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Which guitar to you, has the most iconic tone quality about it?
I can't get past a les Paul, especially before 1975
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All of the classics... The tones of every great Strat/Tele/LP/335/SG/Junior, etc player
But do you mean the guitar, or the amp? (Or the combination.) A Les Paul played clean - ie the actual sound of the guitar - is not particularly distinctive or iconic. A Les Paul played through a cranked Bassman or Marshall is... but is that the iconic sound of the Les Paul, or of the 5F6-A circuit?
The reason the Les Paul became popular is because it was one of the only guitars with the output level and sustain to drive those relatively low-gain amps into singing overdrive, rather than for its actual tone.
I'm not being deliberately awkward! Just pointing out that what we think of as "tone" is often as much down to the amp as the guitar.
If you mean genuinely iconic *guitar* tones, I think you'd probably pick the Strat's in-between sound or possibly a Rickenbacker's jangle as more iconic than the actual sound of a Les Paul.
(I love the sound of Les Pauls by the way, including clean.)
"Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand" - Homer Simpson
Like ICBM i love the sound of a les paul clean as well, very distinctive. If you want to hear that listen to some ZZtop from Tejas. almost country with a nice woody tone.
But to me I think tones are only distinctive when they are clean tones. Add distortion be it from amp or pedal, and characteristics of guitar often get lost.
Speaking personally, my faves are the 'tubular' sound with hints of octave you can get from a strat (think Jeff Beck 'Angel' and Nils Lofgren 'I Came to Dance') and the classic LP+Marshall chunk and roar (Mick Box first two Uriah Heep albums), but what Jimmy Page could get out of a Tele (LZ I & II) is up there too, and Joe Walsh's grittyTele/Fender on eg Funk 59.
There are some classic sounds which leave me unmoved eg so-called 'woman tone') - if it's SG you want Carlos' Santana is where it's at for me. Much as I love Gary Moore (and I do) I'm not too keen on his over-compressed sounds, characteristic as they became.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
My own opinion: Iconic electric guitar sounds come firstly from a players hands ... secondly from amplification ... thirdly from pickups ... fourthly from guitar construction. But to answer the original post:
Tele, Strat, Les Paul, Rikky, Gretsch ... they all can be Iconic through the right amps ... and recorded the right way ... oh and played by the right people
If I had to make this case in front of a jury I would probably take them to see Mark Knopfler - 30 seconds of the sound check should do it.
If we eliminate his fingers for a moment (which is of course ridiculous) I think the guitar plays the major part (in comparison to the amp).
To be fair - I should also point out that the early re-issue that Knopfler used on Brothers in Arms sounds incredible. I can't explain why this is but an almost identical guitar I own has survived a major cull and it does have that sound. If you have a pair of Tim Shaw pickups I would urge you to think very carefully before you sell them - even if you hate the guitar.....
Last edited by Skipped; 30th September 2012 at 02:06 PM.
Given that the amp/player/context makes this all subjective it's a tough call. I think the tele or strat or LP. can fit into pretty much any style as regulary evidenced by players around the world. Myself I like the strat or a Gibson semi or 175 when they are clean or 'on the edge' into say Delux reverb. A nice old 3X5 with the crystal hard thin nitro finish does it for me, but as I said anything can work if you like it.
A Guitars character is like the human voice, incredibly complex, but when you decrease the treble and clarity the differences are less pronounced. No different if someone speaks to you on a phone,through a tiny little speaker without any bass, you can tell who it is. Put same voice through a 15" bass amp with everything above 100hz cut, you can still understand vocal but all distinction has gone and it could be anyone.