Fact or Fiction?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by guitarmoron, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    OK let’s take this into the realm of the applied physics… and how that MUST affect the sound of a guitar…

    Nothing happens, period, unless the string vibrates… nothing… no sound, duh…. But no resonating body, no ringing if ya put your ear to the body . . no nuthin’..

    So.. the string’s gotta vibrate… The longer it vibrates with enough amplitude, the longer it sustains…

    So… for a guitar to do anything like an acoustic, it has to make the wood vibrate. . . no vibrations, again, no nuttin’

    So that vibrating string… it moves in a magnetic field… thus inducing it’s energy into the pickup, generating a voltage… the higher that voltage, the louder the output..

    So first thing, the magnetic field.. for the string, it’s like you trying to move your arm back and forth through water… the water presents interference, a resistance… For the string, the magnetic field does the same… the more intense the magnetic field, the more resistance it “sees”, thus the less sustain.

    The intensity of the magnetic field is adjusted by pickup’s height.. so those of ya that think cranking ‘em up to increase the output, enter “dangerous” territory .. you need to tread lightly…. Too close and you will have a very loud, very short note… and probably NO intonation.

    The reason, the magnetic field is acting as a damper, like the water against your arm.. you can still move it, but not with the velocity and range if you were out of the water… The magnetic field can pull the vibrating string into an asymmetrical waveform too… that resulting in a distorted frequency that cannot be intonated….

    So conclusion, ya gotta be careful exactly how close ya get the pups to the string..

    But… that ain’t all . .

    As the string vibrates it WANTS to bleed it’s energy into the wood… that makes it resonate… Good thing, many think.. well CAN be, but, might NOT be…

    The vibrating string is the “motor” that runs everything that’s happening within the guitar.. and just like the engine in your ‘Vette .. there is only so many horsepower to get things done…

    All by itself, with you at the wheel, the Vette is a rocket… but when your Cousin Bertha wants a ride, a slips her 350 pound azz into the seat… all of a sudden that 3.9 second 0 – 60 time drops to 5.2… and she’s thinking Jeez.. her F 250 is about that quick.. But then ya throw a few hundred pounds of shi* ya bought at Home Depot in the trunk, then hitch up your 28 foot Bass boat on a trailer and 3.9 becomes 11.8 .. and some old fart like me in his 50 year old restored MGB with all it’s 109 hp, is blasting by ya…. Zoooooo oooooommmm

    Point.. there is only so much energy, if it’s tasked to do various things, the primary goal can suffer.

    Same thing with the string… it’s vibrating away, the amplitude is unencumbered. the note is sweet, pure, and sustains into the weekend… but, then… physics enters the equation…

    The strings ends are anchored… but Newtonian law tells us the moving string is going to want to make the anchors, (nut and bridge) move too… and it will…

    This is why in the 80’s we saw the development of very heavy bridges..The mass resisted the string’s ability to make them move, thus improving sustain…

    But… if that bridge is mounted on a piece of wood that doesn’t have enough mass to resist the string making the bridge vibrate which is in turn making the wood vibrate…. Volume and sustain are diminished. Simply because the strings energy, making it vibrate are “sapped” away to make that wood move..

    So.. using a purely logical bases in Physics rationale, one would conclude that they were right in the 80’s . . . a 2 ton body with a 5 pound block of brass bridge will improve the sustain and volume of the guitar.. and they were right…. Well. . . kinda . .

    But what no one ever realized while they were listening to themselves through a wall of Marshalls and every pedal they could throw into the signal path, when they just wanted to noodle… clean, the guitars sounded as austere and characterless as an IRS agent’s face… one with a bad attitude…

    SO there MUST be a compromise including all aspects. One cannot just assume if a guitar sounds good unplugged, it will sound good amplified.. the energy that’s being tapped to make it sound that way unplugged is still being sapped when she IS plugged in, thus NOT available to generate that electronic signal.

    It IS basic Newtonian law and no amount of Forum chatter is gonna change it…

    Thus, such a guitar CANNOT perform as well as a similar guitar where such acoustic resonances are balanced against the overall performance of the guitar when it’s used as intended, and unplugged is NOT as intended.


    rk
     
  2. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Holic

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    False. However, I often play an electric unplugged so I choose ones that sound good unplugged, then change the guts as I see fit.

    Case in point. I just picked up an American Special Strat from a buddy who never bonded with this guitar. Unplugged it sounds fantastic. Plugged in it sounds cheap & lifeless. IMO that's just because that's what non custom shop Fender pickups sound like. I have never kept the stock Fender pickups in any model of Fender guitars I've ever owned (I've never owned a C.S. Fender).

    Once I swap out these pups it will be a great all around guitar.
     
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  3. qblue

    qblue Tele-Afflicted

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    This reminds me of Chet Atkins. A fan was gushing on how well his guitar sounded. So he handed the fan the guitar, and asked, "How does it sound now?"

    I say the unplugged resonance is total fiction. If you play well, it will sound like you playing the guitar, no matter the unplugged quality.
     
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  4. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Holic

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    You can tell a difference under certain circumstances.

    At home by myself plugged into a nice clean Twin Reverb I can certainly hear a difference between a one pc maple vs maple with rosewood board & in this case I prefer the sound of Maple despite preferring Rosewood or Ebony for looks & feel.

    However, once I join other people or add gain or pretty much anything most of us do all the time, that tonal difference is completely lost.
     
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  5. denny

    denny Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    I always try a new electric unplugged. I don't think the sound, tone, or resonance really matters so much as whether the guitar feels right. The feel of the neck, the action, and the way the strings feel (without a pick) make a huge difference to me at the "introduction" stage. I also don't think the body or neck wood species is of utmost importance. If the instrument feels good, it will most likely sound better when you play it through an amp.

    Just my thoughts on this... I have had a plywood Samick Strat copy that was just jaw-dropping fantastic, and a Gibson Special Faded SG that was over the top great. I bought both those guitars after searching many shops and trying guitars unplugged. I liked to play them.

    Maybe without the amp noise and worrying about the tone, I found a playable instrument.
     
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  6. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Of course.. above, I'm just talking about the applied physics... nothing about the Psychology.. fact is.. it you have lived for a very resonant, lightweight guitar and that has permeated your subconscious.. then ignore completely my post... because what YOU want is far more important that what science dictates..or anything/anybody dictates

    "Because I just plain wanted it that way" is the best reason for making any choice, and y'all should never allow someone to dissuade you from what that may be.. the only time I discourage a choice is, if I know its just plain wrong...

    and if you can play, about any guitar will suffice, remember, it's not the gear, its never gonna be the gear, it will always be what you can do with whatever gear you have at your disposal.

    No one ever walks up to a sucky guitarist with a esoteric guitar and says, "Jeez man, you suck, but your tone is awesome," and no one ever walks up to a phenomenal guitarist and says you're awesome, but your tone sux." it just doesn't happen..

    r
     
  7. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Tele-Afflicted

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    The cardboard guitar is "gonna last forever"? Not if my cat finds it!
     
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  8. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

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    I have never tested this, so I won’t weigh in on if it’s fact or fiction. When I try out electric guitars, I am not listening to the “sound” of it initially. I do pay attention to it’s sustain though, and prefer those with good sustain unplugged.

    I also check the feel of the neck and the playability. If it doesn’t feel right to me, doesn’t play well, or doesn’t sustain I have no reason to bother plugging it in, other than to test this hypothesis.

    Only the guitars that pass the unplugged test ever even get plugged in, and so far this has worked well for me. I realize I could possibly be missing out on some really good guitars this way, just as when I walk by ugly or pointy guitars without even touching them.

    Next time I guess I should try plugging in a guitar with little acoustic sustain, and see if it’s sustain improves once it’s plugged in. It really never crossed my mind to try plugging in a guitar that feels dead unplugged.

    I’m still not going play any pointy guitars though!
     
  9. Greggorios

    Greggorios Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    No, not in my experience. It's a nice benefit to have a really resonant electric that sounds good unplugged. I've got one and I like the fact that I can do some practicing and noodling "on the fly" without amplification but it in no way corresponds to the tone when plugged in. Electric guitars need electricity and amplification to fulfill their purpose in life. Accordingly the choice of amp is important and probably has at least as much influence on how the guitar sounds when doing what it was built to do.

    Great thread with lots of good info, thanks.
     
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  10. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

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    This concept is like testing the acceleration and handling of a new car by simply sitting in the driver's seat and moving the steering wheel back and forth.
     
  11. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    But unplugging the amp always reduces 60 cycle hum.......
     
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  12. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    A big yes. Every guitar that sounds good unplugged I ve ever played sounds good plugged in. Every guitar that unplugged sucked, sucked plugged in.

    This, as well as the TONEWOOD debate, I think arrises from the fact that some of us can hear/process phase relationships better than others. 5 friends and I were in an old WWII bunker w a concrete floor. I and one of the other guys could go pick up a silver dime flipped in the dark (flashlights were in use, then turned off ) by hearing it hit. The other 4 could not..... I m sure Bats would hear a big difference in woods and good vs bad unplugged/plugged in guitars.
     
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  13. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity

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    Been through this a lot!
    If you plug it in to an Amp that isn't turned on, it will sound no better.
     
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  14. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    No offense, but this is a weird thread.
     
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  15. kbold

    kbold Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    So, that means it's not fiction. Or do you mean it's both fiction and non-fiction.

    I'm starting to think Man-Bear-Pig may be real (half man, half bear, half pig).

    I'm confused.
     
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  16. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Simultaneously weird and typical...
     
  17. Owenmoney

    Owenmoney Tele-Afflicted

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    Perception Vs. reality, if you perceive it matters ,it matters. No matter what the reality is !


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  18. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity

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    It's only Half True.
     
  19. Doctorx33

    Doctorx33 Tele-Afflicted

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    Hogwash, IMHO.
     
  20. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    Heres David Gilmores opinion

    https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/new...ery_hard_to_know_how_much_i_will_miss_it.html

    "I've found that if you pick up a guitar - an electric guitar - and strum it, and if it sounds great in the room although it's not amplified, it'll be great. You don't even need to plug it into an amp to be pretty certain it's a good 'un.

    "So I would usually try a few guitars and the one that just sat the nicest to me would be the one I'd pick."
     
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