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Trainwreck thinking
by ken Fischer

I'd like to thank Ultimate Guitar Gear, and particularly Fredrik Heghammar, for inviting me to write on the UGG website.

Before I start, I would like to say, that the perfect tone is different to each person. Therefore, I don not expect everyone to agree with everything I say. You must thrust your own ears when choosing guitar gear. I have been at this for 45 of my 57 years, so you may be able to learn a little from me. I am also still learning, so I would be happy to learn from you too.

Chapter one:
I am going to talk about everything that is a part of the ultimate guitar tone in the future. First though, I would like to give you some of my thoughts on the relative importance, of a few of the things, that make up a great guitar tone. Let us say that you now own the best sounding 1959 Les Paul Standard ever made. Now you got to go to your local music store and by a 10 watt solid state amplifier from China to use with your 1959 Les Paul. How well would you expect that guitar to sound through that amplifier? Not good at all, is correct answer. Now let say you own the best sounding Marshall amplifier ever made, with matching speaker cabinet. However, now you do not own a guitar! So you purchase an Epiphone LP-Std, that was made in Korea. How would this setup sound compared to the first example? The correct answer is much better.

The point to be understood is a good amplifier and speakers, will be more important for a good tone, than a great guitar, but a poor amplifier/speaker system. Also, it happens that a good amplifier tends to cost less than a good guitar.

Of course if you have the 59 Les Paul of the first example and the Marshall of the second example, the combination will be even better yet. There is a catch of this! If you modify the Epiphone guitar with J.M Rolph 59 pretender pickups, and better controls, switch, jack, and wiring, the EPI still not match the 59 Les Paul, but it will be a lot closer than it was from the factory.

Let us review, we have learned that the amplifier is often more important the guitar when trying to get a great tone. We have also learned that once the amplification is right, then a good guitar will also make a big difference. We also learned that an average guitar might be made to sound very good by installing top notch pickups, electronic components, and I will add here, that better hardware will help too.

On a visit to my home, in the 1980's, Mike Doyle, (author of two books on Marshalls) and I had an interesting conversation about how that time, everybody credit Eric Clapton's tone on the Bluesbreakers album to his Les Paul. Guitarist seems to pay little attention to his amplifier, which Mike and I consider to be at least half, (we though more than half) of Eric's sound. Evan today, many players think nothing of paying huge sums of money for great guitars, but refuse to pay modest sums of money for great amplifires. Now that you know my thinking on this subject, I will not mention it again in future articles. Starting with the next article I will try to cover one subject a time in detailed fashion.

Until the next time, I wish you all the best, Ken Fischer


The Unauthorized History of Trainwreck Circuits
Read the story about Ken and the famous Trainwreck Circuits

Chapter 2 of Trainwreck thinking
Thoughts about pickups...

Chapter 2.1 of Trainwreck thinking
Dont forget the controls...

Chapter 2.1 v 2.2 of Trainwreck Thoughts
Pickups and Bumble bees?

Chapter 3 of Trainwreck Thoughts
Valley of doom...

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