SMG TIPS: Getting A Good Rock Guitar Tone!


The hard driving sound of a rock and roll guitar riff is unmistakable. However, there are so many styles and sounds of rock guitar. Each one has its own signature. For the amateur player, getting a good rock guitar tone is not easy.

New guitar players tend to make the same mistakes. Primarily, good tone and good sound come with the proper tuning of the instrument. Strings are also an important aspect of achieving that unique sound quality. Rookie players tend to use heavier gauge strings that may seem optimum for a harder rock sound. Though this may be true in some cases, newer players often cannot manipulate them in a skillful manner. This is due to the fact that heavy gauge strings are also hard on those virgin fingers. Tough skin and calluses need to develop by practicing regularly. Light gauge strings can create some of the best sounds in rock, and they are much easier to play.


As far back as the 1950s, getting a good rock guitar tone meant having a quality electric guitar and a decent amp. The best electric guitars in the business during that era were Fender, Gibson and Rickenbacker. Back then it was more the guitar than the amp, but today good tone can come from many things.

Though vintage guitars are still the preferred instrument of most rock musicians, amplifiers have taken a giant leap forward in creating specific sounds themselves. Amp modeling has become a feature of some of the newest digital units. In some of the higher quality digital amps, sounds of specific guitars and amplifiers are used. For example, a newer amp with a modeling feature can mimic the sounds of a Fender Stratocaster or an old Vox tube amplifier. The digital quality usually comes fairly close to the sound that is produced by the guitar or amp that is being copied.


Various pedals or board effects can also create a good rock tone. These adjuncts to the electric guitar can provide a myriad of sounds that can be custom made, and combined to form a more personalized sound. Some of these effects are built into the amp itself. The most common effects that create the best rock tones are distortion, chorus/flange, overdrive and vibrato. There are some others, but these additional guitar effects are main ingredients in that vintage rock guitar sound. However, in the end its all about practice and knowledge of the instrument itself that creates good sound.

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