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Author Topic: Explain These Terms?  (Read 1860 times)
GIGGLER
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« on: March 25, 2004, 11:36:00 PM »

How would you describe these two terms (we hear them used often in describing guitar attributes).

1. Overtones.
2. Note separation.

Lookin' to be edumicated.  :lol:


 
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Fstpicker
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2004, 03:23:20 AM »

Note separation to me means being able to hear each of the six individual string's tones more distinctly when strumming across all six strings, as opposed to hearing all six strings as one tone or a blended tone when strumming across all the strings.

Example:

Rosewood guitars tend to have a more "blended" tone when strummed usually and mahogany guitars usually have a tone where you can hear each individual string better when you strum it. These are "generalizations" of course, and don't always apply to each and every situation.

I'll let someone else describe "overtones" for you.

Jeff
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orsino
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2004, 03:49:36 AM »

OK Giggler you asked for it.....

http://www.bsharp.org/physics/stuff/guitar.html
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GIGGLER
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2004, 04:34:49 PM »

Now thanks, Orsino. That's clear as mud!  <_<  
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poki
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2004, 07:10:50 AM »

From what very little i remember, overtones occur naturally as a result of how a particular note sound waves vibrate and harmonize in sequence with another note...Lets say you played a C, you might be able to hear another note like a G also sounding quietly along with the C.  The G is the overtone....i think it's similar to if you were to have a glass of water and you tap on the glass you see numerous rings of water radiating from the center.  the rings are like overtones that are in sync or harmony with eachother though they are separate waves...so overtones occur naturally as a result of how soundwaves harmonize with eachother which may or may not be loud enough to be audible to you depending on the design of the instrument but they are always there.
i hope i didn't massacre the description of overtones too badly but it's something similar to that.
poki B)  
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2004, 01:16:06 PM »

Hi Giggler,

I'll take a shot at explaining this.  I've looked into this some over the years both to improve my playing, and in researching guitars to purchase.  In order to do this, though, I need to add one other term to the discussion:  Sustain.  So, here's my 1.5 cents worth...

Sustain: The tendency for a guitar to continue ringing a note.  We've all done this: place a fingeracross lightly across all the strings at the twelveth frest and strum - then listen to how long the guitar rings those wonderful harmonics. That is sustain.  Sustain can be good and bad.  Fingerstylists love to play slow haunting tunes and hear those notes ring on forever - right Orsino?.  Ragtime and blues players prefer a  note to sound quickly then go away (or decay).  Sustain can interfere with note separation.

Overtones:  The tendency for other notes to color the sound of the note just played.  Try this: Play a strong low E note.  Now deaden the other five strings and play the same note.  The difference is - fewer overtones.  Some guitars my have basic overtones even on a single string.  Two things affect overtones - the guitar (wood quality, bracing, construction quality), and tone woods (Spruce vs Cedar top.  Mahogany vs Rosewood vs Maple vs Koa body, etc).  To me, Rosewood has more overtones than Mahogany.  Mahogany ovetones tend to be centered more around the root note. Rosewood ovetones are more complex.

Note Separation: The ability to clearly hear every note played.  Rosewood has more overtones than Mahogany, therefore most mahogany guitars usually have better note spearation, especially in the bass notes.  Please note  I said "Most"  and "Usually" - there are always exceptions!

So, our work is to decide where in all this our personal preferences lie, and play guitars that sound the way we like.  And that can be different for every song.  Osinos latest (wonderful!) version of "The Water Is Wide" sounds great with lots of sustain and overtones.  But if you're playing "Dallas Rag" sustain and overtones get in the way of music.  You want to those notes to sound quick and clear, and decay quickly, too.

Whew!  I hope this makes sense and I welcome comments from other... Agree? Disagree?  Let's hear from you...

David
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2004, 02:34:55 PM »

Overtones can also refer to the harmonics generated by a single string even with the rest deadened. When you play a note there are other higher harmonic overtones going on. This is easier to hear with electric guitars and distortion which brings them out much more. With a great amp and guitar you can often hear these overtones ringing as tho there is another note there. With an acoustic they are there, but it's not as easy to hear them as a seperate entity. Instead they just make the tone more rich and complex sounding. If you want to see what your guitar would sound like w/o these harmonic ocertones, get a tone generator and listen to a sine wav.  
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GIGGLER
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2004, 06:50:55 PM »

I'm gonna read and think about this tonight. Kinda busy right now. I appreciate these responses! Will be back with y'all in a day or so.
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GIGGLER
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2004, 04:39:38 PM »

Okay, guys. Thanks...I enjoyed the reading.  :)  
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philster
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2004, 05:17:51 PM »

Quote
Mahogany ovetones tend to be centered more around the root note. Rosewood ovetones are more complex.
 
This is why I favor mahogany guitars.  "Complex Overtones" is a marketing term like Bearclaw.  A way of making a positive out of what CAN be construed as a negative.  When my nose involuntarily wrinkles when someone hits a big chord and I hear all kinds of swirling darkness coming out of a $4000 rosewood git, I usually get accused of not having the sophisticated taste required to appreciate the complex tones.  He's right about me not being sophisticated, but he's wrong to think I don't appreciate the tone.  I just don't appreciate the tone lingering in a sterile quiet room.  I think we would all agree that harmony is an important part of music.  "complex", or swirling, or non-harmonic overtones are not a good thing IMO when it comes to CERTAIN types of music.  Specifically alot of the music I play  ;)

I jumped at the chance when given a great deal on a rosewood guitar,THANKS DAVE, because I was intending to raise the action and use it for slide and country blues.  I wanted a little dirt thrown in there, and hope it'll be complex as all get out.  Bluegrass?  Complex overtones are one of the things that help cut through the mandolin and fiddle IMO. You can tell that B is coming from the guitar.  On the other hand, for newage (rhymes with sewage) and celtic, and those who fancy themselves James Taylor, I'll choose mahogany any day!

Note that I am not putting Rosewood down.  Just consider this me giving you one more reason to own more than one guitar  :P  
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2004, 08:24:42 PM »

I think this explains overtones and what makes and instrument unique in its tone, versus just a plain sine wave.

Gives great examples.

Also goes into the Electric and tons of other explanations.

http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/guitar.htm

I think note separation was clearly explained.

Hope this helps.

 
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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2004, 10:40:54 PM »

great writeup that's easy to understand.
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dazco
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2004, 11:50:39 PM »

i'm still cringing after being almost blinded by that utterly gaudy J200!! Arrrrrrg!!!
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