All of my favorite musicians and bands have one thing in common. That one thing is that they have nothing in common. This seems paradoxical at first glance, but with a more detailed view it becomes much clearer.
For simplicity’s sake I will start by discussing guitar alone. Some of my favorite players include: Django Reinhardt, Jimi Hendrix, Tony Rice, Chet Atkins, and Derek Trucks. The list can go on forever(this is just mine right now, think of your own list if you want). Each player has a singular unique sound, call it tone, or phrasing, or intonation. The technical aspect is not as important as the simple sound. Our ears know best, in a spit second the trained ear can tell what, or who it is listening too. Having an uncommon sound is good! The differences become more apparent with entire bands playing, or in the context of composers, and/or singer songwriters.
Whether you are a maestro seeking mastery of composition, or a weekend bass player trying to have fun in “Joe’s,” garage. The most important thing besides simply being pleasing to the ear, is sounding different. Having one’s own unique sound is what makes players like Miles Davis, Bill Frisell, Doc Watson, Keith Jarrett and the late great Earl Scruggs, “before their time.” It is also what makes their music so awe inspiring and timeless. Find a sound you like and try to repeat it, not to make a carbon copy of it, you might just find your own sound.
Using electronics or different instruments can help this process. But it is not the only way to stand out from other acts. Often having a unique tonal vocabulary can achieve this. Find great music from other parts of the world or stuff you really like that is not on the billboard charts. Often borrowing influences from different genres and incorporating them into one can create a new territory of music that has yet to be explored. If you are a string player listen to horn players you love. This can open doors and create a niche for you making you stand out in a crowd. Simply being technically great does not always translate to great music, one must be creative and original as well. Only with that combination can one find their sound. Good luck and keep delving.