When Was Your First Tone Epiphany?

Music is a passion for Line6Angela, and the fact that she’s not a guitarist gives her an interesting perspective on guitar tone. A job at Line 6, a few concerts at a legendary Los Angeles music venue, and a sonic epiphany are all it took for Line6Angela to develop a real appreciation for tone.

By Line6Angela

Premier Guitar magazine did a wonderful series of articles on tone. When I read these articles I couldn’t stop thinking about the first time tone really occurred to me.

When I started at Line 6, 5 years ago, I never thought about tone. I had gone to numerous concerts, some in intimate settings, some at arenas, and never once thought about tone. Slowly, though, while being immersed at Line 6, I started to notice little things like what guitar amps and effect pedals players were using, and the sound of each one.

On February 23, 2008, I went to see Marilyn Manson at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. I had seen them at least 8 times in a 14-year period, but all of a sudden, halfway through the show, the guitar tone caught my ear. Of course Rob Holliday, guitarist for Marilyn Manson, had been playing all night but at this moment it truly felt like all the rest of the instruments had dimmed and all my focus was on the guitar. It seemed to sparkle through the air, like I could actually see each note bouncing over the crowd’s heads. I thought, “Wow, that is such a great tone!” It was clear and strong.

Little did I know that I had a similar moment over a decade ago, also at the Wiltern, while seeing Crowded House. But that time I didn’t have the right vocabulary.

So of course tone is completely subjective. Although I do enjoy discussing tone I would not want to debate what is good tone and what is bad tone. (And if you want to be even more reassured that I shouldn’t debate tone, one of my favorite songs is Throbbing Gristle’s “Hamburger Lady”.) Tone, in my definition, is art. And art truly is in the eyes and ears of the beholder.

How did you find your tone/tones? When do you decide if your tone is great, or finished? Is it based on what you like? What your band likes? The reaction you get from the audience?

I hope you will share your stories below and provide links to videos or songs if you have them.

14 Responses to “ When Was Your First Tone Epiphany? ”

  1. bomtwo Says:

    My “Tone Epiphany” occured the first time I heard Tool’s “Lateralus”. I was 14, and I popped the CD in having no idea what to expect from this band. “The Grudge” started with full force and i remember thinking, “Wow, this is really heavy, while still being completely tasteful.” Adam Jones tone throughout that album shaped the way I think of music now, and how important tone is to getting your bands aesthetics across to the listener. his tone has the tiniest amount of phaser in it, making it very raw sounding.

    Also, Meshuggah’s “Catch 33″. The tone on that album is intense. I’ve never heard anything like it.

  2. Line6Angela Says:

    That is great! Have you seen Tool live? I hope you have, because they are amazing live. Do you have any songs online that we can check out?

  3. bomtwo Says:

    I’ll be seeing them for the 4th time 2 weeks from tomorrow! i’m really excited. I’m still trying to get a recording rig sorted out, but when i do i’ll def. let y’all know as I use a podx3pro for all my tones. Thanks for asking!

  4. Line6Angela Says:

    Nice! Can’t wait to hear some tunes when you got it all set up :) Have fun at the show!!

  5. shredchris Says:

    For me it was eons ago littterally… When Ozzy’s No More Tears album came out, the title track had what I decided back then, was goign to become my benchmark tone… Les Paul to OD box and Marshall amp… The cool thing about my Line 6 gear is that I can now get that sort of tone without shattering windows… I’m using a UX8 with the whole shabang of extensions, but I will most probably upgrade to an X”4″ Pro when they are released in the future, and still keep the UX8 as it’s really a great audio interface.

    Of course I get blown away by great tone on a daily basis, and I must says the last kick in the rear end I got was from a girl named Lori Lindstruth who plays on the Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon albums, and she’s a very tasteful player with tons of attitude and great guitar tone, courtesy of a Line 6 Pod Pro ( don’t know which version ), and Arjen uses a POD Pro ( thte first one ) for 99% of the guitars and basses on his albums too…

    If you want to hear a snippet of what I do with the UX8, it’s here.

  6. Line6Angela Says:

    That demo sounds great, would enjoy hearing more, a minute is too short :)

    Thanks for the tip on Lori Lindstruth. Will have to look her and Arjen up and here some songs!!!

  7. shredchris Says:

    Here’s the solos I’m talking about in the “01011001″ album. The first 2 are defintely a POD pro of some sort, the third one is by Michael Romeo who is also a Line 6 user, but I can’t be positive that Line 6 gear was used for that one.


  8. Gearbox72 Says:

    I had a huge epiph at a Genesis concert – and I’m not a huge Genesis fan but a friend had tickets so I tagged along. It was the Invisible Touch tour and we saw them in San Francisco (maybe Oakland?). Anyway, all of a sudden there is this enormous wall of sound and it all came from Mike Rutherford – perhaps one of rock’s most underrated guitar players. This guy is one of the original sonic architects on guitar – he had massive tone. I realized at that point that he was a master at his craft and stood right up there with the best of them. In my opinion their albums don’t capture it. I only saw them that one time but it really sticks out in my memory as one of the great all-time live concert experiences and Rutherford proved to me he was a giant talent and master of tone.

    For me personally, I am still struggling to find my sound and I guess that means at this point I never will. Once in a while I hit on something I really like but not enough to where I feel the search is over. Equipment does have a lot to do with it – I don’t buy that theory some have that it’s not the equipment but the player and his “soul” yeah … sure … okay … maybe that has something to do with it, of course. But it all egts filtered through your gear and maybe less is more. Listen to Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix at the Woodstock festival in 1969. they had TONE! And very little effects boxes driving them. It was about 95% attitude (and chops) and behind them stood a minimum of gear – what today would be considered playing almost RAW through the amps. Go back and listen to that and tell me these guys knew how to do more with less.

    And Jeff Beck – he’s got some kick-*** tone. I’m trying to find something between Beck and Santana.

  9. Line6Angela Says:

    That is such a great story. I could feel that moment just in your description! I totally get that feeling.

    Maybe the search will never be over, but I’m sure for many that is the case. Sometimes it’s embracing what comes naturally out of you. For a long time I would try to paint differently. I would force myself to paint the way I thought I should be painting. They would always turn out strange. Finally I embraced the style that naturaly came out of me and since then I don’t fight it, I let it come naturally. If you recorded 10 songs just letting yourself go with what feels good, you might be surprised that they all have a unique sound in them :)

    I can understand what people are saying about having “soul.” But your gear can fuel your soul and inspire the creativity. Maybe there are a few people that can pick up any instrument and create a masterpiece with it. But I think the right gear can inspire and give your soul freedom to express itself. Music is passion. Personally I feel like creativity controls the person more than the person controls the creativity.

    If you post any songs or vids online, please share them, would enjoy checking them out.


  10. Gearbox72 Says:

    Thanks for posting! I will be posting some new recordings soon and will try to let you know. You’re right about the painting – I went through the same thing and now I’ve found my true “voice” with the paint brush. And yes, creativity controls the person – or at least drives them on … and if you try to control it then you end up with something that might be perhaps at bit less than truthful or honest. Maybe the audience will pick up on it – depends, I guess. And you’re right again – the songs I have recorded that are my favorites – the ones that really make me sit up straight when I happen to hear them are usually the ones I spent very little time working on because they just shot out like a cannonball and usually were written after I had found a sound on a guitar – in other words, the guitar or the sound I had found literally gave birth to a piece of music. Imagine that. And the best sounding tone I ever got is on a recording I did about 3 years ago with a 1963 Teisco Kimberly guitar – got it at a flea market for $23.00. The pick-ups on that guitar are priceless – biggest, fattest, roundest sound – it cannot be duplicated. Tone. The last frontier. A voyage with no end.

    Thanks again. I’m glad you liked my story. I should add that my friend knew less about Genesis than I did – someone gave her the tickets. And when the wall of sound went up we both looked at each other with our eyes and mouths wide open and we knew instantly that we’d been knocked out.

  11. Line6Angela Says:

    Very cool!

    I love when you find that hidden treasure in the most random place!

    Can’t wait to hear some of your songs :)

  12. vierimaa Says:

    Two words that describe great tone for me:

    Robben Ford!

    Nuff said, regards,


  13. Line6Angela Says:

    Sometimes it only takes two words :)

  14. vierimaa Says:

    I’ve been a big fan of Robben Ford for a long time. Saw him a couple of weeks ago at Ronnie Scott’s in London and I sat about 4 feet from him! He was using two amps, a Fender Super Reverb and a Twin, a wah and a Zendrive pedal. Amps were set to clean all the time. Pretty simple but sounded fantastic.


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