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Tone myths

dlmorley

Active member
Joined
Oct 25, 2002
Messages
1,558
My take on this?
I have a stock 75 Norlin P90 LP and a 81 LP blue standard which is rather special in some ways as it has a lot of the heritage series features, ebony board, nice carve, shaws etc.
I haven't even bothered changing anything, even on the norlin because I love them as they are. I would consider buying a beat up studio and experimenting though.
If I was building a guitar from scratch I would probably go the whole hog and have lightweight tailpiece, best pups, ultimate woods etc, but when I buy a guitar, if I like it and it does what I want it to do, I keep it. Otherwise, I sell it. I have replaced pots and wiring due to age (with RS kits, which are great) but that's it.
None of my favorite musicians had lightweight tailpieces afaik, which doesn't mean they aren't better, but it does mean I have other things to worry about rather than that (like where to put my fingers :lol )

A blind test? I think I'd need to play the guitar rather than just hear it. And then it would probably be better at some things, worse at others....
 

JoeV

New member
Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
598
There is a difference noted by players.

Is it? How do we know? It's easily tested. Blindfold the player and hand him a guitar and see if he can tell which bridge is being used. If the difference is that dramatic, he or she should be able to pick out the new TP every time. Simple enough.

Maybe it's all in the players' head, due to the fact that he or she perceives the guitar to be better? That is a valid reason for getting a new TP also, btw. But I'd just like to know for the sake of knowing if you can actually see/feel/hear a difference in a blind test.
 
J

Jeff

Guest
Agreed. But so far everyone seems to be afraid of actually testing what's being preached as fact.



It's not that I don't want to believe it. It's that it makes no logical sense to believe it without some sort of proof.



That's fine. But be aware that you believing it doesn't make it so, due to the inherent biases you bring to the experience. These biases are what a double-blind test attempts to mitigate.



EXACTLY. Which is why controlled testing is important. Otherwise, you're just spouting off opinion, which is fine, if you don't label it as fact.
What you are trying to do is get other people to do the work for you. Why not just try it yourself? That IS the easiest and ONLY way for YOU to know for sure, isn't it?

I mean look, how would YOU setup a test? What equipment would you use? What metrics would you use to test the results and how would you convey them to a reader? Would you even accept the outcome as something you could use to make a decision - doesn't even THAT take faith? Do you actually need a white-paper to figure out what anyone with $50 and some time can do?

Buy a pack of strings for $5 and string over the tailpice and try it yourself. Buy an aluminum TP and try it. Then come back and tell us what YOU think and what your experience is, as opposed to telling us all what we already KNOW. Then you are contributing because now you have a basis for your arguments.

Anything else is just futile arguing...
 

Sean French

New member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
4,166
While I don't doubt that you guys thought you heard a difference in the TP, scientifically, your "test" was bogus, for a couple reasons:

1. You were financially and emotionally invested in having the upgraded gear be "better" to justify the purchase, thus coloring your perception of the sound

2. You knew which TP you had on the guitar, which made #1 inescapable.

I'm interested, for example, in an experiment that at least minimizes the above bias.

I'd like to have the owner and at least 2 other listeners listen to someone behind a screen playing the guitar with the new and old TP. The listeners would not know which TP was being used, and would have to guess at least 20 times. Another person would do the TP switching, so that the player would also not know which TP was being used (and to create a scientific double-blind testing condition).

There may indeed be an audible difference, but without a scientific test like the one I just described, it's just an opinion.

Well,for me I did not care about the investment.$40 was the cost of the RS TP.I did not think I heard a difference.I did.:ganz
The test idea you have is cool.Could be very interesting.
 

JoeV

New member
Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
598
Wow, Jeff, no need to get hostile and yell (all caps) in your posts.

I'm actually trying out a test on 12ax7s as we speak. Don't have the TP, so I'm not doing that one in the near future, hence, wanted to see if anyone else was game.
 
J

Jeff

Guest
Wow, Jeff, no need to get hostile and yell (all caps) in your posts.

I'm actually trying out a test on 12ax7s as we speak. Don't have the TP, so I'm not doing that one in the near future, hence, wanted to see if anyone else was game.
Joe, wer'e cool; sometimes I just use caps as accent instead of using bold, italics, etc..

You see though, even a blindfold test would be difficult to do, in this case. I would very much like a blindfold test myself, but to point out other things... I'll get to that in a minute.

The problem with a blind test where someone would play a guitar live in front of people, then change something and repeat, is that there is time between the tests and it is a proven fact (not making this up, it's around here somewhere) that people's tonal memory is very flakey to begin with. Just about everyone has had the same guitar, amp, speakers, place, settings on day 1 sound great, only to think they sound like crap on day 2.

So testing a guitar, swapping a TP and testing again may not gain you much in front of a live audience, but will be much more likely noticable to you as an individual that is actually playing, hearing and feeling the guitar react.

Now I would like to do a blind test with a group of guitarists where there are a number of different Les Pauls, ranging from vintage originals to modern VOS/Historics and production Standards, where not even the player knows which guitar they are handed/playing, but where the list of guitars is not even known to the participants.

I would love to get the audience impression on which guitar was which, whether they thought they were new, old, reissues, Standards, etc.. And of course which sounded the overall *best*. Now that is a test I would find entertaining, but even with this test, could you *really* draw any conclusions?
 

jon9

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2005
Messages
243
I notice you place, "Get a good tube amp and throw away those stompboxes already!" as your signature line in your posts.

How dare you!
Did you do your double-secret-blind-taste-test and is it scientific fact or your opinion that someone should throw away their "stompboxes"?

How would I ever know what a "good" tube amp is. Anyone?

Oh, I know I'll try one out and, get this.....listen with my.....ears. Maybe I would ask for a few "opinions".

I would not call a SCIENTIST to conduct a freekin' test.

Are ya gettin it yet?

As far as scientific tests go, think of all the fellas here as scientists and they're all testing different products, FOR YOU! Because that's just what is going on here. When all the freeks here(me too) sign off agreeing that something is good, it kinda gets the lpf seal of approval, and your good to go.
 

OOtim

New member
Joined
Jun 8, 2006
Messages
44
could you not record the guitar both ways and let people hear for themselves? Same mic(s), same position, same amp, same player, same riff, same strings (maybe get 10 packs of strings and weigh each string until you get two of each that match).

I've got some recording equipment, send me your R9's (with both tail pieces) and I'll record them. :2cool
 
J

Jeff

Guest
could you not record the guitar both ways and let people hear for themselves? Same mic(s), same position, same amp, same player, same riff, same strings (maybe get 10 packs of strings and weigh each string until you get two of each that match).

I've got some recording equipment, send me your R9's (with both tail pieces) and I'll record them. :2cool
Same player, same pick attack, same pick angle, same emphasis, same phrasing...

It's really hard to even do this, and then it now depends on playing back through some sound system, etc..

All I'm really getting at is that is ultimately up to the user to experiment. I mean this place and many others are full of reviews and even some *scientific* numbers, especially regarding pickups specs (resistance, inductance, gauss,...) and what does it really tell you? Not much. You gotta try and play the game *if* you are really curious.

You really want some fun stuff to debate? There are people that swear that there is a tonal difference which end of the instrument cable is plugged into your amp/guitar, and by flipping you can hear a difference. I'm not even going to go there with my opinion on this, but fortunately many things, like this, can be tried on the cheap.
 

JoeV

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Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
598
I notice you place, "Get a good tube amp and throw away those stompboxes already!" as your signature line in your posts.

How dare you!
Did you do your double-secret-blind-taste-test and is it scientific fact or your opinion that someone should throw away their "stompboxes"?

How would I ever know what a "good" tube amp is. Anyone?

Oh, I know I'll try one out and, get this.....listen with my.....ears. Maybe I would ask for a few "opinions".

I would not call a SCIENTIST to conduct a freekin' test.

Are ya gettin it yet?

As far as scientific tests go, think of all the fellas here as scientists and they're all testing different products, FOR YOU! Because that's just what is going on here. When all the freeks here(me too) sign off agreeing that something is good, it kinda gets the lpf seal of approval, and your good to go.

Obviously, my signature is not meant as a scientific proof.

Your method is fine for what it is, opinion, belief, myth, what have you. What it is not is a fact.

If you did my proposed double-blind test under specific conditions, you could then generate facts.

For example: you could present results that 3 people listening to a random test between a lightweight tailpiece and a standard tailpiece during normal playing (not a recording or a .

Person A picked the LWTP correctly 9 out of 10 times (90%)
Person B picked the LWTP correctly 7 out of 10 times (70%)
Person C picked the LWTP correctly 8 out of 10 times (80%)

Hence, averaging the results, you get a success rate of 80%. If you got those results, I'd say you had a basis to say that yes, you can hear a tonal difference in the tailpiece during normal playing.

Obviously, you'd have to do a much larger pool to get the margin of error down for a really definitive study, but at least you'd have some kind of scientific leg to stand on when saying that "yes, it makes a difference."

And yes, your stompbox sucks. That's my opinion. :2cool
 

dwagar

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 18, 2005
Messages
4,362
Capacitor brands? No freaking way.

Sure they do. Different brands, different construction. PIO, Mylar, etc. DO have different sonic qualities.

TP height differences can bring out different overtones, so I assume heavy vs light TP may do the same type of thing. However, I've only had light ones, so I can't really comment on a change.
 

ElfinMagic

New member
Joined
Jun 25, 2006
Messages
506
Hey, you're getting me wrong here.

I'm not saying that there is no difference.

I'm saying that I'd like to see someone test it out to prove whether or not there is.

I'm not taking this the wrong way. I had a girlfriend that kinda thought like you once...She became a lawyer, so I dumped her.

At any rate, I know that you're only looking to hear from someone who is or has done or been a part of a double-blind test.

The fact (empirical scientific evidence) that denser (or larger mass) material resonates at a lower frequency leads to the scientific fact that it does not resonate at a higher frequency. And because of this scientific fact, it is KNOWN that the resonant frequency of ANYTHING has the tendancy to CHOKE OUT any other frequency that it does not resonate at.

With this scientific fact, it should be CLEAR that there will be (some sort of) a difference in the way the denser, heavier TP transmits string vibration and body resonance, versus a lighter weight TP, which has a different resonant quality. I prefer lighter weight, because I want as much vibration to reach the topwood as is possible. You should too.

It does not need to be tested.

I know, you're still wanting someone to prove (or disprove) that they can hear a difference. The only person who can prove it to you is you. I have two absolutely identically-built guitars, both have lightweight tailpieces, you're welcome to send me a factory slug TP, and I will put it on one, then have a friend tell me if there is a difference.

And yes, they are identical...more identical than you would think possible.
 
J

Jeff

Guest
Capacitor brands? No freaking way. Cap values? Yes.
Yes, they do make a difference! Fortunately, this one's easy and fairly cheap to play with. Get a rotory switch and solder in some of your favorite caps, all the same value with different brands or construction (poly, mylar, foil) and switch positions on the switch. You will hear a difference. I've done it and yes, cou can tell.

Many people think you only hear a difference with tone pots rolled back, but that's not true. That tone circuit is always in there and some signal is always bled to ground through that cap and the tone pot.
 

JoeV

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Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
598
FWIW, I didn't mean types of caps. I meant brands. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Elfin, the facts you quoted may indeed be factual. But can the human ear perceive the difference in tone (which is really all that matters in this debate, right? If a tree falls in the forest, and all that....)? You're on the right track with the testing though.
 

CharlieS

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Dec 12, 2002
Messages
2,618
It seems that every few months, there is someone who comes along here with the notion that his lack of experience trumps others' first-hand experiences. Historics vs. Bursts, PAFs vs. new pickups, etc.

Most of us have blown thousands of dollars in gear, so a tailpiece purchase is next to nothing. Many of us have bought parts, installed them, and found that they suck. Then they go to Ebay or the parts bin.

Most people play and buy based on emotion, not science. It's like sex. You know when it feels right. You don't need some scientific double blind study to state the obvious.

professorfrink.gif
 

JoeV

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Mar 14, 2006
Messages
598
It seems that every few months, there is someone who comes along here with the notion that his lack of experience trumps others' first-hand experiences.

Thanks for the insult. FWIW, I've been playing guitar for more than 20 years, all of them on a Les Paul. I'm hardly a guitar newbie.

Most people play and buy based on emotion, not science. It's like sex. You know when it feels right. You don't need some scientific double blind study to state the obvious.

No, but you do need one to sort blind faith and "gut feelings" from facts. If you're satisfied with your gear and what the group tells you about it, facts be damned, then so be it. I'm more interested in finding out what's real and what's a waste of money.

This discussion is interesting in that it's become almost like an agnostic vs. churchgoers type thing. People really seem to get bothered when anyone dares challenge their assumptions. And again, for the record. I'm not saying that these things don't have a tonal effect. I'm saying that I'll have to reserve judgement until I see some kind of evidence that they do or don't work.
 

CharlieS

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Joined
Dec 12, 2002
Messages
2,618
Playing experience is not the issue. If you haven't tried these things yourself, then you don't have the experience of others here who have tried them. They have said, and I say, that there is a clearly audible difference. You have decided that this isn't good enough, and that a scientifically sound study should be undertaken.

You haven't tried it, but your doubts mean more to you than others' actual experiences.

My comment was not meant as an insult, but your dismissal of others' experiences comes off as mildly insulting IMO.
 

JoeV

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Mar 14, 2006
Messages
598
My dismissal of your experiences is not meant as an insult. I am coming simply from a scientific point of view. You cannot have an unbiased test when you know all the variables in the test. It's impossible. The only way to mitigate that inate bias is to perform a double-blind test. Scientifically, I can't "take your word for it."
 

jon9

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2005
Messages
243
Scientifically, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Clapton suck. But I don't want to listen to The Rockin' Rocket Scientists for my musical enjoyment.
 

Cheburashka

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Jul 8, 2005
Messages
585
A recent thread here (and some others on my amp boards) got me thinking. (I know, I know, there's a first time for everything :rofl ).

I have a hard time believing that anyone can tell the difference in sound between a lightweight and standard tailpiece in a blind listening test. Same for a weight-relieved vs. solid body or even between NOS vs. new tubes (as long as both are of good quality and in good working order).

Speakers? Absolutely a tonal difference between them. Strings? Eh, I'm not so sure (although the gauge makes an audible difference). Capacitor brands? No freaking way. Cap values? Yes.

I would really like to do some a/b tests on these "tone myths" to see if they are myths at all. Has anyone done anything even approaching the scientific method on this stuff?

+1!

In regards to strings, I find that the biggest difference is in composition, if we're talking round wounds. For instance, steel-wrapped strings sound a lot different than nickel-wrapped. They also wreck your frets unless you play a Parker Fly ;)

@ CharlieS

I've been playing guitar since I was 7. I've played everything under the sun. I am also totally on-board with JoeV on this. There's a lot of cork-sniffing and hurt feelings when somebody can't actually see the Emperor's new clothes, whether it be tenon length, bumblebee caps, or little pictures of Jesus concealed under the pickup cavities. I think it would be nice to separate the BS from the fact, and actually compile a list of things that WILL alter your guitar's tone, rather than your perception of your guitar's tone.
 
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