How to Make Your Electric Guitar Sound Better

Want to take your electric guitar sound to the next level? You’re in the right place!

In this guide, we’ll show you simple and effective ways to enhance your tone. No need to buy expensive gear or a new guitar – just follow our expert tips and make your electric guitar sound better than ever before! Let’s get started!

Change Your Electric Guitar Strings

Change your electric guitar strings to improve the sound. 

As strings get older and worn, they produce a dull sound, unlike the clear and crisp tones of new strings. Not only that, but old strings make it harder to bend and slide, and they lead to frequent tuning issues.

The general rule is changing your strings every 100 hours of playing or every four months. It may seem like a lot, but trust us, it works wonders for your tone and enhances playability.

If you want to know more about when to change your strings, read our article How often to change my guitar strings?.

To know if it’s time to replace your strings, watch out for these signs:

  • Your strings feel stiff and less responsive.
  • You feel friction when sliding your fingers along the strings.
  • Your guitar goes out of tune quickly and easily.
  • The strings are discolored or stained
  • The tone sounds dull
  • You haven’t changed your strings for a long time

There are ways to make your strings last longer:

  • Keep them clean and free from dirt and grime.
  • Use a specialist string cleaner and ensure your hands are clean before playing.
  • Storing your guitar in a case also prevents dust accumulation, keeping your strings in top shape for longer.

Choose The Right Electric Guitar Strings

Choosing the right electric guitar strings can make all the difference when it comes to making your electric guitar sound great. Finding the perfect set of guitar strings can greatly impact your playing experience and help you improve your skills.

Different metals used in strings can significantly impact the tone of your guitar. For example, stainless steel strings offer a balanced, clear, bright tone. They also resist corrosion caused by the natural acid on your hands, ensuring a longer-lasting sound.

On the other hand, nickel-plated steel strings are an excellent choice if you’re looking for a warmer, more balanced tone. They provide more flexibility, making bends easier without the risk of breaking the string. If you find that harder strings like stainless steel cause discomfort to your fingers, nickel-plated strings may be the perfect fit.

Moreover, experimenting with thicker strings, also known as higher gauge, can produce a richer, more substantial sound with better sustain and volume. Although it may take some time to get used to for new players, the effort is undoubtedly rewarding.

Starting with a gauge of 0.010 strikes a good balance between playability and excellent sound quality.

Tune Your Electric Guitar

Tuning your electric guitar is essential for maintaining high-level sound quality, and you have a variety of tuning methods to choose from.

One of the most commonly used and reliable options is using different types of electronic tuners. These tuners offer an accurate and convenient way to ensure your guitar is perfectly tuned and ready to play.

brighter sound

Setup Your Electric Guitar

Learning how to properly set up your electric guitar is an important skill for any guitarist to master. A properly executed setup can transform your guitar-playing experience, enhancing both its feel and sound.

Keep in mind that while you can make some adjustments at home with basic tools, certain adjustments may need the expertise of a qualified technician for the best results.

In an electric guitar setup, different aspects of the instrument are fine-tuned to enhance its performance. This includes adjusting the truss rod for proper neck relief, setting the action height for comfortable playing, ensuring accurate tuning across the fretboard by intonating each string, and inspecting the electronics for any potential issues.

Adjust the truss rod

Adjusting the truss rod on your electric guitar is one of the most important aspects of maintaining your instrument. It affects neck relief, action, and intonation.

We have a complete guide on How to adjust the truss rod on a guitar, so go ahead and take a look.

Adjust the action

The standard action on an electric guitar typically measures around 4/64″ (1.6mm) on the high E string and 6/64″ (2.4mm) on the low E string.

However, it’s important to note that personal preferences vary among electric guitarists, leading to some preferring lower action, while others opt for higher action.

In comparison to acoustic guitars, the normal electric guitar action is generally lower. If you transition from playing an acoustic guitar to experimenting with an electric guitar in a store, you’ll likely notice the difference in action immediately.

Tune your electric guitar

Knowing how to tune your electric guitar is a fundamental skill that every guitarist should acquire early in their journey. Proper tuning not only enhances the quality of your playing but also elevates the music you create, making it an essential aspect of your musical development.

Adjust the tension of your electric guitar strings

Adjusting the tension of your electric guitar strings is important for the sound and playability of the instrument.

Achieving the perfect tension in guitar strings is a general rule to follow. Finding a balance where the strings don’t feel too tight or loose is essential. The ideal tension will vary based on factors such as the strings’ gauge, the guitar’s tuning, and personal preferences.

Adjust the pickup height of your electric guitar

Adjusting the pickup height can significantly impact your guitar’s tone and sustain.

Discovering the right height that improves your tone without sacrificing output volume may require some experimentation. However, the effort is truly worthwhile as it brings you closer to achieving that perfect sound you’ve been seeking.

To adjust pickup height for optimal sustain, start by measuring the distance between each string and its corresponding pickup using a ruler or gauge tool. The ideal range is usually between 1/16′ to 1/8′ for most guitars.

You can loosen the screws on either side of each pickup or alter the springs underneath them. It’s best to make small adjustments while playing each note to test for changes in sound quality.

Upgrade your guitar pickups

Pickups are really important when it comes to the sound of your electric guitar. When you pluck a string, it vibrates, and pickups pick up those vibrations. Then, they send a signal to your amplifier, which makes the sound come out of the speakers.

Pickups are made up of a special material wrapped in wire. The type of material used and the number of coils inside affects how your guitar sounds. Unfortunately, some cheaper guitars have not-so-great pickups. This can lead to problems like feedback or unclear sound. But you can improve your guitar’s sound without buying a new one – just upgrade the pickups.

If you’re not good at fixing guitars, it’s best to have someone experienced do the pickup upgrade for you. But don’t worry, there are different types of pickups to choose from, so you can find the best one for you. Let me tell you about the two most popular kinds.

Single Coil Pickups

These pickups have a wire wrapped around six magnets. They make a bright and sharp sound, like a twang. You often find them in guitars like Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters.

Single-coil pickups work well for jazz, blues, and music without too much loudness or distortion. Just keep in mind they can have a slight buzzing sound if you turn up the loudness.


Humbuckers have two coils together, producing a thicker sound than single coils. They are really versatile and work for both loud and soft music. You usually see them in guitars like Gibson Les Pauls and ES-335s.

Change your guitar’s pickup magnets

Changing the pickup magnets can have a big impact on your guitar’s sound. Guitar pickups use magnets to sense the vibrations of the strings. While some less common pickups use optical technology or are pressure-based, the two most common types of magnets used in pickups are Alnico and Ceramic.

Alnico Magnets

Alnico magnets come in different types, indicated by Roman numerals. Alnico II is one of the weaker versions, which produces a softer sound. These magnets are commonly used in pickups and can provide a classic and vintage tone.

Ceramic Magnets

Ceramic or ferrite magnets are small but very magnetic. They are often found in pre-built guitars because they are more cost-effective to produce.

When paired with heavily wound coils in pickups, ceramic magnets can produce powerful and heavier sounds. They are often referred to as high-output pickups and are associated with the distinctive sounds of the 1970s.

There are also more expensive options like rare earth magnets such as neodymium or samarium-cobalt. These magnets are much stronger and are often preferred for acoustic guitars. However, some iconic Fender guitar models use them to boost high-fidelity frequency responses, adding a unique touch to their sound.

Check the wiring of your electric guitar

Make sure to check the wiring of your guitar. The internal electronics and wiring transfer the sound from the pickups to the amplifier or other output. Low-quality wiring or components can lead to various sound issues, no matter how good your strings or amplifier are.

The main culprits for poor wiring tend to be the volume and tone knobs and the wiring associated with the pickups, capacitors, and other inputs. But don’t worry, you can easily find replacement kits that you can install yourself.

Use a brass pickup cover

Consider using a brass pickup cover that can make your guitar sound better. It provides a warmer, darker tone by reducing high-end frequencies. Open-coil pickups lack cover protection, which can lead to unwanted noise and humming. Brass covers offer a bright, fat sound, especially suitable for jazz-style music.

If you prefer a different sound without the brass cover, you can try removing the pickup covers to see if it suits your style. Alternatively, consider silver or nickel covers for protection without affecting the sound quality.

playing guitar

Learn your amp settings

Learn your amp settings to improve the overall sound of your guitar. Your amp plays a significant role in shaping your electric guitar tone, so it’s essential to understand and optimize its controls.

Here are the primary controls you’ll find on most amps:

  • Gain: Adjusts the amount of distortion in your sound.
  • Bass: Higher bass creates a thicker sound, but too much can make it sound muddy.
  • Mids: Low mids may cause your sound to get lost when playing with backing. Find a balance to avoid this.
  • Treble: Increasing the treble makes the sound sharper and brighter, but be careful not to set it too high, as it can become harsh.

To optimize your amp settings, start with all controls in a neutral position (around 5 or 12 o’clock) and make adjustments one at a time. Listen carefully to how each change affects your chords and individual strings. It may require some patience, but finding the best settings for your sound is well worth it.

Here are a few quick tips to enhance your electric guitar amp’s sound:

  • Use less gain: This improves the tone of your electric guitar.
  • Increase mids: Prevents your guitar from being drowned out in the mix.
  • Elevate your amp: Placing it off the ground helps reduce feedback issues.
  • Avoid hard surfaces: Playing in rooms with hard surfaces can lead to unwanted feedback.

Use effects while playing

Using effects while playing is a fantastic way to upgrade the sound of your affordable electric guitar. Pedal effects not only compensate for a less expensive guitar but also allow you to create a unique and high-quality tone that can’t be achieved with just your amp and guitar alone. Even professional guitarists with expensive guitars often use effects pedals for their versatility. On 9th July 2019, Sweetwater Sound and Rob Scallon (both USA) set the record for the largest guitar effect pedalboard, which featured an impressive 319 pedals.

There are various types of pedals available, each offering a different effect. Let’s explore some popular ones to get you started:

  • Overdrive Pedals: These emulate the sound of a cranked valve amp, providing more crunch without increasing the gain and sacrificing clarity. Overdrive pedals are suitable for classic rock, indie, and blues genres.
  • Distortion Pedals: Ideal for hard rock and heavy metal players, distortion pedals add sustain and gain without compromising your tone like maxing out your amp.
  • Reverb Pedals: By adding depth to your sound without increasing gain, reverb pedals make it seem like you’re playing in a large, empty hall. They’re popular in various genres and particularly helpful for lead guitarists, as they add more presence to their sound.
  • EQ Pedals: These allow you to control bass, mids, and treble, providing more options beyond your amp and guitar settings.
  • Other Popular Pedals: There are many other types of pedals available, including Fuzz (for a unique tone like Jimi Hendrix’s), Tremolo (creates rapid volume changes), Phaser (adds a “whooshing” noise), Chorus (creates the illusion of multiple guitars playing together), Boost (provides an extra kick for solos or lead guitar parts), and Delay (adds an echo effect by repeating played notes).

Improve your playing skills

Focus on improving your playing skills through practice and dedication. Whether you learn from a teacher or teach yourself, the key is to refine your techniques.

Listen carefully to each note you play and aim to make them sound excellent. Experiment with different finger placements, try techniques like hammer-ons and pull-offs, or even explore playing without a pick to enhance your note’s sound.

By dedicating time and effort to mastering these techniques, you’ll unlock the best tones from your guitar.

Maintain your electric guitar

Proper maintenance is essential to keep your electric guitar in top condition and ensure it continues to sound and perform at its best. Here are some key ways to maintain your electric guitar:

  • Regular Cleaning: Wipe down your guitar’s body, neck, and strings after each playing session to remove dirt, sweat, and oils that can accumulate over time.
  • String Care: Change your guitar strings regularly to maintain a fresh and bright tone. Clean the strings with a soft cloth or string cleaner after each use to prolong their life.
  • Keep it Protected: Invest in a guitar case or gig bag to protect your instrument from dust, humidity, and accidental damage when not in use.
  • Humidity Control: Maintain the right humidity level in your guitar’s environment, as extreme changes can cause damage to the wood and affect its tone.
  • Fretboard Maintenance: Clean and condition your fretboard to prevent the buildup of dirt and grime. Use a fretboard cleaner and conditioner suitable for your guitar’s wood type.
  • Protect the Finish: Avoid exposing your guitar to direct sunlight for extended periods, and use a guitar polish to maintain the finish and protect it from scratches.

By following these maintenance tips, you can extend the life of your electric guitar and ensure it delivers the best sound and performance for years to come.


Achieving the best sound from your electric guitar is a journey that involves exploring various aspects of your instrument and gear. By following the tips and techniques discussed in this article, you can significantly improve the tone and playability of your guitar.

With dedication and perseverance, your electric guitar can become a powerful tool for expressing yourself through music and delivering captivating performances.

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