Discovered something interesting about guitar resonance

Novick

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You know how people who grew up before CNC machines sometimes say it's better to "run the racks" in person when buying a guitar to find the one that plays and resonates right?

And you know how museums make sure their antique violins are played at least once a year to stay in shape?

I have limited room space, so most of my guitars live in cases in the closet. I've noticed over the years that after a guitar makes its way onto the stands for frequent play for a few months, sometimes it gets *very* resonant. Like, neck shaking with millimeter+ amplitude when you hit a chord. (Mostly an Ibanez thing, less wood to move.)

Today I was messing around with a Peavey Predator (strat clone) that arrived yesterday, and for whatever reason started repeatedly strumming an open E major chord, slowly moving my strumming from the bridge to the 12th fret (seeing how plinky or warm this particular guitar would go). As I went down the neck towards the 12th, the neck started resonating more. I stayed around the 12th for a while feeling that... and then started to go back down towards the bridge. And the resonance stayed high! Not quite as high as at the 12th, but much higher than it had been strumming in the same place down by the pickups at the beginning.

Repeated this with an Ibanez and it happened again.

This is yet another reason I don't think running the racks is very meaningful in a world without many true duds (although it would be fun, if guitar stores still had that kind of selection). Between feel and tone, it's very rare that my first impression with a new-to-me guitar says much about how it'll play after I've finished setting it up to my taste, and how it'll sound after I've experimented with amp settings and picks and playing styles that bring out its best qualities. Some of these things take days, some take months.
 

dsutton24

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I do like the feel of a resonant guitar, my every day guitar is an old MIM Telecaster that is very lively. I don't know that it makes any difference in the way it sounds, but in the case of musical instruments feel can be very compelling.
 

schmee

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I still rate them by how they sound unplugged. The ones that sing the most end up being my best guitars plugged in.
Yep. I'm 100% with you on that. There can be huge differences in two supposedly identical guitars...... regardless of price. In fact, a custom shop can be dead wood and a squier can resonate like heck sometimes.
 

bgmacaw

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Dan German

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There are likely fewer duds now than in the bad old days, but I still judge instruments individually. In part, this is fueled by childhood experience. My sister’s Alvarez was purchased based on price. My grandparents told their friends who owned a music store to get them the best guitar they had for $125. I played two identical Alvarez models within the decade after that one was purchased (and played lots of affordable guitars at that same music store), and none of them were anywhere close in sound. Sure, things are different now, but my mind ain’t changin’.
 

johnnylaw

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I sometimes play a Gretsch semi hollow which has a tone and response much like reverb, unplugged or not. It’s like tuned resonance, and very fun right off the fingers.
 

Winky

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A vibrant and resonant guitar that give feedback direct into your hands and body is certainly fun to play. It feels alive, and like it's giving back what is put into it. I think I could almost tune my new one by feel, even if I couldn't hear it. It's certainly not as clear how important this resonance is to amplified tone. A guitar that "rings" might be easier to get feedback-driven sustain out of, I guess. That's certainly the case in the extreme with hollow-bodies like Casinos. A resonant solid-body guitar just might be in the sweet spot, and that's why we love them.
 

Hodgo88

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Electric guitar resonance is an interesting thing to consider, because what frequency is it even resonating at? Is that sympathetic to the frequencies I want to play? Temperment aside, can my guitar be resonant in such a way that it sounds better in a certain key?
 

JustABluesGuy

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If an electric guitar doesn’t feel right in my hands it doesn’t ever get plugged in.

If the neck feels right, and it feels lively (resonates) in my hands then I might plug it in.

The most important for me is the feel. Some guitars that don’t feel extremely resonant might still sound fine plugged in. Mine all felt resonant unplugged, so I can’t verify this.

Bottom line, I like to play before I buy, and I’m seeking a guitar that plays easily, and “feels” lively in my hands.
 

JustABluesGuy

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A vibrant and resonant guitar that give feedback direct into your hands and body is certainly fun to play. It feels alive, and like it's giving back what is put into it. I think I could almost tune my new one by feel, even if I couldn't hear it. It's certainly not as clear how important this resonance is to amplified tone. A guitar that "rings" might be easier to get feedback-driven sustain out of, I guess. That's certainly the case in the extreme with hollow-bodies like Casinos. A resonant solid-body guitar just might be in the sweet spot, and that's why we love them.
A more resonant guitar will definitely allow an instrument to feedback more easily. That can be a good or bad thing depending on one’s goals.

With solid bodied guitars, it’s not going to be uncontrollably feeding back. I love Neal Young and his use of feedback, so… 😜
 

Swingcat

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You know how people who grew up before CNC machines sometimes say it's better to "run the racks" in person when buying a guitar to find the one that plays and resonates right?

And you know how museums make sure their antique violins are played at least once a year to stay in shape?

I have limited room space, so most of my guitars live in cases in the closet. I've noticed over the years that after a guitar makes its way onto the stands for frequent play for a few months, sometimes it gets *very* resonant. Like, neck shaking with millimeter+ amplitude when you hit a chord. (Mostly an Ibanez thing, less wood to move.)

Today I was messing around with a Peavey Predator (strat clone) that arrived yesterday, and for whatever reason started repeatedly strumming an open E major chord, slowly moving my strumming from the bridge to the 12th fret (seeing how plinky or warm this particular guitar would go). As I went down the neck towards the 12th, the neck started resonating more. I stayed around the 12th for a while feeling that... and then started to go back down towards the bridge. And the resonance stayed high! Not quite as high as at the 12th, but much higher than it had been strumming in the same place down by the pickups at the beginning.

Repeated this with an Ibanez and it happened again.

This is yet another reason I don't think running the racks is very meaningful in a world without many true duds (although it would be fun, if guitar stores still had that kind of selection). Between feel and tone, it's very rare that my first impression with a new-to-me guitar says much about how it'll play after I've finished setting it up to my taste, and how it'll sound after I've experimented with amp settings and picks and playing styles that bring out its best qualities. Some of these things take days, some take months.
Actually, it's true that guitars and other instruments need to be "played in" to achieve their best tones. Being an archtop player (along with Tele & Jazzmaster type guitars), pro player, and frequent attendee/participant in Guitar Shows, I've had occasion to play in guitars that have been unplayed for long periods of time. I remember one D'Angelico (a real one) that I was playing. My friend, who owned a music store, the guitar, and the booth, said "Play it in", so I played it for a while. At first it was average, but after 45 minutes of playing it totally came alive in my hands!! I know this is true of violins & family as well. However, when you say "CNC-very few duds" you haven't taken into account the extreme importance of the wood itself. Each piece of wood is different from the next, and between two "identicalcal" guitars with consecutive serial numbers, one can be a dog and the next, amazing!
 

bottlenecker

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You know how people who grew up before CNC machines sometimes say it's better to "run the racks" in person when buying a guitar to find the one that plays and resonates right?

And you know how museums make sure their antique violins are played at least once a year to stay in shape?

I have limited room space, so most of my guitars live in cases in the closet. I've noticed over the years that after a guitar makes its way onto the stands for frequent play for a few months, sometimes it gets *very* resonant. Like, neck shaking with millimeter+ amplitude when you hit a chord. (Mostly an Ibanez thing, less wood to move.)

Today I was messing around with a Peavey Predator (strat clone) that arrived yesterday, and for whatever reason started repeatedly strumming an open E major chord, slowly moving my strumming from the bridge to the 12th fret (seeing how plinky or warm this particular guitar would go). As I went down the neck towards the 12th, the neck started resonating more. I stayed around the 12th for a while feeling that... and then started to go back down towards the bridge. And the resonance stayed high! Not quite as high as at the 12th, but much higher than it had been strumming in the same place down by the pickups at the beginning.

Repeated this with an Ibanez and it happened again.

This is yet another reason I don't think running the racks is very meaningful in a world without many true duds (although it would be fun, if guitar stores still had that kind of selection). Between feel and tone, it's very rare that my first impression with a new-to-me guitar says much about how it'll play after I've finished setting it up to my taste, and how it'll sound after I've experimented with amp settings and picks and playing styles that bring out its best qualities. Some of these things take days, some take months.

There are still plenty of duds.
CNC does not make all guitars the same.
 

TimTam

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You are feeling the resonant modal frequencies of the neck. When string vibrations at the same frequencies excite the neck to vibrate at those modal frequencies, those vibrations are lost from the strings, so not seen by the pickups. That's the Conservation of Energy Law. It has been verified in measurements of real electric guitars guitars for some decades. And those losses can rise to a level sufficient to create "dead spots". But most losses are fortunately small, or electric guitars would not have superior sustain to acoustic guitars (which rely on vibration transfer to the body in order to be heard). You could of course "like" the overall sonic result of those losses from the strings to the neck, but neck vibrations are not obviously a "good" thing.
www.researchgate.net/publication/262226551_Predicting_the_decay_time_of_solid_body_electric_guitar_tones

The skin mechanoreceptors via which we feel these neck vibrations are highly sensitive to particular frequencies. They can also be subject to "after effects", where their sensitivity changes over time (ask anyone who works holding vibrating machinery). So we can easily be misled as to the real magnitude of vibrations we feel (often overestimating magnitude, and feeling some frequencies but not others).
 
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preactor

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I play a Martin D-18 in church. When our organist plays a lower scale F#, the guitar body will vibrate enough that I dampen the strings if I'm not playing. I wonder what a guitar would sound like if it did in the key of G?
 

TX_Slinger

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You mean guitars just love to be played??? Of course. Ever notice how Corvettes that are just sit in the garage start developing oil and trans leaks? They want to be driven, keeps the seals fresh. Same with guitars. That wood is something our creator gave us to make wonderful things from your home and the roof over your head to something to make music with and to bring joy to others. The dullness it develops from sitting idle is evidence of God's disappointment. ;)
 




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