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Great Guitar Tone

Electric guitars can produce a huge variety of sounds, and tone—the exact timbre and quality of sound you hear when they play—is something electric guitarists obsess about. A good tone (Keith Richards playing the intro to "Brown Sugar") can get your booty shaking almost entirely on its own. Bad tone (all those over-processed "faux metal" sounds you hear on cheesy soundtracks and commercials) is hardly inspiring. Guitar tone depends on a wide variety of factors:
The design, shape, and construction techniques of the guitar, including the length, thickness, and surface curvature of the neck, the type of frets, and whether the body is solid, hollow, or semi-hollow.
The kinds of woods (or other materials) it's made out of, and how the various components are attached to one another.
Its age and, if it's used, how it's been treated and played over the years.
The design, implementation, and installation of its pickups and electronics.
The settings of all its controls, including volume and tone knobs and pickup selectors.
The type and thickness of the strings.
How those strings are attached to the guitar, including whether they pass through the guitar body or just sit on the top surface—and right down to the materials and construction of the nut and bridge at either and, as well as the design of the tuning posts.
The quality, materials, and length of the cable connecting the guitar to the amplifier.
The design, construction, and age of the amplifier.
The type and age of speaker in the amplifier.
How each knob and switch on the amplifier is set.
What kinds of pre-amp and power amp components the amplifier uses, including the type, design, manufacture, and age of those components, especially if they are vacuum tubes.
What kinds of additional effects are placed between the guitar and the amplifier (or connected to the amplifier through its internal effects loop—which can make the same effects sound different than if they were plugged into the regular input jack), how they are built, and how they are set.
The quality and materials of all the connectors between the guitar, effects, amplifier, and beyond.
The acoustics of the room or studio in which the guitar and amplifier are being played, including the effect of other instruments being played at the same time there, room materials, size, shape, furniture, and how many people are in it, including what they're wearing and whether they're sitting down, standing up, or dancing around.

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