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Tone myths


Active member
Dec 12, 2002
But please don't act your opinion that you can hear a difference is proof. It isn't.

We all know that it isn't proof. It is experience. It certainly should carry more weight than a feeling based on no experience.


I have a feeling that there is no sonic difference between these components. But I do not know that. The only way to prove that scientifically is to test that theory. Asking someone's opinion on it might give you a starting point, but, and I cannot stress this enough, it does not prove anything. (I don't really care enough one way or the other to plunk down my money, as I've said before, and which is why I asked in the original post if anyone had done the tests already.)

If you don't need proof to satisfy you that the tone is good, then fine. You don't need it. But please don't act your opinion that you can hear a difference is proof. It isn't.

Absolutely, why not do one? I'd be interested in seeing those results as well. :biggrin:
I have a feeling that there is no sonic difference between these components. But I do not know that.
Oh my, this is astounding. :lol You actually, seriously want other people to do this, but don't want to do it yourself, when the price of entry is approximately $40 to purchase a TP to test for yourself, with your OWN ears.

Well, in this case, you'll certaintly get what you paid for...


Pearly Grapes

Active member
Jul 20, 2001
This is merely a thread to stir up debate by begining with several negative assumptions.

If you label something a "myth", you have already made up your mind it isn't true. Myth insinuates untruth.

You have "trouble" believing these "myths" because you don't believe them to begin with (proven by labeling them a myth).

You label things "myths" that you say you haven't even tried?
So your assumptions are "theories" and other's experiences are "myths"? :ganz

You've already made up your mind. You aren't approching the subject with an "unbiased" mind.
If you really wanted to know about these theories, er, myths, you'd try a $30 tailpiece/50s wiring/caps/etc. yourself. These are inexpensive mods, so no excuses there.

You're right, this isn't molecular science. It's Music. It's feeling. You don't prove music using the scientific method.
The only "proof" that's important to me is if I feel it improves my music.

FWIW, I've actually tried some (not all) of the tone suggestions here. Some worked for me in some guitars, but not in others. Some worked "across the board". Some were obvious to my wife, who would mention the improvement without me even asking. Maybe not Hard Science, but proof enough for me.

My 2c,


All Access/Backstage Pass
Mar 11, 2002
experience and and a basic general knowledge of a few simple rules of physics can go a long way in making informed assumtions that can often be applied with further experimental proofs.

One who understands that more mass requires more energy to be set into motion from rest can safely assume that a lighter mass can more easily be set into motion.

Added to that there are some who know the difference in torsional ridgidity between alloy and brass and/or cast iron or forged steel.

Both of these properties are pretty important when aplied to a tailpiece design and as such the assumptions about the effect on the instrument can be made with pretty good accuracy.


Active member
Jan 30, 2002

What in Hell possessed you to log on to a forum where people poll each other for opinions and suggest that those opinions are invalid? And then you insist you can't understand why people feel insulted? What sort of credibilty do you think you have now? If you posted the results of a test you had done, do you think anyone would take you seriously?

You see, there's a science called pyschology. And while physics determines what makes music, pyschology determines what makes things musical. After you've proven there's no audible difference between this and that, you'd best be prepared to explain why that makes us play better before you start claiming it's a waste of money.

But, you have no intentions of testing anything. You sound like just another troll, eager for any attention, good or bad, like a three year old child. And, you're going to prove this by not comparing an Epiphone and an Historic in a double blind test, but instead whining about personal attacks and continuing this insulting thread.


New member
Jul 24, 2006
What in Hell possessed you to log on to a forum where people poll each other for opinions and suggest that those opinions are invalid?

He didn't suggest opinions were invalid, he just asked for a blind fold test. Simple as that.

And sure people have problems combining "science" with "feeling", since "feeling" is what guitar playing is all about. But wouldn't it be interesting to try it scientifically?


Active member
Dec 30, 2001
Well this thread got me to finally order a lightweight tailpiece. :)


Active member
Jan 30, 2002
Axel, CharlieS said it rather well:
You don't seem to get it. You are dismissive of our experiences, citing the need for scientific studies to discern whether we have been compromised by our desire to find improvement ("scientifically bogus" was the term, I believe). However, you don't want to do the tests yourself and you don't want to spend the money on the part. This comes off as being an armchair critic. If you came here announcing that you were conducting a double blind study and were seeking volunteers, or you announced your results, your reception would have been far different.
Science is a method, not a religion. To suggest it's the only method of rational thought is to have an extremely limiting view of the world. And on this subject, to limit yourself to rational thought is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.


New member
Dec 8, 2003
JoeV, I can most definately relate to your thoughts on this.

Although we haven't done any tailpiece testing, my friend and I have had this same A/B blind test mentality, we call it "Pepsi Challenge" testing (recall the old 70's Pepsi commercials) and we use it to test gear we make, he's a guitar builder and I make amps and effects and am starting to wind/rewind pickups (look out Zang!...just kidding) the only thing that throws our tests off a little bit is that we use "test bed" gear like a guitar that has plug-in pickups from the back so they can be swapped quickly, and 5 position rotary switch for testing tone capacitors etc. we see the testbed thing as valid as the guitar is the same from test to test (so cancells out) and just the tested component is being changed.

The tests are still valid though, even though we can't determine which capacitor is best for a certain guitar/player/amp/sound, we certainly can validate that one can hear differences in capacitor types. Once we narrowed it down to the usual top suspects (Polypropylene Film & Foil) no one was able to regularly distinguish one brand from another in our testing.
(we save a lot of $ now not buying Hovelands)

We have solved a lot of these things in our own minds about what sounds best and what is just mojo BS.

We also do the thing as you mentioned where the tester (player) has to be tested more than 3 times, and, we have more than one tester/player testing at the same session, we found that even guesser's can guess right if only 1 or 2 tests are done, but ask someone to A/B something (blind) like 4 or 5 times and the actual pattern of choice emerges.


New member
Feb 5, 2004
So many thoughts, so little time - bottom line is that Art is subjective - Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

1) The Pepsi challenge has since been revealed to be a false test because Pepsi has a sweeter taste vs. Coke - so Pepsi tastes better with one sip, but Coke tested better over the full course of consuming the drink (covered by Malcolm Gladwell in, I think, his book Blink).

2) Judging sound is like grading poetry - remember when Robin William's character in Dead Poet's Society read the passage about how to calculate the "total area of a poem's quality" and then he had the students rip out those pages? That feels a little like what is going on here - attempting to assign a quantified, repeatable value to the elusive sense of "wow, I like that."

3) There are attempts to quantify quality - there is a guy who has scientifically profiled wine chemicals and helps big wineries "tune" their wines - and many people protest that those wines are becoming indistinguishable. There are programs that rate certain note combinations on songs and are used to predict hits - but does that explain "Crazy" the hit this summer than no one was expecting? Quality is subjective.

4) (Science geek point) Scientific method attempts to disassociate the influence of the observer, but as we saw with the move from Newtonian to Einsteinian models, the role of the observer is essential to establishing the frame within which analysis is conducted. The point? The observer - in this case, listeners and players, have to impart their biases and current state of mind on the perception.

Finally, what about the psychology of it all. Let's say that there is no discernible difference between guitars with different tailpieces - or the same git with different tailpieces - whatever. But the player feels better with one because - well, who knows; maybe he heard Duane Allman used that piece, or he likes the look of the finish or whatever - and that player plays better as a result? Are you gonna tell me that there is an ability to guage that?

Art is Subjective and Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder...

My $.02


May 13, 2006
Well this thread got me to finally order a lightweight tailpiece. :)


Now I realize all you guys are more talented and can play way better than me but let me tell you what happens to me on any given day.

I pick up one of my guitars and amaze myself at the way it sounds.

Later the same day, I pick up the same guitar and can't believe it sounds so bad :hmm ...... then of course I remember that it's me playing and understand why it sounds so bad!!!:lol

I guess what I'm saying is everything contributes to everything .... even if I just think it sounds better.

drjimmy is right in saying that you can scientifically see the difference with spectral analysis. But is the difference enough to register on the human ear? Since no two ears are alike this may not be measurable.

I'm not working on a PHD. I don't have a masters. I don't even have a college degree. Although I have had to teach people with all three of those that life don't work like them books tell you they do.:2cool

Oh yeah and I have used a spectrum analyzer more times than I can remember!:salude

If you think that a sticker on your guitar saying "This sticker makes me play better!!" makes you play better then more power to you!!:dude:

I'm just as guilty of this as anybody: But how many times does someone get a guitar and we want a "tone report" and to know what the guitar feels like? All the measurements and descriptions in the world is not the same as 30 seconds with that instrument in your hand.:doh

What the heck do I know!! I like the sound of a Les Paul over a Strat! :rofl

I don't make my noise to make you happy (just ask my wife cause sure she ain't happy with my noise). I just make the noise to make me happy!:salude

les strat

New member
Aug 22, 2004
This is fucking hilarious.

I recall a thread a week or so ago concerning a LP (or any other guitar) having tonal changes over a few years. The dude was shot to hell by the "experts". Why didn't they believe the owner's ears in this case? It's the same principle.

Sounds like a double standard to me.

I believe a lightweight tailpiece makes a trivial difference in tone, but not any more than tweaking an amps tone knob a couple notches. That is my opinion.

If you believe these minor mods can make a difference in your tone and expect no one to "go against the grain", we need to respect other's beliefs on tonal analysis by what their ears say as well.

I see no problem in this scientific test. Let him do it.

tom wu

Apr 13, 2003
I could hear the difference unfortunately the main difference was the playing did not sound any better ; )


Well-known member
Jan 5, 2005
From most of, if not all of the posts here, I am reading that you want to take people not at all familiar with a given set of guitars and run a blind test to determine if they can tell when a given part has been changed out.

I am not going to place an opinion on that, but I feel that if a person who is playing his or her own guitar and knows what that guitar sounds like, then they change out a part, they are most likely going to hear and feel the difference that the changed out part makes.

Why? Because of their intimate association with that particular guitar and it's parts.

I can hear and feel a distinct difference in tone when changing out tubes on my personal amps. Why? Because I am used to the amp. Would I be able to tell what tube(s) was(were) switched out in an amp I am not familiar with? Probably not, but then since it is not my personal amp, it really doesn't matter to me.

These abilites to feel and hear differences are based on personal association with the gear more then anything else, imho.

This is not to say that totally blind tests will not produce people who can hear differences, as I'm sure it certainly can. However, familiarity with a given piece of gear does have the ability to affect the regonition that a change in some part or parts will be noticed by the owner of that gear.


New member
Feb 26, 2006
And the alternative to rational thought is....what exactly?

Rational thought isn't very helpful in a discussion regarding why for instance
I like Clapton's tone on the Beano album and why a few members here do
not like that album. Can we have a rational debate about Clapton's
tone? I don't think so. We can have a civil, amicable discussion though :)
Reason is a tool that is not well suited for discussions of personal
preferences. Much of these tonal evaluations are subjective, as
they should be. Some attributes you could try to test objectively.
But, doing a thorough double blind study that could lead to a statistically
significant conclusion would be extermely impractical. When you say that
other's tests are scientifically bogus, I would say that "bogus" is too
strong a word. The simple blindfold test mentioned above is more
scientifically rigorous but still isn't even close to being above your "non-bogus"
threshold. If you want to really do it right from a scientific point of view,
then you'll be spending thousands and thousands of dollars to determine
whether a $40 tailpiece is worth it. I think what people are saying is that
a rational optimization of resources would lead one to relax some of the
criteria for judging the effectiveness of that tailpiece. Ok, enough, I talk
too much. :hippy