Why do vintage pickups sound better?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Marquee Moon, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    In the case of music specifically, the program has to be given parameters or some sort, and if the music is deemed to be good, it will have been those parameters that define how good it was capable of being. For example, suppose you feed it 1,000 "good" Jazz songs and it creates a unique amalgamation from those songs, the result will only be as good as those 1,000 songs. It won't know how to better them without knowing what "better" is.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
  2. memiller

    memiller Tele-Meister

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    You're making the mistake of assuming the computer can't learn beyond what is fed into it. Modern AI is well beyond that. Chess engines, for example, are more than capable of readily taking down Grand Masters. AlphaZero, current AI chess champion, has an estimated ELO of around 3600-3800. That's 800-1000 points higher than any human (ELO is a measure of performance against other opponents, which takes those opponent's performance into account).

    An AI would not create an amalgamation of songs. That's something you can do quite readily with some simple scripts. What an AI does will vary depending on how it's programmed but in general the only things the underlying algorithm will teach it to do is exactly what any music teacher has taught.

    It will learn how to recognize patterns of notes, chords, refrains, song structure in general. Ideally the AI would actually be able to learn music theory on its own by comparing "good" music (like your generic Mozart/Zeppelin/High on Fire) to "bad" music (BEEFHEART. ALL OF THE BEEFHEART.) and determining what defines each one. None of this is hard coded. All of the parameters it would work from would be generated solely by itself. From all of this, the theory, the progressions, the structure, the notion of "good" and "bad", it would create an entirely new piece of music. That it would sound similar to the input is inevitable, because welcome to the concept of a musical genre, but over time and with a wide enough library to pull from it would be capable of writing a piece of music in every style imaginable.

    And again, none of that would be hard coded. None of that would be tied to or directly derived from the input.
     
  3. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    It sounds like you're conceding to my point, when you talk about having to tell it that Mozart is good and Beefheart is bad. Even then, the AI would not be communicating anything through music. The AI would not feel heartbroken, and then try to express that feeling of despair through music, it would still just be chugging through existing art, which it does not understand, only trusting that someone else will understand it, producing something that is ultimately derivative.

    And all this aside, you're talking theoretical future technology, I was originally talking about the current state of robot music.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
  4. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Tele-Afflicted

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    I was merely pointing out possible differences vs modern pickups.

    I know there are some who believe composition of magnets and wire is totally irrelevant when it comes to tone. I happen to feel differently based on my own experiences but I have always presented that as an opinion - am not claiming it to be a proven fact.

    The original pickups in my '63 Strat are, to me, a cut above any other singlecoils I've ever owned. I don't claim to be certain why it's so. On a scope that they might not read too differently from the pickups Fender makes nowadays. And at bedroom volume with a clean amp they might not even sound too radically different. But at stage volume they're simply astonishing.
     
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  5. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    This is an example of the petitio principii fallacy. You're attempting to explain something, without knowing if that thing exists to be explained. It's like pondering what sort of jet propulsion system Santa Clause must have to use to make all those rounds in just eight hours. We know he pulls it off, right?

    I've done metallurgical analysis of pickups parts, too, and what it amounts to is pushing the inductance or the Q factor in one direction or another, because the electromagnetic field passes through the alloy, and the alloy reacts to the magnetic field in one of these two ways. But those sorts of qualities don't make pickups suddenly amazing. Those factors are readily altered by the guitar cable, or the tone knob, and people will report that they get preferred results with one guitar cable or another, or one pot value or another, but it never suddenly endows a pickup with elusive vintage greatness. The fact that people can't even pin point the sonic quality that makes vintage pickup supposedly so good should be a big clue that it's all mental; everyone speaks from a different ideal they hold in their imaginations. For one guy, they're as sweet as candy. For another guy, they bloom like fields in spring. For you, they're "simply astonishing". It's all an illusion.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
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  6. memiller

    memiller Tele-Meister

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    Congratulations, you successfully ignored literally everything I said in a desperate attempt to feel correct and shelter you from the current real world. Have fun with that.
     
  7. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    I directly referenced what you wrote. I used your own words.
     
  8. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Tele-Afflicted

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    To have an ideal in your head which you try to match in real life is a decent definition of personal taste. This might be an abstraction but it's not an illusion, as you call it.

    I believe you've attacked my opinion as fallacy because you mistakenly assume I'm touting some special magic because the pickups in question happen to be old. In fact I specifically said that I don't claim to know why these particular ones sound so great to me.

    I've owned other vintage pickups that weren't perfect for me. And another player might not feel my favorites are perfect for him.
     
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  9. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    I can't speak for others, but in my case, answering that exact question is the primary motive behind the whole program of test equipment development, testing, and analysis that I have been involved in for the last few years. I realized that it has two aspects, perceptual and physical. The testing regimen attacks the "low hanging fruit" of determining the physical characteristics, and turns out to be relatively easy and precise. The perceptual aspect is more subjective, for obvious reasons. However, a perception that is consistent with a proven reality has more credence than one that doesn't. Thus it is reasonable to develop a "minimum set" of characteristics which, although perhaps not providing a complete picture of tone, do provide absolute certainty about the basis of it. When you understand the measurements and what they represent, you would be hard pressed to explain why alternate factors would be necessary to explain the tone.

    So the answer to the quoted question is, a combination of psychological disposition towards the pickups, and the array of parameters like cutoff frequency, Q, string aperture, magnetic string pull, pickup to string spacing. The latter are not all the factors, but they are easily determinable and proven factors. Your psychological disposition is, for other people anyway, mostly impenetrable and masked in internal meanings.

    If I find a pickup that I like and measure it, I have at least, a short list of necessities that must accompany any other that will sound like it. That has a good deal of value to me. It doesn't guarantee that the other one won't have other differences that will change it, but that seems much less likely than finding a pickup that sounds the same to me, and has a totally different electromagnetic profile.

    It is commonplace for a mental attitude to influence perception in the direction of falsehood. It is much less likely to happen when the objective facts are in front of you. They can at least stimulate a level of healthy doubt that should accompany unverified perception. The pure perception can never be wrong, as it does not address the objective reality. "It sounds good to me". Well I can't argue with that. But when you say, "it sounds better than x" or "it sounds good because of y" then there is an appeal to objective truths. In this case, the best option for obtaining those is the lab testing. That is because it extends past the individual and implicitly extends to all or most of the people who perceive it.

    Where the lab tests reveal no difference, an objective view of the perceptual side of it can only be solved with time proven, squeaky clean, double blind randomized tests with an adequate sample size, that can be reproduced by a skeptic. But those cost big money, which nobody other than the people who don't want you to know really has.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  10. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Tele-Afflicted

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    This demonstrates a better-reasoned and less hostile approach than certain other voices hereabouts, IMO. A good read; thanks for that.
     
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  11. lineboat

    lineboat Friend of Leo's

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    I can’t believe it hasn’t been said yet.

    This is like asking how a posi-trac in a Plymouth works.... IT JUST DOES!

    Quoted from Daddy Dirt.
     
  12. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Holic

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    Well they don't. Not at all. Never did, and never will.

    Again, read on original pioneering vintage pickup design maker Seth Lover interview with Seymour Duncan. A long thorough read. Will take you a while. Even himself doesn't think vintage pickups sounds especially better.

    https://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/the-tone-garage/seymour-w-duncans-interview-with-seth-lover

    The most important quote from it, which debunks all of those who thinks vintage pickups sounds better:

    "The pickups were designed using heavier strings than today wasn't it?

    The pickups were designed using heavier strings with the high E being a .012 gauge. and now they use .008 which moves the magnetic field much less. They just can’t generate enough energy with that size string. Some players say “my pickups are weak.” If they would only use a heavier string that the pickup was designed for they wouldn’t have any problem.

    I’ve heard musicians talking about things that are just bothering the hell out of them with pickups – complaining and so forth – and I’d listen and listen and I couldn’t hear. At the same time I could hear things in there that were bothering the hell out of me and they’d pay no attention to them. I hear something they don’t and they hear something I don’t.

    What are you going to do?"


    Now, close thread.
     
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  13. ronzhd

    ronzhd Tele-Meister

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    Politics, religion, tone wood and "Vintage" anything........
     
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  14. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Holic

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    Even in the head of this thread there's a logicall fallacy and assumption. Instead of "Why do vintage pickups sound better? " you should ask "Does vintage pickups sound better?" Leading question, that makes it prone to flaming, trolling, alternate facts. And the why, you could as well put modern pickups in there as well, stating

    "Why do modern pickups sounds better?"

    Would be exactly the same. So it's basically a no-discussion, and futile, moot click bait.
     
  15. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

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    The Earth is over 4,500,000,000 years old.

    Our iron came from the innards of stars dead long before our solar system began to form. The heavier and/or more unique elements came from when those stars went supernova.

    Metal doesn't understand what we mean by "the 50s".
     
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  16. t guitar floyd

    t guitar floyd Tele-Holic

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    Wait a minute . . . you're comparing Tele pickups to a new Strat pickup! :mad:

    Nice looking pickups, though. :cool:
     
  17. alnico357

    alnico357 Tele-Holic

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    They don't sound better until people/guitar players in double blind tests can hear a difference and say "Oh yes it is undeniable. That guitar has vintage pickups." Until then it's emotional bias.
     
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  18. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

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    Well I don't think vintage pickups always do sound better even though I generally prefer pickups wound to vintage specs. On the rare occasions I have tried vintage pickups, usually in stores or on other people's guitars, I've often found boutique wound pickups made to vintage specs to be as good. There are even some factory made Fender pickups that I've liked better than vintage strat/tele/JM pickups I've tried.
     
  19. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Meister

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    I'm 30 now and back when I was 20 and started playing vintage gear I noticed it.
     
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  20. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Meister

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    finally an honest man ;)
     
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