Well, the story goes like this : I have a custom made Tom Anderson guitar which has a fender style body (alder wood). The guitar comes with VAx pickups which sound great but the pickup near the bridge is way too bright for my taste. So... I replaced the entire circuit (Removed it as is so I could install it easily back) with Andy Timmons pickup set (Neck = Middle = Dimarzio-Crusier, Bridge = Dimarzio AT1 custom) installed on a different pickguard.

Now the bridge sounds much more like I want it to sound BUT I do not feel that "fat" tone and warmth this pickup is told to have.

I used the following diagram for the wiring.

My signal-chain : Guitar --> TS808HW --> Carl Martin Compressor --> Engl Screamer AMP

Again, the sound has less bright hisses and the harmonics are great but still I am wondering what makes that punchy/crunchy tone when he plays.

  • 1
    don't underestimate the importance of microphones in capturing the audio for recording. I don't know the artist, but I did a video search and I was struck by how much he manipulates the pickup selector switch, sometimes 2-3 times in a run (!)
    – horatio
    Feb 6, 2013 at 20:46

3 Answers 3


The tone quest is very ellusive. I too went down trying to get Andy Timmons sound several years ago. It is damn near impossible to get the exact sound without the exact equipment.

PU's matter but the amp and effects are just as important. Each variable in the equation interacts with all the others to create compound effects that are impossible to determine. Even the same model gear won't necessarily sound the same.

I will only list some of the variables but not go into detail. All I can say is, if you want a great sound, go play your guitar and be amazing at it... you will then find people that can get you the sound you want. It's almost impossible to be a sound engineer, electrical engineer, musician, and guitar player and be good at them all. (just not enough time or money)

  1. Pickups*
  2. Pickup height*
  3. Guitar Electronics*
  4. Guitar type(wood, scale length, etc... This are important but not that much. They effect the timbre of the sound to a small degree but are maybe the last 2% of the sound... assuming you have a similar guitar to Andy).
  5. Amp* (boost in front of the amp can help in some cases, Includes speakers)
  6. Compressor*
  7. Delays and Reverbs(required effects but any will do. Some are better than others but maybe 2% of the sound).
  8. EQ*
  9. Touch(about 2%. Obviously we are talking about tone here and not ability. Two separate issues but touch does factor into the sound to some degree. e.g., If you play too soft you won't get the bitey sound)
  10. Volume*

All the * are very important in getting the sound. You could also have Andy's exactly equipment but if you have the settings wrong you won't have his sound.

Andy obviously developed an ear for the type of tone he likes and can probably dial a good sound on most gear rather quick(he knows what he likes and how to get it).

EQ is probably one of the biggest things that can make or break your sound. Andy's tone tends to be pretty compressed and very middy with nominal presence. Use a 31 band dual EQ and put it on the input and FX loop of your amp and you'll be amazed at all the different tonal variations you can get. This might be enough to get you what you want if you can dial it in.

  • Regarding effects I do use the Carl Martin and TS808HW and in the neck position I get almost the exact same tone (like in "electric gypsy" track). its punchy, fat and feels sooo damn right:). About the bridge I agree this depends on equipment+setup and you can never know how he tweaks (circuit-wise) his pedal effects like he did with the BB Preamp which he oftenly uses. Thank for the detailed answer !
    – giorashc
    Feb 12, 2013 at 9:27

Preamplifier circuits make a huge difference between whether a tone is "fat" or "chunky".

In a typical distortion block, made up of several stages, there is tone filtering before, in between and after.

Some guitar preamplifiers (or preamplifier stages of amps) have multiple voicings that you can switch. Others have multiple gains to control where in the distortion block most of the distortion happens, which affects the tone.

You can also add "pre EQ" before the amplifier. The first pre-EQ is your guitar's tone control. The next is any box you have before the amplifier, like an overdrive pedal (which you already have).

Speaking of which, your placement of the compressor after the OD pedal doesn't make a lot of sense, unless you're using the OD just as a boost (to ovecome the compressor not having a low enough threshold: hard to believe). Usually, a compressor goes first, then limiting/clipping devices and distortions. If the signal level is already limited by a soft-clipping OD, then a compressor won't do much with it. (Does Andy Timmons also put a compressor after overdrive, is that why? Even so, that doesn't mean you should do it.) What if the TS808 is driving the compressor too hard, causing some distortion from the compressor, which then affects the tone. That compressor is not meant to distort; it is intended to be a sonically pure compression effect.

You might get more flexibility out of the chain if you put the compressor first, then the overdrive pedal. Also, try driving the amp just with the compressor alone, and with the OD alone, various settings of each.

  • Hi @Kaz. I started it off with the compressor first. During my experiments of capturing the tone I switched the order and believe it or not it sounds different and more creamy in the soft-gain channel and the compressor makes the screamer much more punchy. The most beautiful things come from the unexpected right ?
    – giorashc
    Feb 23, 2013 at 0:02

Your question is almost impossible to answer. In the setup you use, there are already so many variables: the guitar, tubescreamer, amp, compressor. Add to this the type of strings and their thickness, the material and thickness of your pick. How hard do you hit your strings, what is the angle of your pick etc. etc. etc.

One thing I've learned is that the single most important item when it comes to creating tone is: YOU.

  • I do not agree with your answer completely. I agree there are many components influencing the final signal coming out from the amp but still pickups play a big role in this process and the body of the guitar.
    – giorashc
    Dec 2, 2012 at 19:45
  • 1
    BTW are you familiar with Andy Timmon's music ? his gear etc ? I was not just asking out of the blue this question. anyway just got another answer more the point : "Funny you bring this up. I spoke with Andy last thursday about his gear and essentially, his AT1 is like a JB but with softer highs (his own words) and he plays his amps LOUD. really, really LOUD. That's how he gets that punchy, crunchy sound. and... a lot of talent."
    – giorashc
    Dec 2, 2012 at 19:53
  • 1
    That is just my point: every part in the chain matters, so it's virtually impossible to say "I would like exactly so-and-so sound, what kind of -fill-in-some-apparatus-or-gear- do I have to use?". Every variable is important. However, why I ended with the player being most important: he/she is the start of the chain. Try this out: record a few minutes of you playing, then give the guitar to a friend and let him/her record a few minutes. I will bet it will sound very different... Dec 2, 2012 at 19:55
  • When you play lets say a power chord if the pickup is warm and crunchy the pickup is warm and crunchy, and the chord will sound warm and crunchy (unless you use some really nasty pedals on the way which in my case its quite what Andy used in one of his recordings). So an amateur player will be play the chord less accurately but still you will feel that tone coming out from the guitar.
    – giorashc
    Dec 2, 2012 at 20:02

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