Acoustic resonance of Telecasters

guitar_paul1

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Sorry no photos right now.

Acoustically:
I have 2 teles:
1) cheapest squier affinity tele and a
2) nice alder body by Bunker with warmoth birdseye maple/maple neck partscaster.
The squier is much louder and midrangey. The partscaster is quieter and much more trebly (and heavier).
I picked the alder body by tap tone at about E flat - the highest and clearest out of the stack of bodies.

It's about what you'd expect. "More resonant" doesn't address the pitch of the resonance. The cheap one is more resonant but at a lower pitch.
The neck affects that, too.

I greatly prefer the quieter more trebly alder body. I bought the squier so I could travel and toss it around. It's perfectly acceptable for playing, though.
 
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Wrighty

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I’ve got three Teles. A MIM black label Original, an AmPro and an AmPro ll. The AmPro ll is relatively new and I’m still in the process of setting it up. In the shop, I tried it only plugged in. I bought it on the feel more than the sound. Comparing all three as I write. The new AmPro was noticeably less resonate than the others unplugged, sounded OK plugged in. Loosened the neck with the strings up to tension and gave the body a few firm fist thumps around the pocket area. Tightened the screws and there was a marked improvement in acoustic resonance. This has definitely equated to a more bell-like plugged in tone. I therefore conclude that the answer to the OP’s questions are ‘yes’. How much? Well, I noticed it!
 
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bgmacaw

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Swirling Snow

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Remember solid body guitars were designed to not resonate so they did not feed back at high gain.
Very much this. Les Paul was quite unhappy with how much the tone woods chosen by Gibson resonated after they aged some more. He went back to them in the end of the '60s and gave them hints on how to make a guitar have a "pure" tone. Pancake bodies, 3 piece necks, maple necks, heavier hardware.... all those "Norlin" transgressions had Lester's blessing.

In my view, if you plug straight in then you're going to appreciate some resonance in the instrument. If you use pedals, then no, you've got pedals for that, and they work best fed a pure tone without delays and phase issues from the guitar.
 

Swingcat

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Does a telecaster have to resonate when played acoustically to be good? If one resonates more than another is the more resonant one better?
It doesn't hurt a bit. A guitar (ANY guitar) that sounds pleasing when unplugged can be made to sound good plugged in with good electronics. While just about any solid body will sound ok with good electronics, an unpleasing sounding unplugged guitar can NOT be made to sound exceptional with any fancy electronics.
I have a nice pile of bodies and a neck or two that don't have good tap tone, and will therefore never be Turbocaster Electric Guitars. (https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Turbocaster Electric Guitars).
 

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fenderchamp

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I'd like to know how anybody is measuring the resonance of their unplugged telecasters. What unit is resonance even measured in?

Instead of all of this internet, speculation/self flagellation about the resonance of one's telecaster and pseudo-technical frippery, perhaps practicing with one's telecaster plugged into one's amp would produce the most singing, bell-like dulcet tones of all.
 

TimTam

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If you want to concern yourself about anything acoustically in a solid-body electric guitar, you should mostly be concerned with the resonance of the strings, ie what the pickups see. That's most of what you're hearing acoustically from a solid-body electric. That acoustic sound is attenuated firstly by anything that reduces string vibrations, most commonly the bridge and neck (and of course string age). Some of the acoustic sound waves you hear directly from the strings are also reflected off the top surface of the guitar, so heard more readily (and some are absorbed; see Zollner's measurements in ch7 of his book, Fig 7.87).

If the strings excite the body or neck to resonate, that means those vibrations have been lost from the strings - the Conservation of Energy Law. So not obviously a "good" thing, although you might "like" the sound of the guitar with those losses. Fortunately measurements of real solid-body guitars show that bodies vibrate very little. Some guitarists have fooled themselves into thinking that such body vibration is significant in magnitude (because our skin mechanoreceptors are highly sensitive to some vibration frequencies), and that it is a good thing - failing to appreciate the difference between acoustic and electric guitar physics. Lucky for them they're wrong on both counts. If necks vibrate that can also be associated with 'dead spots', again because structural vibration must mean vibrations lost from the strings (see work of Fleischer, Pate, and others).
 
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Swirling Snow

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Yeh, I just have to blow the whistle on this fake science.

First of all, @TimTam, that is not a proper cite. Which book by which Zollner?

And you keep referring to energy being "lost" from the strings like it's a bad thing. You may have missed I was making fun of Les Paul. For starters, it's shared, not lost. But the big thing here is a freely vibrating string makes a sine wave. Every time. By law.
And that also applies to the violin, cello, piano, zither, banjo and pedal steel. Wouldn't it be boring if they all sounded the same all the time?

Now, this next bit is politically incorrect on an FMI biased forum, I may be banned, but "tone woods" are exactly those woods that dampen frequencies in a pleasing manner and return vibrations through mutual resonance that delight the ear. Leo eschewed those woods in favor of furniture grade woods. Leo was a radio fixer guy, not an instrument maker. The fact that ash makes a lot less resonance than mahogany has led many to believe the wood doesn't matter, and some here give the impression that resonating ash is unpleasant.

Nevertheless, it is the wood that gives our steel strings and pickups character.
 

TimTam

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Yeh, I just have to blow the whistle on this fake science.

First of all, @TimTam, that is not a proper cite. Which book by which Zollner?

And you keep referring to energy being "lost" from the strings like it's a bad thing. You may have missed I was making fun of Les Paul. For starters, it's shared, not lost. But the big thing here is a freely vibrating string makes a sine wave. Every time. By law.
And that also applies to the violin, cello, piano, zither, banjo and pedal steel. Wouldn't it be boring if they all sounded the same all the time?

Now, this next bit is politically incorrect on an FMI biased forum, I may be banned, but "tone woods" are exactly those woods that dampen frequencies in a pleasing manner and return vibrations through mutual resonance that delight the ear. Leo eschewed those woods in favor of furniture grade woods. Leo was a radio fixer guy, not an instrument maker. The fact that ash makes a lot less resonance than mahogany has led many to believe the wood doesn't matter, and some here give the impression that resonating ash is unpleasant.

Nevertheless, it is the wood that gives our steel strings and pickups character.

Fake science ? How is it fake ? What I described is essentially the Conservation of Energy Law. As you might expect, guitars obey the laws of physics. And it's been verified by measurements on many real solid-body electric guitars conducted over several decades now.

The notion of "shared" string vibration energy is physics nonsense. You can't duplicate energy, without breaking the laws of physics. If the strings excite anything in the guitar's structure to vibrate, that's energy lost from the strings. In simple terms, it's PRS's "subtractive" nature of electric guitars (learned from his scientist father). I did say that one might prefer the sonic result of those small losses.

What you describe is the nonsense notion common amongst some guitarists that body resonance is significant in magnitude, and in sonic influence. Although you depart from it somewhat in suggesting that body wood dampens vibrations significantly (that is closer to the known role of neck resonance in 'dead spots'). OTOH guitarists who hold unsupported notions of significant body resonance generally regard it as a "good" thing (eg the oft-heard "the body is really resonant"). Of course guitarists as a group are not generally known for their knowledge of physics. ;) Although many players who do have scientific backgrounds are increasingly able to reconcile measured science with their understanding of guitars ... and physics. All heard experience is explainable in terms of measurements made on real guitars. But an "alternate reality" echo chamber evolved over some decades where players, manufacturers (who mostly don't employ scientists), and guitar journalists repeated physics nonsense (like significant, "desirable" body resonance) and reinforced it amongst themselves. While guitar-playing scientists were busy measuring real electric guitars to work out how they really worked.

As I said, all measurements of real guitars show their solid bodies to vibrate little. Which is consistent with their low measured bridge admittance, and greater sustain than acoustic instruments. Good science must of course be consistent like that. Electric guitars can only have better sustain than acoustic instruments because relatively few vibrations are lost from the strings. In acoustic instruments, vibrations must transfer from the strings to the body in order to be heard. Electric guitars have pickups for that, which only sense the vibrations in those strings.

Re "it is the wood that gives our steel strings and pickups character", there is no evidence to support that assertion. Only subjective misinterpretation of heard experience - that is, falsely attributing common sonic differences between (even same-model) guitars to the body wood. We are now in the "scientific age" of electric guitars. We now know that there are many things that can affect the sonic palette of electric guitars. The body wood does not really make that list. Some things always matter sonically, some matter sometimes but not always, and some never matter.

Manfred Zoller's book is the landmark 1200-page "Physics of The Electric Guitar" (free to download). Ch7 is a good starting point for people with a good basic understanding of science. His many, many measurements of real electric guitars are entirely consistent with the independent work of other scientists, for example Helmut Fleischer and Arthur Pate. Other than several Japanese manufacturers, their is little evidence that major manufacturers are able to make these measurements. Lucky for them, you don't need to measure those things to make great guitars (but it helps), especially if you mostly build to 50-year old recipes.
www.gitec-forum-eng.de/the-book/
www.gitec-forum-eng.de/2019/08/12/massive-upgrade-chapter-7-of-physics-of-the-electric-guitar-is-on-line/
A shorter introduction is this article:
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.348.6822
 
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Milspec

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I am still 80% caveman and base my understanding solely on what I can feel, touch, taste, smell, and hear.

The telecasters that sound the loudest unplugged in my arsenal have all been made from a single blank of wood. Doesn't seem to matter what the species of that wood is, but the fact that it is a single slab of wood seems to make the most difference. My first partscaster is from a solid piece of alder and it damn near could be used as an acoustic in studio recordings. None of the multi-piece telecasters match that resonance.

Does that mean that my solid alder is the best sounding guitar when plugged in? Not really, it is my number 3 in the rotation, but still a lively sound, just that once you factor in the magnetics of the pickups, the amp, and the speaker....any inherent benefits to the body resonance is out the window.

I remain partial to building with a single slab though when possible.
 

msalama

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Well I'd say it's preferable to have some structural resonance when you play the guitar unplugged because it sounds nicer, but once you plug it in, it all goes out the window and the quality of your entire signal chain is what makes it sound either good or bad. EDIT: And yes, I've changed my mind about this, but this is what I tend to think now.
 
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Swirling Snow

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Re "it is the wood that gives our steel strings and pickups character", there is no evidence to support that assertion. Only subjective misinterpretation of heard experience - that is, falsely attributing common sonic differences between (even same-model) guitars to the body wood. We are now in the "scientific age" of electric guitars. We now know that there are many things that can affect the sonic palette of electric guitars. The body wood does not really make that list. Some things always matter sonically, some matter sometimes but not always, and some never matter.
I have a Les Paul that has so much resonance it sounds like the amp's reverb is on, and it sustains forever. It wasn't always like that. In fact, for the first twenty years, it was sorta disappointing. You can claim the metal changed if you want; I'm saying it was the wood.
 

old wrench

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I am still 80% caveman and base my understanding solely on what I can feel, touch, taste, smell, and hear.

The telecasters that sound the loudest unplugged in my arsenal have all been made from a single blank of wood. Doesn't seem to matter what the species of that wood is, but the fact that it is a single slab of wood seems to make the most difference. My first partscaster is from a solid piece of alder and it damn near could be used as an acoustic in studio recordings. None of the multi-piece telecasters match that resonance.

Does that mean that my solid alder is the best sounding guitar when plugged in? Not really, it is my number 3 in the rotation, but still a lively sound, just that once you factor in the magnetics of the pickups, the amp, and the speaker....any inherent benefits to the body resonance is out the window.

I remain partial to building with a single slab though when possible.


I noticed something very similar with the first Tele I built with a one-piece body blank

I don't know if I'd call it resonance, but the one-piece guitars sound louder when played unplugged

But - whatever difference they have un-plugged all goes away once they are get plugged in and amplified - then they all sound like an amplified electric guitar and the sound is influenced by the choice of pickups.

My un-scientific take on loudness or clarity of the sound of the un-amplified one-piece body, is it has something to do with a difference in how the vibrations pass through solid wood versus with how they move when interrupted by a glue joint.

I still use one-piece bodies whenever I can, but not because I think there is some sort of a tonal benefit - I just like the way a nice one-piece body looks


edit: For all I know, I might have some of that Neanderthal blood myself
.
 

guitarmikey

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I made many old pine telecasters (like initially Leo did). Best wood resonance from all, lighter body. Each wood has a basic resonance frequency, neck resonance may not pair great with a body resonant frequency, but Custom Shop guitars tend to pair this frequences in a good resonating music interval.
Strings through body or not also affects resonance, type of strings and bridge material, as well. So many things interfere for this idea.
Resonance and vibration may inspire a guitar player, or not. Some guitarists play/study with no amp, in which case resonance has a great role. For amped sound, things differ.
And so on, and on, and on…
Most important is how you feel - prefer that. All rules are available…
 




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