The oft-neglected equalizer is the secret of tone. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen friends, journalists and reviewers talk about finding tone with a specific stompbox, amp, or other signal processor. Once the signal has left your guitar the first thing you ought to do is equalize it for the environment, be it recording or performing. EQ is the first thing that should happen to a guitar signal and also the last (if you want) to take care of unforeseen frequency introductions along the signal chain – also to manage the acoustics of the environment.
In recording mixes EQ is what will sort out your takes and make them sound great. Mid-scooping for metal rhythms, mid-boosting for lead breaks, and cutting annoying ‘not quite right’ resonances. Quite frankly I’m amazed that EQ is not talked about more, until I think, “Cui bono”. Who benefits?
All the businesses that sell magic-tone-oil devices benefit from the market ignoring EQ. It’s a cheap (enough) way to alter your tone to get what you find the sweet spot. Even 31-band parametric EQ’s can be had for under $300 if you look hard enough, and parametric are the better devices.
So all you tone-freaks, here’s the unvarnished truth. You want tone? Control it with an equalizer.