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Your Top 5 Favorite Guitar Tones

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  • Your Top 5 Favorite Guitar Tones

    I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of us here are Tone Seekers. But you have to have a benchmark of some sort. What are your 5 favorite recorded guitar tones? Try to be specific, and if you know the equipment used, please share. In your Tone Seeking, have you attempted to emulate these tones? We're you successful?

  • #2

    Cream: Wheels of Fire. I could emulate something similar with LP into BF amps.

    Jimi Hendrix: All Along the Watchtower (first 2 solos) and Red House
    According to different ressources, these were Gibsons too.

    AC/DC / Who: I like these semi-overdriven sounds, the Gretsch connection was a revelation.

    Wes Montgomery: Smokin' at the Half Note
    Grant Green Blue Note period

    Big Gibsons into mainly BF Fenders. I could emulate some with the Gretsch, flatwounds and thumbstyle.

    etc. etc.

    "It's all sratched up, Zuzu"Your wattage may vary


    • #3
      The Beatles - some tracks, like "Hard Day's Night," "She Said She Said," "Paperback Writer," and "Rain" have simply sublime tones. There are bits here and there that are not my favorite, but overall, the guitar tones are awesome.

      AC/DC - IMO, no other band equals the Young brothers when it comes to powerful, tight, rock guitar tones.

      King's X - whichever era you choose, Ty has some killer tones. He's used Lab Series L5 amps, Mesas, even POD 2.0s with various Strat-like guitars. He always sounds like Ty.

      Green Day - specifically on Dookie, the guitar sounds crunchy, agressive, and the overdrive is somehow smooth-sounding. I've lost most of the fandom I had for them from when I was in middle school in the early 90s, but their Dookie/Insomniac era guitar tones still rank highly for me. That was when he only played a Fernandes Strat, and I suppose he used Marshalls.

      The Who - Live at Leeds is the top of the heap for me, but I honestly love almost all the guitar tones they had through the 60s and 70s.
      Guitars: 3 Fender Strats, Fender Jazzmaster, Squier Bullet, 2 Gibson Les Pauls, Gibson ES-339, Gibson Les Paul Jr. Special, Epiphone Les Paul, Epiphone Dot, Epiphone SG, PRS SE Custom 24, Ibanez AS73, Hamer Duotone, Larrivee D-03R, Takamine EG5013S, 1951 Epiphone Devon, Ibanez SR305 (bass)Pedal Chain: BBE Green Screamer -> MXR Distortion III -> Boss CE-5 -> EH Stereo Pulsar -> Boss DD-20 -> BBE Boosta GrandeAmps: Vox AC4, AC15, AC30, Pathfinder 10, DA5SoundCloud


      • BydoEmpire
        BydoEmpire commented
        Editing a comment

        In no particular order:

        Neil Young & Crazy Horse on Weld - love that "amp is about to explode" tone.  It's so full of energy

        Phish on Stash - fat but clear, tons of sustain, but still great articulation and attack on each note

        70s Santana - particularly the clip of Europa in France in 1976 - fits the song perfectly. Pre-80s Santana in general.

        SRV - really, anything.  Edgy without being hard to listen to.  Thick and heavy without tons of distortion.

        Robben Ford on Truth - another tone similar in my ears to Trey Anastasio - fat and clear, aggressive withou being harsh

    • #4

      George Lynch - Tooth and Nail, Back for the Attack

      Billy Duffy - Electric, Sonic Temple

      Eddie Van Halen - Van Halen, II

      Michael Schenker - Force It, Lights Out

      David Gilmour - The Wall


      -Live Performance (tone and playing)

      Gary Moore - We Want Moore

      Uli Roth - Tokyo Tapes



      Gibson LP Standard, Flying V, Goth II SG w/ EMG 81/85, SG Special, SG Classic w/P-90s, SG Voodoo, SG Special Platinum w/ Lace Arena Pup Epiphone Les Paul Custom w/ SD JB/Jazz, SG in walnut w/ Alumitones,
      Peavey Bravo Head, XXX
      Carvin MTS-3200, V3, V3M
      RedStar Audio Blackjack 2x12 cabs
      Mesa & Madison cabs


      • Sparky Coldfire
        Sparky Coldfire commented
        Editing a comment

        Call me shallow, but these are mine. LOL


        Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits

    • #5
      California sunlight, sweet Calcutta rain
      Honolulu starbright - the song remains the same.


      • #6
        Led zep - the ocean - one of my favourite tones ever both of led zeppelin and in general.

        Pearl jam - yellow Ledbetter - the intro to this song is so awesome makes me feel all tingly single coil goodness..

        Moving out - aerosmith - this is a song I didn't get into until recently but the entire guitar part has an amazing tone.classic les Paul to my ears at least.

        UFO - rock bottom - the solo Ina's a ridiculously awesome tone that's speaks to me.

        Santana- probably the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place. There's a thing he does where he plays fast triples in (does this in mist if his solos) maaan that's tone. Probably the only tone I've not been able to emulate.

        Anyone know how?

        Edit: sorry for typos and double post. Having trouble doing this on my phone.
        California sunlight, sweet Calcutta rain
        Honolulu starbright - the song remains the same.


        • #7

          "Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you're listening. Playing the piano ['guitar'] allows you to do both at the same time." -Kelsey Grammer


          • #8

            Clapton's tone from Cream's Farewell concert at Royal Albert Hall. Somebody really should commercially issue the audio from that show. I love all of early Clapton tones, The Farewell show isn't one I can readily refer to.


            Jimi Hendrix' tones on Electric Ladyland are iconic for me. Crosstown Traffic, both VooDoo Chiles, Gypsy Eyres, All Along the Watchtower and my favorite, 1983 A Merman I Shall be. The album really has no peer IMO.


            The Beatles' tones on Revolver always get me. From Taxman, She Said, She Said, Dr. Robert to And your Bird Can Sing. Those Casinos and George Martin and Geoff Emericks' production are unreal. 



            The Allman Brothers' Live at The Fillmore East is important to me. Both guys play Les Pauls yet sound totally different. The chemistry between Duane and Dickey was once in a lifetime.


             David Gilmour's tone on Comfortably Numb is surreal. The tone, the pacing and his choice of notes are hallmarks of Dave's genius. 


            I can probably come reasonably close to most of these sounds except The Beatles' Revolver stuff. The Casinos are mightily aided by George and Geoff.


            • Malcolm Ramone
              Malcolm Ramone commented
              Editing a comment
              The ultimate fuzz tone, the Beatles' Revolution. I read in a book about their studio sessions, that they fed the guitars directly into the board, and somehow looped it to double the gain. Apparently they permanently damaged that channel on the board! Reminds me of the days before I owned an amp, played into the mic input in my tape deck. Bzzzzzz! -Adam

          • #9

            Special J wrote:
            I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of us here are Tone Seekers. But you have to have a benchmark of some sort. What are your 5 favorite recorded guitar tones? Try to be specific, and if you know the equipment used, please share. In your Tone Seeking, have you attempted to emulate these tones? We're you successful?

            great thread, but challenging for me to actually come up with five.

            #1 is Mike Ness and his P90 Les Paul rhythm tone.  big, fat but with a great snarl and attitude.  listen to their "live at the roxy" live album or any of the tracks off of "sex, drugs and rock n roll".  his sound is distinctive, and it's heaven to my ears.

            #2 is probably Marty Friedman during the Megadeth period.  it's probably less about his gear and more about his feel, technique and phrasing, but for the sake of simplicity, i'll include him here.

            #3 goes to the guys in Baroness.  Lots of cool and interesting guitar tones on their albums.  of particular interest are the digitech whammy lead melodies on a number of tracks on both the yellow and green albums, as well as some of the more subtle lo-fi crunch tracks buried further back in the mix of most tracks.

            #4 is darrell abbott of pantera.  i love how polarizing his angry-bees-in-a-tin-can sound is for folks; most people hate it.  i love it. it's perfect for his style.  he uses it to carry a voice that's perfect for the music they made and he expressed himself so damn well through that medium that it's hard not to appreciate it.

            #5 is probably Vernon Reid.  i particularly love the recording rig he developed for the Stain sessions.  there was a depth and punchiness to his tone on that album that worked so well.  no doubt, his playing on the first two albums is landmark and visionary, but i think his tone evolved to a better place on Stain.  YMMV.

            honorable mentions are numerous, and include Nada Surf (check out "proximity effect" to start), Corrosion of Conformity, Dave Mustaine's guitar sound on Rust in Peace, John Frusciante on "under the bridge" or "the greeting song", radiohead's "paranoid android", Counting Crows tele and LP tones on "recovering the satellites", Coheed and cambria's "no world for tomorrow" album...


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            • Tone Deaf
              Tone Deaf commented
              Editing a comment

              David Gilmour

              Tony Iommi

              Neil Young

              J Mascis

              Kim Thayill

              Billy Duffy

              Smashing Pumpkins

              Randy Rhoads

              Michael Schenker

              Mike Ness (sorry to steal from your list GD, but when you're right, you're right)

              Rick McCollum (Afghan Whigs)

              Jim Mankey (Concrete Blonde)

              Fu Manchu


              oh, and this one (starting at around 4:18)



              ...sorry, never could count to five. Guess that's why I don't play jazz.

          • #10
            • Jimmy Page's Presence sound.  The sounds on Achilles and Hots on for Nowhere, in particular.  I remember reading a magazine in the '80s where some guitarist (I don't remember who) said the guitars on that album sounded like the were "made out of metal".
            • Pete Buck's Rickenbacker sound.  A lot less clean and glassy than Harrison, McGwinn and Petty, but imminently identifiable.  Particularly drawn to the tone on Reckoning.
            • Beatles' Doctor Robert.  A perfect example how the tone of guitar parts can make simple licks and riffs sound amazing.
            • Mick Abrahams' tone, in general.  From the Jethro Tull take on Cat's Squirrel (which I prefer to the Cream version) to tons of Blodwyn Pig stuff: The Modern Alchemist, See My Way, San Francisco Sketches, Aint Ya Comin Home, Babe, et cetera.
            • Robbie Krieger.  Working man's tone and phrasing.  I can't express how much I'm moved by his mirroring Morrison's progressively-aggressive vocals on Love Me Two Times.  Pretty much defined the genre on SoCal, pschedelic blues with stuff like Peace Frog/Blue Sunday, (the tracks) The Soft Parade, and L.A. Woman.

            Bonus tone: just about ALL of Alex Lifeson's ...


            • #11

              1. Keith Richards, "Stop Breaking Down" rhythm guitar, 1972 -- Far more lurching, savage and greasy than any Brit had a right to conjure.

              2. Ry Cooder, "Sister Morphine," slide guitar, 1971 -- Dark, morbid, full of sinister overtones.

              3. Roy Buchanan, "Sweet Dreams," 1973 -- Perfect Telecaster twang through a tortured old Fender amp.

              4. Jay Ferrar, "Chickamauga," 1993 -- Rough, anguished and thick. Perfect blend of country and alt-rock.

              5. Alex Chilton, "O My Soul," 1974 -- Rubbery, quacky, wonderful Strat sounds.