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.