The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines warm as:
having or giving out heat to a moderate or adequate degree
This doesn’t make much sense when applying it to your guitar tone does it. In fact here are some more definitions of warm they list.
- serving to maintain or preserve heat especially to a satisfactory degree
- A sweater
- feeling or causing sensations of heat brought about by strenuous exertion
- comfortably established
- marked by strong feeling
- marked by excitement, disagreement, or anger
- marked by or readily showing affection, gratitude, cordiality, or sympathy
- accompanied or marked by extreme danger or duress
- having the color or tone of something that imparts heat
None of these definitions really have anything to do with guitar amp tones do they?
I wonder then how this phrase got started about a warm tone. Could it be because tube amps get pretty hot? And maybe because they get hot, the phrase warm started getting used to describe them.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone describe Solid State amps as warm. Have you ever heard anyone describe Amp modulators as warm? Or guitar amp plugins? Usually you have to find ways to warm them up don’t you? Maybe with a tube plugin of some sort.
So if heat from a tube amp was the initial catalyst for the phrase warm being used to describe an amp’s tone, then what definitions should we apply to warm when used in this manner.
Here are Mine
- Notes that sag
- Pleasing to the ear
- Big and full
- Notes give in to the amp
- Sounds like dust surrounds the notes
- Inspires you
- Puts big smiles on faces 🙂
- Demands you play the Wind Cries Mary riff at least once
- Feel the notes through your hand
- Can’t stop playing
- Causes you to repeat over and over again how Awesome the sound is
I’m having a little fun with this, but what do you think of when you hear “Warm Tone”?