there’s always talk about the ultimate tone, and the best tone, and the end-all-to-be-all tone, but that’s not what LIFE is about, is it? as far as i know, life is about doing the most with what you’ve got, playing the hand you’ve been dealt.
this carries over into guitar playing as well… when it boils down to it, the tone rarely makes or breaks the music for me. instead, i listen to hear how well the player EXPLOITS his tone. the true player, the honest player, utilizes every last bit of possibility–even as he is constrained by the very gear that supports him. like the genius of a well-written Shakespearean sonnet lies in the 14 lines of abab cdcd efef gg rhyme scheme, the ingenuity of the guitar player transcends the confining nature of his equipment and conveys a sense of effortless expression.
it stems from a basic familiarity and homogeny between man and machine, and herein lies the point–the tone, taken as an absolute, has precious little bearing on the final outcome. the tone can only be as good as the player, which is why we hear countless tales of folks plugging into the rigs of exalted heroes only to sound like ass. the tone can only be USED by a player, and if the player be made of “the good stuff,” then the tone will simultaneously limit his possibilities and set him free. the player will struggle to elicit new sounds, new forms of expression, making up words in a new language heretofore unheard. this struggle which ensues–this defiance against the imposed necessity–is where it’s at… the fucking balls, the essence of human existence, played out in a battle between a man and his guitar.