Guitar Neck Knowledge

ThomasIV

sun's out, puns out
#61
I was discussing this very topic with my brother a month back (we're both Electrical engineers) and was wondering why there aren't any metal body guitars since the sustain would be immense. My first thought was weight(!) and secondly, I think the tone of a metal body would be annoyingly bright (because of it's resonant frequency being much higher). Anyone have any thoughts on this? Obviously wood would have been easier to work with when guitars were invented. But now?

I really should get back to my guitar but I find this topic fascinating :)
http://www.electricalguitarcompany.com/

I think psychoacoustics are also an important factor to consider in all this - one's experiences and beliefs have an effect on what one hears in addition to any "objective" physical difference in the signal chain.

However, you should all be playing Telecasters anyway if you want the best tone. Telecasters are magic. ;)
 

@ssinine

Professional noodler
#62
Sorry for the triple post, but I've got another little tidbit that is interesting.

Each human ear is unique with a unique frequency response. When I joined my first job, I was required to take a hearing test as part of the pre-joining medical check up. My right ear is more sensitive than the left. And my right ear's frequency response graph had a spike at around 12KHz (I think). So for the sake of an example, if I were to hear a sound sample that had identical levels of say, 1200 Hz and 12 KHz, then my right hear would hear a slightly brighter tone than the left owing to that increased sensitivity to 12kHz. And that is just my left ear vs right. Now consider how each one of us hears different frequencies in different ways.

Chew on that one.
 

David R Ferguson

Stratoholic Blues Noodler
#63
Tried my best to avoid contributing to this thread because I started a massive one on a similar topic some time ago.
In addition, I don't want to appear to be a Scott Grove fan either (I couldn't care less about the guy) and would rather not jump to his defence.
However, what in fact does this link prove ?
It proves what I said it proved. That more then just pickups matter.
Pickups do hear wood, they even hear lack of wood. I think the problem is- is that you(and him) are looking at from the wrong prospective. You have the right emphasis on the wrong syllable.
A pickup hears a string, that is effected by the materials around it. If this was not the case thous lace-censer pickups would give every guitar the same amount of sustain, same tone, ect ect.... But they don't. There is a reason he did not plug thous two Strats in even thou they were 100% the same other then the fret board. Because they sound different and people would hear that. Just like I heard a clear difference in the two of them being plucked unplugged.
The same reason why you take a humbucker out of a Les Paul and put it into a Gibson full hollow body and they sound completely different. Even thou the pickup used in both guitars are the same. Because pickups react to their surroundings.

I also wonder why in his video when he gets his Les Paul, he refers to it as, "not one of thous Studios, this is a real Les Paul." I mean why would it matter, just take the pickups out of that and put it in a Studio and you have the same guitar. Because only pickups matter.... According to him.


Then you have to factor in that a very large amount of tone is in your hands. That being said things like frets, plectrums, strings, neck size, body type..... Will change tone because they change how you attack the guitar when playing it.

Just my opinions.
 

moonman

Well-Known Member
#64
I'm not purposely trying to dispute you, but .........

Ok, maybe pickups hear wood (or lack of) and react to their environment.

I'm sitting with my guitar (amplified) right now.

Currently I'm shouting into my pickups (wide open) .......... can't hear a thing through my amp.
Additionally, there is a bunch of school kids making a racket outside while a huge lorry has just passed right outside my house and literally caused the house to shake ........... I didn't hear any of that through my amp.
- and when was wood (or a lack of) ever capable of making any of those effects / sounds ?.

Personally, I believe the pickup will only report the vibration of the strings.
Sure there are various elements that influence how a string vibrates - but still; it only reports the sound of the string.

Guitar makers have for years been convincing everyone that certain wood types sound like this or that etc etc.
- don't be fooled.

I can see the logic behind a certain density influencing how a string vibrates - (but wood itself is silent).

If I could prove / convince to you that my plywood body Tele is infact more dense than Mr Whoever's (for example) "Gucci Grade AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Swamp ash" one; would you believe mine was possibly brighter and better sounding (or worth more) ?.

- What if I put an attractive flamed maple top it ?
 

Robstafarian

The Good and Wise Call Me “Rufus”
#66
Quoting so many posts would be ridiculous, so here are some videos which are generally relevant to the thread:






I know some people don't like these PRS videos for one reason or another, but you should be able to sit through them if you were able to sit through Scott.
 

David R Ferguson

Stratoholic Blues Noodler
#67
I'm not purposely trying to dispute you, but .........

Ok, maybe pickups hear wood (or lack of) and react to their environment.

I'm sitting with my guitar (amplified) right now.

Currently I'm shouting into my pickups (wide open) .......... can't hear a thing through my amp.
Additionally, there is a bunch of school kids making a racket outside while a huge lorry has just passed right outside my house and literally caused the house to shake ........... I didn't hear any of that through my amp.
- and when was wood (or a lack of) ever capable of making any of those effects / sounds ?.

Personally, I believe the pickup will only report the vibration of the strings.
Sure there are various elements that influence how a string vibrates - but still; it only reports the sound of the string.

Guitar makers have for years been convincing everyone that certain wood types sound like this or that etc etc.
- don't be fooled.

I can see the logic behind a certain density influencing how a string vibrates - (but wood itself is silent).

If I could prove / convince to you that my plywood body Tele is infact more dense than Mr Whoever's (for example) "Gucci Grade AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Swamp ash" one; would you believe mine was possibly brighter and better sounding (or worth more) ?.

- What if I put an attractive flamed maple top it ?
I can see where you are coming from no doubt. I don't look at it like you are disputing, or arguing with me. We are just a bunch of like minded players that are "Talking Shop".
In one way or another its important to us these thing. Because we all pay attention to them. I guess its that quest for best feel, tone and playability we can get our hands on.

I'm not put off by convos like this. I like them as long as everyone stays friendly.
You make some good points.
 

Robstafarian

The Good and Wise Call Me “Rufus”
#69
Ok, maybe pickups hear wood (or lack of) and react to their environment.
This thesis is a misinterpretation of the discussion.
Currently I'm shouting into my pickups (wide open) .......... can't hear a thing through my amp.
Additionally, there is a bunch of school kids making a racket outside while a huge lorry has just passed right outside my house and literally caused the house to shake ........... I didn't hear any of that through my amp.
- and when was wood (or a lack of) ever capable of making any of those effects / sounds ?.
An electric guitar pickup is a microphone, but its construction mandates a very particular usage. The pickup doesn't react to your shouting, the school kids, the lorry, or the house vibration because they are not being transmitted via a ferrous substance within the pickup's magnetic field. You may as well ask why your guitar picks up so much ambient noise when you mount a condenser mic into a pickup cavity.
Personally, I believe the pickup will only report the vibration of the strings.
Sure there are various elements that influence how a string vibrates - but still; it only reports the sound of the string.
You have just agreed with everyone else in this thread.
I can see the logic behind a certain density influencing how a string vibrates - (but wood itself is silent).
If you are speaking strictly in terms of what the pickup turns into electrical signal, it is fair to say the wood is “silent”—but only if you limit your context as such. It seems you have taken a figurative use of the word “hear,” meant to describe a pickup's role, as a literal use of the word.
 

@ssinine

Professional noodler
#70
Currently I'm shouting into my pickups (wide open) .......... can't hear a thing through my amp.

I'd like to expand on Robstafarian's explanation. Comparing a pickup to a microphone causes some confusion.
Warning: Condescending science lesson ahead!

There's something known as Faraday's Law in Physics which says that a metal object moving in a magnetic field (or a moving magnetic field around a stationary metal object) creates an electric charge in the metal object. In a simplistic sense, a microphone has a diaphragm which is a thin circular membrane (lets assume thin plastic). On this membrane is stuck a coil of wire and there'll be a magnet very close to this membrane. When we speak into a mic, the air vibrates (sound waves) and this vibration transfers to the membrane. By Faraday's Law an electric current is generated in the vibrating coil which is then processed by electronic circuitry to give you an electric signal that you can hear.

A speaker works in the opposite manner. The same assembly. An electric signal is sent through the coil attached to the membrane. This electric current creates a varying magnetic field with which the membrane+coil is attracted and repelled by the magnet creating vibrations and thus sound waves. Rip open an old pair of headphones or earphones and you'll see what I'm talking about.

A guitar pickup on the other hand, works like this: The magnet of the pickup magnetizes the strings vibrating above and thus that moving magnetic field creates an electric current in the coiled windings of the pickup which then goes into the amp. (Try putting non-magnetic acoustic guitar strings on)

So speaking into a pickup won't do much. Tapping on a pickup creates a more violent vibration which generates a signal, but unless the sound waves are really strong they won't do much. In a loud setting however, it's a different case and that's how you get feedback. A cool trick to try out is to take your tiny in-ear earphones and place them on top of the pickup pole pieces while music is playing through the earphones. The magnetic field generated by the earphones are picked up and amplified. DIY iPod input in a jiffy! :) If you have any old tape decks around you can do this with the play head as well.


(but wood itself is silent).
Wood is not exactly silent. When you knock on wood, what you hear is the wood vibrating.


Sorry for the unsolicited lesson, all. I just hope this clarifies things :) And please do correct me in case I've gone wrong anywhere.

Guitar makers have for years been convincing everyone that certain wood types sound like this or that etc etc.
- don't be fooled.
Great advice. I appreciate people maintaining a healthy skepticism and attempting to think for themselves. I'm a marketing man myself and I can give you all sorts of info on how companies manipulate consumers :) However, I'm sure there are plenty of luthiers around who don't believe in doing business through dishonest means and can be trusted ;) Phew. I think I need to lie down for a bit.
 

Nathan25

Luthier at Blackthorn Guitars.
#71
Personally, I believe the pickup will only report the vibration of the strings.
Sure there are various elements that influence how a string vibrates - but still; it only reports the sound of the string.

I can see the logic behind a certain density influencing how a string vibrates
You're correct there, that's where the materials involved, be it the wood of the guitar, or the metal the saddles are made from etc. come into play. It's the effect they have on the strings, which the pickups then detect. So in all honesty, I think we are actually just saying the same thing, albeit from two different perspectives.


I'm sitting with my guitar (amplified) right now.

Currently I'm shouting into my pickups (wide open) .......... can't hear a thing through my amp.
Additionally, there is a bunch of school kids making a racket outside while a huge lorry has just passed right outside my house and literally caused the house to shake ........... I didn't hear any of that through my amp.
- and when was wood (or a lack of) ever capable of making any of those effects / sounds ?.

(but wood itself is silent).
The materials themselves are obviously incapable of actively adding anything to the tone (despite the erroneous way in which people colloquially claim they do), their influence comes from how they react to the energy transferred from the strings as you play the guitar. Certain frequencies travel more freely through certain materials, which is what gives them their tonal qualities. You obviously need something to hold either end of the string, so a luthier chooses the materials that best allow for the frequencies they are trying to encourage in the guitar.
 

Robstafarian

The Good and Wise Call Me “Rufus”
#73
The materials themselves are obviously incapable of actively adding anything to the tone (despite the erroneous way in which people colloquially claim they do), their influence comes from how they react to the energy transferred from the strings as you play the guitar. Certain frequencies travel more freely through certain materials, which is what gives them their tonal qualities.
One of the PRS “Rules of Tone” videos I embedded earlier includes Paul stating that “guitars are subtractive.” Combining that maxim with what Nathan has said in the quoted sentences results in exactly what Scott should consider.
 

moonman

Well-Known Member
#74
I can see the logic behind a certain density influencing how a string vibrates - (but wood itself is silent).
...... and I should of also pointed out that not every piece of the same species of wood will have the exact same density; so I have to ask if it's worth even considering.

(That aside)

"I give up"

As long as people are willing to buy (invest) into the argument, then prices will no doubt continue to grow.
- and I must remember to not allow myself to get upset whenever I feel people are being fooled by marketing strategies.
 

@ssinine

Professional noodler
#77
I'm about to. But allow me one last try.

A person singing into a microphone. Two settings. One is in an acoustically treated room. The other is an untreated 12ftx12ft room. Will the recorded vocal take sound different in the two cases?

I say it will. Why? Because the treated room will absorb a certain set of frequencies while the untreated will behave differently. The room is influencing the sound vibrations but the room is a 'silent' spectator. An untrained ear will not hear it but the effect of the room is there, isn't it?

Take that analogy further to the wood of a guitar. And I'm definitely not saying that one type of wood is better than the other. A good amount of marketing speak will try to convince you that a more expensive wood is 'better'. I'm very much against that (and so is everyone else who's contributed to this discussion, I believe). And yes, you're absolutely right in that no two pieces of wood are the same. Each one ought to sound different. Find the one that calls to you.

:) Alright, no more from me. I don't want to convince you. I just want to present what I know and you may draw your own conclusions from that. If you still think all woods sound the same then that's that. Cheers, man. It's been fun.
 

moonman

Well-Known Member
#78
A person singing into a microphone. Two settings. One is in an acoustically treated room. The other is an untreated 12ftx12ft room. Will the recorded vocal take sound different in the two cases?

I say it will. Why? Because the treated room will absorb a certain set of frequencies while the untreated will behave differently. The room is influencing the sound vibrations but the room is a 'silent' spectator. An untrained ear will not hear it but the effect of the room is there, isn't it?
.
...... depends primarily on the type of mic :dance:

Ok, enough now, I'm doing my own head in 'ere
- someone lock this thread FFS :D
 

Chu

Well-Known Member
#79
...... depends primarily on the type of mic :dance:

Ok, enough now, I'm doing my own head in 'ere
- someone lock this thread FFS :D
No. No. No. A U87 in a crap room will sound crap. End of story. The best tip for recording a good vocal? Sort the room. Ok, get a decent singer first but the room is more important than the mic.
 
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