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Author Topic: Does guitar shape affect tone ?  (Read 10915 times)
cke
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« on: May 03, 2011, 05:41:16 PM »

I am curious about why guitars come is certain shapes (other than tradition). We all know that wood, bracing, size, scale, etc. all affect the tone we get out of a guitar. My question is does the shape of the top have much to do with it?

Say we have a group of guitars all with a 16" lower bout and all with identical interior volume, woods, and scale just to make it equal. So the difference would be in the dimension of the waist, upper bout, and depth. The shapes would be dread, jumbo, OM and 000 shapes. Would they sound different from one another, just because of the shape, or would they be the same?
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Chris
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« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2011, 05:48:34 PM »

By tone do you mean timbre or do you mean balance of pitch?
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cke
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2011, 05:55:29 PM »

By tone do you mean timbre or do you mean balance of pitch?
welcome    (Rules)

I mean both. Assume the guitars have all else magically identical
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Chris
Larrivee's '07  L-09 (40th Commemorative); '09 00-03 S.E; '08 P-09
Eastman '07 AC 650-12 Jumbo (NAMM)
Martin   '11 D Mahogany (FSC Golden Era type)
Voyage-Air '10 VAOM-06
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2011, 06:07:25 PM »

They'll sound different. It may not be that noticeable but it definitely will cause a change in the way the top vibrates. Tighter curves will create areas of higher stiffness simply because the sides will add support to certain areas. Even disregarding the sides, if you've seen pictures of chladni plates you might notice that circular plates when vibrating at their lowest mode will form an almost perfect ring and that rectangular plates give very different patterns.

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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2011, 06:13:27 PM »

No. They make all different sizes and shapes just so guitarists can properly accessorize.  rolleye
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cke
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2011, 06:23:20 PM »

They'll sound different. It may not be that noticeable but it definitely will cause a change in the way the top vibrates. Tighter curves will create areas of higher stiffness simply because the sides will add support to certain areas. Even disregarding the sides, if you've seen pictures of chladni plates you might notice that circular plates when vibrating at their lowest mode will form an almost perfect ring and that rectangular plates give very different patterns.


No. They make all different sizes and shapes just so guitarists can properly accessorize.  rolleye

Some how both of these make complete sense to me...
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Chris
Larrivee's '07  L-09 (40th Commemorative); '09 00-03 S.E; '08 P-09
Eastman '07 AC 650-12 Jumbo (NAMM)
Martin   '11 D Mahogany (FSC Golden Era type)
Voyage-Air '10 VAOM-06
-the nylon string-
Goya (Levin) '58 G-30
-dulcimer-
'11 McSpadden
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2011, 07:53:34 PM »

welcome    (Rules)

I mean both. Assume the guitars have all else magically identical

Sorry!



Now that you are all full, if we are talking about magical guitars, doesn't logic fly out the window?!?   
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cke
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2011, 08:52:20 PM »

In exchange for those beautiful donuts, whatever you say 
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Chris
Larrivee's '07  L-09 (40th Commemorative); '09 00-03 S.E; '08 P-09
Eastman '07 AC 650-12 Jumbo (NAMM)
Martin   '11 D Mahogany (FSC Golden Era type)
Voyage-Air '10 VAOM-06
-the nylon string-
Goya (Levin) '58 G-30
-dulcimer-
'11 McSpadden
Mr_LV19E
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2011, 09:02:39 PM »

Even if the interior volume of the box's are the same the sound coming out of the hole will be different  because of the different shapes of the box's. Shape will alter the air movements inside.
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2011, 09:25:30 PM »

Even if the interior volume of the box's are the same the sound coming out of the hole will be different  because of the different shapes of the box's. Shape will alter the air movements inside.
That's getting at what I  surmise.  If the shape alters the tone, then is it reasonable that a dread and a jumbo for example might be better suited for one style or another; or more accurately, please one set of ears more than another?

I guess I could have stipulated that the tops would have the same area too. Or is volume alone relevant? I am thinking it must be both...
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Chris
Larrivee's '07  L-09 (40th Commemorative); '09 00-03 S.E; '08 P-09
Eastman '07 AC 650-12 Jumbo (NAMM)
Martin   '11 D Mahogany (FSC Golden Era type)
Voyage-Air '10 VAOM-06
-the nylon string-
Goya (Levin) '58 G-30
-dulcimer-
'11 McSpadden
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2011, 10:02:07 PM »

Here's a simplified explanation of how a guitar works:

It's a coupled three-oscillator system.   The top, back, and internal air are the three oscillators.    String energy sets the three parts in motion and they play off each other.

Just considering the top, it has three primary vibrational modes.    The lowest frequency mode behaves like a drum.    So the bigger the drum (top), the lower the frequency (bigger = more bass).

As Jeremy pointed out, the stiffness of the drum head also sets the frequency.      Bracing and thickness obviously affect stiffness, but so does shape.

Consider the dread with its wide waist vs a jumbo with the same lower bout width but tighter waist.    The dread drum head will be looser near the waist and therefore have a lower frequency response.

Higher frequency response involves the top undulating from side to side and from top to bottom.    Again, the dread will have freer movement from top to bottom than a tight-waisted jumbo, and that will lower the frequency response of some of those higher-frequency modes.

In short, yes, shape affects tone.  
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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2011, 11:08:47 PM »

I'll go along with this..but....................you see Stefano Barone and others playing dreadnoughts and it kind of shoots down the theory that we should all play pinch waist small body guitars for fingerstyle........................ This ain't your average picker on a bluegrass guitar. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YE-GPXYeTA
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cke
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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2011, 01:58:31 AM »

Thanks Gitnoob and all

I'll go along with this..but....................you see Stefano Barone and others playing dreadnoughts and it kind of shoots down the theory that we should all play pinch waist small body guitars for fingerstyle........................ This ain't your average picker on a bluegrass guitar.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YE-GPXYeTA

Well I play everything finger-style.  

Partly my question was prompted after I strummed on a 50's vintage SJ 200. I expected thunder, but it didn't have it. (Maybe just that 1, but it was being offered proudly)  In standard pitch gits I hear the most bass and thunder out of the dreads I have played : the Hall of Fame being Martin D-18GE, Martin Ditson 333, and a Goodall 12 fret slope dread. Unclrob mentioned the wide range of tone he gets from Jumbos, and I have liked the 12 string jumbos better than the 12 string dreads I have tried. I have had no experience with jumbo's other than that.  So I wondered...  if there is more science to why certain shapes are associated with certain sounds - other than just size.

But I also suspect that Ducktrapper  has the main reason we choose what we choose  
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Chris
Larrivee's '07  L-09 (40th Commemorative); '09 00-03 S.E; '08 P-09
Eastman '07 AC 650-12 Jumbo (NAMM)
Martin   '11 D Mahogany (FSC Golden Era type)
Voyage-Air '10 VAOM-06
-the nylon string-
Goya (Levin) '58 G-30
-dulcimer-
'11 McSpadden
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2011, 02:13:15 AM »

gitnoob.... +1


ducktrapper... +1   +1
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2011, 02:52:16 AM »

No two guitars even if there made from the same piece of wood will sound the same.For me being able to pull a varity of tone's from a guitar come's from how and were I pick/finger it.With jumbo's I can get almost a nice archtop tone,with a more aggessive attack I can get a nice overdrive tone,in tunings I can get a delicate finger style to a ranchy blues tone of smaller body guitars.With my LS bodies I can't get archtop tone or that rauchy blues tone.With my 12 fret neck joint OM I again loss that archtop tone but I do get all the other tone's with it as with the jumbo.As for science of it,it just doesn't apply its a friggin guitar and science is in the parking lot hurling. bigrin
This applies to my electrics and my single pu bass.
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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2011, 04:30:20 AM »

No two guitars even if there made from the same piece of wood will sound the same.For me being able to pull a varity of tone's from a guitar come's from how and were I pick/finger it.
+1
I agree with this and its one of the reasons I like my 12 fret best, more space between the fingerboard extension and the bridge allows for more tone variation. To me that means music, I get bored if the song is to monotonous.
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« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2011, 05:27:48 PM »

I think that each shape of the instruments affect the sound

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« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2011, 06:04:57 PM »

  Just add that two guitars the same shape made by a low end factory will sound like a joke when played next to one made with tedious attention to details on gluing, bracing, tonewoods, nut and saddle placement, tuners, scale length, finish, hydration during the build. Plus proper drying techniques when the wood is cured.

                I know there is more. But getting the best out of some of my guitars had required adjustments and replacements of the items I can deal with.

   My Forum III is a basic 000 sized guitar in the end. It is one of the few new ones I have acquired that sounded right to me from the get go. Still does, though I can't resist tweaking some things. blush
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« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2011, 08:28:02 PM »

Thanks all, I like tweaking and upgrading the components on my guitars too. I have too active a mind for my own good. After being a dread fan most of my life, my dream guitar turned out to be an L body.  I thought (foolishly) that the Gibson jumbos were a gimmick to say "We do too" to the D-18 and 28. Now I am thinking a jumbo may be a superior body shape to a dread as it allows both the big boom and the nice open sound. In other words, the shape does make a big difference.  Or as usual, it really matters more how you play it.
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Chris
Larrivee's '07  L-09 (40th Commemorative); '09 00-03 S.E; '08 P-09
Eastman '07 AC 650-12 Jumbo (NAMM)
Martin   '11 D Mahogany (FSC Golden Era type)
Voyage-Air '10 VAOM-06
-the nylon string-
Goya (Levin) '58 G-30
-dulcimer-
'11 McSpadden
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« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2011, 09:27:25 PM »

Thanks all, I like tweaking and upgrading the components on my guitars too. I have too active a mind for my own good. After being a dread fan most of my life, my dream guitar turned out to be an L body.  I thought (foolishly) that the Gibson jumbos were a gimmick to say "We do too" to the D-18 and 28. Now I am thinking a jumbo may be a superior body shape to a dread as it allows both the big boom and the nice open sound. In other words, the shape does make a big difference.  Or as usual, it really matters more how you play it.
  A good Gibson Southerner Jumbo cannot be beat in a 6 string.  Guild made some marvelous 12 strings though for a while and earned top of the heap there.
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