Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Quest for Tone

Any guitarist knows, that as much as we love the guitar, we love finding ways to get "that tone" as well. Some have even went as far as to go on a seemingly never ending venture for their "own tone". I have to say that as a mixing engineer and guitarist I am in a pickle. I not only love tone but I know what tones I am looking for and those I can't achieve when it comes to a mix. Ergo, it places me in a bad spot sometimes because I can spend wayyyyy to much time trying to get that "perfect tone". The bad thing about mixing in that tone is a lot of times all that work has to go down the drain to some extent because a great tone doesn't always sound great in the context of a mix.

One thing that has really helped to get an instrument to poke out in a mix is good ole' saturation. When something is processed with even a little saturation it suddenly becomes more apparent and articulates well. There are a number of reasons for this. Saturation adds more harmonics. This is what most people are in love with when it comes to that SSL sound, or that tube vocal sound. That hardware adds a certain amount of saturation to the signal that makes it more rounded, gritty if overdone, and articulated.

One thing that I recently did to alter the tone of my Cort Les Paul style guitar is exchange the plastic nut for a brass one. Below, I have included a review of the Brass Compensated Nut from AxeMasters. Included are sound clips as well as a frequency analysis so you get a full audio/visual  review of what something as small as a nut change can do for your tone. I hope you enjoy it!