Tone Is In The Fingers

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Tone is in the fingers.

That’s a guitar playing gear heads reference when seeking the the tone of others. We will ask what guitar and amp we need to sound like so and so. The answer is always you will need his fingers too. Guitar players love to chase the tone of their influences. Most of us know it’s a combination of gear and the player. I can buy the same guitar and amp as Jimmy Page, learn to play Zeppelin songs, but I’m still going to sound like me. And that’s awesome that I sound like me. Me is who I want to be. The tools are only part of the equation. The artist’s unique voice is the essence of the tone.


Photo by Michelle Walston Photography
Photo by Michelle Walston Photography

For example, there’s a whole industry dedicated to sounding like Eddie Van Halen. Amp designers building amps that sound like EVH’s iconic brown sound Plexi. Guitars built to EVH’s exact specs. Lessons teaching how to play EVH songs note for note. Guys analyzing the exact EVH signal chain. And, there are a bunch of guitar players that have spent all of their time learning to play and sound just like EVH. Some great guitar players, with amazing technical ability, feel , and hearing. They sound just like Eddie, they have mastered his technique. The huge problem with this is that they are NOT Eddie Van Halen. It’s a shame to see all of this talent wasted by trying to be some one you are not.



“But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” Luke 14:11 Message Translation
Even Jesus tells us to be ourselves. He tells us that if we are content to be ourselves, we will be more than ourselves.

We all have and need influences, and it’s great when they inspire us to try something new. It’s ok to learn and “steal” some ideas from them. Then look at who they were influenced by, and dive in to their work. The key is to morph what you have learned into your own style. Then mix it up and spit out as you.

I love reading books on my profession. Classics from Dale Carnegie, and Napoleon Hill, and newer teachers like Jeffrey Gittomer. I like to take what I learn from many good influences, mix it up, and put my own twist on it. I will also question and examine what they say, do gain better understanding of how the principals can be applied. Just like transcribing a song I will never play with a band, I do it to learn new techniques and inspire my own touch.

It was like I always knew it
I just don’t know where I learned it
It wasn’t nothin’ but the truth
So I just reared back and burned it
“The Guitar” Guy Clark

Guy is singing about the unconscious creative flow that just happens. You have studied and learned from your influences. You have practiced and put in the work. Then, out of what seems like nowhere, it happens, you create, and you can’t stop it, it just flow from you because it is you.

You do have your own voice, you just have to find it. It’s a blessing we all have. Sometimes it takes a lot of time and practice to find your tone. I know my voice as a sales professional, but I’m searching and trying to find my voice as I blog and write songs.

Found your tone? Who has been your influence?