rpavich wrote: ↑
Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:01 am
Actually, I would. It's late, I'm not sleeping (for now) so yeah...let's get some light hearted stuff into this conversation.
Im sorry i missed this. its a bit late, but better than never. so I thought i could hear these enormous differences between all of the common things guitar players like to think they can hear huge difference in. Ive had a few experiences that shook my confidence, and then I had to give up my previous beliefs and embrace reality. I think the first one I remember is when I was a guitar major, playing in a quartet, and I had a broken nail. I had used a bit of pingpong ball, or a kiss plastic nail, I don't remember which. the quartet was back stage and we were lamenting the unbalanced tone we all knew would result from one nail being false. I think i might have even considered putting false nails on all my fingers just to make it more even. in any case, we decided to see if anyone in the group could pick out the tone of my false nail vs the real one by having 2 turn around, and one watch so I couldn't pull any shenanigans. we all thought they would be able to tell. well, as you probably guessed, they couldn't. I was surprised.
the next one I remember was after arguing with a guy at the guitar store I worked in. we were debating how much the tone of an electric guitar had to do with the wood. I thought it probably had some effect, but he thought it made a huge difference. I had a pretty good way to test it I thought. I had made mounting ring that would hold a hum bucker in the sound hole of an acoustic guitar. I had thought I would record with it and then with the same pickup in one of my electric guitars and see how much difference there would be. I never did that, actually. I got side tracked. while i was playing with my acoustic guitar with the electric pickup, i plugged it into my digitec jam man looper pedal. i recorded half of a piece, and then recorded the other half with my electric guitar which had a similar, not even the same, pickup. I wasn't sure I could hear the difference. at first I thought i could, but as I knew what part I played with which guitar, I figured maybe I was fooling myself. I called my wife to listen. she didn't know that I had switched guitars in the track. I was surprised. not only could she not tell which guitar was which, she couldn't point out the seam. I was beginning to doubt. I listened to that loop for a silly long time, trying to grasp at some subtle difference.
I was starting to doubt some of the things I thought any real musician should be able to hear. I watched a youtube video made by paul graham. if you search "Alder vs acrylic strat paul graham" you should be able to find it. I watched and listened. I played the game, trying to pick which one I was hearing, then comparing. it wasn't working. but then nobody was able too. sure, after he revealed it lots of people claimed they were able to, but nobody did very well before he posted the reveal video. at this point I gave up the idea that the wood made a real difference in the tone of an electric guitar. I still figured there was a big difference in classical or acoustic guitars made of different woods, etc, but I did at this point become interested in trying to see how big a difference, and how dependably I could tell even my guitars apart. I don't have a lot of guitars. only two decent ordinary classical guitars. they are different. my ramirez is cedar and laminated sides and back. My aguado is spruce with solid rosewood. I do believe they sound different even to this day, but the difference isn't huge. I had made some recordings with both of them, and one day, probably while I was working on my website, I was listening to some older recordings, and I realized i wasn't sure which guitar I had made a recording with. i was listening, and couldn't remember, but I figured i should be able to tell just by listening. I was a bit surprised.
I think this was about the time I first read about the national academy of sciences study comparing stradivarius violins with modern ones in a blind test. google it if you aren't familiar. its worth the read. there is an npr bit about it on youtube if you would rather listen than read it.
so by this time I had become the obnoxious guy who always says "prove it" when one of my musician friends starts popping off about their super de duper new doodad that is so tonally superior to the old one. I was at a theater gig. I think it was tommy..... I don't remember. I was talking to the bass player about fixing up an old instrument. she had had the 1/4 inch jack replaced with one from an old amp and was swearing up and down that the bass sounded so much better now. the old one wasn't faulty, just the new one had better tone. I said "sure, I know. its just like my new strap. the leather has a richer tone than web strap anyday."
she and I don't speak any more.
There was a guy at my church that liked to play bluegrass. we were visiting and he had his martin, ( couple thousand dollars, all solid woods, and he had just paid a local luthier over a hundred bucks to put in some super duper new nut and saddle)and I had my cheap old washburn. I had him turn around and I would play each one behind his back. we did it a bunch of times. it was like flipping a coin.
so one day I took my oldest daughter to her flute lesson. Jill (the flute teacher) and I both taught music at the same college. Jill is very good, a great teacher, and a great player in the G.R. orchestra. Jill said my daughter needed a new flute. I asked her for some advice on what to look for in a good flute. she had a list of things, but one stood out to me. she said a nickel plated one wouldn't sound as good as a solid silver one, and that a gold plated head joint was again going to improve the tone.... so of course Im in "prove it" mode. it just so happened she had a silver flute with a solid silver head joint, and also a gold plated head joint, and very surprisingly, my daughters nickel head joint also fit the body of here flute. of course I had her demonstrate them with my back turned. of course I couldn't hear the difference. she was flabbergasted. she said there was a huge difference. she demanded I tell her which sounded better, "a,b,or c". I said I didn't think there was a real difference, but if I had to pick it would be "c". that turned out by pure luck to be the nickel one:) I asked if she would let my daughter play the three while she looked the other way to see if she could tell which was which. she decided we had wasted too much time with this so it was time to be done
so none of these is about guitars waking up or going to sleep, but I think there is some interesting similarity........interesting to me anyway.