A new set of pickups

isn’t really going to make you sound like your hero.

I don’t know how many mails I get asking which pickups someone can put in their guitar that will get them that sound, that tone they’re after, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Eddie Van Halen, Dave Gilmour whoever.

The other one is which pedal is going to magically transform my crappy sound to one of the legendary tones of the guitar world.

And the answer really has to be none, yes the same gear will help get an approximation but if you want the Jimmy Page tone from new pickups which tone is it the Telecaster sound from the early years or the Les Paul sound from later, oh that’s right the Jimmy tone can be created on both. You want a pedal that will make you sound like Gilmour, you’ve seen the setup and want one pedal to cover all that ?

I tend to always retell a story I read about Ted Nugent when he tried Eddie Van Halen’s rig out, in the late 70s or early 80s. Ted had heard Ed’s great tone from the first couple of albums, “the brown sound” and on the tour they were on, he’d also heard great tales of this “homemade” guitar and modded Marshall amp.

So he asked Ed and tried ’em out and and the Nuge playing Franenstein through a Marshall 100-watt Super Lead sounded just like the Nuge. Even though he was playing his Gibson Byrdland through Fender Twins in those days.

This was pointed out to me again when a guy who played piano with John Lee Hooker during one of his UK tours in the 60s mailed me to say John had used a Gibson made Zenith guitar and a Vox AC30 Top Boost amp on that tour.

I hadn’t heard of Hooker using either before, just the usual Hooker suspects, so wondered if it was a case of not bringing his gear over to the UK, which would be mighty expensive in the 60s, and using what gear he could pick up here – much like Chuck Berry who just travels with guitar and gets the promoter to provide the amp on the night – turns out I was right about the AC30 – which Terry remembers he “loaded that in and out of the van often enough” – but the guitar he did bring with him.

But as Terry said –

It’s amazing how John always sounded exactly like John whatever he was playing

And there’s the thing, all the gear in the world may get you close…ish, but with all the things that can colour the tone, guitar woods, pickups, leads, amps, tubes, speakers, mics, recording desk, tape machine, your speakers most of it comes from the fingers, not the gear.

Now I’m sticking a set of Lace Sensor Golds in my new axe, will it make me sound like 1990s Claptout or Buddy Guy 😉 😀

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