|Many of these terms is tossed around informally,
so opinions invariably differ and these terms are often misapplied... especially
by over-eager guitar retailers and in on-line forums. Since this
language has never been officially codified, I can't even say that these
are correct, but here are definitions (and accompanying examples wherever
possible) of this jargon.
Bright - Having more high end
(i.e., trebly), much like a fully depressed wah-wah pedal. Usually
used to describe single coil pickups.
Brittle - Tone consisting almost
exclusively of higher frequencies.
Brown - Eddie Van Halen's signature
tone in the late '70s and early '80s, although many apply this term far
more broadly than is reasonable.
Glassy - Almost exclusively used
to describe the clean sound of a Stratocaster, particularly one weilded
by David Gilmour.
Jangly - Typically use to described
the Byrds-era Rickenbaker clean sound or some of Peter Buck's mid-period
work in REM.
Nasal - Prominant midrange with
attenuated high end.
Percussive - prominently physical
component such as pick noise and/or left-hand muting. Typical sounds
like a "click" by itself or preceeding a note.
Quack - Typically used to describe
the signature sound of piezo pickups as found in acoustic-electrics (and
an increasing number of actual electrics).
Throaty - Consisting of a narrow
peak in the midrange frequencies, much like an old transistor radio.
Can be achieved in approximately the middle of the sweep of a wah-wah pedal.
Twangy - Usually applied to describe
(in particular) the bridge pickup tone of a Telecaster.
Warm - Having more low and midrange
freuquencies without a prominent high end, as with a fully retracted wah-wah
pedal. Usually used to describe humbucking pickups, particularly
in jazz applications.