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Author Topic: Generalizations about Guitars  (Read 7327 times)
ST
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« on: July 02, 2013, 10:33:31 PM »

Reading through posts here it is really easy to find generalizations about body styles and tonewoods. And like the internet, this forum is like an echo chamber.

The more guitars I have, the more convinced I am that the generalizations are meaningless. Attempts to describe tone are futile attempts to put words to sounds that we all perceive through our own uniquely imperfect lenses.

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tuffythepug
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2013, 11:26:37 PM »

ST, I admit I am stumped when someone asks me to describe the the tone of a particular guitar or how one guitar's tone differs from another one.   I can say that one has great sustain or is "loud" compared to another one but that's about as far as I'm prepared to go usually.
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ST
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2013, 02:03:09 AM »

I think that it may be part of the human condition to seek to describe, qualify, quantify, and justify differences particularly when the differences are small and when talking to others. But all of that talking means nothing when actually playing.
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Barefoot Rob
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2013, 03:32:07 AM »

All descriptions of tone are just one person's opinion.General discriptions are about the best anyone can do.Larrivee's in mahogany are different sounding from Martin,Gibson,Guild and so on.For me it boil's down too what it sound like to me.I was never a rosewood fan until Larrivee and as a maple fan I love my OM03PA which is maple ,yet an LS09FM I had just didn't do anything for me.
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A REPAIRPERSON,Still Unclrob
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Riverbend
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2013, 01:11:10 PM »

Interesting subject here. My feelings are similar and I would add that much of it comes down to language and expression, complicated by efforts to translate between the senses. We see, we hear, we feel, we try and speak of it, and it's colored mostly with nouns and verbs and adjectives and adverbs, depending on the individual's abilities with language and their very own unique perceptions. It often gives birth to some interesting metaphors and analogies, as well, as we humans seek to describe those perceptions. Comments often teeter between objective and subjective depending on the individual and their intentions and abilities with language. Guitars being the subject here, and that we try and relate how sound waves affect our unique ear mechanisms as being the authoritative and universal description, is silly. The sounds of my guitars are personal experiences. They may or may not sound the same way to someone else. As tuffythepug mentioned, volume is far more quantifiable than tone, and is much easier to characterize with language.
Bottom line: I don't pay a whole lot of attention to such things beyond what my own ears tell me.
And yes, I've had way too much coffee already this morning...  
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2013, 01:50:29 PM »

Interesting thread, I must be old, I can't be so objective about such matters.
Just yesterday, I brought home a C-05, primarily for the sole reason of it's  sweetness, and "sparkle" that none of my other non hog guitars have.
Am I missing something here?
 Are tone-woods and their inherent differences all to do with highly subjective rhetoric?
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Danny
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2013, 01:53:24 PM »

      I think I better have another 
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Too many guitars... But I keep thinking one more may just do it.
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2013, 03:21:58 PM »

My own comments weren't intended to deprive anyone of subjective license, that's part of what makes the world go 'round. But even my two ears hear things differently left and right, thank you tinnitus. I was just trying to express the individuality of the subjective rhetorical interpretation. Tonal qualities/tendencies of wood are what they are. What can get confusing is the applied language.
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2013, 03:25:26 PM »

My own comments weren't intended to deprive anyone of subjective license, that's part of what makes the world go 'round. But even my two ears hear things differently left and right, thank you tinnitus. I was just trying to express the individuality of the subjective rhetorical interpretation. Tonal qualities/tendencies of wood are what they are. What can get confusing is the applied language.

I got what you were saying but I think you might need more coffee,I know I do.
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A REPAIRPERSON,Still Unclrob
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 OB LA DE OB LA DA,LIFE GOES ON---BRA,It is what it is,You just gotta deal it,
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2013, 04:50:35 PM »

I've got a big bottle of beer waiting for me for consumption this evening after volunteering at our Community Dinner. And the brewer...
"Right Brain Brewery" of Traverse City, MI. This particular one is CEO Stout, made with real coffee beans. I'm not planning on trying to describe how it tastes... whistling
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Larrivee LV-03RE
Larrivee OM-40M
Larrivee O-01W
Gibson Nouveau NV-12
Washburn C80S
Espana Classical (made in Finland)
Ovation MCS 148 Mandolin
Epiphone Olympic Solid Body Electric (1967)
jeremy3220
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2013, 05:28:47 PM »

Timbre is hard to describe with words however objective tonal generalizations of certain aspects of guitars do exist. Wood species have general characteristics that affect tone (stiffness, damping,etc) these properties can and have be measured.
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Three-Dz
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2013, 01:26:12 PM »

I think it's all subjective! You can take any brand you choice Martin, Collings, Larrivee, etc.................. at your local guitar shop; same body style and tone woods and they will all sound a little different. Try 4 or 5 Martin dreads made with same woods and they will not all sound just alike! There are to many variables in the construction, strings, action and even the wood. If it plays good and sounds great to you, then that's what it's all about!
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2013, 02:42:22 PM »

Technically timbre is defined by harmonic content - that's why you can usually tell an oboe (with a conical bore) from a clarinet (a cylindrical bore).

The parallels to guitar aren't strict, but they are there. Different body structures definitely affect harmonic resonances and frequency response. Within a given body shape, changes in tonewood tend to generate predictable changes in timbre.




I always thought I could tell the difference between and oboe and a clarinet because of the reed difference...
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« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2013, 03:53:17 PM »

Maybe some-one on this thread can help me.
 I almost started a new topic about this.

I recently acquired a 20 year old CS-05.
(pic below), my experience with mahogany guitars has been dubious at best. Always love the "sweetness" of tone, but always found something lacking in other aspects as far as live work.

In the past I have owned, and sold, a larrivee OMV-50, a Martin M3SC (Shawn Colvin), a couple Guilds, a 1953 J-50, as well as a 1941 Martin OM 18. (this is over 40 plus years of touring folks).

The current foray in to hog territory has me somewhat excited as to the actual depth and richness of tone my most recent acquisition has, compared to what was always lacking in previous mahogany guitars.
 Yes I concur, it could be a host of other things, including body size and style.

For the same reason, always looking for a nice Flame Maple guitar, has proved fruitless, (doesn't mean I'll stop looking).
having different tone woods and tonal response from acoustic guitars, to me, is as important as having different electric guitars and pick-up configurations, on the gig, in the studio, or just for the joy of it.

We're all different, we have different needs, perceptions, and budgets, AND, from my 50 years of playing, that too, is always changing...
Some of us, are always in search of the perfect holy grail of guitar.
Some of us find it, or think we do, but it can be fleeting, just look at the for sale forum.

My original question, was going to be around other's experience with mahogany guitars.
 And why, after my own lifetime of having them come and go, why this particular Larrivee guitar seems to have tone, depth and character none others have had, including the OMV-50.
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"Senior" member means "old" right?
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« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2013, 05:40:53 PM »

My own experience over the past 45 years of owning many different wooden stringed instruments has led me to believe that some guitars are simply "blessed" beyond the wood combinations. Going back to the tonal qualities of different woods, combined with body shapes and scale lengths, and every once in a while something magical happens beyond what we might expect. The wooden parts of a guitar, having at one time been living organisms, opens up a lot of possibilities for variation, even between similar species grown in different parts of the world. I've got a 40 year old cedar/mahogany classical guitar that's got a mojo like I've never heard in a cedar/hog nylon string guitar. Happy for you that you found a special sound you like. Sounds like you might be hanging on to this one, eh?
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Larrivee LV-03RE
Larrivee OM-40M
Larrivee O-01W
Gibson Nouveau NV-12
Washburn C80S
Espana Classical (made in Finland)
Ovation MCS 148 Mandolin
Epiphone Olympic Solid Body Electric (1967)
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« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2013, 06:16:21 PM »

Some of you may have read that article that gets produced on acoustic guitar forums from time to time called something like "The Heretics' Guide to Tonewoods". The writer, a respected luthier himself, debunks what he calls the "tonewood myth", arguing that it's a bunch of marketing you-know-what, and that within the range of functionally suitable woods, differences largely come down to how easy they are to work with and how pretty they look. I really have little to say about that because when I like the tone of a guitar, I really have no way of knowing to what degrees the tonewoods and/or the construction created that sound. Does my Seagull Mini Jumbo have great trebles because the back and side woods are solid mahogany or because of the body shape or because of the internal structure? And if it's all three, what proportion of each produced the sweet ring it has?

It's a mystery to me!   
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Strings4Him
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« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2013, 07:09:27 PM »

I think I recall reading that as a person ages, his ears prefer the quicker decay and less reverby sound of mahogany compared to rosewood.
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ewalling
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« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2013, 07:30:48 PM »

Me too, and the realization that I spent my youth playing non-age appropriate guitars is a bitter pill to swallow!    crying
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ST
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« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2013, 07:58:25 PM »

Hi ewalling,

Thanks for this.

The Heretic's Guide to Alternative Lutherie Woods, by John Calkin.

Some of you may have read that article that gets produced on acoustic guitar forums from time to time called something like "The Heretics' Guide to Tonewoods". The writer, a respected luthier himself, debunks what he calls the "tonewood myth", arguing that it's a bunch of marketing you-know-what, and that within the range of functionally suitable woods, differences largely come down to how easy they are to work with and how pretty they look. I really have little to say about that because when I like the tone of a guitar, I really have no way of knowing to what degrees the tonewoods and/or the construction created that sound. Does my Seagull Mini Jumbo have great trebles because the back and side woods are solid mahogany or because of the body shape or because of the internal structure? And if it's all three, what proportion of each produced the sweet ring it has?

It's a mystery to me!   
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ewalling
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« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2013, 08:24:30 PM »

You're welcome, ST. It makes an interesting read, doesn't it?
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