This is not what I refer to. At least today.
You can play incredibly well, with all the right notes in all the right places and still not sound good. And not sounding good, well, it sucks.
How do you sound good? Keep your frets from buzzing. Get a nice, solid sound from your instrument, a sound that sounds musical. That, in a fundamental way, is getting good tone.
And how do you do that?
Fred Ford of Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, the guitar shop for, if not the stars, then the Dot.Com millionaires at the epicenter of our software industry, has a website called frets.com that'll tell you most of what you need to know about your fine stringed instrument.
(OK, some of you might have real POS instruments. Get the best you can out of it.)
Looking around on the site, you might find a page on eliminating the buzz. I'll refine and explain some here, if only to make this not just Mindless Link Propagation, but it is truly a site to read.
- Pick Right as in a right angle. Hold it at a right angle to the top of the guitar. (Assume a flat-top for this discussion.) Parallel to the strings or not, that's a matter of style, but if you hold the pick perpendicular to the top, you will tend to vibrate the strings parallel to the top. If you pick with an angled pick, you'll vibrate the strings so they'll be more likely to hit the frets and buzz.
- Fret Right as in right next to the fret. There is the point where you get the most benefit for the least work.
Ford has pics which explain better than my words do. But neither he nor I explained it first. This is what Gibson said on the subject, nearly 100 years ago.
Guitar Soloists necessarily use the entire length of finger-board and, therefore, must have easy action throughout the whole scale. Guitar accompanists usually demand a trifle higher action in order that they may force their instruments to the utmost without the string striking the fret. Howerver, in either case easier action may be used if the performer takes pains to vibrate the strings more horizontally, rather than to lift them in picking which causes the strings to vibrate in more of a vertical direction.