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Paradigm shift with regard to guitar/playing tone

Amp360

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Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
450
Over the past few years, there seems to have been a shift in what people are looking for with regard to guitar tone. My main focus is always on how my guitar will sound on a recording or in a live situation, as that's where most of my living is made. Things as a whole seem to have made a shift from having a great live tone or a great tone on a recording to having a 'studio ready' tone on YouTube or Tick Tick.

With the proliferation of modeling boxes and software, it seems like people are looking more toward making an excellent sounding 30 second to a 1-minute clip of something vs. supporting a song or playing in a band. In addition, as prices of amplifiers and guitars have gone up, the expectation of what something like (for example) a 100-watt Plexi sounds like has changed. As fewer people see these things in a live context or try them in a rehearsal hall or store, it's like chasing an idea of what something must sound like vs. the actual thing. For the person who has started playing in the past 10-20 years, Line 6 or AxeFX version of this tone is probably what most people want to accomplish simply because that's what they know.

There's nothing wrong with this; plenty of people are successful in making short videos, but I like songs better than clips.

The question "what x will sound like a cranked y" seems very common, whereas 25 or 30 years ago, we were cranking up whatever the 50 or 100 watters we could get were, no matter if they were Plexis or Blue DoDos.

I was curious about the end goal of guitar playing/tone people here were interested in. Do you focus on a studio-ready polished sound or a natural traditional song-based approach?
 

LeonC

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Joined
Aug 30, 2002
Messages
540
Well, what's really happened, IMO, is that since the internet opened for gear trading business, and many people started buying guitars, amps, strings, pedals, etc. etc. over the net w/o actually getting to try them first, is that people have relied more on easy access to videos and recorded demos. It's the next best thing to being there. Is it good enough? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, IMO.

I think this has resulted in a huge volume of turnover... It's a double edged-sword, we get to learn about a lot more stuff that we don't have physical access to, but if often results in buying without trying and then flipping.

But that said, I can say that getting the sound right for a 30 second video/demo is absolutely not what I care about. For me, the acid test is always playing the piece of gear in my band, in live performance.
 

Wilko

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Mar 11, 2002
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20,298
I don't know where you live, or how long you've been playing. I'm 59 and been playing live and in-studio since 1981. FOr live shows it already becoming not ok to crank a 50/100 watt half stack in any reputable club or festival stage. I was having enough trouble with soundmen using my Twin Reverb (yeah, loud AF). I've been gigging mainly 20 watts or using pedals for a decent stage volume. Same with most studio settings.

I'm all about the song, and to support the song, I need the appropriate amp/guitar/tone for the song and that comes from MY SOUND as a musician. my "voice" if you will. My end goal is to have the gear that lets me get my level of expression from my gear. I know that means an amp riding that line between hard clean to gritty overdrive using my hands. pedals only for extra oomph.

I need that to be pure and honest as possible. no channel switching. no effects loop. no BS. FOr reference, my most used amp is either a Princeton Reverb or Deluxe Reverb. That's sort of a baseline example. To get various other tones, I have many other small amps (65 Vox Cambridge Reverb, 18 Watt Marshall clone, Hiwatt tube 20, etc)

I know what a plexi sounds like and that is not that hard to get with my Marshall 2204. Close enough to foll many in a recording.

Rhythm and lead are words I don't like.
 

Amp360

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Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
450
I'm usually playing in larger places and I do many different styles. It can be with a rapper on Monday, classic rock on Weds, and then metal or country on Friday. I tend to run my amps loudly. If I use my tweed Twin I'll run it on about 7 or may SLO or VK over 5.

When I pick what to play I'm usually looking at how it will work in the context of the artists' music/band I'm working with or what I'm going for recording. What I don't like is that I tend to see a lot of sameness in tone and even what people play and it's kind of boring. How many pentatonic riffs ending with shaking the neck up and down (which seems to happen in all these vids) do we need?

The short form is kind of killing creativity, as there doesn't seem to really be anything exciting in this format (to me). As far as demos go, I see a lot of pedal or amp demos with all kinds of other effects/post going on.

I've been playing since 1987.
 

ourmaninthenorth

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Mar 28, 2009
Messages
6,931
Well, what's really happened, IMO, is that since the internet opened for gear trading business, and many people started buying guitars, amps, strings, pedals, etc. etc. over the net w/o actually getting to try them first, is that people have relied more on easy access to videos and recorded demos. It's the next best thing to being there. Is it good enough? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, IMO.

I think this has resulted in a huge volume of turnover... It's a double edged-sword, we get to learn about a lot more stuff that we don't have physical access to, but if often results in buying without trying and then flipping.

But that said, I can say that getting the sound right for a 30 second video/demo is absolutely not what I care about. For me, the acid test is always playing the piece of gear in my band, in live performance.
That is terrifically well said.

When I first started playing it was simply a case of using the gear you could scrounge a go on.

I also remember smiling a lot as i stumbled my way towards what has become a life pursuit.

I'd say for me it's about the sound I'm chasing in my head, and a little like a dog chasing a motorbike, I'm sometimes at a loss what to do with it when I eventually catch it.

I'm really glad I don't do this for a living, I'd starve.
 

corpse

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 9, 2007
Messages
4,578
I want a tone that makes people dance.

Most of those 'solo' guys are killer players- i think they have a 'band' set up and a 'tick' set up- two different genres- and they certainly know the difference. There is also some real crap out there on the net- but you gotta start somewhere.
The really sad part is I have "had" the tone that i wanted and overshot it by selling gear to get the next best (or next old) thing. My 1969 SFDR was a killer amp (once I got it going again- it was in really rough shape when I got it)- and it 'had' to go to finance a Blond Bassman. By hook and crook that has led to two brown Fenders i really dig, but my memories of the Deluxe reverb are very fond.
The 1988 Reissue (on the right) in my avatar was a perfect LP- but it had a BBQ top- so it 'had' to go.
My goal now is to have a percussive sound and play to the groove. Playing guitar doesn't stand up like playing piano solo for me- I lack solo talent. But I am ok in a band.
And by God I do love it.
 
Last edited:

brandtkronholm

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2006
Messages
2,443
Over the past few years, there seems to have been a shift in what people are looking for with regard to guitar tone. My main focus is always on how my guitar will sound on a recording or in a live situation, as that's where most of my living is made. Things as a whole seem to have made a shift from having a great live tone or a great tone on a recording to having a 'studio ready' tone on YouTube or Tick Tick.

With the proliferation of modeling boxes and software, it seems like people are looking more toward making an excellent sounding 30 second to a 1-minute clip of something vs. supporting a song or playing in a band. In addition, as prices of amplifiers and guitars have gone up, the expectation of what something like (for example) a 100-watt Plexi sounds like has changed. As fewer people see these things in a live context or try them in a rehearsal hall or store, it's like chasing an idea of what something must sound like vs. the actual thing. For the person who has started playing in the past 10-20 years, Line 6 or AxeFX version of this tone is probably what most people want to accomplish simply because that's what they know.

There's nothing wrong with this; plenty of people are successful in making short videos, but I like songs better than clips.

The question "what x will sound like a cranked y" seems very common, whereas 25 or 30 years ago, we were cranking up whatever the 50 or 100 watters we could get were, no matter if they were Plexis or Blue DoDos.

I was curious about the end goal of guitar playing/tone people here were interested in. Do you focus on a studio-ready polished sound or a natural traditional song-based approach?
I think you're saying that finding a guitar tone that "sounds good on a cell-phone speaker" but maybe not live or in the studio - is where the "shift" is.
Sure.
Why not?
It'll work for the social media crowd.
I think we'll be reminded in five years time, as more and more social media platforms come and go, that the song (live/studio) is what has always mattered.
Social media is just homemade commercials.
 

Amp360

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Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
450
Everyone wants a 3x10 Tweed Bandmaster. They just don't realize it.
From what I hear it’s that everyone wants a heavily processed compressed tone drenched in delay, reverb, modulation and gain that they can claim sounds just like a 3x10 bandmaster.
 

jb_abides

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Joined
Apr 6, 2005
Messages
4,009
Do you focus on a studio-ready polished sound or a natural traditional song-based approach?

In my mind these are not mutually exclusive.

I would say having a song-based studio approach (even 'Live in Studio' sound) is important, no matter the final result. Demo, clips, tracks, they are just a logical subset, and the approach is orthogonal to the resulting delivery medium. Earnestly: Am I missing something?

I think I get what you are getting at.... more akin to your latter post i.e. Compression for Clips sake. I believe this came about as a result of mix/mastering for MP3, then to streaming media. And now, even with high bandwidth available we haven't seen a corresponding boon in Lossless / Hi-Res Audio among the hoi polloi. These are still bandied about as premium audiophile, even though we've lost so much. People have been living with less, for so long, they've forgotten good and live with the next-gen step above one speaker car radio. With brick-walling too.

Now, so many things are destined for multiple media delivery, including SoundCloud, Spotify, licensing services like Epidemic.

You need great tone for listenability over a broad range of delivery mechanisms.

I don't think this requires pricier profilers or powerful amps plus the space to mic cabinets well even though those are undeniably great options. Amp-in-a-pedal has been around for a long while, and for live you can run right to the house sound, too, right? There options are many... and this brand new one is vying to be the next do-it-all Big Daddy. Many amps, intermediary cab simulations and control over impulse response, choice of output paths for all situations...

BlackstarAMPED1GuitarAmpPedal2000x2000RussoMusic_2_1100x.png

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Now, the rapidity use case of throwing something out there, demoing gear, and so forth... I think that's definitely changed peoples behaviors and hence gear choices. It's established 'lane' of recording, although I am not sure many are buying with that as an exclusive ideal.

People use phone mics, wi-fi lavaliers into devices at the entry level, and you can DI a ton of things into any DAW on the cheap. The mainstay YouTubers have what is considered better than any home recording studio from the recent past. And they use a shit-ton of real amps on shelving, etc. too.

For more live multi-tracking, consider the 12-track Zoom H8 along with predecessors, and similar devices. These are seeing use all over as portable studios.

And song-based... Plug right in, sing into them, too!
 

metropolis

Active member
Joined
Sep 14, 2018
Messages
318
I don't necessarily think the format of instagram 30 second performance vs. songs in a band has dictated tone changes more than just an evolution of gear makes it easier to record a 'studio ready' sound at home because of an Axe FX, Kemper, Neural DSP, etc. etc.

One thing I've definitely noticed a trend of is people who play at home by themselves and get their sound there, then are absolutely incapable of being heard on a stage because they've cut all their mids and boosted tons of bass. It's mostly metal players but I see it across other styles too. I don't think it matters if you're using digital or a tube amp people can fall foul of that (although digital exacerbates it).

FWIW I play a Kemper for convenience - I have small children so need to play quietly at home (on headphones at night) and gigging I need to cover a lot of ground with amps and effects, plus it's consistent and simple to use. It also sounds amazing which helps. I do have 2 tube amps and a vintage solid state amp but they're purely indulgence on my part.
 

Any Name You Wish

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Apr 15, 2021
Messages
168
When Line-6 modeling amps came out (maybe 15 years ago?) I was underwhelmed, but I had a friend that did a lot of recording and he used it a lot. It was cost/convenience for him to do that. I don't think there was a paradigm shift. In the last band I was in the other guitar player was always bringing in new pedals and amps. It was a lot of fun, way more fun than the Line-6. Tons of stuff out there today to fit every desire, that's all it is really.
 

OLD GUITAR PLAYER

New member
Joined
Aug 7, 2021
Messages
5
Over the past few years, there seems to have been a shift in what people are looking for with regard to guitar tone. My main focus is always on how my guitar will sound on a recording or in a live situation, as that's where most of my living is made. Things as a whole seem to have made a shift from having a great live tone or a great tone on a recording to having a 'studio ready' tone on YouTube or Tick Tick.

With the proliferation of modeling boxes and software, it seems like people are looking more toward making an excellent sounding 30 second to a 1-minute clip of something vs. supporting a song or playing in a band. In addition, as prices of amplifiers and guitars have gone up, the expectation of what something like (for example) a 100-watt Plexi sounds like has changed. As fewer people see these things in a live context or try them in a rehearsal hall or store, it's like chasing an idea of what something must sound like vs. the actual thing. For the person who has started playing in the past 10-20 years, Line 6 or AxeFX version of this tone is probably what most people want to accomplish simply because that's what they know.

There's nothing wrong with this; plenty of people are successful in making short videos, but I like songs better than clips.

The question "what x will sound like a cranked y" seems very common, whereas 25 or 30 years ago, we were cranking up whatever the 50 or 100 watters we could get were, no matter if they were Plexis or Blue DoDos.

I was curious about the end goal of guitar playing/tone people here were interested in. Do you focus on a studio-ready polished sound or a natural traditional song-based approach?
In the 1960's when I started playing, it was all about getting the right sound in the mix, either recording and/or LIVE. I've noticed over the last 20 years, people are micro-managing tone at a whole different level. To this day, I only purchase guitars that will allow me to get the basic sound I need for a particular situation. I don't purchase "vintage" instruments, or "aged" instruments for the sake of owning a piece of artwork, or something collectable. In today's world, I find that a quality instrument (through a good digital interface like a HELIX modeler) can get you 99% of the sound you desire, and still allow you the flexibility to fine tune your tone at a high level. :cool:
 

jrgtr42

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Joined
Mar 24, 2005
Messages
2,249
When Line-6 modeling amps came out (maybe 15 years ago?) I was underwhelmed, but I had a friend that did a lot of recording and he used it a lot. It was cost/convenience for him to do that. I don't think there was a paradigm shift. In the last band I was in the other guitar player was always bringing in new pedals and amps. It was a lot of fun, way more fun than the Line-6. Tons of stuff out there today to fit every desire, that's all it is really.
It's closer to 25 years that Line6 came out - probably a bit more. ( |I could look it up but I'm too lazy to right now.)
When I started working at GC, in 1998 the AX-SYS was their flagship, and the competition was Johnson Millenium.
I actually thought the Johnson sounded better, at least in the amp models, but it was a pain to change sounds. The Line6 had better effect sounds, and was at least marginally easier to use. The 4 years that I worked there Line6 got better and better all the time; every shipment we got was an improvement, whereas Johnson didn't do much, and they were basically gone before I left there.
I did eventually get a Pod 2.0, mostly for use as a headphone amp. It didn't sound as good as my tube amps, for sure, but it had the advantage of not annoying neighbors and blocking out the noises from my roommate's romantic encounters.
At that point i also had an old Tascam recorder, and even my dumb ass had no problem hooking it up to get some pretty good noises on tape.
I'm not in a band or anything at this point, but if I was, I wouldn't be giving up my stacks and such, but if I was playing out regularly, I'd really be thinking hard about getting a modeler for playing live. PLug and play right into the PA, and you can set up any amp sounds you can possibly want or need, in one little box, compared to schlepping hundred pound amps and cabs around, not to mention pedals and such.
 

OLD GUITAR PLAYER

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Aug 7, 2021
Messages
5
The thing is, by the mid 80's we were already miking small combos and using things like "hot spot" monitors on stage,
and drastically limiting our stage volume. I haven't actually used any type of amp "stack" on a gig since the late 1970's.
Modeling, for me, is the future. No, It doesn't "feel" the same on stage, but out front through the PA it sounds amazing.
Plus, it's pretty easy to duplicate night after night. As a bonus, it fits in the front passenger seat of my car. :cool:
 

Amp360

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Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
450
It's closer to 25 years that Line6 came out - probably a bit more. ( |I could look it up but I'm too lazy to right now.)
When I started working at GC, in 1998 the AX-SYS was their flagship, and the competition was Johnson Millenium.
I actually thought the Johnson sounded better, at least in the amp models, but it was a pain to change sounds. The Line6 had better effect sounds, and was at least marginally easier to use. The 4 years that I worked there Line6 got better and better all the time; every shipment we got was an improvement, whereas Johnson didn't do much, and they were basically gone before I left there.
I did eventually get a Pod 2.0, mostly for use as a headphone amp. It didn't sound as good as my tube amps, for sure, but it had the advantage of not annoying neighbors and blocking out the noises from my roommate's romantic encounters.
At that point i also had an old Tascam recorder, and even my dumb ass had no problem hooking it up to get some pretty good noises on tape.
I'm not in a band or anything at this point, but if I was, I wouldn't be giving up my stacks and such, but if I was playing out regularly, I'd really be thinking hard about getting a modeler for playing live. PLug and play right into the PA, and you can set up any amp sounds you can possibly want or need, in one little box, compared to schlepping hundred pound amps and cabs around, not to mention pedals and such.

Around that time I was living in NYC and mostly doing sessions in a bunch of different places. I bought the Fender Cyber Twin, which at the time was the flagship of the Fender amplifier line. It's also worth noting Fender was still making some decent products, unlike today where aside from the CS amps are pretty terrible and toy-like. Anyway, I digress, the Cyber Twin was (and is) a pretty amazing amp for the time. Even today it holds up pretty well.
 

J.D.

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May 24, 2006
Messages
9,924
I always say that these old guitars and amps are the best tones because they are the most familiar tones. Gibsons, Fenders, Marhsalls, etc. were the best equipment available at the time these great recordings were made.

I truly believe our gear today is every bit as good (and probably better) as it was "back in the day".

The PAs made huge power amps obsolete, unless maybe you are a major recording artist on a stadium tour.
 

J T

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Oct 20, 2005
Messages
10,273
It's so easy to go right in nowadays especially with guitar, bass, keyboard, or whatever.

Here ya go instrument in, a couple of plugins, you're all set.

This is just me going through mic pre's. My guitar is in 2. Digital link or analog. Take your pick. Easy.

sqdp6Jf.jpg



So many people are going in through an interface. Look at the Tech 21 stuff. You can go right into the board or PA. No need for any amp. But the one thing you lose live, is that sound behind you from an amp. In ear monitors nowadays. Lots of people nowadays come into the studio and reach into their bag and pull out something that goes right in or into a clean amp.

This really sounds great. It can go to an amp, PA or straight into the board and it's all analog. No digital hash or nonsense menus to deal with.

h4zpMji.jpg


cPLyYZ2.jpg


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IMO all you know none of that comes close to standing in front of your amp. But things nowadays are definitely not the same as back in the day,

BUT

Guitars are definitely in the mix. Listen to the new stuff coming out lately.
 

GlassSnuff

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Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Messages
3,582
I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what you're on about. Are you asking if anyone writes 30 sec songs?

I'd call those "jingles". In most areas, they're more lucrative than bar gigs.
 
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