Originally Posted by Greg McCoy
Yeah I was hoping we could avoid that.
I guess the idea is that once you start throwing gain at a guitar some of these contributions either 1) don't matter, or 2) become pretty minor relative to the impact of, say, several cascading gain stages. Except, I'm not really sure that's true. I first really got clued into how much of an impact where
you fret has on tone when I was contemplating going from a Mesa Rocket-44 (very liquid and forgiving) to a Marshall TSL (bright and edgy and hairy), and was surprised that at any gain level where the Marshall wasn't so saturated it sounded like total dogshit, my legato was garbage - unclear, muted, indistinct, murky. I started practicing unplugged to try to get a clearer attack, and that's eventually where I came out, needing to fret a bit more with my fingertips. And, I honestly think the impact of pick angle makes a bigger
sound once you have some preamp gain going, to really accentuate the raspiness.
Idunno. I would never argue that tone is ONLY in your hands, because clearly twisting a knob on an amp can have a pretty big impact to the timbre of your guitar. But so too can differences in how you hold a pick and where your arm rests and where your fingers touch the strings, and I absolutely believe that these differences contribute to the final tone you hear coming out of the amp.
I'm not gonna touch the question of fret material and whether it matters - it seems possible, but by no means certain, that it could have an impact, but my major consideration when choosing frets is feel and durability, and in the sample of stainless and nickel steel fret guitars I've played, I haven't noticed any consistent trends, so I'm not losing sleep over it.