Tone, Tone, TONE!!
EVERYTHING affects Tone!
How could it not!?
Your guitar and amp and every component in them have an effect. Some have a major effect, some less so, but it All Adds Up!
How Can You Improve Your Tone? Let Me Count The Ways!
Even though this section primarily discusses guitars & amps, keep in mind several other things have a great effect on your tone, not the least of which is your technique (discussed elsewhere). Even wall voltage and humidity affect your tone.
But before we get into the equipment, let me mention Tone is very much affected by YOU. Your finger strength, string control, & fingertip calluses all affect Your Tone. So try to play at least a little Every Day. Your Tone will improve.
There are two main types of electric guitars; Fender style with single coil pickups & Gibson style with humbucker pickups. The scale length of these two styles of guitars also affect their signature tone.
See the Video Examples page for several demos of various guitars & amps.
The primary tone affecting components of an electric guitar are;
-Picks (plectrum) (incl different pick gauges, materials & using fingertips)
-Strings (nickel, stainless steel, etc.)
-Volume & Tone Pots (500k for humbuckers)
-Bridge (& Tailpiece mass) (incl tremolos (whammys), Bigsby, etc.)
-Nut (accurate cut, material, compensated nuts)
-Tuning machines mass (heavy all-metal vs lighter plastic button- lighter allows more overtones)
-Body (wood, solid vs. hollow)
Les Paul into a Marshall
Strat into a Super Reverb
MORE Tone Tips
Here are 25 Great General Tone Tips.
From Gibson.com; http://www.gibson.com/en-
If the above link doesn't work, view a reprint here;
Even MORE Tone Tips!