Guitar Article – The Holy Trinity Of Tone

This time last year I found myself watching a video by the wonderful Dave Weiner in which he talks about the holy trinity of guitar tone. The concept of the trinity is built around a stratocaster, telecaster and a gibson of some sort. This made perfect sense to me as session player and teacher, you could have most bases covered with just three guitars. This lead me on a telecaster quest to complete the trinity. I very quickly decided upon more traditional voiced pick-ups as I felt this would give a greater versatility.

So having owned the trinity for a year or so I have concluded certain things about the trinity approach. Whilst this article won’t cover every detail I hope it helps other people considering this tonal tactic.

#1 – Telecaster is KING – This sounds a little biased I know but the telecaster when combined with a few pedals and a good amp can do almost anything fairly well, and a considerably number of these things exceptionally well. With a set of low output pick-ups the bridge pick-up will play country, pop, indie with ease and add a bit of dirt for a cutting classic rock tone. The neck pick-up is great for a warm blues, soul, R&B tone, and will pass for jazz with the tone rolled off. For a faux metal tone add a boost pedal to the bridge pick-up and a dirty amp, not amazing but passable.

#2 – Stratcasters need a Tremolo – As the telecaster will happily do most anything, I have found that unblocking the trem system on my strats really gives them back their unique voice back. I’m not the biggest fan of the strat bridge pick-up but the punchy neck and honky ‘in-between’ sounds are great for blues and funk.

#3 – Every guitarist needs Humbuckers – Whilst I am still new to the Gibson camp, I now couldn’t live without a humbucker equiped guitar. My beloved SG has a biting mid-range voice thanks to the mahogony body and neck. A neck humbucker is a fantastically warm beast that is great for dirty blues and chunky rhythm parts. Whilst the bridge with it’s bright bite gives a fantastic rock and metal tone. When I take the Gibson out with me the middle position helps cover everything else but I can’t say I don’t miss my fenders when I need a thinner cleaner tone for funk and R&B.


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Conclusion – The trinity is without a doubt a fantastic template for guitarists who want and need to cover a lot of bases with as few guitars as possible. Obviously if you predominantly play one or two styles this would be little use as one is bound to sit in its case.

If I had to pick one guitar style it would have to be a telecaster but I would miss the other two very quickly. One style this trinity doesn’t really cover is modern metal, by comprimising the vintage output of a guitar its could be easily done but I personally don’t need it. If I could add another guitar to this it would be a semi-hollow body, perhaps a Gibson 335 as I feel that the only sizable gap is a traditional jazz tone. That said if you have a broad taste in tone like me things like P90s become another want. The trinity basicly frees you up to think about all the other guitar styles you want for your own personal taste and niche sounds. Damn.


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