You veteran players and your tone terminology

Discussion in 'Amps & Cabs' started by living room rocker, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. living room rocker

    living room rocker Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2018
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    12
    I'm a relative novice player of 2 years now. I've been trying to get a better understanding of you veteran players' terminology when describing tone. My amp (Fender Champion 20) offers some limited effects which I can clearly hear and describe. The terms "tight, headroom, saturated tubes, overdriven, bite, crunch, scooped mids, high gain, etc" leave me puzzled by what you mean though; just not enough experience yet I guess. These terms are not effects, but instead amp or pickup tone characteristics.....correct? This amp offers 12 "voicings" I toy with and have zero'ed in on Blackface and British settings as my favorites. I turn the effects completely off and just listen to the tonal differences. Do you guys get classic rock tones with cleaner amp settings........or is that an oxymoron? I've read that guitarists like Angus Young actually play with cleaner settings, plus lots of volume obviously..........is this true?
     
  2. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    10,229
    Likes Received:
    8,260
    Location:
    -
    Tight-technically perfect, pitch tone and rhythm.
    headroom-how much power your amp can provide before the sound starts to break up and distort.
    saturated tubes-That is a crude description of cranking the volume knb on your amp to 11 so that the signal from the guitar drives the pre-amp and power amp tubes beyond their nominal voltage capacity causing distortion. It is LOUD.
    Overdriven-see above. An amp may be pushed beyond its normal capacity by use of its native volume and master volume or by an inline device (pedal) that boosts the signal beyond the clean capacity of the amplifier.
    Bite-amount of treble in the signal, extreme is called ice pick.
    crunch- low and mid frequency mild distortion-think (Free's Alright Now) rhythm tone
    scooped mids- an EQ setting wherein bass and treble tones are flat or boosted and midrange is set very low. If you have a contour control onyour amp, it shapes the midrange curve.
    high gain-gain is the power level of the signal to the pre-amp. Gain is also called "drive" on some control panels. High gain means raw signal is boosted to a high level. While gain affects volume, it should also be thought of as a tone control.
    That'll be $100,000 for the totality of my knowledge.:rofl:
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
    syscokid, Notabot, Clifdawg and 2 others like this.
  3. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    10,229
    Likes Received:
    8,260
    Location:
    -
    Weird synchronicity: I sat in with my ex-singers new band which included a 20ish guy who had great touch and tone but had no musical glossary to convey his ideas with or to interpret what others want from him. I spent about ten minutes talking with the guy and he got the concept of figured bass very quickly. By the end of the night he was calling chord changes for an original he wanted to play. "I ii ..." It took me longer to explain it than it did him to grasp.
     
  4. Worblehat

    Worblehat Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2018
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    86
    I know just what you mean! Since I started learning guitar last year, I try to get my head around all those terms and am still puzzled about a lot of them.

    Biddlins explanations are helpful, but descriptions like "it shapes the midrange curve" and "treble tones are flat or boosted and midrange is set very low" are still problematic for a beginner like me. Those basic terms treble, mids and bass are hard to grasp. After a lot of fiddling with my amp settings I think I know when I need to adjust treble or bass to get to a sound I like. But the midrange control is still something I don't really know how to use.
     
  5. Worblehat

    Worblehat Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2018
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    86
    And even if you know what those basic EQ terms (treble, mids, low) mean and how to use them, there are so many more terms like bite, attack, punchy, muddy, thight... It does not help very much to read explanations of them. Experience is probably the most important aspect here. I guess you can't really define these terms as tone is something intangible and subjective.
     
  6. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2015
    Messages:
    5,310
    Likes Received:
    4,470
    Location:
    Sutton Québec
    Most of these terms are very subjective, since our ears hear different things that the next guy. But then again, they are also graphic. When I hear that a certain pickup has a lot of bite in it, it is usually because it does just that, it bites, it pokes you. Attack ... this is how your pick physically attacks the string. If we say it's punchy, it's because it punches the air and you feel it. Muddy ... no definition, the notes sound blurry, like they were covered with mud.

    Don't look to deep into these expessions, they come from musicians trying to define what they like or want in an instrument, when speach is the only tool available to describe it.
     
    Biddlin, Worblehat and SG standard like this.
  7. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2015
    Messages:
    482
    Likes Received:
    436
    I can't possibly add to what Biddlin said, but I'll reiterate what DrBGood said - most of the words we tend to use are descriptive of the sounds they make. We might say a Vox amp has a lot of "chime" because it's a word that sounds like high-frquency "pop" that the amp makes. We might say a Marshall "roars" or "growls" because those words sound like the middle-frequency bump that the amp makes. We might say that a Fender is "sparkly" because it audibly represents the kinds of cleans that the amp makes.

    But I'll be honest - a lot of it is learned bull-honky we reinforce to each other because we love guitars and amplifiers and effects, we like to talk about them, so we describe them in the best way we can do while simultaneously trying to sound knowledgeable about "tone." It's entirely subjective... and yet we still try to distill it into various objective descriptors. The truth is that every component in the electric guitar and amplifier system creates a specific tone, and there are an almost infinite number of variables that affect that tone, from the volume and tone knobs on the guitar to the EQ on the amp and everything between. It doesn't matter if you can't describe it; if you like the way it sounds and it inspires you to play, then that's all that matters.

    As always - if it sounds good, it is good! :thumb:
     
  8. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    10,229
    Likes Received:
    8,260
    Location:
    -
    Absolutely and education doesn't hurt, much.:naughty:
     
  9. Notabot

    Notabot Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2017
    Messages:
    118
    Likes Received:
    56
    I finally found a use for all that monopoly money I've been hoarding!!!
     
    Biddlin likes this.
  10. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    10,229
    Likes Received:
    8,260
    Location:
    -
    It's a matter of hand/ear coordination.:rofl:
     
  11. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Active Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2017
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    109
    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    The English language has a very limited set of terms actually assigned to sound.

    It is sort of amazing because sound can be such a powerful thing to experience, but it is true. As a result, those who experience and create sound have come up with descriptions of sounds they hear. "Warm." It can mean a million things. Part of the problem is that sound is temporal: it only exists in time. Once the sound is over you can't compare it. You really can never have two sounds side by side - you can only hear them serially, one after the other.

    HERE is an article with some of the terms.

    Bob
     
    Worblehat and SG standard like this.
  12. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    10,229
    Likes Received:
    8,260
    Location:
    -
    I appreciate much of your sentiment. Terms like warm and crunch are entirely subjective. On the other hand, modern English has at least 900 adjectives describing sound. Even more definitive is modern musical notation. While many good guitar pickers eschew formal training, one advantage is having a common glossary to express our thoughts to one another in the most precise, least vague way of conveying our musical intentions. most community colleges offer courses in sight reading and some theory. I came from a long line of folks. In my family most of us can't remember when we learned the treble clef, but that doesn't happen so much these days. Just a thought.
     
  13. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Active Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2017
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    109
    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    Having studied music composition and recording studio technology at a masters level, I understand what you are saying. However, musical notation is still quite spare when it comes to a universal language of timbre. Yes, there are codified instrument-based shorthands, but actual description of timbre is very sparse. You can look at Modern and electronic scores and quickly see that.

    Bob
     

Share This Page


Recommended Links: PAF Pickups, Luthier Forum