"Alan, that does not make sense to me. Why do you do so many experiments when you finally are the last person you trust when it comes to judge your own guitars or experiments? "
What I don't trust is my subjective impressions of the sound. I do experiments because I want to know what's actually happening, not what I think is happening.
James Lister wrote:
"Well yes, by taking away the sight you are making a listening test more objective, because you are not being influenced by the visual aspect of the guitar, or by any prejudice you might have. "
An example would be all the work I've done on 'sound ports'. When I started doing my 'port' experiments there was a group of makers who claimed it was a 'magic bullet' that made every guitar better. This simply didn't make any sense to me unless it somehow made the instrument more efficient. It took objective measurements to show that adding a port did not make the guitar more efficient, it simply altered the direction of the radiated sound at some frequencies, and changed some resonances a bit, changing the timbre. Since then this has become the 'common wisdom': ports can be useful for the player, in some circumstances, but may be useless or worse in others. Knowing objectively how they work, and when they might be useful, makes me better able to serve my customers by making the guitar they want.
I have not had the pleasure of working with a lot of old, forest grown IRW. I have to base my opinions on the stuff I've seen and worked with. If the older wood is indeed denser and harder, with lower damping, it may well be more like BRW.
James Lister wrote:
"I spent some 12 years in physics, and I was probably involved in much science that was not "good", and I would agree that good science is difficult in practice (especially in such a subjective area), but the idea that good science as a concept is nonsense makes no sense to me."
Right again. It's very difficult to do good science on musical instrument sound, largely because it's so hard to eliminate the subjective aspects. The recent doubts about the superiority of Strad violins owe a lot to the fact that it's not possible to 'blind' a player enough so that they can't tell an old fiddle from a new one, but not so much that it's unsafe to hand them a priceless instrument for fear they'll drop it. My violin making teacher had $20,000 worth of test equipment that enabled her to make spectrum charts. I can do the same thing now with an obsolete computer and free software, and a lot more besides. I could go on.
In the end I don't trust my own impressions of the sound of guitars for a number of reasons. Not least is the simple fact that I have been fooled, more than once, by my own prejudices. Another is that I'm very well aware of my own physical limitations: I suffered significant hearing loss in the military forty years ago and that sort of thing never gets better. I'm not going to waste time wishing the world was other than what it is: that's futile. Instead I'm trying to work around my limits in the best way I know how. Everybody has limits; do you know what yours are?