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Pickups that "reveal mistakes in your playing" is a myth. Prove me wrong.

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Ignatius, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. bradpdx

    bradpdx Friend of Leo's

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    I think that any clean, clear, bright sound is more likely to reveal bad fretting and picking technique. If a pickup is very dark, it may "hide" some fret rattle, but that's about it for pickups themselves.

    Certainly the biggest "mistake erasers" are distortion and compression, since they reduce or eliminate uneven dynamics and allow weak notes to compete with strong ones. I've met many a picker who went from pro to shmoe once the fuzz was turned off!

    Always practice with a dead-clean amp. Good for the soul, you know.
     
  2. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    My fingers reveal my mistakes.
     
  3. SteveY

    SteveY Tele-Afflicted

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    Nobody suspected my hands were webbed until I began using a Telecaster...
     
  4. lamotta77

    lamotta77 Former Member

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    The only 2 things that I believe will expose more mistakes is going from:

    1. A wet setup (lots of delay or reverb) to a dry one.
    2. A dirty, distorted tone to a clean one.

    If you're only used to using the former, you'll tend to unknowingly 'hide' behind them and you'll get a little laxed in your playing. Then, when you switch over to the latter, you're going to notice a lot of sloppyness that you didn't know was there before. That's the nature of the beast.
     
  5. Tim Armstrong

    Tim Armstrong Super Moderator Ad Free Member

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    Beat me to it!

    Tim
     
  6. TelZilla

    TelZilla Friend of Leo's

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    The mistakes in my playing respect no pickup, fuzz box or other gew-gaw. They are unignorable (Yes, I made up that word)

    You said it all in the original post:
    I think the whole "Bardens reveal mistakes" thing is a mix of two lines of thought:
    • The whole "What I bought/use is the best thing to buy/use" thing- seen at this site and others in the "Teles/Les Pauls/Gretches are the hardest to play, so we are all badasses" meme
    • The somewhat defensible claim that massive amounts of gain and/or other effects can mask mistakes. Of course, even if you are using Dimarzio supermetal crushers or whatever, if you turn your effects off and turn your amp down, you will hear your mistakes more

    The real way to hear your mistakes is to play an acoustic guitar (trust me, I was trying to fingerpick "Here Comes the Sun " last night- I know from whence I speak).
     
  7. ChicknPickn

    ChicknPickn Tele-Afflicted

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    I agree with the OP.

    Also, have you ever seen descriptions of the Telecaster that say things like, "The Telecaster is a guitar that makes you work for every note and gives you nothing, but its simplicity and purity are the choice of top musicians because of (blah blah blah)."

    I see these remarks from time to time, and they strike me as being absurd. I always wonder whether the reviewer is trying to make Tele owners out to be some breed of saintly player who selflessly endures the torturous Telecaster to bring the world better music. If any guitar made you "work for everything you get," etc., why would anyone buy one? Are there guitars that do the picking for you and place your fingers in the right positions? It's just mysterious to me. If there's any guitar that puts one through hell for every note played, it would be anything with a Floyd Rose trem/nut on it.

    Just my rant for the day. Sort of dovetailed into the topic.
     
  8. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    Yes
     
  9. brokenjoe

    brokenjoe Friend of Leo's

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    I use Bardens. Have for the last 15 yrs. or so.

    I think that the myth arose from the clarity one gets with them. Somehow, 'clarity' morphed into 'unforgiving.'

    The funny thing about Bardens though, is that they sound like every other pick up when I'm not plugged into my amp.
     
  10. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I once read that Ken Fischer compared his Trainwreck amps to fighter jets or something like that. The idea was that high-performance machines give you, well, excellent performance, but also are hard to control.
     
  11. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Ok… let’s up the ante a bit…..

    What is it exactly that would make one pickup sound more revealing than another?

    I would suggest it’s its ability to resolve the harmonics. We can all hear the fundamental, say, A 440, being plucked, but what of the harmonics?

    As we age all our senses deteriorate, hey!.. Who said Duh???

    As a kid, few of us could stand the cloud of perfume surrounding the older women we met, now we’re married to one… our sense of smell has “adapted”

    Those who did not wear glasses all of their lives probably recall, somewhere in their 40’s when the got their first pair, thinking Holy, Moly…I though I could see.

    As a kid few could stand the “heat” in a slice of Monterey Jack, not we pop Jalapeno Poppers all afternoon, our sense of taste has changed.

    When we were 16, our hearing is quite acute, but it’s irrelevant, because the correct notes were so few and far, with the spaces between filled with a constant staccato of wrong, wrong, wrong, we never noticed. But as we get older our hearing too, diminishes . . . so. .

    Say the fundamental A is plucked. The 440 Hz tone is generated, but there are harmonics generated also, occurring at 880, 1760, 3520, 7040, and 14080, first, I know, the harmonics aren’t exact multiples, this is just for discussion, and there are also, sub sets of harmonics produced that help identify the A as coming from a Guitar and not an Oboe.

    But… say your hearing is more acute around 3500 Hz, and diminished at 7000…. You will hear a sound quite different than one heard by someone with exactly the opposite hearing.

    What does this have to do with a more revealing pickup. ...?? The Pickup, the electronics, the wood, how that wood is assembled, the guitar chord, the Amplifier electronics, the box the speaker is mounted into, the speaker itself, and the room all the stuff is sitting in can all play a part in which the harmonic may get “boosted” or may be diminished.

    If a harmonic someone hears as being more sibilant, more present, more penetrating is “amplified” that characteristic will be heard by those that CAN hear at that frequency as being more dominant. That frequency may be enhancing the effect generated by the attack of the string hitting the fret, or the pick hitting the string, to name but a few… Thus a pickup that is better able to resolve harmonics that are fundamental to revealing such subtle characters present in the sound may, just may, be more revealing of the playing style of the guitarist.

    If you like such, it’s a good thing, and if you don’t, so what? That’s good to.
    Every time someone goes off on some subtle characteristic making up the overall sound, it is often discussed as though it is the only component that effects whatever aspect is being discussed. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    For every “positive” addition to a guitar there are a number of “negatives” that may seem completely unrelated, that can negate that positive. Thus it’s like three card sleehole. . . ya just make up the rules as you play.

    Ron Kirn
     
  12. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    exactly...

    i think that the "barden" thing, is simply that they are pretty clear even when you get em pretty loud (unless your using distortion with a pedal or through the amp itself). like running em through a twin reverb without effects. i did this for about 5 years back in the early 90's.

    clear, clean and loud.

    SO...

    any mistakes are made as clear, clean and loud to all that are listening...


    rand z
     
  13. Chris Clemens

    Chris Clemens Tele-Holic

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    My volume pot can hide my mistakes, but then you don't hear my... ow, wait You never hear the good ones, the pot must be broken' ;)
     
  14. Roli

    Roli Banned

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    Albert Lee is a great player. He does use a little compression in his Korg A3 though.

    .
     
  15. guitarzan13

    guitarzan13 Friend of Leo's

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    My pick, when combined with my fingers, reveals waaaaayyy too many mistakes. ;)
     
  16. pbenn

    pbenn Tele-Afflicted

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    Teles reveal everything.
     
  17. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Ron, I love it when you add your technical knowledge to a conversation. But how does a pickup resolve harmonics? Does it have to do more with construction or with design, or with some other variable?
     
  18. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I agree with everything Ron said.

    Here is my take on the Bardens and why some people might say they dont hide your mistakes.

    The Bardens are a very articulate pickup they replicate every little thing your fingers or pick do to the strings.

    Kinda like an acoustic guitar what you play is what you hear.

    Other pickups that arent as sensitive to touch as the Bardens might not replicate the exact same sounds and small flubs might not be as apparent.

    Jeff Beck said when you play a Tele there is nothing to hide behind it does exactly what you do and on his Strats he said he can screw up a little hit the whammy bar and the people dont even realize he made a mistake.
     
  19. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Perhaps “resolve” isn’t the word, make them more noticeable, would be better…

    all a pickup is, is a generator. You move a piece of ferrous metal within the magnetic field and it will generate an electrical pulse. That’s it.

    The difference in the sound that the electronics, including the amp, will produce from different pickups is a result of variations in the makeup of the pickup. (everything else excluded intentionally for discussion)

    That sound, when analyzed, is graphically represented by an audio spectrum, ranging from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Ideally, a manufacturer of a transducer, i.e. Mike, Pickup, Speaker, etc, anything designed to convert mechanical energy into electrical or acoustic energy will try to get that “line” as flat as possible, devoid of any “hills and valleys”. But in the real world, that is impossible. Every one of the devices will have their own unique audio “signature” depicted on it’s respective “graph”.

    If you were to compare an audio spectrum analyzer’s readout of two supposedly identical components, you would see the analysis revealed in the graph would be different. The more precise the device, the closer the graphs will be, but they are never identical. It is those differences that cause one pickup made of forbon, alnico V, and Fomvar coated wire to sound completely different from another made of the same “stuff.”

    I am intentionally leaving out the influences of such contributors as the wood, assembly, paint, type mounting, bridge, type strings, the variances in capacitors, pots, and related circuitry, the guitar cable, the amp, and on and on…I’m just talking about the pickup in a clinical sense.

    So. . . if you have a pickup design that has an audio spectrum that habitually “spikes” at a frequency(s) that is/are also a resonant point that is synchronous with the harmonics, those respective harmonics will be slightly “Peaked” (louder) across that spectrum, thus more noticeable. This may be described as an improved resolution.

    Now I’m only talking very small increments, just a few dB at best, but it’s those subtle differences that make one pickup sound one way and another differently.

    An example we have all experienced. . You’re playing your guitar; you are interrupted and sit it down, without shutting the amp off. In a few seconds you hear one string resonating. . It keeps getting louder and louder until it achieves equilibrium with the acoustic parameters of the guitar, electronics and the room.

    What is happening is the frequency’s wave form of that one string is exactly dimensionally equal to the standing waves of the room. It’s like if you throw a rock in a still pond, the waves radiate out until they hit the side of the pool, then bounce back to the source, where the rock entered the water. If the reflected waves were exactly spaced as those generated by the rock, where the two waves meet, they would cause the waves to be larger than if they are non synchronous. In a pool, stuff just gets wet, but in a room, the sound gets louder, we call it feedback in some circumstances.

    rk
     
  20. Demo

    Demo Tele-Meister

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    Ron can work on my guitars any day.
     
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