Guitar Waking Up?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Bill B
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by Bill B » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:11 am

so theres a guy at my church who is a pretty good rock drummer. he insists he can tell what wood a snaredrum is made from by sound. I offered to record each of his snaredrums over the course of a few weeks and compile a video to see if he could tell them apart. he said it sounded like fun. that was a couple months ago.I'm still waiting for him to drop off the first one.
I worked with a guy at a guitar shop once who claimed he could hear the difference between guitars with different headstock angles based on sound. when i said no way, he went on to say he could tell all of the guitars in the place (maybe 75) apart by sound alone. I was young, he was old, and I didn't press it. i wish i would have. I halfway believed him. i was still in my younger magical thinking mode i suppose.
There is no shortage of musicians who claim to be able to hear things most people cannot. there is a severe shortage of people who can demonstrate it.
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

chiral3
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by chiral3 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:28 am

Bill B wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:11 am
so theres a guy at my church who is a pretty good rock drummer. he insists he can tell what wood a snaredrum is made from by sound. I offered to record each of his snaredrums over the course of a few weeks and compile a video to see if he could tell them apart. he said it sounded like fun. that was a couple months ago.I'm still waiting for him to drop off the first one.
I worked with a guy at a guitar shop once who claimed he could hear the difference between guitars with different headstock angles based on sound. when i said no way, he went on to say he could tell all of the guitars in the place (maybe 75) apart by sound alone. I was young, he was old, and I didn't press it. i wish i would have. I halfway believed him. i was still in my younger magical thinking mode i suppose.
There is no shortage of musicians who claim to be able to hear things most people cannot. there is a severe shortage of people who can demonstrate it.
Talk about hearing things. Want to see something nuts? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIZGQsk6T-0 The good stuff starts around 2:00.
"Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect" - Margaret Mitchell

JohnB
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by JohnB » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:57 am

I recently bought a brand new guitar from an established Luthier.

When I first had the guitar I had to really dig into the strings to get the guitar to fully "speak". After a couple of months playing (and with 48 hours using ToneRite, to accelerate the "playing in" process), the guitar feels very different indeed - it has opened up much more than I expected and is now a surprisingly powerful (and significantly more responsive) instrument.

I suspect that this effect will vary from guitar to guitar, and in this particular case the process was accelerated by using ToneRite.
Last edited by JohnB on Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso", Christopher Dean 2018, Ana Maria Espinosa 2014

prawnheed

Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by prawnheed » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:04 am

Bill B wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:11 am
so theres a guy at my church who is a pretty good rock drummer. he insists he can tell what wood a snaredrum is made from by sound. I offered to record each of his snaredrums over the course of a few weeks and compile a video to see if he could tell them apart. he said it sounded like fun. that was a couple months ago.I'm still waiting for him to drop off the first one.
I worked with a guy at a guitar shop once who claimed he could hear the difference between guitars with different headstock angles based on sound. when i said no way, he went on to say he could tell all of the guitars in the place (maybe 75) apart by sound alone. I was young, he was old, and I didn't press it. i wish i would have. I halfway believed him. i was still in my younger magical thinking mode i suppose.
There is no shortage of musicians who claim to be able to hear things most people cannot. there is a severe shortage of people who can demonstrate it.
Just because not everyone who claims to be able to do something can, doesn't mean that nobody can.

If you can tell two guitars apart, and most people can, you can learn to tell three, four, five, ... guitars apart. If you can distinguish them, you can learn to memorise which is which.

That's not unlikely at all that someone could learn to recognise with some degree of accuracy a bunch of different sounds. Likewise, people can do it with tastes, colours, etc.

The problem is that just because it is possible, it doesn't mean that every bullshitter you meet is being honest about their abilities and most people have a tendency to over estimate their own abilities. The musical world, at least outside the professional ranks that tend to think differently about this, is full of cork sniffers and snake oil salespeople who can exploit that.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by rojarosguitar » Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:37 pm

prawnheed wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:34 pm
rojarosguitar wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:27 pm
prawnheed wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:40 pm
There is a whole branch of mathematics called chaos theory which deals with the fact that even simple, linear systems behave unpredictably based on very small changes to initial conditions.
I don't think linear systems exhibit chaotic behavior, because they can always be analyzed in terms of modes, which essentially means decoupling. I'd be very interested in seeing a counterexample, if you know any. But an ever so slight nonlinearity in a continuous system of at least 3 degrees of freedom can exhibit chaotic behavior, if I remember right...
The double rod pendulum is an example of a simple, linear, deterministic system that shows chaotic behaviour.

Strings coupled to beams (like a simple guitar) certainly show chaotic behaviour.
Sorry, double rod pendulum is not linear. It is linear only in the small angle approximation and there it doesn't show chaotic behavior.
The second one is a claim you would have to underpin a bit more strongly and make a bit more explicit. There may be a region of parameters when "strings coupled to beams" behave linearly, but I doubt they exhibit chaotic behavior in that parameter region.

From the mathematical side it's quite obvious that continuous linear systems cannot exhibit chaotic behavior, because they are governed by a system of ordinary linear differential equations which always can be diagonalized through a change of coordinates and then fall into a system of uncoupled modes. (Sorry for the non-mathematicians here). But nonlinear continuous systems of at least three dimensions can and do show chaos.
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...

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Bill B
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by Bill B » Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:35 pm

prawnheed wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:04 am
Bill B wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:11 am
so theres a guy at my church who is a pretty good rock drummer. he insists he can tell what wood a snaredrum is made from by sound. I offered to record each of his snaredrums over the course of a few weeks and compile a video to see if he could tell them apart. he said it sounded like fun. that was a couple months ago.I'm still waiting for him to drop off the first one.
I worked with a guy at a guitar shop once who claimed he could hear the difference between guitars with different headstock angles based on sound. when i said no way, he went on to say he could tell all of the guitars in the place (maybe 75) apart by sound alone. I was young, he was old, and I didn't press it. i wish i would have. I halfway believed him. i was still in my younger magical thinking mode i suppose.
There is no shortage of musicians who claim to be able to hear things most people cannot. there is a severe shortage of people who can demonstrate it.
Just because not everyone who claims to be able to do something can, doesn't mean that nobody can.

If you can tell two guitars apart, and most people can, you can learn to tell three, four, five, ... guitars apart. If you can distinguish them, you can learn to memorise which is which.

That's not unlikely at all that someone could learn to recognise with some degree of accuracy a bunch of different sounds. Likewise, people can do it with tastes, colours, etc.

The problem is that just because it is possible, it doesn't mean that every bullshitter you meet is being honest about their abilities and most people have a tendency to over estimate their own abilities. The musical world, at least outside the professional ranks that tend to think differently about this, is full of cork sniffers and snake oil salespeople who can exploit that.
It's not even a problem of Bullshits. Lots of people believe they can hear things that they can't. You've read the Strad study I assume? If not, do. I believe that the participants honestly believed they could pick the Strad. It's just that they couldn't. They weren't tasked with identifying the Strad exactly. They were all supposed to pick the best sounding instrument which they figured would be the Strad. Listen to the NPR bit about that study. It's worth it.
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

prawnheed

Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by prawnheed » Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:38 pm

Bill B wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:35 pm
prawnheed wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:04 am
Bill B wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:11 am
so theres a guy at my church who is a pretty good rock drummer. he insists he can tell what wood a snaredrum is made from by sound. I offered to record each of his snaredrums over the course of a few weeks and compile a video to see if he could tell them apart. he said it sounded like fun. that was a couple months ago.I'm still waiting for him to drop off the first one.
I worked with a guy at a guitar shop once who claimed he could hear the difference between guitars with different headstock angles based on sound. when i said no way, he went on to say he could tell all of the guitars in the place (maybe 75) apart by sound alone. I was young, he was old, and I didn't press it. i wish i would have. I halfway believed him. i was still in my younger magical thinking mode i suppose.
There is no shortage of musicians who claim to be able to hear things most people cannot. there is a severe shortage of people who can demonstrate it.
Just because not everyone who claims to be able to do something can, doesn't mean that nobody can.

If you can tell two guitars apart, and most people can, you can learn to tell three, four, five, ... guitars apart. If you can distinguish them, you can learn to memorise which is which.

That's not unlikely at all that someone could learn to recognise with some degree of accuracy a bunch of different sounds. Likewise, people can do it with tastes, colours, etc.

The problem is that just because it is possible, it doesn't mean that every bullshitter you meet is being honest about their abilities and most people have a tendency to over estimate their own abilities. The musical world, at least outside the professional ranks that tend to think differently about this, is full of cork sniffers and snake oil salespeople who can exploit that.
It's not even a problem of Bullshits. Lots of people believe they can hear things that they can't. You've read the Strad study I assume? If not, do. I believe that the participants honestly believed they could pick the Strad. It's just that they couldn't. They weren't tasked with identifying the Strad exactly. They were all supposed to pick the best sounding instrument which they figured would be the Strad. Listen to the NPR bit about that study. It's worth it.
Yes, I've seen the study. It wasn't that they couldn't tell the difference, just that they preferred the modern violin.

chiral3
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by chiral3 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:02 pm

I mentioned cognitive biases in another thread, and gave some examples, one of which was a classic overconfidence bias where people consistently overestimate their ability to measure accurately. Despite the overwhelming evidence that we have that people listen with their eyes people are so confident of their position they can’t be persuaded by clear data. These are one of the few cases where there is clear data.

So, the easy thing to do is to simply disregard these people. The problem is that artistic appreciation via the senses is a really broad experiential phenomenon. Music and sound isn’t just heard, it’s seen and felt and perceived via a complex system of neurotransmission. So the question “Did the guitar made of moon spruce and Brazilian rosewood sound better than the guitar made of white oak and reclaimed pine?” Is really more complex than asking how it sounded. A blind test will negate the visual impacts of seeing the woods, the performer, and experiencing the performance space. At first glance, being a qualitatively minded person I find this an easy question to answer. But if we take a multi-disciplinary approach to answering the question I think that the more complex answer is still rigorous, but definitely beyond the scope of simple A/B/X listening tests. Of course if I have some horrible disease and I am seeking an experimental treatment I don’t want my doc to prescribe a course because he “feels” it will work better. But this isn’t life or death, it’s art and science. I’d argue that people believing they hear something is as good as it being real.

I gave the example of Tartini before. These are tones that don’t exist and can’t be measured but are heard by people (without hearing loss). Ironically people with hearing damage are better at hearing what is actually produced than the people with better hearing. But the consensus is that Tartini tones exist.
"Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect" - Margaret Mitchell

Alan Carruth
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by Alan Carruth » Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:24 pm

prawnheed wrote:
"So, without a sound basis for understanding the phenomenon, we are working from our beliefs rather than our knowledge. That always creates debate."

Bingo.

There are anecdotes about guitars that 'warm up' quite noticeably. One I recall concerns a Flamenco guitar that was owned by a barber who would play it between customers. It took some time to warm up, and would cool off while he was tending somebody. One day, when the customers came in too fast for him to get the instrument sounding right he smashed it out of frustration. Did it really 'warm up' that much? We'll never know.

DR. Karl Roy was the Head Master of the state violin making school in Mittenwald, Germany. He used to teach summer courses in violin making at UNH. He tested tops by flexing them to tell where the remove material. One of the students brought in a box of small wood samples to see how accurate he really was. It turned out he could reliably distinguish a difference in stiffness of 3%, which is about as good as most 'shop level' objective tests can do. Subsequent tests at violin makers' conventions have showed that most people are not nearly as good at this as they think they are.

prawnheed wrote:
"It wasn't that they couldn't tell the difference, just that they preferred the modern violin."

As I understood it, they could tell that the instruments were different, it's just that there was no systematic preference for the 'Old Master' violins.

chiral 3:
I agree that a musical performance is a complex experience, and that a 'blind' listening test leaves out things that may be important. Does that negate the utility of the blind test? I maintain that if there is some physical thing happening that causes a guitar to 'warm up' it would be useful to know that, and find out how it works. If a blind test can help find that answer it's useful. I'm not much of a proponent of the argument of 'irreducible complexity'. Granted, we may never know all of the variables, or be able to control them even if we do, but as a maker I'd like to have as many as possible under control.

Finally, I mentioned the D string issue to show that, while the strings are certainly the simplest part of the system, they're far from simple. It also shows that by isolating a variable that's not supposed to be there you can sometimes gain a measure of control over a problem, even though it's 'rare'.

chiral3
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by chiral3 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:04 pm

You're preaching to the choir Al! I completely agree with you. Waking up happens with guitars, turntable cantilevers, transducers, rifles (cold bore shot), bows, cars, bridges,..., you name it. There's a venn diagram of observers, though. Some more discerning than others.

Your Dr Roy story reminds me of Japanese chicken sexers. Curating the training set the takes experience.
"Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect" - Margaret Mitchell

Bill B
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by Bill B » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:50 am

prawnheed wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:38 pm
Bill B wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:35 pm
prawnheed wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:04 am


Just because not everyone who claims to be able to do something can, doesn't mean that nobody can.

If you can tell two guitars apart, and most people can, you can learn to tell three, four, five, ... guitars apart. If you can distinguish them, you can learn to memorise which is which.

That's not unlikely at all that someone could learn to recognise with some degree of accuracy a bunch of different sounds. Likewise, people can do it with tastes, colours, etc.

The problem is that just because it is possible, it doesn't mean that every bullshitter you meet is being honest about their abilities and most people have a tendency to over estimate their own abilities. The musical world, at least outside the professional ranks that tend to think differently about this, is full of cork sniffers and snake oil salespeople who can exploit that.
It's not even a problem of Bullshits. Lots of people believe they can hear things that they can't. You've read the Strad study I assume? If not, do. I believe that the participants honestly believed they could pick the Strad. It's just that they couldn't. They weren't tasked with identifying the Strad exactly. They were all supposed to pick the best sounding instrument which they figured would be the Strad. Listen to the NPR bit about that study. It's worth it.
Yes, I've seen the study. It wasn't that they couldn't tell the difference, just that they preferred the modern violin.
they preferred the modern, because they thought it was the old one. my point is this is a documented case of well respected musicians who should know as well as anybody what different violin sound like, and they had no idea.
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

Bill B
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by Bill B » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:02 am

if you go to you tube and watch "Golden Ear Audiophiles - Can you really hear the difference?" which was the npr story about the study they very clearly claim that the players were trying to tell which were the old and could not. its around 1:20. I wasn't there. but that is the claim.
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

Bill B
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by Bill B » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:08 am

also, the strad ran an article about this study entitled "blind tested soloists unable to tell stradivarius violins from modern instruments." I think its reasonable to say they could not tell.
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
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Michael.N.
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by Michael.N. » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:52 am

The first of those Strad tests was conducted in a hotel room. They were not specifically asked on whether they could tell the difference between new and old. They were asked which violin they preferred. They gave their answers and (largely) the modern violins won out. I think it's safe to say that the participants were a little surprised that their choices were not the old violins. Given the age of the Cremonese instruments (talk about being played in!) and their reputation perhaps it is surprising that the modern instruments did so well. I'm pretty certain that the vast majority of violin players (99% ?) would have anticipated that they would be trounced. They weren't. They weren't in the second test either or in the many less formal tests that have been conducted long before the Fritz tests.
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Bill B
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Re: Guitar Waking Up?

Post by Bill B » Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:42 am

Michael.N. wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:52 am
The first of those Strad tests was conducted in a hotel room. They were not specifically asked on whether they could tell the difference between new and old. They were asked which violin they preferred. They gave their answers and (largely) the modern violins won out. I think it's safe to say that the participants were a little surprised that their choices were not the old violins. Given the age of the Cremonese instruments (talk about being played in!) and their reputation perhaps it is surprising that the modern instruments did so well. I'm pretty certain that the vast majority of violin players (99% ?) would have anticipated that they would be trounced. They weren't. They weren't in the second test either or in the many less formal tests that have been conducted long before the Fritz tests.
I want to share a quote from the strad magazine article about this test I brought up.
"The results, published on 7 April in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirmed those of the 2010 study, which showed a general preference for new violins and that players were unable to reliably distinguish new violins from old."
I didn't make up the bit that they couldn't tell new from old. Now clearly the violins that were included in the study sounded different. Im not saying there is no tonal difference from one violin to the next, or from one guitar to the next. or even that your guitar will sound the same as it did yesterday. but then the guitar makes no sound apart from the player, and the player is highly variable. So is the listener for that matter. The study does illustrate the point I am trying to make, that very good, very experienced musicians can very easily fall into the trap of thinking they can hear things that they can't. I think thats what is happening with the idea of guitars waking up and going back to sleep. but I don't want to beat a dead horse, and will gladly bow out of the conversation to avoid that. thanks everybody for some enjoyable reading.
2013 Angel Benito Aguado
2005 Ramirez R-2

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