Tele brightness when unplugged

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by ppg677, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. ppg677

    ppg677 Tele-Meister

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    I play my electric guitars unplugged all the time. Perfect for keeping it quiet when kids are asleep.

    I sort of bought into the notion that tonewoods in electrics don't matter and it is primarily the pickups.

    My recently built tele with maple top and ashtray bridge is very bright when amped and unplugged. So what's making most of the brightness when unplugged? The ashtray bridge or the maple?
     
  2. jfgesquire

    jfgesquire Tele-Meister

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    What's the bridge made out of? Steel? Brass? The Fender ones are thin and don't always lie flat. That could be causing it.

    How thick is the maple? What's underneath the maple cap? Is it chambered at all?

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    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  3. Keefsdad

    Keefsdad Tele-Holic

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    I would say it's mostly the bridge.
     
  4. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    My 3 basically similar Teles all have standard Fender 3 saddle ashtray bridges with 3 brass saddles - I've always felt that bridge to be a key part of the Tele chemistry.

    But the sparkliest of the 3 acoustically is the lightest by about 8oz, and is the only one with a swamp ash one piece body. Compared with the other two alder bodied guitars (actually one may be basswood, not sure) it's like when you put new strings on an acoustic.

    I'm pleased because sparkly was what I was hoping for (and the Bareknuckle Country Boy pickups were planned to have the same clean sound), but I wouldn't build an argument on my small sample though. I'm very much a believer in the individuality of each guitar, the total package of materials, hardware, strings, fit and finish, and wouldn't doubt the experience of others. I'm very happy with the variety of acoustic and electric sounds my 3 give me.
     
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  5. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    The wood of a solidbody guitar determines how the strings will vibrate ... the pickups transduce those vibrations. Here's how you simply prove this assertion: Play a few phrases on your guitar ... unplugged. Now, press the headstock of the guitar against a sheetrock wall. Play some more ... is it louder? Can you hear the guitar resonating from the wall? The vibrations of the strings are vibrating the body and neck of the guitar ... enough to transfer those vibrations to the wall and vibrate the sheetrock. So, it's pretty clear that the wood is vibrating like crazy ... if these vibrations from the wood are enough to activate the wall, you can imagine that the vibrating wood is affecting the strings ... they are connected directly to the wood. Pick sets strings in motion ... they transmit vibrations to the wood, which is connected to the strings, so those vibrations interact with the already moving strings ... sympathetic vibrations. How can anyone doubt that wood affects the sound of a solidbody? The particular vibrations of the strings is what the pick-ups are transducing.
     
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  6. stratclub

    stratclub Tele-Meister

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    I would say that the guitars brightness is what makes it sound bright. No magic there me thinks...........
     
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  7. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

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    That analogy always sounds sooo obvious and convincing. Problem is ... it's not.

    See Manfred Zollner's strat-and-box experiment in "The Physics of E-Guitars: Vibration – Voltage – Sound wave - Timbre" ...
    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/88a7/c4bedb89fdfda7ed01f11f77d9e14939c004.pdf

    Zollner compared the amplitude-frequency spectra of microphone recordings to those recorded directly from the pickups, when a solid body electric guitar was in contact with a resonant box and when it wasn't - see below.

    You can see the increased resonance acoustically in the microphone ('airborne sound') recordings - what you would hear acoustically - when in contact with the box. But the frequency spectra from the direct pickup output - what you would hear amplified - was unaffected.


    [​IMG]

    To explain ... the bottom two graphs each show two curves - the spectra from the microphone recordings ('airborne sound') for the neck or body touching the resonant box or not touching it; the two touching/not-touching curves differ, consistent with the difference you would hear (ie more acoustic resonance when touching). The top two graphs are the frequency spectra from the pickup recordings for the touching/not-touching conditions - they are essentially the same (some so close you cannot see two curves), ie no real difference.

    The conclusion from that experiment is thus that the resonance of the wood to which a solid body electric is attached makes a considerable heard difference to its acoustic resonant tone, but little or no difference to the amplified tone from its pickups.
     
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  8. chemobrain

    chemobrain Friend of Leo's

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    I agree when unplugged I can feel the wood of the body vibrating against my recently acquired grandpa belly.:oops:

    the real reason that the wood makes a difference in the guitars sustain and tonality are the wood pixies. each wood is mentored by different wood pixies, they impart to their wood the cosmic nature of their specific vibrations.
    unfortunately pixies are tricksters so they play the trick of having the wood of your guitar go from clear and bell like to the sorry fwap-fwap-fwap of cheap wet disintegrating particle board. but hey they love a good joke. :twisted::rolleyes:
     
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  9. ricardo1912

    ricardo1912 Tele-Afflicted

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    It does seem that the pups are the main factor in tone and I know I should really only play plugged in. However a resonant guitar is much nicer for quiet unplugged noodling.
     
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  10. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

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    I have one Tele that is brighter than the others. It doesn't matter which neck or bridge I put on that body, or which pickups. It always has a brighter, steelier sound than the others. And it's wired the same as my others. What else could it be besides the body? BTW, it's a heavy pine body from a CV 50s Tele. I'm only reporting my own experience.
     
  11. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a couple of tele's with the same bridge but one is much brighter than the other.
    I play them unplugged daily when noodling. The tele with super jumbo frets and rosewood board is brighter than the maple neck medium fret guitar. At a guess I would say it's due to the frets.
     
  12. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    OK, that's LSD, there. That does that.
     
  13. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    The conclusion to one experiment by one guy who may or may not have a preexisting bias, is not sufficient to convince me. Perhaps his methods were faulty. Years of acoustic tones corroborating the amplified sounds of a solidbody challenge the outcome of this experiment. They haven't been able to replicate cold fusion, either.

    Look at what you wrote ... "Little or no difference." Who said BIG difference? Is it little or is it none? Because "little" is a little vague. Where is the experiment that establishes that 'little" is too little for most people to discern ... which leaves all of us that have better hearing than most, which may very well be a lot of musicians, who have more highly trained attention to subtle details of sound and music? Meh.
     
  14. jman72

    jman72 Tele-Afflicted

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    I love data. I've always wanted to do this with different tonewoods to see how the frequency response changes (not what you "hear", which is subjective). I'm sure somebody's done it, but it would be cool to test to see if the woods actually do make a difference using cold, hard data.
     
  15. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Why do two guitars with the same design and pickups sound different? Same hardware, same scale.

    Must be the materials. We'll leave "tone in the fingers" for another day.

    Some of the vibrational energy in the strings goes into the neck and body, some remains in the strings. You hear it all when unplugged, but only the string vibrations through the amp.

    And you can't separate the effect of the various components. They are mechanically coupled and you always hear the combination.
     
  16. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Friend of Leo's

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    The new strings.
     
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  17. luckett

    luckett Banned

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    The bridge plate, saddles, body wood, string ferrules, nut, tuners, string trees, neck wood, frets, strings, truss rod, pickguard, control plate, and wood glue.
     
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  18. jfgesquire

    jfgesquire Tele-Meister

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    That "proof" disproving the first premise is so wrong.

    The premise is not that touching the wall changes the guitar, it's that the vibrating guitar changes the wall.

    About all touching the wall (or a box) will do is maybe result in quicker decay, less sustain as the energy bleeds off into the object.

    The original premise was to show that the body and neck of the guitar were vibrating, and that those vibrations affect the strings just like they affect the wall.

    The disproving proof has cause and effect backwards.

    You want a real experiment? Get the wall or box vibrating that you're touching the guitar up against and then see how it sounds. Getting the right vibrations into the wood could result in additional harmonics coming off the strings, or nasty feedback... Ask the Beatles how they recorded the intro to I Feel Fine.

    In fact I think I just invented a new guitar gizmo - one that vibrates the guitar to enhance the notes or chords you're playing.

    Sent from my LG-H830 using Tapatalk
     
  19. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

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    Does it have a bigger neck angle than the others?
     
  20. Ian T

    Ian T Tele-Holic

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    Pickups are the biggest factor in plugged in sound.

    Saddles and bridge design are probably biggest factor in unplugged sound and sustain. Some of this comes through the amp, to a lesser degree than unplugged.

    Wood factors into the unplugged sound. Some of this comes through the amp, though to even a lesser degree than the saddles/bridge. Honestly, I think it's very subtle by the time it's coming out of the amp.

    Your setup has a big effect on acoustic sound, lesser on plugged in sound.

    Then you have tuner design, fret material, as minute factors.

    Probably the neck joint contact, and bridge contact has some effect on the acoustic resonance, and sustain.

    It all adds up and you end up with each guitar having it's own sound, even when made with identical parts.

    At the end of the day, you build or buy a guitar, and hope that the stars were aligned and it all works together to make a good instrument.

    I've made several parts teles/strats, and some are far more resonant than others. But I love them all. And even the ones that aren't all that resonant when played acoustically can still sounds great when plugged in if they have good setup and pickups. Conversely, the resonant ones don't sound great when plugged in if they have bad pickups.

    It's kind of a crap shoot, so OP should be happy his guitar sounds pleasing to him.
     
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