that fella can really wail on that, uh, absence of form
February 8, 2022 8:19 AM   Subscribe

 
A bit misleading to just say "guitar" when this is specifically about electric guitar.
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:28 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


in my defense the vast majority of deeply tedious arguments about guitar tone are about electric guitar tone
posted by cortex at 8:38 AM on February 8 [37 favorites]


For some players, the vital question is not so much where the tone comes from as how on earth do they manage to clip so much of it almost completely into oblivion so much of the time and still make what remains sound so completely compelling?
posted by flabdablet at 8:46 AM on February 8


bolt a couple of good pickups and a preamp to a really nice coffee table and you got a $5000 bass tho
posted by thelonius at 8:51 AM on February 8 [13 favorites]


I hope somebody got something out of this. I'm a musician, but not an electric guitarist, and didn't learn a thing. Somebody help.
posted by kozad at 8:52 AM on February 8


Ha, I really love the "air guitar." This has always been clear to anyone who's played an electric guitar and wasn't some kind of weirdo gear fetishist. Like maybe you get a little more sustain or whatever from different woods or nut material, but all of an electric guitar's sound, to within any measurable amount, comes from the type and position of the pickup(s).

Which isn't to say that all guitars play the same, because they sure as shit don't. But given the same electronics, they would at least sound the same.

I would really like to build a guitar with a fat Gibson neck on a body that can accept a Strat pickguard with some kind of lockable floating bridge. I really love the sound of my Strat, and the trem arm, but I hate playing the thing. I did play a friend's deluxe Tele with a really fat neck and flat fretboard that felt great, but it still wasn't a Strat.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:53 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


This video has been making the rounds of the guitar sites for a bit, and it's been pointed out that there's an issue: You plug a high end Telecaster into a Carr Slant and it sounds like a Carr Slant. Then you plug in a two-by-four and it still sounds like a Carr Slant.
posted by rlk at 8:54 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


The vast, vast, vast majority of the tone of an electric guitar lives where sound is generated and where it is transformed to/from electrical signal:

Strings, pickups / internal electronics, pedals, amplifier, speakers, microphone.

This includes not just the quality/level of repair, but very precise placement. String age/gauge and fractions of a millimeter in pickup placement can make a big difference, as well as millimeters of mic placement.

Everything else can have an effect, but the differences are tiny compared to the above list.
posted by tclark at 8:55 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


oh man don't make me start wanting Carr amps again
posted by thelonius at 8:55 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


For an electric guitar, I would definitely have guessed pickups. Not that everything else in the guitar has no effect, (there's playability, comfort, sustain and so on to consider) but my first guess would have been the thing directly producing the signal having the most effect on tone.

For an acoustic, of course the body has a major effect, like with all acoustically amplified instruments. Now I want to know how it breaks down with an acoustic/electric guitar, maybe with piezo pickups.
posted by mrgoat at 8:55 AM on February 8


I'm a musician, but not an electric guitarist, and didn't learn a thing. Somebody help.

"It is basically impossible to tell the difference between extremely cheap and extremely expensive electric guitars if you put the expensive guitar's pickups and knobs on the cheap guitar."
posted by mhoye at 8:59 AM on February 8 [13 favorites]


"...and do a good job of preserving the precise positioning of pickups vs strings."
posted by flabdablet at 9:01 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


A cellist friend of mine had a student who was dying to learn how to play a cello, but was too poor to be able to get or rent one. So he made one. He got an old fingerboard, tail piece, and bridge from a local violin shop. He put it together using a board, attached a contact mic to the bridge, and there it was. When my friend first saw it it was a genuine WTF moment. But when he played it, through his little amp, it sounded like a cello. So yeah, the sound of an instrument may depend on less than it seems.
posted by njohnson23 at 9:04 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]


As a collector who owns over 100 guitars from dozens of builders with dozens of different woods, all kinds of hardware, etc etc etc, I can conclusively say that the most important factor in a guitar's tone is how it feels to play it. Two guitars can sound exactly the same through an amp while one feels alive in your hands and the other feels like a brick and you'll play on them completely differently.

Guitarists fail blind tests trying to pick out differences all the time and while people can say they like or don't like a certain tone, nobody can really pick out the difference between something like alder or ash if they're not the one playing it at the time.
posted by mikesch at 9:05 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Justin Johnson, who makes playing blues guitar look as easy as breathing, also plays 3-string shovel. Cigar box guitars have existed for a long time. I’m not a string player and can’t identify the fine distinctions at play, but it does seem obvious that you can get a good electric sound out of a non-resonant object.
posted by Comet Bug at 9:11 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


That was amazing. I'm surprised, but convinced.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:11 AM on February 8


I absolutely believe this and have said as much for a long time but you'll never convince someone when they want to believe otherwise. It's like trying to convince someone that their $200 HDMI cables don't make a difference in the quality of their TV signal. All the proof in the world doesn't matter.

I once watched a video by a guy who makes high-end custom basses. I mean absolutely beautiful basses with the prettiest wood you can imagine. At one point in the video he demonstrated acoustic properties of various "tone wood" by throwing chunks of wood onto the floor. "Hear that? Not a lot of high end in this one." "this one you can hear the GROWL of it." Absolutely something out of Spinal Tap.

I built a bass for a guy who insisted on having an alder "tone layer" in between the spalted maple top and walnut body. I knew it wouldn't make a difference but he wanted it so I made it for him. He loves the bass. The alder LOOKS nice, sandwiched in there, but you can't convince me it makes any noticeable difference in the tone.

I am convinced that if you so much as slap a sticker onto an electric guitar it's going to change the tone slightly, perhaps something detectable with an oscilloscope, but no human could tell the difference. You couldn't convince someone that they can't tell the difference, and honestly who am I to tell someone they can't? Maybe they can. Maybe it matters. Some people think cilantro tastes like soap, too. Who am I to tell them otherwise? I can't get into someone's head.

I think when you're talking wood and body shape it matters because the player thinks it matters. If you're playing an instrument that looks nice that you absolutely love, you're just going to play it better and it's going to sound better because of that.
posted by bondcliff at 9:13 AM on February 8 [18 favorites]


The same dude just did a deep dive into sustain as well, with similar conclusions.
posted by al_fresco at 9:16 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


On a guitar forum, somewhere, probably:

"Yeah but are those Honda engines NOS?"
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:18 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I hope somebody got something out of this. I'm a musician, but not an electric guitarist, and didn't learn a thing. Somebody help.

The people in this thread who aren't surprised and the people who are surprised might normally be having a big vi/emacs style tedious argument about "tone wood" in electric guitars, in which nothing gets resolved, but maybe feelings get hurt. I suspect that the thread had to be started by a mod because normally the mods would remove a tone wood thread with the same extreme prejudice that they remove threads about bicycle helmets.

If you ever build an electric guitar, you have to have that argument at least once, but I'm enjoying this thread.
posted by surlyben at 9:23 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


The synthesizer version of this is the people that swear they can hear the difference between through- hole and smt components. (Narrator: they can’t).
posted by q*ben at 9:24 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


At the core of all things, you don’t play an instrument because reason and logic, so it follows that very few of any decisions about your chosen instrument would need to be reasonable and logical.
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 9:24 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


So yeah, the sound of an instrument may depend on less than it seems.

A thing I periodically wonder about is, is anyone out there experimenting with strange materials or novel modelling this front? I've seen carbon-fiber and glass violins, for example, but even then they all look like violins.
posted by mhoye at 9:35 AM on February 8


there's an issue: You plug a high end Telecaster into a Carr Slant and it sounds like a Carr Slant. Then you plug in a two-by-four and it still sounds like a Carr Slant.

Is that an issue? Electronics make 99 percent of the difference, and then of course among the electronics the amp and speakers/cabinet account for the largest share (barring pedals).
posted by atoxyl at 9:38 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


The synthesizer version of this is the people that swear they can hear the difference between through- hole and smt components. (Narrator: they can’t).

Oooh, let's talk about PCB vs point to point wired guitar amps, or cloth vs plastic shielded wire in guitars, or ceramic vs paper-in-oil vs polypropylene in guitar tone circuits. Always productive conversations with definite conclusions.
posted by mikesch at 9:42 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Well, Angus Young plays that ugly-ass SG, and gets some amazing sounds. I dunno.
posted by valkane at 9:44 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I guess one practical lesson is that if you ever have an electric guitar with tone you just love, take detailed measurements of the effective neck length and pickup placement, and it'll really speed up dialing in touring instruments. Leave your favorite axe in the safe at home and tour with literally whatever!
posted by fedward at 9:44 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


>The synthesizer version of this is the people that swear they can hear the difference between through- hole and smt components. (Narrator: they can’t).
I spend my money elsewhere instead of focusing on the endianness of my digital representation when jitter strikes -- but I do know that there's much more resonant space in the 9k jumbo ethernet frames of 10gbE, 40gbE and up. $$$$, though.
posted by k3ninho at 9:45 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


The synthesizer version of this is the people that swear they can hear the difference between through- hole and smt components. (Narrator: they can’t).

The audiophiles-with-too-much-money community is bonkers about stuff like this. It's a shame that Wat Hifi? hasn't been updated recently.
posted by mhoye at 9:48 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


What? Eugene Chadbourne not available to talk about his rake or something?
posted by NoMich at 9:49 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


I spend my money elsewhere instead of focusing on the endianness of my digital representation when jitter strikes -- but I do know that there's much more resonant space in the 9k jumbo ethernet frames of 10gbE, 40gbE and up. $$$$, though.

FLAC over jumbo ethernet frames really deepens the sound stage and makes the whole song brighter and more colourful though.
posted by mhoye at 9:53 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]


This makes me feel better about the les paul copy I'm building with my daughter out of a spruce wood cookie with a teak back. The growth rings will radiate from the lower pickups and we've oriented it such that there are a couple of bits of live edge. It's worried me that we can't find any images of anyone doing something similar before, but should look cool when complete. The main body of teak sunk into the cookie should give it sufficient strength, I reckon.
posted by St. Oops at 9:57 AM on February 8 [10 favorites]


Is that an issue? Electronics make 99 percent of the difference, and then of course among the electronics the amp and speakers/cabinet account for the largest share (barring pedals).

Well really presumably the amp accounts for more the more you distort it but also I just wanna say again - anybody who has played with amp sims knows the effect of the cabinet is huge. I know that is something guitarists fiddle with in the physical world but I feel like they should fiddle with it more.
posted by atoxyl at 9:57 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


FLAC over jumbo ethernet frames really deepens the sound stage

FLAC is anathema to the true audiophile. They claim it's lossless, but compression is compression. Those of us who know our stuff will pick 32-bit 192kHz WAV over FLAC in a heartbeat.
posted by flabdablet at 9:57 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


I have in fact encountered people who don’t believe that it’s possible for FLAC to be lossless. I didn’t ask them how they feel about ZIP files.
posted by atoxyl at 9:58 AM on February 8 [9 favorites]


Tone-wood volume knobs on the DAC is where it's at.
posted by flabdablet at 10:00 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


ugly-ass SG

Pistols at dawn. Or maybe axes at midnight.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:02 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


play the same tele through a good 80s peavey classic and ya got vince gill. same guitar through a 70s Twin, ya got roy buchanon.

axe + amp is the baseline calculation. pickups second. then your onboard tone knobs. imho.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:11 AM on February 8


flames or lightning bolts make everything sound better.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:12 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


That's why I play with this strap (black, white sparkle bolt).
posted by uncleozzy at 10:14 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


The growth rings will radiate from the lower pickups and we've oriented it such that there are a couple of bits of live edge. It's worried me that we can't find any images of anyone doing something similar before

That's because it will very likely crack unless it's a very stable piece of wood. If you can tell ahead of time where the cracks might form (it's possible to look for tiny cracks that are already forming) you could orient it in such a way that the cracks (I think they're technically called checks when they're radial like that) occur in places where they will actually enhance the look of the guitar. The lower bout or the rear of the guitar, behind the bridge perhaps.

It is quite possible I am talking out of my ass and you'll be fine though. If you are posting progress photos somewhere I would love to see them.

Edit: I missed that you're using teak for most of it. That might help. Carry on!
posted by bondcliff at 10:16 AM on February 8


Is that an issue?
It really is. A lot is lost in the distortion and voice of that amp. A flat, clean reproduction of the sound of the guitar is going to reveal variation. Try a Twin?
posted by rlk at 10:26 AM on February 8


anybody who has played with amp sims knows the effect of the cabinet is huge.

One of my favorite YT accounts is Bad Gear, he recently posted a video where he figured out that most of the crappiness in the entry level Line 6 amp is in the speaker cabinet.
posted by q*ben at 10:27 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I've been playing (if you can call it that) a Strat for nine months. Before that I was using a neighbor's SG. Despite having a humbucker on the bridge on the Strat, it's such a different animal than the SG it's hard to believe. I've come to the conclusion that EVERYTHING makes a difference: pickups, the neck shape, the neck scale, tone and volume knob settings, amplifier, amplifier settings, strings, and on and on. I love my Strat but really wish I could have bought that SG. The sustain would last for days. It just sits at my neighbor's house (he collects, doesn't play) and that guitar WANTS to be played.
posted by Ber at 10:27 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Or maybe axes at midnight.

After?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:29 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


The neck and body do affect the *player* in subtle ways -- e.g. maple vs rosewood necks have different frictional properties which affect string bends and slides. The bridge affects action and string buzz. Even the shape of the body is going to push your internal blues tensor towards either Albert Collins or B.B King.

I always thought the amp was the biggest factor, I mean with distortion it's more of a primitive synthesizer controlled by your guitar signal. And I don't know that anyone's modeled a proper Twin Reverb in the digital domain yet.

Don't forget your Monster Cable tho! j/k
posted by credulous at 10:29 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Angus Young plays that ugly-ass SG, and gets some amazing sounds.

Angus solos on lots of songs that mention the devil on a guitar that has little horns like a guitar devil. The SG is appropriate.

And I love them enough to have my own, well the Epiphone version.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:29 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


And Neil Young is famous for his microphonic Firebird pickups but amp and player style have a profound effect, note that he didn't get those pickups until well after the early Crazy Horse albums.
posted by credulous at 10:31 AM on February 8


Not one mention of "brown sound" yet. Sheesh.
posted by goatdog at 10:31 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


And I don't know that anyone's modeled a proper Twin Reverb in the digital domain yet.

Well Fender has.
posted by thelonius at 10:32 AM on February 8


(Disclaimer: I have their Toan Master Deluxe Reverb and am vested in the idea that these are sweet amps.....it is good enough for me anyway)
posted by thelonius at 10:34 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see a comparison video of the "brown sound" with different gauge strings and picks, too. Like what if SRV played through Eddie's amp.
posted by credulous at 10:36 AM on February 8


And I don't know that anyone's modeled a proper Twin Reverb in the digital domain yet.

A good profile in a Kemper is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, both in a recording and at the other end of the cable. It's astonishing. That said: an amp pushing air in the room is magical and has its own gestalt that can't be ignored.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:38 AM on February 8


i own at least 20 guitars, basses ... almost all cheap and often used - the main reason for me buying each one is that it made me play a certain way and it turned out to be a different sound then what i was getting elsewhere

there's 3 things that are overwhelmingly important in guitar tone - fingers, pickups and signal path - tuning and various things might made an audible difference - but here's the thing

the only thing i saw that had a real, basic choice difference in that video was the pickup - clearly the generic pickups just aren't driving the amp (however, that can be a legitimate tone path, too) - as far as the rest of it is concerned, yes, there are subtle differences, but where one person might say "harsh highs" another person might say "fatter/punchier" - just about everything he had there would work in a certain context or a lot of contexts

the dirty secret about tone is the real interesting people are always looking for something a little different for a certain song or feel - you never settle for good
posted by pyramid termite at 10:40 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I know it's not an electric, but this seems like an appropriate place to reference Willie Nelson's guitar tech talking about how he is bound and determined to keep "Trigger" going for as long as possible (despite other alternatives).
posted by jeremias at 10:47 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Like what if SRV played through Eddie's amp.

I read an article by someone who witnessed SRV playing a guitar that was utterly unlike his Strat and after some fiddling about, it came out of the amp sounding like, well, SRV.

The Brown Sound has become such a Holy Grail of Tone that it has become a pathway to madness for many who pursuit it.
posted by Ber at 10:49 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


It really is. A lot is lost in the distortion and voice of that amp. A flat, clean reproduction of the sound of the guitar is going to reveal variation. Try a Twin?

My point is that this is the point - it’s just the next level of the point, that all of the stuff on the guitar matters less than the stuff it plugs into. But I agree (per my following comment) that a cleaner amp/setting would have been better to distinguish the effect of the factors that are on the guitar.
posted by atoxyl at 10:56 AM on February 8


Or maybe axes at midnight.

After?


more like
posted by atoxyl at 11:11 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


> Guitar

That some sort of graphical front-end for tar?
posted by genpfault at 11:25 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Don't you know it.
posted by Carillon at 11:30 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I have two Fender Jazz basses: a made in Mexico, and an American Standard. The latter cost, what, $800 more? Knock off a couple hundred because I souped up the MiM some. And I had some buyers remorse when I first got it - it was nice, it was nicer than the old one, but by that much? Still not sure, although, as time went on, I became fully satisfied with it. It's superior in many small ways, better fretwork, better tuners, it just feels a little better overall. But I wouldn't advise anyone who didn't have cash on hand and a lust to spend it to buy the pricier Fenders, since the lower end ones are really good.
posted by thelonius at 11:36 AM on February 8


This is fascinating to me, and makes sense. I have a low-mid-range fretless neck-through bass with cheapo P-J pickups I just couldn't get a good sound out of, although it felt and played like a dream otherwise. I was able to pick up a set of good J-J pickups for cheap and replaced them. The top looks like hell with the gaping holes left behind from the larger pickup routing, but it sounds fantastic! I sound like Jaco now. 😉
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:42 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I sound like Jaco now.

You need boat epoxy for that.
posted by thelonius at 11:47 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


That's because it will very likely crack unless it's a very stable piece of wood.

Yeah the cookie rested for six months in a box full of sawdust and woodchips and did develop one massive check I have filled with some birch and epoxy, and a smaller crack that just got filled with epoxy. It's dry as a bone and pretty stable now. Fortunately the neck will cover the entire large crack, and the smaller one you can't even see now. No pics yet I'm afraid.
posted by St. Oops at 11:49 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


This is fantastic! About a decade ago, a young man just out of high school who was trying to figure out what to do with his life came and stayed with us and built a guitar in my shop. We used the nicest bits of maple and mahogany I had around, and came up with something that had a wonderful throaty growl vs his Ibanez, but was a bit heavy.

At the time I was hanging out at Alembic guitars for a local nerd meetup, and we'd had some conversations there about body wood contributing to the tone and whatnot.

I've wondered since about building another guitar, using different woods and techniques, and what I might do to make it sound different. In trying to change the geometry of his bridge, I fucked it up and we ended up building something ad-hoc out of brass and some exotic hardwood, and he liked it enough that he kept it. The geometry of the neck was kind-of a crap shoot. There were various other things that two duffers in a generic wood shop weren't necessarily super accurate about.

Now I'm torn between "I wanna build an arch top!" and "okay, pick up something used off of Craigslist 'cause it's not like I can play more than 4 chords anyway"...
posted by straw at 11:50 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


spruce wood cookie with a teak back

Floy-doy, floy-doy, floy-doy.
posted by The Bellman at 11:52 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


It's superior in many small ways, better fretwork, better tuners, it just feels a little better overall

I bought a Strat once because I needed the sound for some tracks I was hired to work on. I went to the music store and played every Strat in the place knowing that I sort-of-had-to pick one. I picked the least-bad-feeling one that made the sound I wanted. It was a Mexican-built guitar with hot-rodded pickups. It sounds great, I use it all the time, but I really don't enjoy playing the thing. My main guitar is a Gibson (not exactly known for great QC) and the fretwork, especially, is just so much better.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:55 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


It would be interesting to run the thing through a Plek machine, uncleozzy
posted by thelonius at 12:04 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


At the time I was hanging out at Alembic guitars for a local nerd meetup, and we'd had some conversations there about body wood contributing to the tone and whatnot.

Well that's like half of their whole thing, right? Complex laminates of all kinds of woods (the other half being their electronics, which were way beyond what anyone else was making in the 70's). The first really good bass player (the late Ricky Keller) who I saw live close up was playing an Alembic, it was a treat to hear a great player on one like that.

The entire holy war. I don't know. I want to believe. People like Roger Sadowsky say yes, wood makes a difference, and he started out making acoustics and archtops before he made basses, so I guess he does know his woods. But pickups dominating everything else also makes sense. Could electric guitars really be made from anything but plywood because we are all in a collective delusion? That's hard to swallow, but hobbyist communities are pretty good at collective delusions.
posted by thelonius at 12:10 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I sound like Jaco now.
You need boat epoxy for that.


I'll have you know I do!

In a jar, out in the boatbuilding shed
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:15 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


It would be interesting to run the thing through a Plek machine, uncleozzy

You know, I've thought about taking it somewhere to have a good tech really give it a really good setup and fret dressing, etc., because it's a nice-sounding guitar, but also it only cost like $550 or something, and I only use it when I need the single-coil sound or a trem arm, so it's sort of a diminishing-returns scenario.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:18 PM on February 8


I think there is a general truth about tools that most of the value at the low end is in functionality but most of the value at the high end is enjoyment of use and longevity. Trash tools are trash; you can make great stuff with ok tools; if you use a tool every day the additional feel and heft of an expensive tool is extremely valuable. Add in a log scale for cost and that explains my relationship with musical instruments, cooking utensils, woodworking implements and cameras. I’m at a wildly different point along the scale for each ;)
posted by q*ben at 12:53 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


So it's pickup height, and not much else?
posted by clawsoon at 1:08 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Pickup height AND a good pickup.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:13 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Wait, did I get that wrong? I need to watch again...
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:13 PM on February 8


Well, pickup height and the style of pickup sound you want. But yeah a shitty pickup is gonna sound like shit no matter what you bolt it to.
posted by cortex at 1:15 PM on February 8


I got nothing to add except that I understand what you're all talking about, you're all huge nerds and Bad Gear *is* a really fun channel.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 1:28 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


People like Roger Sadowsky say yes, wood makes a difference, and he started out making acoustics and archtops before he made basses, so I guess he does know his woods.

I kinda feel like people who make acoustics are more likely to focus on the wrong things here, because with acoustics there’s not much question that the body of the guitar matters, being the amplification device and all.
posted by atoxyl at 1:54 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Bad Gear feels like a low-hanging FPP if it hasn’t been. Great channel (and amazing rate of output for the quality he delivers).
posted by atoxyl at 1:55 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Well, pickup height and the style of pickup sound you want.

I’m gonna stir up more trouble though and say - I always wonder, when I encounter people who are heavily into the intricacies of pickups, if they wouldn’t be better off just buying an EQ pedal.
posted by atoxyl at 2:00 PM on February 8


The ironic thing about the "shocking" 2x4 guitar is that this was the entire idea behind Leo Fender's design for a modern electric guitar: the guitary bits would be screwed into a solid chuck of wood, which was basically a place-holder, making time-consuming hollow-body construction unnecessary. And because Leo Fender was clever (and not a guitar player himself, which probably helped rather than hurt), he contoured the wooden body to be stylish and ergonomic, while still damn easy to manufacture. I suspect a lot of the bullshit addressed in the video was "accepted wisdom" carried over from acoustic instruments where all those things actually do matter.
posted by jabah at 2:01 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I know nothing about electric guitars, but seeing as it's an ... electric ... guitar, my prediction was be that the main contributors would be the pickups and strings. ANd amp. Which he matched to the nice guitar, so...

Does the body make it feel good to hold and look at and play? That of course is important to the player but not technically contributing to the sound.

(The rest of it seems like audiophile gold-plated-RCA-jacks type stuff, or obviously what you would say if you are guitar maker trying to make and sell really nice guitars.)
posted by thefool at 2:51 PM on February 8


A thing I periodically wonder about is, is anyone out there experimenting with strange materials or novel modelling this front?

I mean King Buzzo has been playing those aluminum guitars for quite a while and lucite ones in all kinds of weird shapes were big in the 80s. One thing I’ve run into is that playing an instrument with a significantly different body shape or materials is often not that much easier than learning a new instrument in the same family.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:43 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Never listen to electric guitar
posted by The_Auditor at 4:04 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


bolt a couple of good pickups and a preamp to a really nice coffee table and you got a $5000 bass tho

See Also: Mickey Hart's "Beam"
This is a large (8 foot in length) aluminum I-beam (actually a "C" shaped beam facing down with the strings across the flat outside-top surface) strung with 13 bass piano strings all tuned to the note of D (a Pythagorean mono-chord at various octaves). The Beam has a heavy-duty bridge and string anchor at one end and a nut with tuning hardware at the other end. It has a movable magnetic pickup block to facilitate capture and transmission of various tonal qualities. The pickup block feeds a volume pedal and various audio effects units, which route the signals through an amplifier or sound system.
posted by mikelieman at 4:12 PM on February 8


the entire idea behind Leo Fender's design for a modern electric guitar:

See also, Les Paul's 1939 The Log.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:34 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I have no musical talent whatsoever but have always dreamed of building a guitar. My logic was always that the body etc simply can't matter too much, so I could go wild with an actual design as long as I got the geometry right for pickups etc. Good to hear I'm on the right track if my dream ever goes beyond that (maybe when I retire).
posted by dg at 5:02 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


as far as unconventional designs on the market, you can get a guitar mostly made of nothing
posted by atoxyl at 5:14 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


So now, he needs ditch the amp cabinet and run whatever into a set of these
From an HSE standpoint, it would have to be safer to crash your guitar into a foam flat panel speaker that an honest-to-dog Marshall stack. Although that last iteration would be hard to carry around on stage.
Hmmm. Maybe a fake wall of amplifiers that breaks apart dramatically, but can be easily reassembled after the show...
Now I don't feel bad about making a guitar body out of a couple sheets of exterior grade plywood. (joking, I never felt bad about that one. The ergonomics were so much more comfy that the faux Les Paul body.)
posted by coppertop at 5:24 PM on February 8


Bad Gear *is* a really fun channel.

At first glance, it ticks all the boxes.
posted by Foosnark at 7:06 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I have in fact encountered people who don’t believe that it’s possible for FLAC to be lossless. I didn’t ask them how they feel about ZIP files.

You may well have so-called scientific proof that decompressing a compressed file reconstitutes all the original bits, but that's exactly the point. No discerning audiophile would ever be satisfied with reconstituted bits. We will not be satisfied until all of our bits arrive with their original crispness unadulterated by processing. You might as well expect a gourmet to settle for reconstituted orange juice. Gold plated low loss heavy gauge braided unidirectional OFC cables on every interconnect including Ethernet or gtfo.
posted by flabdablet at 9:35 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


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