Tone Chasing, waste of time or not?
Is it really worth trying to get a particular sound? With so many factors like; pickups, amp, speaker, cable, technique! etc is it possible.
What exactly is the point of trying to copy someone else's tone? Sometimes I get near but then I like the sound I'm getting, my own!
Any thoughts anyone?
My honest thoughts:
Before we go to tone chasing, we must 1st learn and understand how particular guitar tone effects and being effected in the mix. Isolated guitar tone vs in the mix guitar tone is quite different. Tone which sounds awesome in the room, dosent really means it sound great in the mix.
Learn about the EQ. We can start learning this by recording DI and reamp it via guitar plugins and see what really good in the mix. Then, based on that tone, what do you want to add? Maybe u want it to be more throaty and crunchy etc. Then u might find that you need to back the gain and grab some EQ fix on it in the DAW.
After that you can start buying gears that will get you close or even better than that tone.
Bare in mind that tone preference will change over time. So don't be too perfectionist in the tone or u will end up keep tweaking the gear and actually play less good music.
Like Jim Root said in youtube rig rundown, "You can be tone chasing in your entire career, but for now we just stick with what works" - something like that. Tone also is a "tool" at the end what matter is what works. Thats why I discourage finding that holly grail tone in isolation (without in the mix context). What a not so smart thing do to when we spend a lot of cash for a tone that is not practical: getting lost in the mix, disturb other intrument frequency space etc.
By the way talking about tone: I suggest people to consider MXR 10 band EQ to really dial in their tone comming out from the amp. I saw many people saying changing pickup is a hit and miss thing, maybe what u need is just a slight bump on 500Khz range? but instead ended up buying 3-4 pickups which make you feel lost in the quest.
Tone chasing can become an obsession. Understanding the tone you are trying to acheive is important. In many cases the sound you hear on a recording is an ideal tone created by studio technique. Speaker isolation, mic techniques and post processing that can acheive things impossible to recreate live. Second you can get lost trying to acheive what you think is the perfect sound. Once you have spent countless hours and money on this you will probably be the only person who can hear the subtle nuances that make the sound so special to you. Now add a band and even you will find it hard to hear. Add the variables of playing live shows and it will dissapear even more. next while playing that live show do you think anyone in the audience is discussing your tone?
I like the idea of finding a sound that you like that can be made with reliable equipment that is easy to transport and set up and dial in. These days my typical setup is a fender deluxe reverb for low volume situations or the clean channel of a fender hot rod deville for high volume situations. I currently run a pitchblack into a suhr riot realoaded into a tc alter ego delay right into the main input. Covers almost everything I do. I have a lot of equipment but thats what I use the most. I like my mesa or blackstar into a 4x12 mesa cab. But those seldom leave my house anymore because they are a pain to transport.
All that said I have been chasing tone for years. I once found the perfect tone but for some reason once that happened I did not stop buying equipment.