This is a topic I didn’t realize that I’d have to address. The story is always the same. I go to see an amateur band playing here in Los Angeles. As I’m waiting for the band to come out, I’ll be checking out the guitar player’s rig. There will usually be some super-expensive modern or boutique amp with an extensive pedalboard. I’d stand there thinking “This guy must have a fantastic tone.” Sure enough, the band comes out and the guitar sounds like a broken washing machine with a roll or quarters thrown into it! I don’t get it.
Start developing your sound. I’ll be sure to create lot’s of tips on how to develop your tone, but in the mean time, the pickup selector, volume and tone controls on the guitar are a good place to start. Discover the different tones your guitar offers. Change only one thing at a time in order to keep a “control environment”. Learn how your guitar sounds with the pickup selector in the neck position. Spend some time with it and think about when you will use it. Does it sound good when strumming chords? Playing certain solos? I tend to change pickups depending on where on the neck I’m playing. Playing low on the neck, I’ll use the bridge pickup. When playing above say, the tenth fret, I might switch to the neck pickup.
Remember that when we, the audience listen to you, we are listening to what is coming out of the speaker. Every time you plug in your guitar, you should be thinking about your tone. Start today by exploring the different tones your guitar can create. Remember the settings you like. The better the tone, the more people will want to listen! Have fun!