James Lister wrote: ↑
Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:08 am
Chris Sobel wrote: ↑
Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:22 am
A design that emphasizes the back, either because the back has a high mobility or because the top bracing raises the cross dipole (Bouchet) which in my limited experience definitely increases the back contribution, the differences do become more apparent. I build with a flexible back and the tone color response of Brazilian is snappier and more complex than Indian. You either like it or you don't but there is a difference... it's not just hype or cache.
Have you done any blind tests? At Newark we've done some recently, and few players or listeners can tell the difference between rosewood and non-tropical woods, so I think distinguishing between Indian and Brazilian would be very difficult. As makers, we can build up a lot of experience, and if we use a variety of tonewoods, we start to get an impression of the subtle differences between different woods used for backs and sides (at least I think I do), but these differences are
small, and I think we need to be careful about claiming significant differences, unless we can back the claims up with evidence from blind tests. Be warned though (and I speak from experience), blind tests are not good for boosting your confidence!
I did two sister guitars recently and the difference with the Brazilian was very evident to me... that was comparing old growth Brazilian to plantation grown Indian that sounded more like mahogany. I think there are big limitations with blind tests, namely that it is not indicative of reality--as if by taking away the sight you make something more objective. Given that's not the way people actually hear or play, it seems artificial to me. Just like doing a taste test and pinching off everyone's noses haha... it actually doesn't translate to me eating a meal at home.
I agree with you that the difference is not huge. But I'm about pushing the sound envelope and every difference matters to me. We fuss about shaping braces a certain way to optimize mass... but nobody is wanting to challenge brace shaping to a blind test.
When you changed your bracing slightly you immediately noticed more volume, so you reported. I believe you--I don't need a decibel meter to prove it or any blind tests. If you are so easy to fool as Al purports, then why did you continue on in that bracing? At a certain level we have to trust our instincts, while guarding against self deception by having outside input from time to time. I am not the easiest person to fool by the way... I know many other people who don't spend hours a day listening to different guitars who would be easier to fool sound wise.
I believe we have senses we can trust although I agree with the propensity for self deception. I think there is a balance in trusting those senses as well as having outside input to keep a check and balance. To me the answer is not "if I don't do a careful experiment it doesn't prove it". That's actually an over confidence in experiments, and if we're so easy to fool then it's a self-destructive system anyway. Experiments back up or challenge my intuition but they are not a substitute for my senses; rather a complement. I have a series of players that give me feedback on my guitars and almost all of the time we agree on the "description" of what different guitars sound like. When it comes to preference on the other hand, we are often not in agreement.
I'll end with this... my mentor was once challenged to a blind test to see if he could hear openings in the harmonic bars in sister cut guitars built by someone else. Within 5 seconds of hearing just one he emphatically said "that's the one", and he was right.