Ask Terry McInturff anything that you want to...right here

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
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That's very impressive! I've had a lot of family that worked at Bolling over the years before they closed down. Thanks for that piece of info.

Its great that you have a family history at Bolling. Whoever your family members were who worked there, they definitely paid some dues while doing so; I went thru that building a few times before it was finally (and sadly) torn down and..the working conditions were not the best, I'd say. Always a bit sad to see important historical local business' fade away.
 

Fuchsaudio

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7,911
If a train leaves Chicago at 45 mph heading east and a train leaves New York at 70 mph which state will they meet at? :Spank:Spank

Love your guitars, just bustin' ya Terry...:eek:
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
If a train leaves Chicago at 45 mph heading east and a train leaves New York at 70 mph which state will they meet at? :Spank:Spank

Love your guitars, just bustin' ya Terry...:eek:

LOL!!! Thats the spirit! I want a Fuchs amplifier!
 

GuitarNorton

Member
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2,280
Terry great thread Thanks!

If you had two Les Pauls, maple tops exactly the same. One has a APR 1 bridge and tail piece, the other an intonatable wrap around ( like the pigtail model ) what would be the difference in tone?
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
Terry great thread Thanks!

If you had two Les Pauls, maple tops exactly the same. One has a APR 1 bridge and tail piece, the other an intonatable wrap around ( like the pigtail model ) what would be the difference in tone?

Its a great Q and me being me Im gonna give a more detailed answer than you probably want.

For starters, it does depend upon the bridge. In MY experience, the vast majority of 6 saddle wrap bridges have one or more loose saddles, which is not the best thing. If you can shake the bridge and it rattles, or you can wiggle the saddles (sans string on it), you are losing audible stuff. Also, if the saddles are soft, that has an effect. The break-angle over the saddles is important, and many wrap bridges have a bit too little of this for my tastes anyway. All of these things effect the bridge's contribution to the acoustic sound of, and therefor the amped sound of, the guitar.

On the other hand if you have a rock solid wrap bridge ala the Wilkinson compensator, you wont have that problem.

OK....this is my experience...a rock solid wrap bridge seems to encourage a midrange peak in a different place than does the trad ABR-1/stop tailpiece combo. Ive never measured it (I could)...based upon memory the solid wrap seems to have a freq peak at around maybe 600-800 Hz that the ABR-1 combo doesnt have? Its a bit more "vowel-like"
 
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Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
A very imperfect way to demonstrate the freq range I mentioned is to voice "awww"....as in "awww, shucks"....

That vowel-like primary tone is what Ive heard a good solid wrap bridge encourage a bit.

Im sure that other really experienced builder would have something to say about this topic and as always thier input is solicited and appreciated!!
 

GuitarNorton

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2,280
A very imperfect way to demonstrate the freq range I mentioned is to voice "awww"....as in "awww, shucks"....

That vowel-like primary tone is what Ive heard a good solid wrap bridge encourage a bit.

Im sure that other really experienced builder would have something to say about this topic and as always thier input is solicited and appreciated!!

Ok think I have it now thanks! Is there more attack to the note on the solid warp bridge?

Say again you have two Les Paul types now both with the Wilkinson compensator bridge, P-90's, one is mahogany with a eastern maple cap and the other is mahogany with a mahogany cap. What difference in tone and what ever do you hear.

Thanks in advance really value your input.
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
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Messages
7,484
Ok think I have it now thanks! Is there more attack to the note on the solid warp bridge?

Say again you have two Les Paul types now both with the Wilkinson compensator bridge, P-90's, one is mahogany with a eastern maple cap and the other is mahogany with a mahogany cap. What difference in tone and what ever do you hear.

Thanks in advance really value your input.

Your q's are of high quality.

1st q about the "attack"...I THINK I know what you mean by that term. Here's how I look at it. When I think "attack" I use the term "rise time"...ie, the amount of time (measured in milliseconds if you must) it takes for the string, once set in motion, to achieve its greatest velocity/volume.

As one example, a longer scale will have a faster rise time than does a shorter scale. This is one reason why a Tele has that fast-off-the-pick "attack" as compared to a slower rise time/shorter scale such as a vintage LP (there are other contributing factors).

Lets stay with this for another moment as I inch towards answering your specific Q at last. As the rise time levels out the entire overtone series of the note blossoms. The faster that this happens, the faster percieved rise time or "attack"....or, if the most easily heard highs and high-mids blossom a tad faster, the attack seems faster too.

It seems that a good solid wrap bridge has about the exact same rise time as does a T.O.M setup. However, its often sounded to me as if the highs and high mids "bloom" a tad faster with a good, strurdy wrap bridge and so I hear a bit faster of an "attack" as compared to a T.O.M setup..tiny but its there. Maybe not quite as compressed sounding?

On the other hand, a loosly built 6 saddle wrap can mess with all of this a good deal. Loose saddles will definitely and audibly alter that rise time and "bloom"...Ive heard them sound quite "honky" but with a robbed sustain (and also mechanical buzzes).

A final note...one of the big things to consider about these two bridge systems is how they feel under the picking hand particularly when palm muting. They feel very different and...since this is an important thing..may trump the tonal differences when making a choice.

> Are you confused yet?<

Maple top vs Mahogany top

I like this q because it allows me to take a "poke" at some wood truisms.

Common thought would be that the maple topped guitar would be "brighter" than the mahogany top. This CAN be true, but there are many cases in which it is NOT.

One thing common to both is that there is a laminated top on the body. The mere fact that there is a separate top...with that glue joint..means that the PRF of the body is going to be different than if we kept that mahogany back thick enough for a 1 piece body ala 1950's LP Customs.

An LP measures 2 1/4" thick under the bridge. If we obtained a thick slab of mahogany and were able to slice some off, and mill that slice down to 1/2" thick, and glue it back onto the (millled down to) 1 3/4" thick remainder of the slab, it would sound different than if we had just milled the whole slab down to 2 1/4" thick. The act of laminating that top stiffens and thus raises the PRF of that body blank.

Now onto your specific Q.

The actual effect of the two species...Eastern Red Maple and of (genuine) H. Mahogany simply cannot be summed up with the greatest of ease. Again, the truism is that the maple would sound brighter. This is NOT an accurate view. It depends upon the actual pieces of wood in question.

I have MAH in my shop that is heavy and very stiff, with a tight grain structure. I also have very soft, more open grained lightweight MAH. The diff in the acoustic (and hense amplified) tone between these is remarkable. The stiff material will be bright and not so "warm and fuzzy"...the softer stuff, just the opposite.

The tap tones of a 14" x 20" x 1/2" top blank of these can vary greatly, over one octave. And so, the contribution to the PRF of the body can vary just as widely.

The way I do it is to build an acoustic instrument, because the acoustic nature of the chassis places hard limits upon what will be available to amplify. This is not "snake oil" altho in some quarters it is considered as such. Just saying...

Eastern Maple too, can and will vary widely, altho perhaps quite not as much as H. MAH can. The resonant characteristics will vary and in very important ways and I pay a lot of attention to this.

It is possible, yes, to build a brighter LP chassis with a MAH top rthan with an E. Maple top. However, we do hear a diff with the brighter MAH as compared to the E. Maple in general, and it goes back to something I mentioned in the bridge discussion...it has a lot to do with how the overtone series "blooms" as well as what the final overtone series actually is.

That somewhat smooth character with a somewhat compressed top end that the better LPs and the Carolinas have does lend itself to a maple top. Its not possible to completely replicate with MAH.

But it is possible to have a MAH top and get a smooth, violin-esque response. The better TCM Sportsters have this but...they were never intended to sound just like a great LP.

Term Paper Over! LOL!!!
 

TAVD

Guitar Player
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3,803
How about a variation on your last reply. Suppose I want to make a Les Paul type body. My selection of lumber is limited to either narrow 10/4 strips (say 3-4") or 13" wide S4 boards (just under 3/4" thickness). Care to comment on the tonal differences for each construction? I guess you can call it edge glued vs pancake.
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
How about a variation on your last reply. Suppose I want to make a Les Paul type body. My selection of lumber is limited to either narrow 10/4 strips (say 3-4") or 13" wide S4 boards (just under 3/4" thickness). Care to comment on the tonal differences for each construction? I guess you can call it edge glued vs pancake.

Tom, many thanks for your excellent Q, I do appreciate it.

As seems to be the norm, a seemingly simple Q is a bit more complex to answer than may seem apparent. I'm just getting back in practise as regards answering these topics, and I need to focus a bit more, IMO. Let me try to do you justice.

In general, IMO, the full thickness pieces are going to speak in the truest character of the wood. By this I mean that...given your 2 choices...the edge-glued scenario is best. If the edge glued sections are taken from adjacent sections of the same board, and the joinery was good, sonically speaking you would be a lot closer to sounding as if you had one solid piece of timber(some pieces but not others) than you'd have via the "pancake" approach, which has a far more radical effect as regards shifting things away from the basic tonal charater of the lumber.

Let me talk about the joinery in such a scenario, just for a moment. By using narrow-but-full thickness pieces, we can indeed glue-up a body blank that can vibrate every bit as well as a one-piece body blank. The key to doing so is to make sure that the joints are so well crafted that the role of the clamps is never to close gaps, rather, the clamps merely hold the sections in place during glue-up. As always, the result will have it's own character but will in general retain the basic character of the raw lumber.

If our jointer is not giving us really tight results, correct that, and never count on using clamp pressure as a means of closing gaps. In this way, we are greatly minimising "building-in" stresses in the wood that we have no control over and tight joints that are not forced are the least likely to telegraph thru the finish later (especially if we wait for many days to mill to final thickness after the glue-up...let that H2O evaporate, and the wood to shrink back to norm).

Having said that Tom...with either method you are going to end up with a "plate" that has it's own characteristics which may or may not be appropriate for the acoustical nature that you seek to build.

Altho I do champion, in general, the edge glued plan, I do have stories to tell of "pancake LP's" that were good sounding guitars and in particular I recall a certain 1969 LP Custom that was..actually and really...pretty magical. Like its fellows, it was, outwardly, nothing special but happy accidents do happen!

The "pancake" technique will obviously net a "plate" with it's own character, however, doing so will stray far more away from the natural character of the board....tonally..into rather unpredictable territory. You COULD end up with a desirable result, but it's far chancier than the alternate route. You have a glue joint that bridges the entire width of the board, a global effect that damps the vibrations in a diff way than the edge glue-ups. And the effect of that is multipled incredibly fast the more "layers" that you have. Im no fan of the "pancake" approach if we are seeking a notable tonal contribution from the wood....particularly in the lows and low-midrange

The "pancake" method will quickly attenuate the lower freq's and the effect on the low-mid-high mids is going to be notable and unpredictable. Readers may want to mention Alembic construction etc but then we are talking "neck thru"....and you, Tom, are talking "LP"

If you have excellent wood that is just shy of being wide enough...taking an LP style guitar as an example....gluing on a "wing" of matching material in order to obtain a wide enough blank (ideally, the "wing" would be on the control cavity side) would sound exactly like a one piece back. The glue joint would be way off of center...soundwise, of no importance whatsoever.
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
Primary Resonant Frequncy.
Now, when judging a piece of wood, or a guitar chassis, what we listen for is not restricted to just one narrow frequency, rather, to a group of tones within which one represents the center....the "center frequency".

Those who, like me, have audio engineering experience will have an easier time grasping this terminology; they can understand using an EQ unit to identify a "center frequency" (ie, the PRF) and then they will use another knob to widen the closely neighboring freq's to boost-or-cut around that PRF. Doing so is said to be "adjusting the Q".

So when Im talking about the PRF as it relates to wood, or to guitars, I am talking about a center frequency with a rather broad "Q" surrounding it; ie, not a strict frequency, rather, a predominant frequency in the center, with a limited but important set of neighboring freq's around that center, too.

As a random example, we can talk about boosting/cutting 500Hz; in the real world of wood, and guitars, we may actually be talking about boosting/cutting anything from lower freq's (say, 225 Hz) to higher freqs (say, 1KHz)...but the PRF is the same...500Hz

Its just a more precise way of talking about treble, midrange, and bass, and you will be able to discuss sound in this way with any decent guitar builder, as a matter of course. It is basic "sound lingo", understandable by any pro, and it would be great to see more of this on TGP, in order to bring about a more accurate way of talking about "bright","warm", "fat" etc

It is easy to understand so talk to your guitar maker about such things, he/she will be delighted I am sure!!!
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
BTW, have you ever noticed that ten guitars of seemingly identical nature all sound different?

An understanding of the interaction between the various parts, the understanding of "sound", the understanding of how the parts can work with/work against each other...can go a LONG WAY towards explaining these mysterious differences.

It is MUCH MORE than a simple "wood species A, on top of wood species B, with a neck of wood species C, with a fretboard of wood species D, with pickups of type L, with a bridge/tailpiece of type W...will sound like (fill in the blank)
 

anyone

Member
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1,702
Hi Terry,
I'm curious about your thoughts on what nut materials can add to the recipe, specifically: fossilized ivory, brass, and TUSQ.
Thanks!
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
Hi Terry,
I'm curious about your thoughts on what nut materials can add to the recipe, specifically: fossilized ivory, brass, and TUSQ.
Thanks!
Chris, I so appreciate this very fine question.

Let me begin by putting out a term, and a definition of that term, being:
The SPEAKING LENGTH of the string.

The speaking length of the string is that section of the string that vibrates between two of three contact points; the bridge (always in play), the nut (in play on open strings), the fret (in play when the string is fretted).

The bridge always affects our tone because it is always in-play.
On the other hand, the frets and the nut only affect our tone when they are in play, and they are not constantly so.

And so it can be shown that the nut material only impacts our tone on open strings, and this is a hard fact that is quite easily demonstrated. Take a bit of fluff off of a cotton ball and place it under the strings at the nut. The open strings will now sound extremely muted and the nut material is muted, too. Now play fretted notes; they will sound identical to the way they sound sans that "cotton muting".

An even easier test is to fret a string @ the 5th fret with your pinkie while fretting the same string @ the 1st fret with your index finger; play slow quarter notes as you fret/unfret @ the 1st fret and listen...there is absolutely no change in tone. Pick with the same velocity the whole time! :)

And so we turn our attention to the nut materials and how the open strings sound with each of the 3 you have mentioned (with my usual unsolicited additional and annoying comments)

1) Fossilised Ivory is a wonderful material provided it doesnt have a lot of micro-cracks. It works like modern ivory and is a joy to work with. It's tone is generally that of modern ivory, or sometimes a bit brighter if it is heavily mineralised. It has a slightly rounder tone than does a fretted note. It wears very well and can last for many years if not cut too low when new. The down-side is that it's very hard to absolutely verify that it is not actually modern ivory, which of course should never be used. Ive gotten a batch in that was quite obviously modern and Ive never ordered any since. A dissapointment.

2) Brass nuts came into vogue in the 70's with that whole "brass parts craze" that we vets remember so well (Hi Tom Anderson@ Schecter!)
Plenty of us punters wore out mucho nut files on those. They sure look gorgeous right offa the buffing jack!!!

The open strings have a more "fretted" tone..the nut IS metal. That is a plus for some. The downside to a brass nut is that as soon as any slot wear begins (rather soon) tuning probs, here we come! The slots have to be especially well shaped and polished very very well. Well made, with expert maintainence, they can perform well. But in the real world of the working player, I do not reccomend them...but they work "OK".

3) Tusq is pretty cool. The tone tends to be a bit softer than good ivory or bone, but it's in the same ballpark...a good strong voice that's rounder than a fretted string. Its a decent material, and being artificial it is very consistent; no pores or soft pockets. BTW it's a great choice for acoustic guitar saddles that have a piezo pup underneath, due to that consistent density. That aids in getting a consistent string-to-string output.

4) You did not mention unbleached bone which is my fave for non trem guitars, provided that it is a good piece that's not too porous, and has no soft pockets. Reject rate due to these things in around 20% IME. It can have an appearance similar to fossil ivory (off-white with streaks) which is cool and old-looking, it is hard enough to withstand years of use if it's not cut too low when new, and because it is unbleached some of the original fatty oils are still in there....a built-in lube.

5) Maybe, for some, the ideal nut for a non-trem guitar is my 80's invention, the TCM Zebra Nut. I'll provide a macro shot of one real soon.
 

JiMB

Member
Messages
3,214
Not even a "your question sucks"?
How about ,what would the PRF be for that LP be?
Thanks,
Jim

Hi Terry,
Keys to Mick's tone here @ 3:08 and 5:25,


Love the mids. It reminds me of Dickie Betts tone on "One Way Out" from The Fillmore album. It has that same "almost like a harmonica tone".

Thanks and great thread.
Oh yeah, you can edit the thread title by "going advanced" in the edit window.

Jim
 




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