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Is it more important to you how an electric guitar sounds unplugged or plugged in?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Digiplay, Jun 13, 2020.

When you are buying a guitar, what ultimately is more important to you?

  1. 1) How it sounds unplugged.

    49 vote(s)
    26.2%
  2. 2) How it sounds amplified?

    138 vote(s)
    73.8%
  1. dcm0

    dcm0 TDPRI Member

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    Howdy.

    I'm a newbie to this forum, but played almost 4 decades, own 3 teles, sold everything else few yrs back, sparing y'all full CV.

    Real simple. Tonewood and structural body resonance are godawful critical unless you plan on totally effecting the resultant primary waves. This is really a big deal. Indisputable.

    But it's an ELECTRIC guitar? Right? Sound waves this thing creates are not fully actualized, and thus don't really matter until an amp throws them out a speaker. Else what's the point of the extremely complex metal parts, and all their magnetic field disruption current induction horse****?

    This is not a tough question.

    Not saying mahogany, maple, alder, ash and ebony don't smoke basswood or whatever at the starting line. Of course they do.

    Not saying how it feels against your abdomen, or especially to the fingertips of your left hand (righty speak, no offense, lefties) are not major considerations. Like, if the strummed vibes feel wrong to your fretting hand, burn the ******* thing, y'know?

    But is it or is it not an ELECTRIC guitar?
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
    Direwolf likes this.
  2. Zoot Zoot

    Zoot Zoot TDPRI Member

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    Plugged in!
     
  3. pcovers

    pcovers TDPRI Member

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    Wormy reclaimed barnwood of any species, carbon fiber, laminated phenolic (shout out to the USA made Reverends), and wood of the normal wood variety.
     
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  4. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    I am curious how all this "how it sounds unplugged" relates to guitars with or without tremolos with springs.

    To me the presence of the tremolo springs changes all this so much.. and I think it seems to be heard through the amp and acoustically.
     
  5. soulgeezer

    soulgeezer Poster Extraordinaire

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    James Trussart loves these threads. Just sayin'.
     
  6. eddnix

    eddnix Tele-Meister

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    I suppose if I plan to turn up at the gig without a guitar cable in a global guitar cable shortage (read "lack of" not "less than 3ft",) it would have to be unplugged.
     
  7. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

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    I mean, it's definitely nearing a splitting hairs situation, but every once in a while a solidbody guitar becomes greater than the sum of its parts and resonates more than its counterparts. Certainly by the time we start talking about semi-hollow or hollow body electrics I would guess most people start to notice some sounding good or bad when unplugged, and that potentially affecting their choice.

    Of course this is not to say that plinky one-dimensional sounding electrics won't sound great plugged in, that's in fact the norm right? Lastly, it's worth noting the instant bias one might get when being taken aback by an electric sounding good acoustic then convincing yourself it sounds that much better once you plug it in.
     
  8. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

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    The keyword here is solid. Otherwise the "a node is a node" argument would defeat the purpose of a hollow body guitar, right?
     
  9. Anacharsis

    Anacharsis Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    All very plausible. I will note that I have 10 guitars that are either chambered or semi-hollow, and I think they sound plinky and one-dimensional unplugged, too. But I acknowledge that preferences are just that.
     
  10. soulgeezer

    soulgeezer Poster Extraordinaire

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    Would you ever show up to an acoustic gig with an unplugged solidbody electric guitar?

    If the answer is "no," then a lot of this conversation is essentially moot, don'tcha think?
     
    Direwolf likes this.
  11. vintageampz

    vintageampz Tele-Meister

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    Electric - BOTH.
    Acoustic - Unplugged .... D'uh.
     
  12. MrGibbly

    MrGibbly Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm a computer scientist so what I have to say on this subject...really doesn't matter much. However! I enjoy playing electric guitars that are acoustically resonant. They give back. I can feel what they are doing and, for whatever reason, that makes them more fun to play. So for me...it's both that I am shooting for. At higher volumes I notice it less because you start to get more interaction between the guitar and the amp, the feeling of lots of moving air, etc. but it's noticeable for me at lower/practice levels.
     
  13. ocduff

    ocduff Tele-Meister

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    In my humble option, I’ve found if a guitar doesn’t ring acoustically it will never ring when it’s plugged in.
     
  14. soulgeezer

    soulgeezer Poster Extraordinaire

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    I feel like a lot of people in this thread have really crappy amps.
     
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  15. nathanteal

    nathanteal Tele-Holic

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    What's interesting to me is that even the guys in the unplugged camp use the unplugged sound to determine (whether in part or in whole) whether or not the guitar will be worth its while plugged in. So ultimately the acknowledgement, like it or not, is that it still needs to sound good plugged in.
     
    MilwMark likes this.
  16. Anacharsis

    Anacharsis Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    People should do what they want, of course. I don’t think anyone is being disingenuous. Still, the whole phenomenon of an electric guitar sounding distinctively good unplugged (“ringing”) is something I’ve never heard - even when being told in real time by a friend to listen to how it’s ringing. They all just sound thin and plinky every time I hear them. New, old, Squier, Custom Shop, it doesn’t matter. Plugged in, they sound like electric guitars.
     
  17. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

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    In playing thousands of guitars over 50 years I can say that acoustical properties can matter but mostly they don't. The sound of a guitar can change from low volume to high volume on the amp, low volume to high volume on the guitar, and the roll off of the tone control to find a sweet spot at a given volume. Not to mention the height of the pickups and the mass of the metal bridge or bridge pieces where the strings go into the body. Not to mention the tone of the pickups themselves. Too many variables to make any prediction. Not to mention the matchup of the woods. The fact is, a well practiced player can get something inspirational out of any guitar and amp. Now it may not be highly inspirational but there is usually something that can be coaxed from a strings and wood.

    I've played acoustically killer guitars that sounded terrible plugged in and vice versa. Sustain from a clean note is the measure I go by. Sometimes the pickups just don't deliver what's happening from the guitar. Sometimes they make up for what isn't happening from the guitar.

    I want, however, to encourage others to believe what you want to believe because it's Father's day and nobody can tell you any different if it ruffles your understanding.
     
  18. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    [​IMG]

    I think, at least when Chesney plays this LP. it sounds better unplugged.

    Just sayin'.
     
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  19. TwangToInfinity

    TwangToInfinity Tele-Afflicted

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    i believe in the wood on electrics
     
  20. Colo Springs E

    Colo Springs E Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Don't forget the countertop stuff or whatever it is Dano's are made from.
     
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