Thin, fizzy, undifferentiated, indistinct, woolly lead tones – the language used to describe unsatisfying tone always implies something’s missing. So no wonder the mindset of the guitarist becomes fixated on solving problems by adding more of everything – hotter pickups, more gain, bigger amps, more pedals and so on.
But this attitude can be your undoing onstage. In a band mix, for more cut-through and clarity, try experimenting with the low-gain input and more volume, and dial in less gain, less reverb, less delay, and use fewer FX than you think you need.
And remember the acoustic profile of each room you play in will be different. Pro players spend their soundchecks tweaking their already dialled-in sound settings to match the room, not playing licks. Ask the other guitar player or someone whose ears you trust to go out front and listen as you line check.