If you’re a musician, it’s important that you have a full library of material to assist in your musical journey. Songbooks, books that lay out the intricacies of musical theory, as well as books that contain valuable lessons and advice from professionals with experience in the industry.
Tone Wizards is this last type, and sports hundreds of pages worth of advice from musical luminaries like Joe Bonamassa, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani. But the question is, will this information help you grow as a musician? Well I suppose you’ll have to keep reading to find out, won’t you?
The Road Less Taken
Unfortunately, books of this type are more filler than killer if you know what I mean. They generally have a fleeting relationship with any sort of meaningful content, and they read more like a fans dream meeting with a long-time hero than a proper interview. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes the book a bit less valuable to the average musician.
Tone Wizards on the other hand, is brimming with unique insights from its all star line up. Every musician in the book has unique views on what good (and bad) tone means, and the individual approaches that they take can definitely act as a guide to any musicians ready to start on their own journey to perfect tone.
Generally the interviews center around how these musicians found their signature tone, as well some of their unique views on what the journey to great tone should entail.
Old Friends, New Friends
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, my favorite thing about this book was definitely the way it tried to draw on musicians from vastly different walks of life. I think that involving such a wide variety of musicians is what takes this book from being interesting to being genuinely useful.
Also, I found that I resonated really strongly with a lot of the stories told by the various guitar players. Deep down I know that every guitar player starts out sounding like a one armed man trying to play the violin, but it’s really nice to hear that these musicians who are either bonafide geniuses or personal heroes of mine have ran into the a lot of struggles that I’ve faced.
What’s great about the approach of this book is that it feels very “hands off”. The author did a really great job of just compiling this information and allowing it to breathe. There are a couple chapters in the beginning and end where he lays out some more personal anecdotes and opinions, but the actual interviews are very well laid out.
Stand Out Interviews
Joe Bonamassa: I really liked the comments that Joe Bonamassa had about what getting an organic guitar tone entails. It was a really interesting look at the way that he views frequency response, especially the part where he details how he balances his tone between different amps. Apparently he’s also neighbors with Johnny Rotten.
Scott Henderson: Scott Henderson has a really great bit in his interview about the importance of utilizing your dynamics with the right hand, comparing the ideal tone when playing fast guitar runs to the smooth response of a horn section.
Curtis Fornadley: Among all of these influential and incredibly talented musicians, Curtis Fonadley’s section in the book is surprisingly interesting. It’s shorter than any other section, but his explanation of his experiences as a guitar player acts as a very poignant end to the book.
Who Is This Book For?
If you’re just starting out as a guitar player, you really don’t need to buy this book. The act of chasing your perfect tone can’t really start until you’ve developed a fairly proficient baseline as a musician. So don’t worry about your tone yet, just keep practicing.
However, once you do have some experience under your belt I honestly believe that this book will be a great addition to any guitar player’s library. It’s not a definitive guide to tone, but the information provided within is definitely a great way to get the information you need to start figuring out what great tone means to you.
In fact, I think the most important lesson this book has to share is that there is never one right answer that will fix every problem with your sound. Getting the sound that you hear in your head to come through your guitar and out of your speakers is a pursuit that will take you a lifetime, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Music is a craft and if you want the best results you have to experiment and keep an open mind, and this book proves that in the best way possible.
This book is both a unique addition to my library as well as a type of resource I’ve seen several times over. This books greatest strength is also its greatest weakness, because the approach to the questions asked throughout the majority of the book can prevent it from being engaging over long reading sessions.
Every interview is full of useful information, but with the exception of a few stand outs they can get a bit dry. But do keep in mind that this approach is also what allows the book to remain focused and informative.
I do think that the book is a fantastic resource. It’s not the kind of book I’d read while curled up in front of a fireplace at the end of the day, but it is the sort of book I’d turn to for inspiration when I’m feeling lost as a musician.
So what’d you think of our review of Tone Wizards? If you have any experiences or opinions on the book, feel free to let us know in the comments section below!