If tone really is in the fingers...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mbell75, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. mbell75


    May 23, 2016
    ...why does most every top notch bassist or guitarist play instruments that cost thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of dollars? Why aren't they just playing $300 basses and guitars off the rack from Guitar Center? I mean, if tone is really in the fingers, it shouldn't matter right?
    Pbassmanca, TomB, rollie 55 and 9 others like this.
  2. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Simply put, because they can.

    Many of them do in fact play basses or guitars right off the rack at GC. It just so happens that the instrument they grab off the rack has their name on it.
  3. beaglesandbass

    beaglesandbass Think first, then post? Staff Member Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    If every car is capable of going the speed limit, why buy a $50,000 car when you can buy a $500 beater?

    Often top notch musicians are sponsored and are given those instruments for free (or very steep discounts). If Eric Clapton wanted a new Fender Strat, you're out of your mind if you think he's paying full retail.
    kesslari, Mili, Bolsyo and 33 others like this.
  4. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug

    Because tone is more than just fingers.

    True, the basics are from the fingers, but the rest of the shape comes from the instrument. The same run played by the same bassist on a Fender P, Ric 4003, and Höfner Beatle Bass will sound totally different on each one.
    byoung93888, Afc70, Bassgeer and 33 others like this.
  5. Garret Wheeler

    Garret Wheeler

    Mar 1, 2016
    Tone is more than just the fingers, but the fingers are one of the biggest factors in having good tone. That being said, nicer basses usually feel better and are easier to play. That impacts the sound because you don't have to fight the instrument.
    byoung93888, wboyd68, Mili and 41 others like this.
  6. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    The quality of your equipment gives you POTENTAL to express. Fingers fullfill (or don't) that potential.
    That's why mediocre players sound the same on every instrument.
    Why do top players sound similar on every instrument? Because they are quick to adopt. Taking lousy instrument in their hands, it takes them seconds to find that one thing that can sound good (fullfilling miserable potential). A listener is fooled, thinking that instrument is as good as better one.
    Why top cats never stick with that lousy instrument? Because they always expand and grow, so they need instrument bigger then they are.
  7. G.A.S. They're human, too.
    mr zee, Bassgeer, Clark W and 17 others like this.
  8. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    A player with highly developed technique will always sound better than a player with undeveloped technique on a given instrument. The difference between poor and fine instruments is in how they respond (or not) to the subtleties and nuance in the technique of the developed player. It is true that some 'lesser' instruments turn out well, but these tend to be 'lucky accidents' than by design.
  9. user362432

    user362432 Guest

    Dec 27, 2002
    Except the greatest ones... They can play $100 Squier and sound good...

  10. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx!

    Oct 31, 2006
    Western Hemisphere
    I play nothing but US Lāklands and Fenders because they feel and look way way better than $300 basses. Yes, they sound better too. When they say "tone is really in your fingers", it has so much more to do than the actual "tone" of any given instrument. Actually the correct phrase is "your SOUND is in your fingers"
    Mili, iunno, rmayer and 6 others like this.
  11. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Guest

    Oct 1, 2011
    Tone is in the heart. That’s why sad bassists have tone that is muy jugosa.
    teh-slb, thetragichero and chadds like this.
  12. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Because better gear sounds and plays better.
    This "finger" thing is a poorly written axiom that needs to be revised or dumped. On its face it is an absurd notion. Your fingers don't create "tone." What the saying is trying to express is if you don't know how to play, the best gear in the world won't make you sound good.
    And even that isn't 100% true. If your bass is so poorly designed or ill suited to your body (ergonomics) then it will actually impede your ability to play.
    Iristone, BillMason, TylerJ and 13 others like this.
  13. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005
    No, the tone is in the tort pickguard. and in the flatwound strings too.
  14. teh-slb


    Sep 21, 2018
    Because the build quality is usually better on higher-end instruments. I haven't spoken to (m)any top notch bassists, but I'm pretty sure they don't particularly want the instrument to get in the way of their playing (setups not holding for more than a few songs, questionable electronics, dead spots, you name it).
    Ghastly likes this.
  15. Rob Martinez

    Rob Martinez

    Sep 14, 2005
    Paul McCartney played and still plays what was, in his early days, a low end instrument, a Hofner. Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick played Waterstone 12 string basses for about 10 years (you can get a 12 string from them for about $800) and now he plays a Gretsch 12 string bass (cost is about $12,000) and the sound is pretty much the same. Tone is in the fingers, but also how you use the settings on your amp, the kind of strings you use, and the room.
    Dr Gero and bassrique like this.
  16. wncBass


    Jan 2, 2015
    North Carolina
    I love the smell of troll threads in the morning.
  17. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    aahhh, it's been a while since we've had a good old false equivalency!

    i am looking to discredit a broad statement (tone is all in a person's playing style), so I will claim that if it were true, it would lead to an extreme version of reality that everyone knows is not true (no one plays anything but the cheapest bass that is otherwise functional).

    in doing this I will also ignore almost all the subtleties of the situation.

    THANKS PROFESSOR NERDLINGER ugh, i need a coffee.
  18. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Springtown, Texas
    forget the 3 color Sunburst finish and a maple board also enhance the tone.
    aarjamson, Wisebass and Flaked Beans like this.
  19. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    For the same reasons everyone else plays the bass that they prefer.

    Here's a better question. Why the hell can't people have nice things without someone making a fuss about it?
  20. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Because people don’t just buy basses for the tone.

    If that doesn’t make sense to you, try reading a good book on the psychology behind product marketing, or take a Marketing 101 course somewhere.
    Dr Gero, gebass6, TrustRod and 4 others like this.