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Name Your Favorite Guitar Tone(s)

Editor Boy

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Hi all...


For its 40th anniversary year, GUITAR PLAYER is going to publish a series of "Top 40" lists.


The first one is "Top 40 Guitar Tones."


To participate, please name the player and the song or album on which the fab tone is featured. If you're picking an exclusively "live" tone, just list the player and the year of the tour that knocked you out. Extra special no-reward bonus points offered if you name the gear associated with your favorite tones.


Thanks for voting!



Michael Molenda

Editor in Chief


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1. Billy Gibbons on the first three ZZ top albums; That, to me, is the quintessential Les Paul/Marshall sound.


2. Carlos Santana from Caravanserai forward; endless, creamy sustain, passionately and expressively used.


2. Stevie Ray Vaughn on the "Couldn't Stand The Weather" album; The meatiest Stratocaster tone ever captured.


3. Pete Townshend on "Live At Leeds"; a P-90 equipped SG and a mess of high powered Hiwatts, making a massively clean tone with an edge of distortion.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.





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Johnny Winter, "Guess I'll Go Away"

Jimi Hendrix, "Like A Rolling Stone"

Mike Bloomfield "Born In Chicago"

Leslie West "Mississippi Queen - Nantucket Sleigh Ride" - "Never In My Life"

Chet Atkins "Bells of St. Mary"

Wes Montgomery "On Broadway"

Mick Taylor "Stray Cat Blues"

Keef Richards "Salt of The Earth"

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Jimmy Page on Ten Years Gone (Physical Graffiti, Disk 2).




And I know it isn't exactly legendary, but Steve Vai's Sisters has a cool "sparkly" tone that fits with the song well.

"My two Fender Basses, I just call them "Lesbos" because of the time they spend together in the closet."-Durockrolly


This has been a Maisie production. (Directed in part by Spiderman)

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I guess the first three that come to mind for me (sorry):


1.) Definitely have to second the Billy Gibbons on the first three albums, and might as well throw Fandango in there for good measure as well.


2.) Any of Hendrix's records with the Experience or live especially during '67 and '68.


3.) David Gilmour on anything. Dark Side, Wish You Were Here, The Wall, Animals, On an Island, etc.

Then you'll never hear surf music again...
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Allan Holdwsorth -- IOU, etc...


AC/DC -- Back In Black


Wes Montgomery -- Boss Guitar


Robben Ford -- from the Blue Line album onwards...


Manuel Barrueco -- anything, but specially his "plays De Falla, Ponce and Rodrigo" and "Sometime Ago (Corea, Jarrett, Harrison)"



Sérgio & Odair Assad -- "play Bach, Rameau, Scarlatti, Couperin" & "Saga Dos Migrantes"


Denis Azabagic -- Naxos Guitar Recital


Def Leppard -- Pyromania


Soundgarden -- Badmotorfinger & Superunknown


Van Halen -- 1984, Fair Warning


Chris Poland's Ohm: -- Both albums


Steve Vai -- random songs, like For the Love Of God, etc...


Robin Trower -- that recent live album or DVD, don't know what it's called...


Brian May -- Bohemian Rhapsody


David Gilmour -- Delicate Sound of Thunder... anything on it from electrics to acoustics

"Without music, life would be a mistake."

--from 'Beyond Good and Evil', by Friedrich Nietzsche


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My fav. tones would have to be:

(In no particular order)


-1. David Gilmour: Anything, especially from "Live At Pompeii" concert.

-2. Dave Mustaine: Anything, especially the "Rust In Peace" album.

-3. Stevie Ray Vaughan: "Texas Flood", "Live at the El Macambo", etc.

-4. Alex Lifeson: Anything, especially 2112.

-5. Vito Bratta: The "Pride" album.

-6. Slash: "Appetite...", etc.

-7. Vivian Campbell: "Holy Diver", "The Last In Line", etc.

-8. John Frusciante: "Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic"


There are tons more, but I'm tired and this is all I could come up with off the top of my head right now.

Lyrics-wasted time between solos.
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There are so many...


1. Alvin Lee's neck pickup ES335/Marshall tone on Good Morning Little Schoolgirl from Ten Years After Recorded Live.


2. If we can include acoustic, Neil Young's 12-String on My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)


3. Another acoustic, Steve Stills' Martin on almost any song.


4. SRV's clean tone on Riviera Paradise.


5. Robben Ford's various tones on You Cut Me To The Bone.


6. Neil Young's tremolo laden Gretsch on For What It's Worth.


7. BB King's tone on Live at the Regal.


8. Brian Setzer on Stray Cat Strut.


9. David Gilmore on Time from Dark Side of the Moon.


10. Charlie Baty's (Little Charlie and the Nightcats) tone on You Got To Run Me Down. I think the album is All the Way Crazy.

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Finally an easy question :) , I could probably name most of the gear but I think its already been posted in your mag so it would be cheating.


1) Eric Johnson's violin tone as on "Cliffs of Dover". But his clean double Twin sound live will make you fall down drooling also, on record this tone isn't as powerfull.


2. SRV especially on his first album.


3. Clapton's "woman tone" like on the bluesbreaker album and on Cream songs like "Crossroads"


4. Christopher Parkening- His tone is warmer than the Segovia type players and has always been my favorite classical tone, although David Russel and Angel Romero both have nice warm tones as well.


Honorable mentions include Robben Ford, Chet Atkins, Shawn Lane, Jimmy Page (his tones in the context of the recordings were brilliant), Jeff Beck (mixes up his tones from phrase to phrase better than anyone), Pat Metheny has great tones, I love early Z.Z.Top but kind of got over their 80's high tech sounds.


Its funny that everyone I mentioned is kind considered a virtuouso, I guess having a distinctive and/ or varying tones is as important as having chops, maybe more so. When I first saw Eric Johnson live in 1984 I had heard lots of hotshot guitarists, but I never really was that concerned with tone until that night. He has 3 different sounds for the most part and each one of them just hits you in the gut, I am glad he is so compulsive about his sound, it changed the way I thought about guitar. Until then I thought it was about what notes you played, now I think its how good you can make those notes sound.

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Keaggy w/Glass Harp-"Never Is A Long Time"- you just know that amp is gonna blow up at any second!

Keaggy solo, the Beyond Nature album. I love the sound of that Olson!


Julian Bream-The version of the Aranjuez on the Ultimate Guitar Collection, the Adagio in particular.


Jimi-Machine Gun


Martin Barre- darn near anything in the era from Minstrel In The Gallery through Stormwatch. I really like the tones on Heavy Horses and No Lullaby.


Jeff Beck- too damn many. I'll pick Good-Bye Pork Pie Hat.


John, Paul and George-The End, three distinct complementary tones.


John Williams tone on the Arpeggione Sonata. He used a small period instrument that had a very intimate lovely tone.


Neil Young- This Old Guitar. Hank Sr's box shines on this.


Steve Howe-multiple "favorite" tones here. And You and I is my pick.


King Crimson- Has there ever been a cooler ugly tone than 21st Century Schizoid Man?


Pat Metheny-always distinctive. Loved the American Garage tones.


Clapton-From The Cradle tour. Best live tone I've ever heard.

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John Petrucci (!!)- Basically anything, but mostly the smooth, thick, singing tone he gets when he's doing his solo stuff (suspended animation, evening with John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess, Liquid Tension Experiment etc.). Joe Satriani comes pretty close to that sound at times, so does Steve Vai, but Vai often gets into a very nasal and even thin sound...


Eric Johnson - Again, basically his "signature" violin-like sound.


B.B. King for blues seems obvious...bright yet fullbodied.


Hendrix's tone, although was a bit edgy and nasal at times, worked for him pretty well, but the tone he got at Castles Made of Sand, for example, with the stereo effects was absolutely wonderful!


Same for Jimmy Page...sometimes a little too edgy and nasal, but need I say more than Stairway to Heaven???


Bryan May, needless to say.


A lesser known candidate could be Teppei Teranishi from the band Thrice...he gets very thick thundering sound for riffs and chords from Uberschall (?) amps and les pauls. Recently he busted out a vintage tele for some very twangy, yet lush and "wet" sound which he works in nicely in their more recent post-rock material.


I can see why a lot of people like clapton's sound...I sort of do like it, but other times it comes off as slightly brittle to me though.




"I know we all can't stay here forever so I want to write my words on the face of today...and they'll paint it"


-Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon)

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The Edge - Any U2 album


Gilmour - Any Floyd album. New solo album sounds good too.


Eric Johnson - Ah Via Musicom is my favorite with Venus Isle a close second. His fuzzed out tone on "Camel's Night Out" rules.


Slash - Appetite For Destruction and the solos on "November Rain"


Danny Gatton - 88 Elmira Street


Eddie Van Halen - Any of the DLR era stuff rules.


Billy Gibbons - Old or new, his tone is always bad ass.


Both Satch and Petrucci had fantastic tone on the "Live In Tokyo" DVD. Vai's tone sucks as bad as his music.


Also have to mention Hendrix & SRV. Both studio & live versions of their stuff rocked.

quote:Originally posted by mdrs:


It's pure B.S., and obvioulsy inaccurate. I suspect it is posted for effect, not for accuracy.


John Petrucci > Johnny Winter

The Edge > Ted Nugent

Guitar One Mag > Guitarplayer

Slash > Carlton

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Danny Gatton - 88 Elmira St. (Tele)


Bill Nelson - Bebop Deluxe LIVE! In The Air Age (ES-335)


Larry Carlton - Steely Dan, Kid Charlemagne (ES-335)


Ronnie Earl - The Colour of Love


Leslie West - anything by Mountain


Jimi - The Wind Cries Mary


Chet Atkins - Everything


Ry Cooder - Everything


Johnny A. - Sometime Tuesday Morning


Peter Frampton - Humble Pie, Perfromance: Rockin' The Fillmore (Les Paul)


George Harrison - Octopus's Garden


(somebody please stop me!!!!!!!!)

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I know I am repeating some:


Mark Knopfler: "Sultans of Swing" (Strat straight into a Fender amp, a Super Reverb maybe?)


George Harrison: "I Dig a Pony" from Let it Be. (The legendary rosewood Telecaster straight into a Fender Twin Reverb)


Pete Townshend on the Live at Leeds album (SG Special into a bunch of Hiwatts!)


Roger McGuinn on "Mr. Tambourine Man." Rickenbacker 370-12 with toaster pick-ups into a tube limiter direct into the mixing desk.


Eric Johnson's lead tone on "Ah Via Musicom."


Scotty Moore on all of Elvis Presley's Sun records.


James Honeyman Scott - on the Pretenders "Talk of the Town" I think he's playing a Zemaitis guitar through a Boss chorus into a Marshal, but I'm not 100% sure about the guitar or amp.


Clapton on the Bluesbreaker's album, especially on "Hideaway." Les Paul through a treble booster into a Marshall combo.

Mudcat's music on Soundclick


"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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Steve Rothery (Marillion): EMG-loaded Strats through Roland Jazz Chorus & Marshall amps. Favorite examples: "Afraid of Sunlight", "One Fine Day", "Lavender", "Sugar Mice", "Last Straw", "Splintering Heart"...


Steve Howe: Though he has a ton of guitars, and a bunch of tones, I'll go with his Gibson ES-175 through Fender amps sound, as heard on "Yours Is No Disgrace", "Roundabout" "Starship Trooper" and many more. HIs pedal Steel licks/tone are nice, too: "Gates of Delirium/Soon", "Penants", "Toe The Line"...


Steve Morse: EBMM Signature model; not sure what amps & effects. "Leprechaun Promenade", "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming", "Just Out of Reach" and many more


Gary Moore: Les Paul through a Marshall; "Key To Love", "Oh Pretty Woman", "Waiting for an Alibi" and many more


Jeff Beck- too many good tones to narrow down! Same with Eric Johnson.


Jon Ellis (Tree63): not sure exactly what he uses in studio (though I think it's mostly Les Pauls & Firebirds, and Line 6 amps?) But live I've seen him use a Les Paul and Marshall amp with a big effects board. Octave effect, some major saturation, and phasing. Favorite examples: "You Only", "It's All About To Change"


Johns Scofield: especially on the Loud Jazz and Blue Matter albums. Ibanez Artist and George Benson model guitars.

"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion)

NEW band Old band


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How about Eric on a Les Paul playin the lead to While My Guitar Gently Weeps for the Beatles. That was cleverly disguised.


E.C., Beatles, White Album, While My Guitar Gently Weeps


Lowel George, Little Feat's Dixie Chicken, Two Trains


Richie Blackmore, Richie Blackmore's Rainbow, The Temple of the King


Denny Lane, Wings, Give My Regards To Broad Street, No More Lonely Nights (personally.. I thought he was doin' Gilmore but it's broader and less hazy)

I still think guitars are like shoes, but louder.


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Too many to name them all! But here's a few:

Supernatural - Peter Green with John Mayall

Mike Bloomfield on East-West

Robben Ford on most anything!

Chris Proctor, the acoustic fingerstyle master, has great tone on almost anything.

Holdsworth has recorded tons of great tones.

Amos Garrett - "Please Send Me Someone To Love" and many others

Segovia - Music For The Guitar - a whole rainbow of colors, and no signal processing at all!

Eric Johnson of course. I still like his "Tones" album the best.

Chet Atkins of course.

Jim Hall has a gorgeous singing jazz tone - quite unlike some jazzers who sound so flat and nasal, in spite of their excellent skills!

Wes, Charlie Christian, Django..


And now we're warming up, but I gotta go.....

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Originally posted by Guitars are like shoes. But louder.:

...Denny Lane, Wings, Give My Regards To Broad Street, No More Lonely Nights (personally.. I thought he was doin' Gilmore but it's broader and less hazy)

There's a reason you thought he was doing Gilmour, It's because it was Gilmour! :D


This movie/album was done after Macca broke Wings up. He brought Gilmour in to play on this song. I agree, it is a pretty cool tone though. :thu:

Mudcat's music on Soundclick


"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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