Let's say someone can sing in tune and doesn't have any bad sounds to their voice - but their tone is simply not that nice/interesting. How can they work on their tone to develop it... what actually is a singer's tone and to what extent can it be deliberately shaped in a particular direction rather than being unique to that person?

  • I'm not sure if there's an objective answer to this. Personally I try very hard to sound like me and not accidentally imitate the tone of any of the singers I admire and like to sing along with. I do that by thinking about saying the words as I would say them while I'm singing them. Ok maybe that doesn't make sense but it works for me somehow. Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 18:05
  • Yeah, I definitely mean enhancing your own tone rather than trying to copy someone else.
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 18:11

4 Answers 4


Philosophically, I believe my best possible tone is the most open and honest sound of my personal voice that I can achieve. Instead of shaping my sound, I view it as finding my sound.

I try to find it by:

  • Relaxing
  • Warming up (this is so key to singing and more important every year you get older)
  • Staying in my comfortable range - at least while working on my sound
  • Striving and listening for the most clear-sounding and relaxed technique with the best intonation and maximum chest, throat, and head resonances
  • Avoiding the desire to have any specific sound or genre
  • Avoiding using other people's diction or accent on the lyrics - the biggest leap forward I took in my own tone was when I imagined myself saying the words the way I normally would, but with a specific note from my voice box instead of my normal speaking "notes"

The last point I'll expand on slightly: If you listen to popular singers, they often have unusual ways of saying things. The lead singer of Third Eye Blind actually sounds like he has a lisp half the time. Lots of singers have Canadian or British or Southern or California accents that are not obvious but do affect how they form the words. It helps to form the words the way you form them.

One way to set your diction and accent in your mind for singing is to say the lyrics in your normal conversational voice, and then sing them right afterwards in the same style. Look out for unusual pronounciations by the people you are listening to and avoid imitating that.

I did most of the work of finding my sound at a karaoke bar. I picked songs that I knew right down to my bones and were comfortable for me to sing, and then I focused on opening up and sounding like me and no one else.

If you can write your own lyrics and melodies, that can help a lot, since your brain won't be hearing anyone else's voice when you are singing your own music.

  • Good points. I actually don't think I strive to sound like the original artist - although playing back your own cover side-by-side with the pro version can be pretty hard. Not because "I don't sound like them" but because it just shows you how much richer/wider/stronger (or whatever the word is) their tone is even if you're not making any actual errors.
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 12:22
  • Don't forget that a commercial recording has lots of experienced engineering work done on it to enhance the sound of the singer (and the other instruments. They might not sound nearly as good singing in the room next to you as they do on their recordings. Chris Cornell is a good example of that fact. Unprocessed he really sounds pretty bad. Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 12:26

A tone is something you can work on in different ways. For example, if you try different styles of music, you will notice your voice sounds different when you sing blues than when you sing pop.

You can also try singing in different emotions. When you sing in a happy way, your singing will sound light. When you sing in an angry way, your voice will sound heavier.

Or try to listen to different artists. They all have a specific tone. At first, you can try to imitate what they are doing, so you can experience some different ways of singing, and try to figure out what you like.

In conclusion, just experiment with your voice! Don't be afraid of sounding very weird... We all do that from time to time. Try different styles and emotions, and keep practicing! Then you'll get there.


Get some lessons from a voice teacher. There is no substitute for this. You need real-time feedback from a professional who can critique your tone and show you ways to improve it, over several sessions. Try to find a teacher sympathetic to your personal goals as a singer, and who is willing to give you several lessons on a short-term basis in order to help you figure out what you want to do and how to achieve it.


The question is subjective. What is a nice/interesting tone? You and I can differ on that. To work on changing or improving tone I think it is all based on experience. Just like playing a guitar solo, you will sound not quite right if you don't practice and pay attention to every little detail. I have been working on vocals and copying the sounds vocalists make and I believe they are so experienced and relaxed that they have that 'lead singer' tone. They are comfortable to the point where they don't think about what notes to sing, it is just natural to them to sing the words in a melody with qualities like vibrato, dynamics, grit, etc. Some are born with a natural ability and others may not get to a satisfactory level no matter what.

  • Well I'm not asking what a good tone sounds like (although I think it's less subjective except for singers with particularly unusual voices - someone might not be your preferred style but you can tell they have a good voice).
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 13:24
  • as I said in my answer 'Just like playing a guitar solo...' read the answer
    – r lo
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 13:25
  • Yes but you said it's like a guitar solo - which is simply practice - AND that it's about natural ability. Also with a guitar solo you have a specific thing you are trying to achieve. With singing, you don't (unless you want to copy another singer). So the question is what exactly you practice doing
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 13:34
  • ok, I practice listening to one phrase of a vocal like the first lyrics of a song and concentrate on copying the phrase. I record my take and listen to it. I then repeat the process to get closer. I only can say I go by ear and just copy and verify by recording.
    – r lo
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 13:38

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