Tired of swapping pickups in search of great tone?
General Technical Discussion
I almost fell into the searching for great tone trap but I had a good friend point something out many years ago. It's all about the context. I got to really experience this on a consistent basis when I started working as a sound guy back in '97.
As an example. One band I ran sound for quite a few times. All 5 guys were monster players on their instrument, each instrument sounded great by itself, but once they got into a song everything just mushed together and didn't sound very good at all. Each instrument should ideally sit in the mix in it's own spot so to speak.
At each gig I kept track of eq changes I made for each instrument to clean the mix up and give a separation of them while still maintaining a full sound. I then talked the guys into tweaking their rigs a little, and the drummer to tune a little differently. But when all was said and done they could hear the difference on stage. That led to a lower stage volume since they weren't turning up because they couldn't hear themselves, which led to lower monitor levels, less bleed from the stage, and to me being able to get an even better mix in the venue.
So, just because you have the bestest ever guitar tone doesn't necessarily mean it'll work in a band context.
I will say that the worst offenders I run into frequently are the guys that use the death metal eq scoop and their amps. They pull out all the mids to get the super duper brutalest ever tone. Then wonder why they have a hard time hearing themselves at gigs, then turn the amp up even more, creating more problems. They don't seem to realize that all that low end will get covered up by the bass, then the high end gets washed out by the cymbals. And since there are no mids for the most part the guitar completely disappears in the mix.
FWIW, I installed an original ToneStyler in one of my H1s; this guitar only has an H22N in the neck position, and produces a great basic tone to my ears. The ToneStyler came in a modified semi-hollowbody I picked up, and I pulled it out when I returned that guitar to a stock configuration.
I stuck it in the H1 to hear how the H22N would be affected, and I was pleased; the tonal characteristics are esoteric and hard to describe, but there are harmonic qualities exposed that I couldn't attain using a tone pot. For me, the trade-off is having 16 'notched' capacitance settings; step-to-step, the aural effect is pretty subtle, and I definitely favor a select few positions - it's a bit of a mental exercise to choose them while playing.
All in all, it suits me and the guitar - I play simple and clean (no outboard processors), and the capacitance options don't take anything AWAY from the pickup, but provide more color than a tone control does.
Clear Gloss H1
Emerald Green H1T
Ferrari Red H2T
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