Step up your tone game with this video lesson from the tone king himself, Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson has been brightening our quarantine days with his series of YouTube mini lessons. Now the electric guitar great is back with an instructional on that most Eric Johnson of subjects – tone.

“I’d like to talk today about working the dynamics of tone, coming from when you fret the string, through the sound, through the amp,” he says at the top of the lesson.

For Johnson, achieving the perfect the right tone is all about finding balance and harmony between your fingers and your gear.

“For lead playing it’s important to find a congruent setup that matches your intention and the dynamics of your inhaling and exhaling of your playing,” he muses. “You want the amp to respond with you in the same harmonious polarity.”

When it comes to fingers on strings, he continues, one technique he uses to achieve a unique tone is to “stretch the string before you hit it,” which offers a bit of what he refers to as a “backwards sound.” Or, he says, “Sometimes I’ll start a vibrato thing before I hit the string.”

Johnson continues, “But however I want to negotiate the thing – picking it, stretching it, vibrato – it’s going to be within the congruency of the way the amp responds to you.

“So it’s important to find the right amp, he says. “Otherwise you’re going to fight the amp and you’re never going to be able to achieve where you want to go.”

You can check out the full lesson above.

And as always, Johnson ends the mini-lesson with a plea to donate to your local food bank

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.