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Posts posted by nicksdad12

  1. The saddle has a big effect, as do the pins. Try upgrading the plastic pins to Tusq for $15, and if you like the change then upgrade the saddle to Tusq or bone. The main difference is volume and clarity.

    The nut is the most expensive change, and the least important for tone. It's probably a good hard plastic or Tusq already on that guitar. I wouldn't bother changing it unless it's defective.

    I have a repair shop, and I never try to sell anyone on a new nut for tone, but always tell them what a big difference the saddle can make, and the pins if the original ones are plastic. I see these great old Martins with plastic pins, and the customers flip when they hear them with new pins. Tusq, ebony, bone, anything but tone sucking soft plastic.

  2. I found the article very refreshing. I have a guitar repair shop and I hear plenty of guitars. I can definitely hear a good top, or a light finish on the top, and I've stripped and French polished several ... the volume increased. But I've just politely nodded when people talk about the sound from the back of a guitar, because I can't hear enough difference to comment. It could be the wood, it could be the whole guitar, I just can't tell.

    Here's more from the same article:

    "The tone of a guitar lies more in the hands of the builder than in the materials from which it is constructed. With increased experience, the level of craftsmanship increases. As the quality of the luthier's instruments goes up, the tonal difference between the instruments goes down. There are not only fewer dogs, but it becomes more difficult to build one that stands noticeably above the others. I noted this phenomenon in my mountain dulcimers years ago, and more recently have seen it happen to my guitars.

    Psychoacoustics plays such a large role in this matter that it's difficult to discuss tone objectively. ( I think that it's called psychoacoustics because trying to figure out stringed instruments will make you psycho.) We hear what we expect to hear, what we have been taught to hear, what we want to hear, and often what we hope to hear. Many luthiers and musicians alike spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars collecting information and recordings and they have come to have a stake in the sanctity of its rightness. They need the vast body of instrument mythology to be correct, and strongly oppose the possibility that it may be bogus. This makes it extremely difficult for a daring luthier to sell instruments that aren't made of standard varieties of wood.

    So if the type of wood doesn't matter to the instrument, and if we can't get good money for instruments made of alternative wood, why bother with them?

    I like them because I need a certain amount of variety in my life. Curiosity has often been a stronger task master than the buck, I guess. I've tried as many types of alternative woods as anyone I know, which is what led to my conclusions about tonewood. ...

    Honduras Rosewood. This wood is the exception that proves the rule that the wood species contributes very little to the tone of an instrument. Honduras rosewood is extremely hard and brittle. Guitars made from it have a cold, glassy sound lacking in depth, but they are very loud. As the saying goes, give them loud and they'll hear tone.

    Here's my current take on tonewood. Guitars are intensely inefficient sound machines. According to Steve Klein's lecture at the '01 GAL convention, only 4% of a plucked string's energy is turned into sound. We're lucky we can hear the damned things at all! The fact that an extreme wood like Honduras rosewood can change the tone of a guitar leads me to believe that guitar design simply doesn't allow such a subtle thing as wood choice to make a difference in its tone until an extreme is reached. If and when guitars become more efficient, we may find that various woods will offer guitarists a wider tone palette. That's pure conjecture, take it or leave it."

  3. Here's a bit of an interesting article I found on tone wood, regarding the mahogany vs rosewood issue:

    The Heretic's Guide to Alternative Lutherie Woods, by John Calkin.

    This article first appeared in American Lutherie #69.

    Why do we even need alternative wood species for musical instruments? That's a perfectly valid question, and the answer is that we don't. Rosewood, mahogany and maple have served us well for centuries , we know what to expect of them, and our customers have already come to accept them as trustworthy and will pay for them. So why look further?

    First of all (and speaking from a steel string guitar perspective), let's discard the notion that some species of wood make good instruments and that others don't. The concept of tonewood is a hoax. Of the few things that we can do to a guitar and still call it a guitar, changing the wood it is made of will have the least impact upon the quality of the sound that it produces. The tonal difference between a mahogany guitar and a rosewood guitar is exactly the same as the difference between two mahogany guitars or two rosewood guitars. Can you tell what a guitar is made of while listening to an unfamiliar recording? No one I know claims they can. No one at the blind listening sessions I've attended could reliably distinguish between mahogany and rosewood guitars, or maple and koa guitars for that matter.

    The most trying wood that I have used to any extent is Brazilian rosewood. The stuff loves to warp while it is sitting on the shelf, and, once installed in a bender, is capable of almost anything. Brazilian can be so squirrelly that an occasional side may have to be discarded, since trying to sand out the ripples would leave the wood paper thin. We might expect this from the dregs of Brazilian that are left today, but I bought wood thirty years ago that was just as bad. Once made into a guitar, Brazilian rosewood frequently checks and cracks for no apparent reason. If it wasn't for the incredible premium that the wood demands, I don't believe anyone wood use it today. The stuff is grossly overestimated.

    Mahogany is a lovely wood to work with. Old-timers maintain that the quality of mahogany isn't what it used to be, and I am forced to believe them. Supplies today vary widely in hardness and density. Some mahogany is stiffer and heavier than other samples. Some mahogany guitar sets seem almost fluffy and floppy by comparison. Most mahogany is plain, yet pleasing to look at. Sets demonstrating a ribbon figure ar prettier, but tend to ripple across the grain during bending, though the rippling can almost always be sanded out without compromising the guitar. Straight-grained mahogany can be predictably bent into a tight cutaway without breaking. Tool marks and sanding scratches are easily removed. Mahogany is a dream wood.

    About the author:

    John Calkin is a contributing editor to American Lutherie, the official publication of the Guild of American Luthiers (GAL). A professional luthier since 1980, he has made over 300 instruments. He began working for Huss & Dalton in 1995 building guitar bodies, and, has made 1400 bodies as of 03/05. More on John may be found at his website JCalkinGuitars.com; he may be reached via e-mail at jcalkin@velocitus.net. For more information on the Guild of American Luthiers, visit their website at Guild of American Luthiers homepage - string instrument making information

  4. The angle at which the neck was installed determines how high the bridge needs to be. Different guitars have different neck angles, so they need different bridge heights. Not to worry, it doesn't mean the neck is warped.

    The basics: Adjust the truss rod so the neck is almost straight, with a just hint of upward bow. Then raise or lower the bridge to get 1/16" of space between the bottoms of the strings and the top of the metal of the 12th fret. Then tinker to get rid of any fret buzz from the 10th fret and up. The truss rod only works on buzz on frets 2 to 7 or 8.

  5. The same way as on any guitar. The adjustment nut is usually under a cover on the headstock.

    About fret buzz ...

    Truss rod adjustments help with buzzing around frets 3 to 7. Buzzing up higher has to do with the other end of the strings: the saddle heights.

    Buzzing in odd locations has to do with the frets being out of level.

  6. The neck flexes differently in playing position, but it's not really that big a difference. I find it easiest to start it lying flat, then fine tune it in playing position.

    Also you need a good tuner to set the intonation. And the low strings can give funny readings depending on how hard you press and pluck. Close is probably good enough.

  7. I found this cool site that has alot of ideas and tech tips for producing "the perfect tone"... I havent experimented with any of the suggestions yet but I have made a few notes and will try some things soon... heres the link if anyone wants ta check it out...

    Guitar Amp Tone and Effects Placement

    Thanks Ray. I found this part very interesting:

    When you play guitar at a private, bedroom level, 1 mW to 10 mW is being sent to the speaker. 10W, 5, 1, and 0.5 tube watts at full distortion is very loud – far louder than ordinary television levels. Only down below 100 mW do we approach the level of "not loud". Probably the best figure for "private bedroom level" is 10 mW – 1/100th of a watt. A 1-watt amp is a hundred times too much power for getting power tube distortion at private bedroom levels. It's taken people too many decades to realize this.

    So please spare everyone the uninformed predictable comment "It sure is loud for a 1/2-watt amp," which only shows a complete lack of understanding the subject. Any 1/2-watt amp is not "loud for a 1/2-watt amp"; it is exactly as loud as half-watt amps inherently are, which is half the volume of a 5-watt cranked tube amp, which is half the volume of a 50-watt amp; that is, a 0.5-watt cranked tube amp is 1/4 the volume of a 50-watt cranked tube amp. Which is why we must start at 0 mW and work up toward 10 mW, if we are looking for the level at which 99% of all electric guitar playing is in fact done. People talk as though 15 watts is "great for an apartment", but how loud do those same people in fact play, 99% of the time? Probably 10 mW, not 15 watts. Finally we get to a point where people won't say "Wow, that sure is loud for a 10 mW amp!" because only down at 10 mW do we finally avoid being loud.

  8. Sounds like a little Yogi Berra - "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." King of the Quotes in my book.

    So what was this thread about...

    Everybody's different, and I'm no different from anybody else.