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

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
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7,484
Not even a "your question sucks"?
How about ,what would the PRF be for that LP be?
Thanks,
Jim

All the Q's are great including your's! :)

Jim, it is impossible to determine the frequency characteristics of a guitar if I dont have it here in person. My ear will tell me a great deal, but I also utilise electronic means as well.

Regarding that wonderful Mick Taylor clip...one key to that tone is the 800Hz boost switch on the Ampeg amps. In that clip, he surely has that engaged and it sounds so wonderful. Those Ampegs had an inductor based midrange control that sounds great!!!!!!
 

sksmith66

Member
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2,954
Terry,

if you could give a hobby builder one piece of advice to help them build better instruments what would it be? I am strictly building guitars for myself never intend to do it in the commercial realm.

thanks.
 

martins3325

Member
Messages
398
I have an easy one for you..on the late 60s fenders were the rosewood fretboards somehow bent (they were fairly thin) onto a radiused maple neck..or were they milled to be radiused on bottom and top and glued onto the radiused maple blank? I always thought that was pretty elegant.
 

Powderfinger

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11,727
What % of an electric guitar's tone is determined by the pickups?
Is there any feature of an electric guitar that has more of an impact on sound than pickups?
 

JiMB

Member
Messages
3,214
All the Q's are great including your's! :)

Jim, it is impossible to determine the frequency characteristics of a guitar if I dont have it here in person. My ear will tell me a great deal, but I also utilise electronic means as well.

Regarding that wonderful Mick Taylor clip...one key to that tone is the 800Hz boost switch on the Ampeg amps. In that clip, he surely has that engaged and it sounds so wonderful. Those Ampegs had an inductor based midrange control that sounds great!!!!!!

Thanks Terry.
I know you can't give the exact frequency of Mick's guitar there but you mentioned the 800Hz boost switch, that's what I needed to hear. I figured it was the switch on the Ampeg. What a sound that is, yes!

Cheers,
Jim
 

Terry McInturff

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

if you could give a hobby builder one piece of advice to help them build better instruments what would it be? I am strictly building guitars for myself never intend to do it in the commercial realm.

thanks.
A good Q and a tough one.

I suppose going all the way back to the basics, you have to use wood that is dry enough to use. And so, buy a good moisture meter to test the wood with. The mini-lignomat is a good little one.

Dont let anybody tell you that since "this wood has air dried for 100 years" that it will be dry enough to use. Wood is a hygroscopic material which means it absorbs/gives off moisture in a direct relationship to the ambient humidity in which it has been stored. And so, a 400 year old piece of wood that has been air drying could easily be way too wet to use.
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
I have an easy one for you..on the late 60s fenders were the rosewood fretboards somehow bent (they were fairly thin) onto a radiused maple neck..or were they milled to be radiused on bottom and top and glued onto the radiused maple blank? I always thought that was pretty elegant.

I'm not sure! There are Fender experts here who could answer that. Ive always assumed that a shaper milled that concave radius on the underside of the fbd.

Supposedly, they changed to that from the thicker flat bottomed fbds in order to minimise the influence of the rosewood...the story goes that they had a lot of probs when they started using rosewood, warping, etc. So the story goes...

In the real world those thin curved fbds present challenges down the road. There is so little material to work with for refrets, sanding out neck curvature probs, and the like. No experienced fretman relishes working on them.
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
What % of an electric guitar's tone is determined by the pickups?
Is there any feature of an electric guitar that has more of an impact on sound than pickups?

Im afraid that nothing close to an accurate answer exists for your first Q.

However, there IS an accurate answer for your second Q, that involves your first Q. The acoustical nature/sound of the unplugged guitar is boss. It sets hard limits upon the entire amplified sound of the guitar. Pickups can accentuate/diminish select portions of this overall acoustical signature and so can greatly influence the amplified sound...but they cannot "invent" freq's that are not strongly present in the chassis.

This is why no pickup can ever make a fat sounding hollowbody sound like a Les Paul, Telecaster, etc. It is also why many try pickup-after-pickup trying to make a guitar sound "right"...all too often, what they seek simply does not exist in that guitar.
 

Powderfinger

Platinum Supporting Member
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11,727
Im afraid that nothing close to an accurate answer exists for your first Q.

However, there IS an accurate answer for your second Q, that involves your first Q. The acoustical nature/sound of the unplugged guitar is boss. It sets hard limits upon the entire amplified sound of the guitar. Pickups can accentuate/diminish select portions of this overall acoustical signature and so can greatly influence the amplified sound...but they cannot "invent" freq's that are not strongly present in the chassis.

This is why no pickup can ever make a fat sounding hollowbody sound like a Les Paul, Telecaster, etc. It is also why many try pickup-after-pickup trying to make a guitar sound "right"...all too often, what they seek simply does not exist in that guitar.

Thanks. To be clear, I wasn't asking for a scientific answer on the %, just your opinion.
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
Thanks. To be clear, I wasn't asking for a scientific answer on the %, just your opinion.

Gotcha. Maybe, look at it as if the guitar were a singer, and you were the recording engineer picking out the perfect mic for that singer. The mics will all sound different and some radically so...but you'll always know who is singing.

An imperfect analogy but useful, perhaps.
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
Thanks. To be clear, I wasn't asking for a scientific answer on the %, just your opinion.

I'm going to run with this one for just a bit longer.

One of the many challenges that I face is the fact that many electric guitarists do not appreciate the basic fact that the acoustical nature of the raw guitar "chassis" does indeed play such a pivotal role. It is not surprising in the least that guitarists in general do not think about this because:

1) For some reason the electric guitar has always been viewed by many as a "block of wood, with electronic components, and a neck attatched". That "block of wood" has been viewed as being something that the "real important stuff" is fastened on to; the "block of wood" is often judged soley by it's shape and appearance.

2) And so various market conditions in the 70's spawned the whole aftermarket electric guitar parts market, which we benefit from to this day and ever onward.

3) There has been, for decades, mass marketing for every-which-thing that might cure your "tonal ills" and there have been a goodly number of great products that have come along. But there has been little-to-ZERO attention paid to the FACT that some electric guitars just are never gonna make it for your purposes, no matter what parts you swap onto it-off of it.

4) In the "boutique" guitar building field, the only way...the only way to truly "build a sound" that meets the client's needs is to have a deep deep knowledge of the role that the acoustical qualities of the electric guitar play in the amplified possibilities. This involves choosing particular pieces of wood and of matching them... a process thats totally the norm for an orchestral string maker...but why not for electric guitar makers, I wonder.

Any notion that one can use just any wood combo (species-wise) in order to net a certain desired result is just plain incorrect. Certainly, one can choose an attractive maple top, glue that onto a Hondoras Mahogany back, build an OK repro neck, put on the right parts and VOILA! have a Les Paul of some sort.

Im almost expecting to be "called on the carpet" by folks who claim that the pickups are "the boss".
 

Retreads

Member
Messages
362
Terry,

Fun thread! I used to live in Sanford/Fayetteville and have been to Siler City many times. Wish I had been a player at the time and known about your outfit while in the area.

Anyway...say you're in a hypothetical guitar store with about 100 guitars on the wall and some test amps. Owner says you can have whichever one you want. How are you going to knock it down from that 100 to the one you're taking home? All factors are in bounds (your style, guitar quality, aesthetics, whatever).
 

Jim DaddyO

Member
Messages
287
Terry:

I'll throw this one out to you. I built a hardtail semi hollow strat. Well, I built the body, and ordered the neck. Anyways, it has a wonderful warm and resonant tone to it (you can feel the body vibrate with the notes plucked). I was wondering if adding an f hole would drastically alter the tone. I do not want to lose the warmth, but I would like to brighten it up a bit. I am thinking I may mess with the wiring first. It has 500k pots, and I am not sure of what capacitor I put in, but the cap is where I would start. Still, f hole, or no f hole.....I should add that the finish is french polish and I am really afraid of ruining all the hours I put into the finish. A bit of a blog on the build here: http://lumberjocks.com/JimDaddyO/blog/12619
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
Anything?

What are you doing this Saturday night?

LOL!!! Its a legit Q! Ok...this Sat night Im going to be playing weird Beck-oid space rock with a 300 lb woodwind genius+rythmn section, its real "hang on for the ride stuff".
 

Terry McInturff

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

Fun thread! I used to live in Sanford/Fayetteville and have been to Siler City many times. Wish I had been a player at the time and known about your outfit while in the area.

Anyway...say you're in a hypothetical guitar store with about 100 guitars on the wall and some test amps. Owner says you can have whichever one you want. How are you going to knock it down from that 100 to the one you're taking home? All factors are in bounds (your style, guitar quality, aesthetics, whatever).

Well, I assume youve done some homework first lol! You are going to have aesthetic concerns that may eliminate some right away, others youll be able to just handle the neck and eliminate fast. The rest...Id ignore the amps and start carting the guitars into the quiet area (acoustic room or even the bathroom!) and start checking out the fine points and listening to the acoustical nature of the interesting ones.

It might be helpful to bring a checklist with you, so as to be efficient.

Once you pare the guitars down to 10 or so, head out to the amps, and find the magic partnership. Thats how I'd do it!
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
Terry:

I'll throw this one out to you. I built a hardtail semi hollow strat. Well, I built the body, and ordered the neck. Anyways, it has a wonderful warm and resonant tone to it (you can feel the body vibrate with the notes plucked). I was wondering if adding an f hole would drastically alter the tone. I do not want to lose the warmth, but I would like to brighten it up a bit. I am thinking I may mess with the wiring first. It has 500k pots, and I am not sure of what capacitor I put in, but the cap is where I would start. Still, f hole, or no f hole.....I should add that the finish is french polish and I am really afraid of ruining all the hours I put into the finish. A bit of a blog on the build here: http://lumberjocks.com/JimDaddyO/blog/12619

Great Q yet again!

Jim....I cant answer your Q without being able to play the guitar acoustically first. Having said that, the f-hole would be last on the list to try IMO. "Brighten it up a bit" is a useful expression, but is a bit to non-specific for any on point comments from me that would have real value.

As a guiding thought for you and the readership, I'll mention this tho...if we have a sealed hollow chamber thats the size that can be contained within a Stratocaster body, we will change the tuning/effect of that chamber FAST when we open it up to the outside(depending upon the size of the chamber) And you'll not be brightening it by doing so. If you like the chamber's tone as-is, probably best not to mess with it IMO.

The tuning could easily drop into an area that was working against you. When I develop chambers, its a lengthy job, testing partial guitar bodies electronically is one of the initial stages. There's a ton of R&D involved in finding the right PRF for the intended result.

Jim...the tone cap is fun to play with, but another experiment would be to use 1 Meg pots. This will give you a tad more "air" up around 5K-ish. Also experiment with the pickup height. You may like lowering them a bit.

If you know about freq bands and can name where you think you want extra energy I MAY be able to be a tad more specific for you. Borrow a very good 31 band graphic EQ (ie, not a stompbox, and better than Behringer), run the guitar thru that and boost a bit here-and-there until you can tell me (for example) "Im liking a mellow boost from 2K-5K, +3dB @ 5K at most"

BTW while you have the EQ rigged up, try CUTTING freqs and see what happens. You might find that cutting actually gets you what you want. There is an interesting psycho-acoustic effect that I use really often in guitar building; this being, if one wants to move a certain freq range up to the front of the soundstage, this can be done by cutting freqs either side of the freq we want to make prominent. This tricks the ear into hearing a "boost" when we are actually CUTTING. This is an important part of my chassis voicing at times, and is a primal trick behind my passive, inductor-based FullTec EQ thats found in the TCM Spitfire and...in a current secret project youll hear more about at the end of May.
 
Last edited:

anyone

Member
Messages
1,702
BTW while you have the EQ rigged up, try CUTTING freqs and see what happens. You might find that cutting actually gets you what you want. There is an interesting psycho-acoustic effect that I use really often in guitar building; this being, if one wants to move a certain freq range up to the front of the soundstage, this can be done by cutting freqs either side of the freq we want to make prominent. This tricks the ear into hearing a "boost" when we are actually CUTTING. This is an important part of my chassis voicing at times, and is a primal trick behind my passive, inductor-based FullTec EQ thats found in the TCM Spitfire and...in a current secret project youll hear more about at the end of May.
Hi Terry,
This is way over my head, but I'm still curious: does cutting frequencies involve phase cancellation between different chambers?
I'm curious about how this applies to control cavities. I mean, in essence, every electric guitar is chambered...
Thanks!
Chris
 

Terry McInturff

45th Anniversary of guitar building!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,484
Hi Terry,
This is way over my head, but I'm still curious: does cutting frequencies involve phase cancellation between different chambers?
I'm curious about how this applies to control cavities. I mean, in essence, every electric guitar is chambered...
Thanks!
Chris

The great Q's just keep coming, my hopes for this thread being fulfilled.

Chris....your guess as to the role of phase cancellations as a way...one way... to cut freqs is correct, however I personally do not use dual chambers with diff PRF's to accomplish that. As for the role of the control cavity yes, it is a resonant hollow chamber, and also reduces the mass of the body, of course. When Im working on a chambered design, the control cavity is viewed as a "constant" and does not enter into the recipe as something that would be alterred...does this make sense?

I cant go into the details but, phase cancellations come into my thinking in another way as well, such as when Im making a TCM Carolina for instance; the top and the back are matched as a set and among the attributes that constitute a "good set" are indeed predicted broad Q phase-related things.

Maybe its apparent that my decades long enthusiasm for audio engineering has influenced my guitar making, as well as how I percieve sound. Its a very useful set of experiences for a guitar designer to have....and FUN!!! :)
 




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