Tone is in the Fingers

Tone is in the fingers. What in the hell does that even mean?

You've been confused about this for so long because you're a guitarist so you think it's all about you when, in reality, it's not about you at all.

Let's explore this idea.

There are three possible answers: the common positive, the common negative, and the truth.

Positive: one guy playing through ten different setups will sound the same each time. So it doesn't matter what gear he or she uses, since they sound the same regardless of the gear. Tone is in the fingers.

If this were true it wouldn't matter to you which gear you used and I bet you've noticed differences in your playing depending on the gear. All you need is fingers. So, let's just leave this behind for the moment as a dead end.

Negative: If 10 guitarists play through the same setup they will all sound differently.

Here, again, if everybody who plugs into anything (amp X, for example) sounds differently or like "themselves" than it doesn't matter what they play. All you need is fingers. Let's just leave this one behind as another obvious dead end.

The above positive and negative (and common) arguments are abstract, in that they only make reference to the universal (tone) relation to the individual (finger).

What is missing is the aspect of the "particular" dialectical moment -- i.e., if player X plays through player Y's setup he will not sound like player Y and he will also not sound player X as we expect player X to sound.

There's the true. The statement that "tone is in the fingers" is ambiguously expressed. What it really means is that "tone is in their fingers" as we expect them to sound....not your fingers. "Tone is in the fingers" refers not to your tone  or your gear or anything about you but to their tone, the other person, as we expect them to sound, as they sounded in the past, and as we expected them to sound now, and in the future. Tone is, with regard to the other, all about our expectations of how X should sound. In reality, outside of the domain of expectations, player X will always be player X no matter what they are playing. Think about it: player X playing anything right now is the sound of player X but it may not be what you expected and there's the conflict between the now and the past.

The tone of the "other" is always enmeshed in a web of expectations regarding what they should sound like, or must sound like, based upon what they did sound like at some other point in time.

So, the punchline is simply this: get what makes you happy and enjoy. Tone will find you, until, that is, you no longer sound like you!