never a problem to obtain.

Those are the only things in the guitar world that I ask for. I have played almost every amp, every cabinet, every effect, different guitars, different pickups, etc.

Some things Ive learned:

- The Guitar doesnt matter. I have played 250$ guitars through thousand dollar set-ups, and thousand dollar guitars through thousand dollar setups. Other then the single coil/humbucker difference to the typical person you cant hear much of a tone difference. Sure it does make a difference in quality pickup/wood wise but the true DIFFERENCES in your tone are not in the instrument. At least not for the style of playing that I do.

- Numerous pedals, is a bad idea. There was a time when I had 13 pedals in a line pedal coupled and I had uncurable noise/hum. The Boss NS-2 Did ok with taking it away, but by the time I had my 14 pedals being noise suppressed, and the chain consistantly being cut, the tone was horrible enough.

- Quality for everything in my opinion should be a must when Im trying to develop such a great tone. I have thousand dollar guitars, thousand dollar amp set-ups, and just hundreds and hundreds of dollars DUMPED into tone/electronics.

As of right now, I have:

My main Gig Rig;

Peavy Valve King 100 All Tube Amp Head
On Top of a Peavy 5150 EVH 90's Sheffield 4X12
Boss GT-8 Guitar Effects Processor
Fender/Peavy 1/4 Instrument Cables
Brand New Home = Brand new outlets & electric wiring. (dont know how quality it was done, but IMHO the electricity I am recieving is good.)

My Combo Amps:
Behringer GMX 210
Carvin MTS 3200 50th Anniversary All Tube 100W USA
Fender H.O.T. USA

Dec 07' Schecter C-1 Diamond Series Classic
05' Jackson WRXT Warrior
86' Fender MIJ Stratocaster
08' Fender Artist Series Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster
?? Epiphone Special Les paul

With my current set-up..

I have fiddled with my GT-8 for the past few months and realized that only a few of the presets are actually worth playing. My own custom patches? Ive made about 6 of them, and even the ones that I personally made I still find reasons to dislike.
I hate the typical sound of all amps. Marshalls, Carvins, Peavys, etc. There are very FEW amps in the world that sound great to me just by themselves.

- VOX Valvetronix Line
-Line 6 Bogner Tube Heads
- Randall (only ONE specific used one that was like 300$)
-Peavy JSX Line
- Mesa Tri-axis Rack Mounted Amps

But even with those amps/setups I have yet to find exactly what I want. I have played around and just cant find the tone of exactly what I want. I have heard it. Believe me, I have heard it. It is not just one tone, its the combination of many different guitar players. Some days I want to sound just like yngwie's solos. Other days I question - why cant I sound like David Gilmours Comfortably Numb Solo?

I want to be a jazz player, but 14 minutes later I want to be John Petrucci. I am very picky and love ALL types of music so I find myself angrily lost with my pursuit.

I know this all sounds ridiculous. "So what, take your GT-8 and play with it until you have your jazz, john petrucci, yngwie, ect tone."

Doesnt matter. For some reason the GT-8 just isnt enough. Sure it does everything possible, but the disadvantage of a tube amp, is I set up ALL of my tones at one volume level, and then when I play with my band those tones are FAR from sufferable.

It is all just so endless. I have had it. Im fed up with the numerous guitar center and music store days searching for that amp, that pedal, that thing that Im lacking in all aspects.


For the first time yesterday I walked into my music store. I heard a guy playing things from blues to metal on this Vox Valvetronix (this is why I listed it up there^)

I was blown away. A little 30 watt combo amp! One speaker!!!

I almost cried. I said, my friend, that amp is the closest thing I have ever heard to the tone I enjoy. (for heavy/rock blues)

The chorus poured out of this amp. The delays and everything sounded like a perfectly tweaked GT-8 in front of a 4000$ Marshall or something. (even though in my situation that would probably still sound shitty in my life LOL)

Anyways, so I sat down with this amp for about 30 minutes. Fiddled through the clean and through the distorted tones. It never failed. I dont know if its my "GAS" or if I really did fall in love with this little amp. I swear it. I have always looked away from voxes because of the limited possiblites I witnessed with there AC30's and others. The valvetronix line is unbelievable. Honestly! The clean to the METAL is so perfectly balanced. I saw the price tag for this little guy at 250$ for the 30 watt. Now 30 watts is pretty low for me, so I will probably end up with the 50 watter. But still! 50 watts = 380$!

Thats STILL less then I paid for my GT-8 or 5150 Cab! As depressing as it is, this amp is closer to the "general" sound Ive been looking for then my GT-8, 5150 setup is. The GT-8 has VOX Models IN IT! But I still cant compete with this little combo for under 400$. I really am ANGRY at this amp. It makes me so mad, that I could have been more satistfied with this 400$ amp, then I am with my thousands spent. But I guess in the long run you have to spend thousands to feel content that your little combo amp is the best there is. :lol: :lol:

Honestly I am just looking for some basic insight on this. Does anyone else go through this daily search?

Also, the most interesting aspect of these VOX Valvetronix amps is their clear advertising line is "Endless Pursuit of Tone"!!

Does the search ever end?

Is this VOX Valvetronix the end of my search? Or will it continue even after I spend MORE on this line of amps?
Am I just being way to picky? Because I listen DAILY to others tones that are mastered perfectly. Now I understand that on recordings, there are so many insane possiblites when it comes to altering tone that It is ridiculous to compare my amps to Comfortably numbs final take.

Has anyone else found the end of the rainbow?

Because it really is never there for me.

Thanks everyone for your opinions.


Sing Me A Song Your a Singer, Do me a wrong, your a bringer of evil. - Dio

Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 312
Topic starter  

For those of you who actually sit through that, sorry I type alot and didnt realize it was 9 pages rofl.

Sing Me A Song Your a Singer, Do me a wrong, your a bringer of evil. - Dio

Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 329

?? Epiphone Special Les paul ...

Sorry to just single out one part of your interesting post but I'm on my way out. As for the ??, have you tried your serial number at

♪♫ Ron ♪♫

Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3709

Wow! All that to worry about. I just need some sustain and a little EQ to make it bright enough I can catch a harmonic and my fingers do the rest. Maybe I'm not fussy enough, but thats about all I require. :?

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --

Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171

Getting the tone of recording studios using isolation booths, fantastic sound engineers, numerous post-recording processing techniques, and on and on is simply impossible.

As for live tone, eq's are the key. Get them in front of, between, and behind your effects. Use them to make the subtle changes you need to refine the sound. Quality components is important, but never forget that the old expression that "tone is in the fingers" is ultimately true. Put the worst guitarist you know on Claptons' stage rig, and he won't be able to play a single note that sounds even half-way similar to Clapton playing the same note.

But even saying that, designing and maintaining a sound chain is something the pros employ folks who specialize in precisely that art. Having a deep understanding of how to precisely tweak each component to drive the subtle differences in sound necessary to achieve a specific result takes as much practice and dedication as becoming a good musician. Find a sound engineer to look at and listen to your specific set up and get some pointers.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST

Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1247

I guess I'm gunna just let go that you said [talking of obtaining good tone], that the 'guitar doesn't matter',
and that good, CLEAN tone is EASY to obtain! :shock:

I'll just keep my mouth shut on this one, and provide you with this link:

Hope it helps.


"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

Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 312
Topic starter  

Clean is easy to obtain FOR ME. I have almost never had trouble devloping a great glassy beautiful clean.

I honestly do believe that guitars are definatly one of the least important items in the chain of tone. I have played many many different guitars through my set-up and it has little effect. There isnt a GREAT enough effect to claim that it has an effect. All of my statements are just my opinion.

Sing Me A Song Your a Singer, Do me a wrong, your a bringer of evil. - Dio

Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1196

I had the Vox Valvetronix 30w and sold it. It was a great amp, but I needed money at the time and figured since I was selling to someone I knew really well, I wanted to set this beginning guitarist up with something decent to begin with. I also sold him my Epiphone Goldtop SG. Man, what a nice pair. Miss em both.

As to your endless quest for tone... Sure, I think a lot of us go thru that. Even the pros that play for years change their sound and gear every so often. It may be more cost effective for the touring musicians with sponsors. The rest of us just have to budget our G.A.S. and Infinite Tone Quest Syndrome (I.T.Q.S.) and hope for the best.

I currently have several set ups and too many guitars. I have about 10 project guitars going on and keep buying various pick-ups to get these instruments to sound good so I can either play or sell them. Hopefully sell them and make some money back. Yet, I don't want to sell these instruments until I am satisfied that I am selling something decent for the price and my time.


It is a small world for metal fanatics. I welcome you fellow musicians, especially the metalheads!