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-   -   Myth: Best equipment = best tone (http://www.christianguitar.org/forums/t132303/)

RipVanWinkle 07-26-2006 02:14 PM

Myth: Best equipment = best tone

Fact: While the equipment does help in good tone, the fingers make up the majority of it.

xevan 07-26-2006 05:09 PM

the fingers seriously ? then how do you know if you have good fingers or bad fingers????

RipVanWinkle 07-26-2006 05:11 PM

Are you serious, or joking?

Im being serious...

thesteve 07-26-2006 06:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RipVanWinkle (Post 2522248)
Are you serious, or joking?

Im being serious...

I think he's being serious too.

while experienced guitarists seem to agree that "tone is from the fingers", often we throw that phrase out there and assume everryone knows that we're referring to style and technique. for a guitar novice, to hear the phrase "tone is in the fingers" may conjure up ideas that tone literally comes from the physical features of your fingers. This is akin to asking a 6 year-old, "do you want Jesus in your heart?" (whch is often thrown around as the salvation question) and getting the response, "no...it's not big enough for him."

furthermore, while ability is the ultimate determinant of whether or not a person can sound good, often I think that we use the "tone is in the fingers" argument superfluously. Whether or not a person has ability is "in the fingers" (maybe this isn't as obvious as it seems), however to say that "tone" is in the fingers strikes me as an entirely different thing.

Now maybe I'm arguing semantics here, but what I'm wondering, is what kind of fingers does Clapton have, and why are their tone so much different than James Hetfield's, which is entirely different than Dick Dale's.

What5647 07-26-2006 08:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thesteve;
furthermore, while ability is the ultimate determinant of whether or not a person can sound good, often I think that we use the "tone is in the fingers" argument superfluously. Whether or not a person has ability is "in the fingers" (maybe this isn't as obvious as it seems), however to say that "tone" is in the fingers strikes me as an entirely different thing.

i agree 100%
i think we ought to start calling amp/equipment sound as "tone," and player sound as "skill." and collectively refer to both as a guitarist's "sound." when i was starting playing guitar, the statement "tone is in the fingers" threw me for a loop, and i ended up with some crappy gear. let's start to clearly define what we're talking about/

MJ_Avalanche 07-26-2006 08:41 PM

Along those same lines, "tone is in the fingers" sometimes gets added along with "Oh, they can even make a crappy guitar/amp/pedal/rig sound great". There's only one problem with that statement. If the gear in question is crappy, it likely will be crappy sounding, whether you play like the most beginning novice, or Pat Metheny.

gtrdave 07-26-2006 08:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MJ_Avalanche (Post 2522420)
Along those same lines, "tone is in the fingers" sometimes gets added along with "Oh, they can even make a crappy guitar/amp/pedal/rig sound great". There's only one problem with that statement. If the gear in question is crappy, it likely will be crappy sounding, whether you play like the most beginning novice, or Pat Metheny.

Not so fast.
Even supposedly "crappy" gear can sometimes be made to sound fairly acceptable. It just takes a set of ears to hear and a pair of hands to manipulate.

Jimi Hendrix playing "Hear My Train a' Comin'" on a semi-out-of-tune 12 string acoustic still sounds as cool as only Hendrix could.

What5647 07-26-2006 09:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gtrdave (Post 2522426)
Not so fast.
Even supposedly "crappy" gear can sometimes be made to sound fairly acceptable. It just takes a set of ears to hear and a pair of hands to manipulate.

Jimi Hendrix playing "Hear My Train a' Comin'" on a semi-out-of-tune 12 string acoustic still sounds as cool as only Hendrix could.

but see, to me that's a showcase of his skill, the noises the guitar is making are not as nice as those from better gear.

gtrdave 07-26-2006 10:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by What5647 (Post 2522493)
but see, to me that's a showcase of his skill, the noises the guitar is making are not as nice as those from better gear.

Maybe so, maybe not.
I feel much like the original poster of the thread; "tone" is more in the fingers than some people believe.
It's actually more in the technique of the player than the fingers themselves.

That said, a Squier Strat through a Rage 158 is not tone heaven, fo' sho', but a skilled player can probably get acceptable "tone" through that setup.

On the contrary, buying a Tyler to play through a Bad Cat is not going to insure the best tone or even good tone if the one handling the gear is a little under par with their technique.

Some of the best "tone" I've ever heard is a player with killer chops playing through a mutt guitar and a well-tuned run-of-the-mill tube amp. You know that guy; he's in the house band at some club and his gear is nothing to look at but he makes it sound great?
His "tone" is the result of putting in the time on his instrument.

RipVanWinkle 07-26-2006 10:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gtrdave (Post 2522527)
It's actually more in the technique of the player than the fingers themselves.

Excuse me for my incorrect usage of words. This is what I meant...

thomaspg70 07-26-2006 11:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RipVanWinkle (Post 2522117)
Myth: Best equipment = best tone

Fact: While the equipment does help in good tone, the fingers make up the majority of it.

So very true. I mean the tone is almost always in your fingers but it isn't in something like "i'll use a hollowbody for the greatest metal tone". In that case the tine is in the guitar and not in your fingers.

thesteve 07-26-2006 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thomaspg70 (Post 2522562)
So very true. I mean the tone is almost always in your fingers but it isn't in something like "i'll use a hollowbody for the greatest metal tone". In that case the tine is in the guitar and not in your fingers.

Ted Nugent...?

Rainer. 07-26-2006 11:54 PM

My hollowbody does metal awesomely. I use 12s on it, it downtunes like none of my other guitars can.

I can make any of my guitars sound metal if I want. I can make any of them sound folky, I can make any of them sound bluesy. It's my technique that makes 'em sound like that, not any inherent property of the guitar.

ApparentlyNothing 07-27-2006 01:45 AM

I don't think this is 100% true. I mean, I've known some awesome guitarists who could rip it up, but had crap for gear. They played awesome, but their tone makes me want to throw up.

It's true that knowledgeable guitarists can use mediocre gear and get a good sound out of it, but crappy gear = crappy tone no matter how good you are.

But don't worry. I still think crappy technique + awesome gear = still crap.

Jenacen 07-27-2006 08:18 AM

Ok so maybe the new myth is "It's all in your fingers." :-/

xevan 07-27-2006 08:22 AM

hmm and I wasnt joking btw what I sorta of meant is how do you know if you have good technique or bad technique?

gtrdave 07-27-2006 08:39 AM

The easy answer would be to listen to a few professional or semi-pro guitarists and then listen to yourself and compare the two but the world of professional guitarists is pretty diverse so you'd have to know what it is that you're listening for.

Case in point: Kurt Cobain had some horrid technique and was on the low end of the musical diversity scale but he was a professional guitarist none the less.
On the other end, Steve Morse has what I think is amazing technique and also a very diverse musical repitoire from which to pull. He, too, is a pro.
And a guy like Eric Clapton falls somewhere in the middle having good technique and a fairly common musical vocabulary.

I posted a couple examples in a reply in this thread regarding different levels of progression of simple lead playing.
Maybe give it a listen and see if it helps answer your question and hopefully inspires you on.

Visirale 07-27-2006 08:49 AM

I don't care if you're Yngvie Malmsteem. If you're playing a particle board strat copy with 5 dollar chinese pickups through an amp with blown preamp tubes, you're gonna sound crappy no mater what you do.

Technique makes a lot of it. But there is no way I'm gonna get "my sound" unless I use my Stingray and Mesa head. The cabs aren't quite as important, but still a factor. Characteristic tones, especially good characteristic tones come from certain gear... I think it is a large factor. It is a huge fallacy to say "It's all in the fingers."

Truth? 07-27-2006 08:51 AM

It all comes down to is you can play clear (barring, agility on changing and such). If you're able to do that it dosent matter what you play on you'll sound good. I like playing on a 60 dollar nylon 1/2 size guitar. I think it sounds great. Also you're strings help...

Rainer. 07-27-2006 10:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gtrdave (Post 2522806)
Kurt Cobain had some horrid technique and was on the low end of the musical diversity scale but he was a professional guitarist none the less.

I think he counts as good-enough-technique-to-sound-good.

It's like you'd be hard pressed to hear a simple strummed G, and be able to tell whether the player in question had been playing for 5 years or 50 years.

Concerning Ted's comment:
It comes to a point. There is a distinct difference between gear that's not very good, and gear that just doesn't work. No one can say that a guitar with 2 inch action is playable, or an amp with blown tubes will sound good with a decent player. That stuff just doesn't operate like a guitar should. There is a threshold where you just can't get a good sound no matterhow you try, and that's bascially the threshold of brokenness.

However in the current world, that hardly applies to new guitars anymore. I'm going to point out what's possibly the cheapest stuff on the market: The First Acts at Wal-Mart. A good guitarist can make those sound good.

Current manufacturing techniques rarely spit out something that can't work. Even cheap guitars usually work.

And I in fact play a particle-board guitar with cheap Chinese (actually one is mexican, the other is indonesian, and the last one is chinese...) pickups. You can hear it here...
http://www.christianguitar.org/forum...d.php?t=130494

thomaspg70 07-27-2006 10:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rainer. (Post 2522597)
My hollowbody does metal awesomely. I use 12s on it, it downtunes like none of my other guitars can.

I can make any of my guitars sound metal if I want. I can make any of them sound folky, I can make any of them sound bluesy. It's my technique that makes 'em sound like that, not any inherent property of the guitar.

I mean they don't get the best tone for metal as a solid body does. Sure they can do metal but they don't sound best.

Rainer. 07-27-2006 10:58 AM

"Best" is incredibly subjective. Telecasters wouldn't generally strike you as "the best" for punk and hardcore either, but Teles have seriously become the next big guitar in those musical styles.

And then there's Ted Nugent...

And also on a side note, on Thrice's video for "Image Of The Invisible", they're pretty clearly playing a Telecaster and a hollowbody of some sort...

RipVanWinkle 07-27-2006 11:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Visirale (Post 2522822)
Technique makes a lot of it. But there is no way I'm gonna get "my sound" unless I use my Stingray and Mesa head.

Of course...thats the bass, right?

Jenacen 07-27-2006 12:02 PM

I play with good, solid technique and I notice a difference between two instruments. I brought in my Washburn for praise and worship and they couldn't get it to sound good. I brought in my Ibanez Prestige and it just naturally sounded better. I also recently modified my Ibanez by lowering the action, and on certain pickups the thing sounds like I'm strumming an acoustic (I heightened my pickups a litte, too). It's odd to play 5th string root power chords because the G string has been buzzy before, and it sounds even worse now. The effect may be good, but the chord just sounds odd because of the quality of the guitar. Really, it's half and half. If you can't hit the note so that it plays cleanly, it's nothing to do with your hardware. But if you have perfect technique but something sounds bad, it's not you so it must be your hardware.

I'd say this is one of those cases where it's not directly one or the other. I'd say the myths are "It's all in the fingers" and "it's all in the equipment."

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rainer. (Post 2522998)
"Best" is incredibly subjective. Telecasters wouldn't generally strike you as "the best" for punk and hardcore either, but Teles have seriously become the next big guitar in those musical styles.

Yeah, one time I was at my local guitar store and one of the employees was playing some metal riff on a Fender and I said, "You got that sound out of a Fender??" I've never really associated the name Fender with anything other than Clapton or the blues.

thesteve 07-27-2006 12:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RipVanWinkle (Post 2523035)
Of course...thats the bass, right?

indeed he's referring to bass, but the principles are widely the same.

Mattlock 07-28-2006 10:04 AM

It's not all in the fingers. Yes, a fair amount is in the fingers, but you also need decent gear.

I played my girlfriend's Starcaster by Fender (the Walmart one) and could not get a good sound out of it. Now, I can get a good sound out of my newly bought Fender MIM Strat. And an even better sound out of my Uncles MIA Strat.

Also, a proper set-up is definately a big factor. I've picked up Gibsons, Fenders, ect. at Guitar Center that had crappy intonation, poor action, ect. Couldn't get a good sound out of those. Had you given me a no-name Chinese guitar that was properly set-up, I would have been better off.

gtrdave 07-28-2006 10:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mattlock (Post 2523905)
It's not all in the fingers. Yes, a fair amount is in the fingers, but you also need decent gear.

I played my girlfriend's Starcaster by Fender (the Walmart one) and could not get a good sound out of it. Now, I can get a good sound out of my newly bought Fender MIM Strat. And an even better sound out of my Uncles MIA Strat.

Also, a proper set-up is definately a big factor. I've picked up Gibsons, Fenders, ect. at Guitar Center that had crappy intonation, poor action, ect. Couldn't get a good sound out of those. Had you given me a no-name Chinese guitar that was properly set-up, I would have been better off.

I hear you.
I think that the key word is "best". As others have already said, "best" is a very subjective term and, therefore, there is no "best" gear.
There's gear that works for a particular person's purposes and there's gear that does not work for those or any purposes (other than as firewood, doorstop, boat anchor or oar, paperweight, etc...).

Demon_Hunter 07-28-2006 05:15 PM

Good and bad tone are subjective. Its all in the ear of the beholder afterall.;)

ApparentlyNothing 07-28-2006 06:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by demon_hunter (Post 2524316)
Good and bad tone are subjective. Its all in the ear of the beholder afterall.;)

Can I be the first to dispell this myth as well? To a degree, it is subjective. But just like art, there is much more objective things that separate good from bad. A bad photo is a bad photo, no matter how much you say you like it. And bad tone is bad tone no matter how much anyone says it's not. There are many facits of good tone that are subjective, such as one liking darker tone from an Orange, or brighter tone from an AC30, or heavy distortion from a Mesa, or clean tone from a Fender. But bad tone is bad, no question.

Ryan Freeland 07-28-2006 06:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ApparentlyNothing (Post 2524360)
Can I be the first to dispell this myth as well? To a degree, it is subjective. But just like art, there is much more objective things that separate good from bad. A bad photo is a bad photo, no matter how much you say you like it. And bad tone is bad tone no matter how much anyone says it's not. There are many facits of good tone that are subjective, such as one liking darker tone from an Orange, or brighter tone from an AC30, or heavy distortion from a Mesa, or clean tone from a Fender. But bad tone is bad, no question.

Well.. Some people think this tone is awesome. (most people who are into metal a lot would think that) I personally can't stand it.

DaGeek 07-28-2006 07:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Building429_Boy (Post 2524364)
Well.. Some people think this tone is awesome. (most people who are into metal a lot would think that) I personally can't stand it.

Ewwwww, nasty tone...


I agree with the earlier post by ApparentlyNothing, though. Bad is bad, no matter how much you like it. If it works for you, it works for you, but quality doesn't change because of personal opinion. Personal opinion only makes it more bearable.

gtrdave 07-28-2006 07:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ApparentlyNothing (Post 2524360)
Can I be the first to dispell this myth as well? To a degree, it is subjective. But just like art, there is much more objective things that separate good from bad. A bad photo is a bad photo, no matter how much you say you like it. And bad tone is bad tone no matter how much anyone says it's not. There are many facits of good tone that are subjective, such as one liking darker tone from an Orange, or brighter tone from an AC30, or heavy distortion from a Mesa, or clean tone from a Fender. But bad tone is bad, no question.

This is an untrue generalization and one that assumes that there is some common rule and/or a person who is deemed "judge" for good and bad tone.

What you might hear and claim to be "bad", someone else may hear and say it's "good".
A lot of Neil Young's guitar solo work, as badly as I think it's performed, usually has what I would consider a very bad tone.
Slash has not yet recorded anything that I would consider good tone and I think he's tied for first place with Neil Young for being able to make a Gibson Les Paul sound as bad as it ever could.
Many people disagree with me.

And I right to be the judge of tone?
Are they?
Is anyone?

KATMAN 07-28-2006 08:16 PM

Good point,Dave. I've said it a hundred times,I'd rather hear a good player playing bad gear than a bad player playing good gear. None of us can really judge another players tone.I mean we can,but who's to say we're right? The best tone I ever heard was Roy Bucahanon. He used a stock Tele and a Fender tube amp.But to each his own.

ApparentlyNothing 07-28-2006 08:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Building429_Boy (Post 2524364)
Well.. Some people think this tone is awesome. (most people who are into metal a lot would think that) I personally can't stand it.

But that tone is definitional to the metal genre. It wasn't recorded in the best way, but as far as I can tell, it's pretty decent metal tone. The subjectivity of whether you like it or not is valid, but the objectivity of it being decent metal tone is as well.

Quote:

Originally Posted by gtrdave (Post 2524390)
This is an untrue generalization and one that assumes that there is some common rule and/or a person who is deemed "judge" for good and bad tone.

What you might hear and claim to be "bad", someone else may hear and say it's "good".
A lot of Neil Young's guitar solo work, as badly as I think it's performed, usually has what I would consider a very bad tone.
Slash has not yet recorded anything that I would consider good tone and I think he's tied for first place with Neil Young for being able to make a Gibson Les Paul sound as bad as it ever could.
Many people disagree with me.

And I right to be the judge of tone?
Are they?
Is anyone?

My point was that it's not all gray area. There's plenty of gray area in the middle, but there's also plenty of black and white on the ends.

What5647 07-28-2006 09:25 PM

in the case of that video, i'll say tone is in the fingers. he's got good gear, but it's not set up as i would do it, nor is his palying anything spectacular.

EDIT: and it was an all-right metal tone, not terrible, yet not great either.

bobthecockroach 07-28-2006 09:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Visirale (Post 2522822)
I don't care if you're Yngvie Malmsteem. If you're playing a particle board strat copy with 5 dollar chinese pickups through an amp with blown preamp tubes, you're gonna sound crappy no mater what you do.

Technique makes a lot of it. But there is no way I'm gonna get "my sound" unless I use my Stingray and Mesa head. The cabs aren't quite as important, but still a factor. Characteristic tones, especially good characteristic tones come from certain gear... I think it is a large factor. It is a huge fallacy to say "It's all in the fingers."

Truth.

Mattlock 07-28-2006 10:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ApparentlyNothing (Post 2524360)
Can I be the first to dispell this myth as well? To a degree, it is subjective. But just like art, there is much more objective things that separate good from bad. A bad photo is a bad photo, no matter how much you say you like it. And bad tone is bad tone no matter how much anyone says it's not. There are many facits of good tone that are subjective, such as one liking darker tone from an Orange, or brighter tone from an AC30, or heavy distortion from a Mesa, or clean tone from a Fender. But bad tone is bad, no question.

And we have a winner!

Also, to OP mentioned in his post that a MAJORITY of tone is in the fingers. Or something to that extent. Not all, but a part.

Jenacen 07-29-2006 08:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Building429_Boy (Post 2524364)
Well.. Some people think this tone is awesome. (most people who are into metal a lot would think that) I personally can't stand it.

Was that even a song?

That's nothing compared to one of my friend's tones. High treble, too much gain, eek!

Rainer. 07-29-2006 09:50 AM

Who defined "good tone" anyway?

Tones have uses, there are no good or bad tones. There is only using tones in bad taste, which is subjective, but no tone is inherently bad.

For example, if I were to roll off the tone control on my neck pickup, and use it with some heavy distortion to play a heavy riff, no doubt it would sound pretty muddy and horrible, but I could take that sound and use it in a techno song for some pseudo-synth sounds, and it would sound pretty cool. Many "bad tones" have great uses in more experimental and avant-garde styles of playing. Many "good tones" would sound horrible when pulled out of musical context.

However with bad technique, things are going to sound bad no matter what tone you use, so technique is apparently more important than the tone used in overall sound.

jamforchrist123 07-29-2006 12:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rainer. (Post 2524753)
For example, if I were to roll off the tone control on my neck pickup, and use it with some heavy distortion to play a heavy riff, no doubt it would sound pretty muddy and horrible, but I could take that sound and use it in a techno song for some pseudo-synth sounds, and it would sound pretty cool.


That is true. In this one song I wrote, I use my neck p90 with tone rolled all the way down, through my eq with scooped mids, into my J&H with a little bit of overdrive, into my chorus with everything dimed, and into my amp with high 0, mid 12, and bass 0. If used anywhere else it would sound incredibly bad, but in this case it works perfectly. If I was to use my normal low overdrive tone it would not work at all.

ApparentlyNothing 07-29-2006 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rainer. (Post 2524753)
Who defined "good tone" anyway?

Tones have uses, there are no good or bad tones. There is only using tones in bad taste, which is subjective, but no tone is inherently bad.

For example, if I were to roll off the tone control on my neck pickup, and use it with some heavy distortion to play a heavy riff, no doubt it would sound pretty muddy and horrible, but I could take that sound and use it in a techno song for some pseudo-synth sounds, and it would sound pretty cool. Many "bad tones" have great uses in more experimental and avant-garde styles of playing. Many "good tones" would sound horrible when pulled out of musical context.

However with bad technique, things are going to sound bad no matter what tone you use, so technique is apparently more important than the tone used in overall sound.

You make a good point. It's all about context.

Captain Dan 07-29-2006 06:42 PM

Dude-do they make finger transplants?? But seriously-your technique is what makes the guitar sing-the thing doesn't play on its own it takes talent no matter if it was made by some dude named paul or some dude named taylor-

Demon_Hunter 07-30-2006 06:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Captain Dan (Post 2525106)
Dude-do they make finger transplants?? But seriously-your technique is what makes the guitar sing-the thing doesn't play on its own it takes talent no matter if it was made by some dude named paul or some dude named taylor-




:whoa:

Dude, technique is generally whats referred to as "The Fingers". And your point seems confused, or was there actually even a point to that post?

_____________________________________________________________

thesteve 07-30-2006 08:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by demon_hunter (Post 2525496)
:whoa:

Dude, technique is generally whats referred to as "The Fingers". And your point seems confused, or was there actually even a point to that post?

_____________________________________________________________

his post made sense to me...

Demon_Hunter 07-30-2006 10:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thesteve (Post 2525520)
his post made sense to me...



It didnt seem to go anywhere.
And it folded back in on itself.

Captain Dan 07-30-2006 01:46 PM

You waay overanaylzed it-look-the point is-bad player+good equipment=bad tone-kapeesh?or do I need to spell it out-

gtrdave 07-30-2006 03:39 PM

Yes, but the other camp is contesting that good player + bad gear = bad tone.

Frankly, my experience is that if the bad gear is useable (not physically broken and properly set-up) I can get a decent "tone" out of it.

Tone is also in the ears. ;)

Visirale 07-30-2006 04:50 PM

So tell me again why Victor Wooten uses $8000 fodera basses and multi-thousand dollar rigs instead of MIM fenders?

I'm not even going to try to calculate the guitarist from Dream Theaters rig...

My point is, why do the good and great players all gravitate towards the best gear instead of getting mid-range gear and saving some bucks?

The title of this thread is best equipment = best tone. You guys are trying to say best technique = best tone. But I disagree. The best tone comes from the best technique and the best equipment. If you have great technique, you'll sound decent through a squire starter pack, but not as good as you would through a PRS and a boutique amp.

Captain Dan 07-30-2006 05:17 PM

the best of the best itequipment-brings out the best of the best of your technique-there's a dude I gig with that has an ebony fretboard on his lp-I (and everyone else that has played it) confess that we can play faster----that faster level of playing was already in our fingers so-to-speak but until we tried that guitar it hadn't come out-----argh that's the best way I know how to put-anyone else who know what I'm talkin about??

gtrdave 07-30-2006 07:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Visirale (Post 2525795)
So tell me again why Victor Wooten uses $8000 fodera basses and multi-thousand dollar rigs instead of MIM fenders?

I'm not even going to try to calculate the guitarist from Dream Theaters rig...

My point is, why do the good and great players all gravitate towards the best gear instead of getting mid-range gear and saving some bucks?

The title of this thread is best equipment = best tone. You guys are trying to say best technique = best tone. But I disagree. The best tone comes from the best technique and the best equipment. If you have great technique, you'll sound decent through a squire starter pack, but not as good as you would through a PRS and a boutique amp.

Frankly, most of the top-notch players I know use very middle-of-the-road gear that's set-up well.
I'm not talking $4000+ guitars and basses but $800-1000 axes that are set-up to their liking and usually mid-line or vintage-esque tube amps that have been modded, still costing less than boutique units.

The best tone comes from excellent technique and good gear.
"Best" gear is relative/subjective


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