How to improve your electric guitar tone

How does your electric guitar sound? Are you happy? For many guitarists, achieving the perfect sound is a work in progress. If you want a better electric guitar tone, check out these tips.

Use heavier strings

Though they are tougher on your fingers, heavier strings can produce more volume, more sustain and a bigger tone. ACDC’s late rhythm guitarist, Malcolm Young used 0.012 – 0.056 stings on his axe, and no guitarist sounds heavier than he did.

Play acoustic

If you choose to use heavier strings, you may need to strengthen your hands. To do this, try practicing on a decent acoustic guitar. I am an acoustic guitar player, and when I switch to electric, playing is much easier on the hands.

Rearrange your pedals

The order in which you set up your effect pedals has an impact on your tone. Here are some rules to consider:

Wah & EQ

These should go before overdrive or distortion pedals, so they are normally placed at the beginning of the signal chain.


As this pedal is designed to delay what you are playing, put it towards the back of the signal chain.


If you’re using a pedal for reverb, instead of your amp, put it at the end of the chain.

Chorus, flange & phaser

Modulation effects generally work best after distortion and overdrive.


On the subject of effects, a short slap-back echo can fatten up your guitar sound, particularly if your playing in a dead-sounding room.

Hey, if you find this post useful, please share.Click To Tweet

Bring down the bass

When you play loud, too much bass can muddy your sound. So, dial back the bass when playing at loud volumes. The reverse applies when playing quietly where it pays to increase the bass.

Adjust your intonation

Correct intonation is when your guitar is in tune all along the fretboard. If your guitar’s intonation is off, here’s how you can fix the issue:

  1. At the 12th fret, play a harmonic
  2. Compare the resulting note with the note you get when you fret it normally.
  3. If the harmonic note is flatter than the fretted note, try adjusting the saddle slightly backward. If the harmonic note is sharp, adjust the saddle forward.
  4. Repeat the process on each string at the 12th

Mind your technique

Do you have a problem with string noise? Well, if you are getting unwanted sound from a lower-pitched string than the one you are playing, use the palm of your picking hand to mute the offending string. If the noise is coming from a higher-pitched string, use a finger on your fretting hand to mute the string.

There are many ways to improve your guitar tone—most guitarists are never satisfied. Try these tips, though, and you’ll make a good start.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please share.

Other posts you may enjoy:

Useful tips on how to look after your guitar

How to strengthen your hands for guitar playing

Andrew Healey


Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.