Describing The Chain

Describing The Chain

Kit Robertshaw No Comment

In my opinion there are two main factors to consider when choosing new gear: ‘tone’ and ‘noise’. Tone is the quality of the sound produced by your amp’s speakers at the end of your chain, noise is the amount of audible interference heard from your amp. All my equipment has a positive or negative impact on these two results. My 15 year old Mexican Fender Stratocaster is a great example.

The tone is excellent, favoured by hundreds of first rate guitarists in all sorts of genres (Malmsteen, Clapton, Corgan, Beck, and on and on). There are essentially five tones created by the five positions of the pickup switch. The bridge pickup creates a satisfying ‘spank’ for rhythmn and high end squeal for solos. The next position between bridge and middle has a softer, country and western sounding tone. The middle position has a warm and rich sound. The combination of middle and neck is smooth and low but to be frank, I don’t use it. The neck pickup is dark, creamy and smooth.

It’s worth getting a good guitar because it sets the standard for your tone. Any subsequent link in the chain, by using a cable or pedal, will in some way diminish this tone and introduce noise. Therefore, a straight to amp sound (guitar to cable to amp) will provide your tone in it’s purist form. The better the guitar, the better the starting tone and the better the result at the end of the chain.

Personally, I’m delighted with the strat. They are versatile and produce an excellent tone, which is suitable for my needs. However, the factory ‘single coil’ (more on this later) pickups are known for letting in a lot of noise into the chain, so I have modified the guitar and would expect to for all future Fender Strats.

The alternative is to choose a humbucker guitar with pickups designed to reduce the noise and interference. Now I have a strat, I would choose this type of guitar next time, possibly a PRS Tremonti or an Epiphone AFD for a few hundred quid. High end would include a Gibson, Rickenbacker, Collings and PRS and low end would include Epiphone and BC Rich. Of course, most brands produce a range of guitars for a spectrum of budgets.

Next in the chain are pickups, which I’ll say more on later. Enjoy the journey towards creating your dream tone!

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