Guitar Tone: Pursuing the
Chasing tone is a major priority amongst
guitar freaks and, for most of us, it’s a
lifelong pursuit. It’s actually more of a journey
than a destination, because the more
we learn, the more we strive to continue
advancing toward that ever-elusive golden
tone. Mitch Gallagher has spent over 30
years striving to better understand and
achieve killer tone and has graciously shared
that knowledge in this fantastic book—or
better yet, textbook for tone.
The book is broken down into two parts
(“The Tools of Tone” and “The Icons of
Tone”), and in these 362 pages Gallagher
explores nearly every conceivable component
in the chain of guitar sound. From detailed
treatises on construction, tone woods, hardware,
pickups, and electronics to amplifiers,
tubes, cabinets, and speakers, there is very little
he could have missed. He dives into effects,
amp modeling, and even the “little things” like
picks, strings, cables, and wireless systems.
The last three chapters of the first section
focus on iconic guitars, amps, and pedals.
All of the usual suspects are here—from
Gibson and Fender to Marshall and MXR.
These chapters cover a ton of ground with
explicit detail and help round out the book
with information that you can come back
to repeatedly for reference.
But a book on guitar sound would not
be complete without the second section,
“The Icons Of Tone.” Here Gallagher breaks
down the rigs of guitar legends like Jeff Beck,
Clapton, Hendrix, The Edge, Eric Johnson,
SRV, and many more. Each guitarist has his
own chapter complete with details on the
amps, guitars, and effects that contributed
to his sound. Juicy bits on how the gear was
used holds interest at every turn of the page.
As a player for over 30 years myself, I
found a lot I could relate to, but I definitely
learned some things. As a fan of British amps,
I discovered details about American amps
that were new to me. And since I am forever
forgetting how to wire speaker cabinets up
for series, series/parallel, etc., pages 145-147
are already earmarked as my go-to reference
for whenever I need to wire or rewire a cab.
Pictures were the only element sorely
missing. Gear porn is a big part of a good
read for many of us, and there were times
I hoped for something other than words to
underscore the point. Sure, we’ve all seen
a Les Paul before, but who doesn’t want to
see one again?
In the end, I can honestly say this book
will stand the test of time and should serve
as required reading for guitarists looking to
further their knowledge
and fuel their
tonal journey. This
one is staying in my
library as a first-call
be coming back to it
for a long time.