Finding “Your Sound”

I get a lot of emails from guitar players asking about how to get a certain guitar players sound. You know… a personal hero, a particular tone from a record and so forth. While there are ways to get close to the sound my question is “Why”? Why put all that effort (not too mention money) into getting another players sound? Now mind you there are instances where replicating a sound is valid like playing in a Beatles tribute band….that only makes sense to me.

I say spend your time and money creating “your sound”. The end result will most likely incorporate some of your favorite players elements but it will be yours. I don’t believe you can get an exact copy of another players sound for many reasons. First, you are not that player you are trying to sound like…..period. Second, the recordings you hear are processed to some degree and on the older recordings the players are using brand new “vintage” gear. It doesn’t sound the same 20, 30 or even 50 years later. Third there is also the choice of a players studio recorded sound and their live sound which is often very different….take Jimi Hendrix for example.

My main sound stems from a Tele through a 4×10 Bassman clone I built. A few pedals on the board and I’m done. My personal favorites I like to incorporate into my sound are from Roy Buchanan and Jim Campilongo. Danny Gatton is probably my favorite player but the other two have a better sound to me. Now, do I sound like Roy, Jim or Danny….? Uh…maybe here and there a little bit but no matter what rig I play through I still sound like me. Even if I pick a Les Paul I play it like a Tele so it sounds like me. Think about it. I listen to early Gatton recordings he did with a Les Paul and you swear he was playing a Tele. Just goes to show that the old saying is true….tone is in the hands..!!

So spend your time listening to a bunch of players and take your favorite elements and incorporate them into your sound. Find a guitar that is comfortable for you…not because your favorite player uses one. Also find an amp that suits your gig. There is no sense in using a 50 watt 4×12 in a forty seat bar. It takes time but when you find it, it’s yours. Also keep in mind that your personal sound can and will evolve. Lastly, try everything..!! You never know what’s going to work..!!!