With hundreds or thousands of dollars invested in gear, you would think we would care a little more about the part of our tone that is actually providing the true sonic, acoustic vibrations that are actually moving the air physically. (And by ‘we’, I basically mean ‘me’. hehe) A three thousand dollar Divided by 13 amp is great. A pedalboard that can suck more power than the venue sound system is fantastic. A John Suhr guitar built from 200-year-old wood grown by a Chinese emperor with inlays from a secret South African diamond mine, is awesome as well. And all these things are way more interesting to mention when someone asks us the secret to our ‘life-changing’ tone. (Well, at least that’s how it happens in my head. I seriously do dream about people coming up and saying my one, incredibly toneful note changed their life. It…uh…hasn’t happened yet.)
But the two most real, acoustic, sonic parts of our rigs are our picks and strings. And nevertheless, I played somewhere last night before which, I made sure my amp was set properly, that my guitar was shined up properly, that all my pedals weren’t sucking any tone, that all the switches worked; but I chose (once again) to save time by not changing my strings this week. And once again, it was extremely noticeable in my final tone. The strings give the guitar tone its life, its reality, its movement of air. All the color, shimmer, sparkle, and vitality come first from the strings.
And I feel like I’ve learned this lesson 8 billion times before, and every time I promise myself I’ll change them every week…every other week at the very most. And then I always go and spend a half hour on gearpage looking for new pedals to buy, instead of changing my strings. But see…people can see a brand new, gorgeous, golden Hartman Germanium Fuzz on my board…they can’t see if my strings are new. I mean, seriously. How are people supposed to see my tone if I don’t have any new pedals?
(Nope. This doesn’t tie in to changing your guitar strings. Not even a little.)