The Surprising Link Between Your Guitar & Tone

There are a number of ways to change the tone of your guitar without having to go out and buy a more expensive higher-end guitar. In this discussion I'll cover four ways that you can use to create a significant change to the tone of your guitar with only a small amount of money invested...

When I’m teaching private lessons, I’m always surprised at how many players don’t understand that there’s a lot of simple inexpensive things they can do to change the tone of their guitars. And, some of them are so easy to do, in literally minuets the guitar tone can be changed…


Let’s get things going with a list of four of the easiest ways to begin exploring the changes you can do today to make changes to your guitar tone…

Tone Change 1).
If you have a guitar with a fixed bridge, it’s really easy to change your strings and your action, (action; is how high your strings sit above the frets).

Fixed Bridge

 If you try changing up to thicker strings, and you raise-up your string height – your action, your guitar tone gets deeper and it gets thicker.

Action (String Height)

If you want an excellent example of thick rich tone generated from having bigger gauge guitar strings and high fret-board action then, have a listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Stevie Ray had strings that were thick - with a gauge of .013 to .056 through most of his career.

SRV also had extremely high string action as well. But, with this large string size and high height, he also needed to lower the tuning of his guitar in order to support normal playing techniques that are standard with regular strings and lower action.

NOTE: you don’t require a fixed bridge to experiment with this string and action set-up, but if you have a floating bridge it may need to be locked down in order to use thicker strings.

Tone Change 2).
Another straight-forward way to make changes to your guitar’s tone is by replacing the pick-up’s that were installed from the factory.

Guitar Pick-ups (single and double coil)

Even low-budget guitars ($300.00 and under), can get a brand new lease on life with respect to their sound, output level and overall tonal response by simply upgrading to another (more high-performance), guitar pick-up.

Pick-up manufacturing companies like, “Seymour Duncan,” “EMG,” and “DiMarzio,” are all popular pick-up makers that specialize in above average performance.

Plus, there’s also a wealth of custom-shop / boutique guitar pick-up's that are being made by companies that are creating some really amazing products as well.

The best part is, if you know how to use a soldering iron and are fine with dealing with wiring, you can quite easily change pick-ups on your own - at home.

But, even if you can’t, most guitar shops will swap out pick-ups for you at a fairly low cost for the labor-cost charges...

Tone Change 3). One part of your guitar that you never want to overlook, or take for granted, is your guitar’s nut. The nut is an important part of your guitar’s tone. 

Also, if the nut isn’t cut well and if the strings don’t roll across its front EDGE perfectly, your tone will suffer greatly. This will also cause tuning and intonation problems as well.

The Guitar Nut (guides the strings to each tuner)

One company who really has this area of your guitar down 100% is Graph Tech

They make precision molds and engineered nuts to create the most; consistent tone, string balance as well as precise string spacing.

All of this comes together in a "Graph-Tech" nut (or saddle) to create the most perfect string ride and support for premier instrument tone.

I’ve used their products now for years and their Black TUSQ XL is awesome.

Graph Tech (Black TUSQ)

The Graph Tech, "Black TUSQ XL," is 5x more slippery than Graphite and creates absolutely excellent tone as compared to stock plastic nuts that come from the factory…

Tone Change 4). The final “Tone Affecting” item on your guitar is one that most guitar players never even think about.

This shouldn't be the case because it is not surprisingly one of the biggest factors that operates in conjunction with your guitar's pick-ups to actually create the end tone of your guitar and it is the volume knob.

Guitar Volume Pot

The volume dial on your guitar, along with the tone dial, are actually one of those secret areas that you need to get looking at and start experimenting with.

If you have the stock volume pot in your guitar, then try switching to a new volume pot. It can be a tone-changing experience, and it can play a big role in how your pickup tone is processed.

The volume pot on your guitar along with the tone control’s are a serious area to start going and experimenting with. They are however one area where you’ll want to seek out assistance from a good guitar repair shop.

The resistance load and the capacitors that are used - both need to work in conjunction with your guitars particular type of pick-up.

A guitar volume, tone and pick-up switch assembly

WARNING: The core electronics of your guitar are not exactly an area that you’ll want to try messing around with yourself if you do not have experience in the world of electronics.

Well, I hope that this lesson on guitar tone helps you start thinking about your guitar differently when you consider tone.

There is another side to of all this, and is has to do more with your hands, your playing skill, competence and your and your ability level when it comes to playing guitar.

The more time that you can spend on the practice of your guitar ability - the better your tone will become.

If you have a high degree of competence when it comes to scales, chords, phrasing and music theory and the more songs you learn, the more your hands will start producing far  better tone from your guitar...

If you’d like to learn more about how to further develop your guitar playing, join my web-site as a free member and start taking a look at my “Guitar” Courses.

The courses cover a ton of specific information on improving general and advanced playing skill. There are dozens of lesson plans with very detailed videos along with PDF worksheets that you can download and print out to start covering all types of exercises, Music Theory, rhythm training and technical drills.

The lessons on my web-site are all extremely well planned and they are easy to follow – plus they're highly structured, so they work in a very organized way.

If you’d like to learn more about topics like this one and many others, join my members site as a free member and start looking through my, “Guitar Courses.”

I’ve spent years creating hundreds of detailed step-by-step guitar lessons for my website members that cover beginner to advanced ideas to help you improve your playing.

If you join my site as a Premium member, you’ll receive a FREE copy of my popular Guitar Technique eBook.

It’s 28 pages of jam-packed studies for mastering all of your technical skills at playing Guitar.



Join Now

Guitar Chords | F Chord | Guitar Notes | G Chord | C Chord | D Chord | Guitar String Notes