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Tone myths

tusong200

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Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
162
Eh ? So if I observe something it becomes my opinion (??)

Billy, don't blame me, I'm just the messenger. I was just making a sarcastic remark related to a much earlier post, no offence intended to you, really no offence intended towards anyone. My first comment on your post is my honest reaction.

You'd have to go back and read the entire thread to find the source of the "all observations are only opinions" statement.... Don't do it :)
 

tooold

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Jul 31, 2006
Messages
2,071
This is a great thread.

Double blind A/B tests are difficult to do, and few people realize how rigorous they have to be. The idea of not disproving something, rather than proving something, is hard to get a head around. I've taken statistics, and the clunking sound of my brain repeatedly hitting its limits really bothered the rest of the class.

I don't really care if large bodies of people can or can't hear what I hear. My belief in what I do musically rests on the idea that I can hear things that others can't... which either makes me talented, or insane. How much money this produces for me is often the determining factor in which of the two is more widely believed.

But hats off to everyone that contributed.:salude

Myles
 
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AaeCee

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Feb 22, 2006
Messages
266
BTW, this same argument has been beaten to death regarding Strats and their tremolo blocks, where people insist there is a tonal difference between a solid steel block (aftermarket, or older original) and the modern cast block, which is thinner.

In the overwhelming vast majority of cases, the people who claim it makes no difference never actually tried both to compare. I can tell you that this too did indeed make a difference, and for similar reasons - this is a large mass of metal that is in direct contact with a string that is vibrating and sending those vibrations through different materials and densities.

Try picking with a quarter or other piece of metal. Does it sound different?
I for one tried this and agree. I tried a titanium block in my strat, and the difference was immediatly apparent. More defined highs and high-mids, less thump in the lows. In this case, I liked it better with the steel block and switched back. But there was absolutely a very discernable difference that any decent set of ears would notice, and I can guarantee it would pass a blindfold test. So to all those who say that no 'science' is needed to establish this particular element of tonal change...you're right.
 

GlassSnuff

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Jan 30, 2002
Messages
3,693
Eh ? So if I observe something it becomes my opinion (??)

True - it doesn't have much merit - just a silly game we played on customers :rofl
Au contraire, Billy, what you have done is a repeatable experiment. As I have done it myself, we can safely conclude "people often hear what they expect to hear", and add these observations to the body of evidence supporting one of the basic tenets of psychoacoustics.

As to it's "merit", I think it may be the crux of JoeV's argument. Reports of tonal improvement are bound to be colored by expectations. The idea behind blind testing is to remove these expectations. A double blind removes any expectations the tester might impart through tone of voice or body language.

However, in the dark ages of hifi, along came a company known, appropriately enough, as Acoustic Research. Their flagship loudspeaker, the AR 3, was for over a decade considered by many to be the most accurate loudspeaker available. It even supplanted the venerable Altec 604 in some recording studios. Trouble was, their "research" was conducted in anacoustic chambers, and to further simplify the resulting frequency traces they sawed off the edges of the cabinets that protruded beyond the baffles. Then they fudged the graphs to hide the fact the crossovers were shelving. Their real problem though, was that they considered music to be something that was played, and listened to, in concert halls*.

In 1973, a Brown University student invited my to his room. He sat me on the bed, then carefully positioned my head by measuring the distance to the wall behind me. He played "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", first through a stock AR 3, then through an AR 3 he had modified. The difference was dumbfounding. From the stock speaker, there was a pleasant little "tink", but his modifed version disclosed that the Beatles had, indeed, recorded a silver hammer! How was he able to achieve this without tons of scientific test equipment? Rather simply, he did it by ear. An ear trained by spending his summers working in his father's flute factory. I was able to corroborate his work as I was trained as a silversmith and had spent hundreds of hours tapping silver into jewelry.

It was about this time that the AR 3 fell to newer designs sporting time-aligned crossover networks and diffraction reducing cabinetry. Between folk and rock, the new generation of music lovers demanded speakers that could accurately reproduce the effects of close mic'd, mutichannel mixes, and recreating the acoustics of Boston Symphony Hall in one's living room had lost its appeal, and for most, its purpose.

So, while the ear can easily be fooled, it can also be extremely discriminating. In the above example, the only "blind" part was, he never told me what to listen for. But, I knew it as soon as I heard it. My point is (you were beginning to wonder if I had one, weren't you?), that while sometimes we make changes just for general improvements, at other times we make changes with a specific goal in mind. If the goal is a certain tone, then the recognition of achieving it is much more decisive than "I think that sounds better".

I think some of us are driven by curiosity, but most players are inclined to change out parts to fix a problem, even if it's a nearly subliminal nagging that things aren't quite right. It's when the problem goes away that we get exhuberent exclamations of success. Some hear little to no difference in raising the tailpiece. Others "know" it sounds better in firm contact with the body. But some might have a slightly sour taint to their overtones, and when they raise the TP, and this sourness is filtered out, they're on the bandwagon, oh, yeah!

I believe it's these people, searching for a solution, that benefit the most from tinkering, and these people would be ill served by the generic results of a series home-brewed "scientific" tests. If all the guitars Gibson shipped came with FFT waterfall plots, then maybe....


* The Bose 901 shared this problem, but remained viable due to it's undeniable sex appeal. :ganz
 

orbifold

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Feb 26, 2006
Messages
313
But you couldn't publish FFT plots on the internet 'cause that would go against
the no picture policy... :)
 

SSSGGG

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Joined
Jun 12, 2002
Messages
41
What is the objective? Better tone, right? Better tone to whom? 1) Are we taking about a guitar player sitting alone in his room playing? 2) Or are we talking about a guitar player in a band playing to an audience? I don't doubt for a minute that a TP makes a difference, but one has to determine if that difference is significant for the playing environment.

And would that difference be gone with a simple twist of a tone control on the guitar or amp?

Maple or rosewood fretboard?

Alder or ash body?

These comparisons go on forever, and there is no definitive conclusion.
 

Billy Porter

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
Messages
1,129
tusong200 said
Billy, don't blame me, I'm just the messenger.

and

Don't do it :)

No offence taken and apologies for shooting the messenger. Shouldn’t have jumped in on the thread without starting at the beginning and many thanks for the advice not to.

I've twice tried to read 'Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance' but got bored when they stopped talking about Harleys and BMWs.

I'll bow out of this one methinks
 

phil47uk

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Joined
Apr 17, 2002
Messages
6,534
Bring it on man..Bring it on

img062a.jpg
 

Black58

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Oct 28, 2005
Messages
10,139
Ever notice, no matter what 'ya do, it's nearly impossible to make yer own scrambled eggs taste like anyone else's? :hmm
 

mingus

Active member
Joined
Apr 3, 2006
Messages
4,243
In 1973, a Brown University student invited my to his room. He sat me on the bed, then carefully positioned my head by measuring the distance to the wall behind me. He played "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", first through a stock AR 3, then through an AR 3 he had modified. The difference was dumbfounding. From the stock speaker, there was a pleasant little "tink", but his modifed version disclosed that the Beatles had, indeed, recorded a silver hammer! How was he able to achieve this without tons of scientific test equipment? Rather simply, he did it by ear. An ear trained by spending his summers working in his father's flute factory. I was able to corroborate his work as I was trained as a silversmith and had spent hundreds of hours tapping silver into jewelry.

Really?!? I guess this is what a "silver hammer" looks like . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DNXc6A_20c
 

Pearly Grapes

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Joined
Jul 20, 2001
Messages
2,332
As a luthier said to me;
If you're changing something connected to a vibrating string or something that an electrical signal travels through, how can the change *NOT* make a difference???

If you've changed something in the tone path, it's gonna change the tone. Duh!

PG
 
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GlassSnuff

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Messages
3,693
A friend showed me the video on youtube, and no - that's not a silver hammer, that's a claw hammer. But, it IS a hammer striking an anvil, not a glockenspiel or triangle. The basic difference is that hammer is likely a 12 ounce or a pound, whereas silversmiths use hammers in the 2 - 8 ounce range.

The point was my friend adjusted the crossover until he heard what he expected. Thus, he did achieve his goal. :2cool

(I just listened to Abby Road again (small Kefs, Hafler amps) and it does sound like a larger carpenter's hammer)
 

JVIoneyman

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Aug 28, 2004
Messages
838
Im sure there have been tests done for the best matirials that can be used for parts of the guitar, or at least the ones that give specific sounds. We just dont have access to them. There is a pretty big consensus that the light wieght tailpiece does affect tone, and im sure that it does. Is it is easily perceptible to the human ear? I don't know. What I do know is, lack of evidence is not evidence against somthing. I also don't think a double blid test will be any bit effective because the induvidual means alot. Maybe 1 out of 100 could hear the difference.

If you put it on and it makes a differance...Great, if it doesnt take it off...

OR, If you put it on and it doesnt make a differance, but you think it does, or feel it does, then great too. You may even play better because of it.

BTW...I dont own a Lightwieght TP, and completely agree with proving things with science, and it would be cool to see all the things we like to change around tested with advanced scientific instruments, but untill then...
 

pat furlan

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Apr 9, 2003
Messages
113
FwiW a buddy with a home studio constructed a scientific test for the aluminum tailpiece ...

he bought two matching packs of strings, set up an amp and played the same snippit with the aluminum TP I loaned him and the stock Zinc tp on his 335
he then emailed the snippits to guitar playing buddies and asked

what do you prefer ?

100% picked the aluminum TP recording as having more harmonics and clarity of tone

He did the experiment after I had already bought and installed 6 tailpieces based on what my ears had told me.

personally I can trust my ears to be "objective" and don't have any bias towards Items I've purchased

as the dollar investment is usually inconsequential compared to the time invested in the auditory experience of training ones ears


This is a poor example to be debating, the aluminum TP change is about as obvious to the ear, as a Naked woman at a PTA meeting is

to the eye
 
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m_rambler

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Jan 26, 2007
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555
To the original poster. I notice that almost no one who chimed in here actually addressed your original question. Instead, the majority, especially on the first couple of pages, chose to see your fairly neutral and reasonable proposition as some sort of attack on their favorite hardware configuration. If your original question relates to blind spots and subjective perceptions, which is how I read it (as opposed to a diatraibe about the merits or lack of of any particular piece of hardware) then don't these defensive reactions kind of answer your question?
Clearly you have provoked a reaction that would seem to be out of proportion to your simple premise. Why? Seems obvious to me, I think you got your answer.
"Myths" in the title of a post is always going to be inflamatory around a subculture that contains people who would happily pay $US5000 for a pair of plastic pickup rings from a 1959 Les Paul!:rofl
 

lpclassy

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Joined
Nov 18, 2006
Messages
51
I gotta chime in on this stuff.

I hit myself in the head with a hammer till it bled. It hurt, I think, but maybe it didn't hurt, I know I'll call a scientist and find out if it really hurt or if I just imagined it. Maybe a couple of you fellows will help with this double blind test, then I'll know. :rofl OMG Are you kidding me?

I am confident enough as a human being that I don't need any science to prove or disprove things to me. Maybe some but not all.


Last I checked science can't prove MANY things that people do know as fact.

I know I love my wife and family, I think, but maybe not? I need to cunsult a scientists and set up a test. Because after all how do we really knowi f it's scince or not!!

I can hear the differences in the tailpieces from guitars that I own. Can I hear it in yours in the club, probally not. But I know in my guitars and there's a difference.

I don't wait for science to prove anything to me for enjoyment in life!!! maybe we should do a scientific experiment on scientist.:dude:
 

m_rambler

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Jan 26, 2007
Messages
555
Other side of the coin,
Perhaps people here are HAPPY being subjective. Y'know, like in the backs of their minds, they KNOW that they can't really hear the difference between brand A straplocks and brand B, but they are happy to BELIEVE that they can cos:

A) It's a hobby, it's something to talk about, everyone loves the little details, and
B) It gives them something to spend their money on.

I think the OP has a valid point, if people are invested (to whatever level) in hearing a difference between leather straps and vynyl ones or whatever, then they WILL hear a difference. There have been plenty of little experiments in human nature done over the years to confirm this. But then again, the nature of our interest, guitars and music, is entirely subjective anyway, it's all about taste, feel etc.
So who's to say?
But I think the people rubbishing the OP and ttrying to make him out to be some sort of Vulcan or whatever are missing a fairly reasonable point that he is trying to make.
Also, people seem to be freaked out about the word "science".
OK, if it bothers you that much, think of it as "The Pepsi Challenge".
I think that is all he is saying. The OP is noting that people believe what they want/need to believe to justify thier worldview, if you havent witnessed that all around you, you need to look harder, it's everywhere. He then goes on to wonder how many of our own predjudices would stand up to a "Pepsi Challenge".
IMHO, some would for sure, pickups, wood etc etc, but definitely not all of them.
I still think it's an interesting and valid question.
 
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