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Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by Guy Named Sue, Jan 22, 2018.
Let's ask Dr. Proton
The "EQ" analogy is useful in a pinch - as long as it's subtractive.
I also suspect the factors involved are terrifyingly complex and the effects so small that creating terms and measures to use isn't likely practical.
I would probably talk more about the "envelope" of a note, vs. "sustain" - what's going on with the attack, the initial and long-tail decay?
In terms of wood hardness - just based on the internal structure of wood, I wouldn't put a ton of faith in that. When slabs from the same log can have pretty divergent physical properties, I think it's been pretty well established that wood species isn't a really good predictor of tone.
A little mass on the headstock does seem to do something. I also suspect that higher-mass trem blocks do something, too.
And you thought LP's are heavy
I mostly agree with all of this, although with EQ being "subtractive," that means there has to be a defined and agreed zero point. White noise? Pink Noise? If you add a 45g weight (capo) to a guitar's headstock and get an increase in volume at 330 Hz (which was my experience on a couple of guitars) it's hard to think of that as a subtraction. I guess it subtracts more of 330 hz without the weight? Just seems like a kinda bass-ackwards way of thinking about things.
Yes, wood hardness varies considerably, even within a single log, and even yet more across the whole species. And then consider different species that are "called" the same thing, varieties of Ash have Janka hardness ranging from 850 to 2030; varieties of Mahogany have hardness ranging from 800 to 2697. It's a big range in both cases, with a whole lot of overlap.
Then again, species is a pretty good predictor of what ballpark the tone will be. For example, Basswood is quite soft (Janka hardness 410) and you'll likely hear a difference between that and...let's say...Hard Maple (Janka 1450). Especially if you're talking about necks built of these woods, more tone is in the neck than in the rest of the guitar.
And if you start considering species of wood that are not commonly used in guitar--the softest, lightest Hickory (Janka 1820) is still way harder and heavier than the heaviest balsa (Janka 90). I do think we can make predictions about how those would compare.
I agree with Ron Kirn
Sound moves slower in denser and more elastic objects. A light, rigid object will have speed travel faster. Every time the soundwave hits a boundary layer between two materials with different mass and/or elasticity it will either reflect, refract or scatter. Whether that's a good thing or not in a particular guitar would be difficult to quantify as guitars are individuals, sums of their parts. It could really go either way and sometimes it works better.
I'd +1 the Sageborn video on the steel beam.
However, you can see here he used two tuners and not bridge saddles nor nut between them. So this simulates more of a headless guitar scenario.
What I've found is the amount of excess string beyond the nut or saddles (like high-e on a Strat, D and g on a LP, or all the strings on a mandolin) will stretch and tug on the vibrating portion of the string creating energy loss at the friction points of nut and saddles. A mandolin is plinky because so much string stretches beyond the saddles and nut, approximately as much string is outside the scale length as inside it. The headless fixed tail designs have no string length to stretch beyond the friction points greatly increasing sustain.
Also don't forget the relative bendability of the guitar neck that is easy to test, just pluck a string and bend the headstock or the neck for a tremolo effect in the sound -- which is robbing some string energy.
That's not quite right. Sound moves faster in water than air, and water is denser. Sound moves faster in steel than in water. Also sound loses its energy more quickly in more elastic objects. So for example, a microphone underwater (a hydrophone) can easily hear a boat from 30+ miles away, while a mic in air might not be able to hear it from 1/2 mile away.
Yes, however, the longer the wavelength (the lower the note) the more easily that wave penetrates the boundary layer, and the less the difference in mass, the more easily the wave penetrates the boundary. A butcher block guitar body that uses woods of similar hardness and a glue that dries to similar hardness and elasticity as the wood (hide glue fits this description) may not be distinguishable from a solid piece of wood. Vs. plywood, where sound waves longer than the thickness of the individual layers of ply may have trouble propagating--which IMO is a good thing if you're building a bass.
I should have been more specific. Sound will move slower in a dense material provided it has the same elastic properties as a less dense material
On "subtractive" - only mean a guitar body can only damp frequencies already present rather than "adding" new ones. And obviously cannot amplify string vibrations (I suppose unless you knock on the body or hit the whammy)
I urge caution about assuming wood hardness has a direct relationship with tone and exists along with a huge number of other variables that dilute its value. I can show you a dead guitar and a lively one with the exact same hardness.
Tell me a guitar has a body with Janka 1800, and all I really know is what will happen when I drop it!