How impedance affects your guitar tone

Fender Amps
The evolution of amps such as this Fender Tweed Deluxe shows how impedance has a crucial role in tone-forming. (Image credit: Future)

The word ‘impedance’ is commonly used in the context of guitars, but how many of us understand what it actually means? In this column, we’ll steer clear of complicated equations and heavy electronics, and instead explore real‑life scenarios.

Many of us will be familiar with speaker impedance and high-impedance instrument inputs on audio interfaces. Whether we’re aware of it or not, impedance can be an issue when we’re running long cables, using vintage amps, employing multiple stompboxes or combining fuzz and wah pedals

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Huw Price

Huw started out in recording studios, working as a sound engineer and producer for David Bowie, Primal Scream, Ian Dury, Fad Gadget, My Bloody Valentine, Cardinal Black and many others. His book, Recording Guitar & Bass, was published in 2002 and a freelance career in journalism soon followed. He has written reviews, interviews, workshop and technical articles for Guitarist, Guitar Magazine, Guitar Player, Acoustic Magazine, Guitar Buyer and Music Tech. He has also contributed to several books, including The Tube Amp Book by Aspen Pittman. Huw builds and maintains guitars and amplifiers for clients, and specializes in vintage restoration. He provides consultancy services for equipment manufacturers and can, occasionally, be lured back into the studio.