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Can anyone help give a technical explanation of how tonewood effects solid body tone?

xmd5a

Member
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2,286
Credibility bolsters ones ability to get people to view their “facts” as credible. Facts really are secondary to credibility in that way.
That's absurd. If someone submits evidence that "tone woods" make an audible difference, their evidence will be accepted on it's own merits. If, and only if, their is some reason to question the validity of their evidence, will credibility become an issue. You can say this person or that person is very credible, but without evidence, their claims and their credibility are of no interest. For example, the German guy who makes composite bass guitars and says wood doesn't matter without presenting evidence, without evidence, his credibility comes into play, and he has very little.

Suppose this was a murder case in a court room. If a witness says they saw something happen, their hear say is subject to a test of credibility. Are they believable? But if that person literally brings the murder weapon in and hands it to police, and it passes forensics, their credibility is neither here nor there. Belief becomes moot.
 
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DC1

Member
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15,373
Carl Sagan wrote of arguments from authority: One of the great commandments of science is, "Mistrust arguments from authority." ... Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like everybody else.
But, the views of an experienced builder, a professor, a physics degree-holder and lifelong players are not "arguments from authority" unless their views are presented as "because I said so" and otherwise unsupported. No one, not a single person here, has done that. Each has provided solid reasoning and facts to support their views. In that case, calling it "argument from authority" is simply attacking those you disagree with and the is called the ad hominem logical fallacy.

In fact, if someone offers a perspective, supported by facts, and they have significant credentials in the area, it makes their views more credible. This is basic.

You are welcome to your own opinion. You are not welcome to your own facts.

dc
 

xmd5a

Member
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2,286
But, the views of an experienced builder, a professor, a physics degree-holder and lifelong players are not "arguments from authority" unless their views are presented as "because I said so" and otherwise unsupported.
That's pretty much implied by even bringing up the fact that they are a builder, or have a degree in physics, in the first place. How is it relevant if not to suggest that their answer is more correct because of their authority?
 

DC1

Member
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15,373
That's pretty much implied by even bringing up the fact that they are a builder, or have a degree in physics, in the first place. How is it relevant if not to suggest that their answer is more correct because of their authority?
Of course it is more correct because of their authority. That is not the argument from authority fallacy.

That fallacy is when unsupported opinions are presented as more valid because of the status of the individual giving the opinion.
No one here has done that.

Reducing an experienced, educated, knowledgable and scientifically valid perspective to "argument from authority" is to make all opinions equal. Now, when it comes to what you buy, or what you like, your opinion is all that matters, but if your opinion flies in the face of known facts, you cannot elevate it by claiming that informed opinions, presented with facts and evidence, are "arguments from authority".

Authority matters. The "argument from authority" misuses authority. That doesn't mean that there is no authority or that it doesn't matter.

Is that more clear?


dc
 

Mark Kerr

Member
Messages
33
But, the views of an experienced builder, a professor, a physics degree-holder and lifelong players are not "arguments from authority" unless their views are presented as "because I said so" and otherwise unsupported. No one, not a single person here, has done that.
Uh, you sure about that?

Well all I can tell you is this: I have a graduate degree in applied physics. My education and experience both inform my opinion that wood affect the mechanical system that is a guitar.

Highly experienced and respected luthiers like John Suhr, Terry McInturff, Ken Parker, and many other with vast cumulative experience have written on this very forum and elsewhere extensively about how woods affect tone.

Along comes Mark Kerr, with no introductions, no known credentials, and no history on this forum with the revelation that it is ridiculous to think that wood affects tone. No reasoning or rationale to explain why one should consider this position. Just a bare statement of fact.

So who does it make more sense to view credibly? Mark Kerr or highly respected and revered luthiers? Mark Kerr or math and physics? Mark Kerr or your own 40+ years of experience? I did not answer “Mark Kerr” to any of those questions.

Now if you have something more compelling than a “common sense” opinion, please illuminate us.
 

Mark Kerr

Member
Messages
33
Of course it is more correct because of their authority. That is not the argument from authority fallacy.

That fallacy is when unsupported opinions are presented as more valid because of the status of the individual giving the opinion.
First you say an argument is more correct because of authority. But then you say that an argument is not more valid because of authority. So arguing from authority is a Schrodinger's cat situation? Interesting. Please expound...

No one here has done that.
See post above.
 

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,286
In the context of this problem domain, authority and expertise is irrelevant, because we are not in a position where we must settle for non-factual speculation. If we dont get the facts we need, we have the luxury of simply reserving judgement.
 
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DC1

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15,373
First you say an argument is more correct because of authority. But then you say that an argument is not more valid because of authority. So arguing from authority is a Schrodinger's cat situation? Interesting. Please expound...



See post above.
No, I said that a more informed opinion, (which often comes from a person with significant authority) does not constitute an “argument from authority” fallacy unless that argument is unsupported and relying solely on that authority. In this thread, those with the greatest authority have provided the most support for their position imo, and therefore cannot be accused of “arguing from authority”.

more clear?

dc
 

Mark Kerr

Member
Messages
33
Yeah, I’m sure about that, but he’s being too hard on you. You guys need to give each other a break.

dc
It's a long tirade about how a person's view is not right because he lacks credentials. The person also asserts his own opinion is correct due to his credentials. He is not putting forth facts; he is only citing authority. That is the very definition of argument from authority.
 

DC1

Member
Messages
15,373
It's a long tirade about how a person's view is not right because he lacks credentials. The person also asserts his own opinion is correct due to his credentials. He is not putting forth facts; he is only citing authority. That is the very definition of argument from authority.
I’m not getting in the middle of that argument between you two.

have a great evening,

dc
 

mwym

Member
Messages
69
300Hz-3300Hz. 'Voiceband'. It is a frequency range on plain old telephone (analog, land) service. That is a frequency range within which every NON DEAF human hears EQUALLY WELL. As long a person hears the voice of other people - a person is not deaf. That is how they defined that frequency range for phones in the first place.

Now use any guitar recording you know for years and completely CUT ALL THE FREQUENCIES OUT OF THIS RANGE and then listen. Then I will play some comparison video or audio recordings (wood and other) filtered exactly the same way.

It won't take 10 minutes before you start to REQUEST proofs, evidence, data and science theories/diplomas to prove any difference in tone discussed in forums exists at all. Cause you will NOT BE ABLE TO DETECT ANY. And you will then go to guitar shop, play some guitars through an EQ CUTTING ALL THE FREQ BELOW 300Hz and ABOVE 3300Hz and lo and behold, ALL the guitars will have exactly same tone.

A person can have it at even something like 200Hz-4500Hz, but that person will be requesting exactly the same things - data, proof, evidence, science theories, and .. diplomas and degrees. Cause as sure as sunrise will happen tomorrow morning a person with the most common regular hearing ability among humans cannot reliably hear any relevant/noticable difference of wood species, different alloys of hardware parts or strings, and other obvious things. And when general public is using guitars, obviously the huge majority has no other choice but to request data on tone difference they cannot hear, whenever any difference in tone gets mentioned in forums, just in order to be included in the discussion.

300Hz-3300Hz. 'Voiceband'. And do notice that fundamental frequency of human voice is not even included in the range (it is bellow 300Hz), but SOME (as in NOT ALL) are able to recognize the voice and tell the name of the person calling after first 2 seconds or 2-3 words. Others HAVE TO wait for person calling to identify by telling her/his name, or have ro ask who they are talking to.

These 'others' need data, proof, evidence on wood causing the difference in guitar's tone and they request it as their hearing ability does not provide these for them, the same way they have to be told the name of person calling on analog land phone line.
 

mwym

Member
Messages
69
It happens each and every time. This is the primary logical fallacy in threads like this one, and all other common ones are inevitable after it has been deployed.

The quesrion is not if the difference in tone/timbre of solidbody electric guitars caused by wood used for making them exists or not. It is not questionable for people able to hear it.The question is how it works, why it happens and that is exactly what OP asked for.

Anyone derailing discussion to a question if difference exists is actually - trolling. That is the only reason why these threads are always long and boring. All the threads derailed by trolling are.

If a person does not hear the difference, why participate when cannot contribute to help give meaningful answer what causes it? THAT is the only logical fallacy exploited. And a 'right' for inclusion does not justify it.
 

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,286
It happens each and every time. This is the primary logical fallacy in threads like this one, and all other common ones are inevitable after it has been deployed.

The quesrion is not if the difference in tone/timbre of solidbody electric guitars caused by wood used for making them exists or not. It is not questionable for people able to hear it.The question is how it works, why it happens and that is exactly what OP asked for.

Anyone derailing discussion to a question if difference exists is actually - trolling. That is the only reason why these threads are always long and boring. All the threads derailed by trolling are.

If a person does not hear the difference, why participate when cannot contribute to help give meaningful answer what causes it? THAT is the only logical fallacy exploited. And a 'right' for inclusion does not justify it.
To paraphrase OPs question: "why do I hear the difference I hear because of cause X", to which a perfectly valid answer is, "without evidence that X is truly the cause, it's possible that the difference you hear has no relation to X", and further, "without having performed a direct A/B comparison contemporaneously, an imperfect recall of subtle tonal qualities might mean you didn't actually hear any difference."

On the other hand, a person might ask, "audible or otherwise, how does the body wood effect the vibration of the string?", and without that qualifier of audibility, that's easy to answer: the body (and the neck) presents a frequency dependent load upon the energy stored in the moving strings. It's not unlike how a speaker presents a frequency dependent load on the amp.
 
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moehuh

Member
Messages
347
2- If sound through wood is the goal, and strings are at about 125lbs of pull on a guitar ... have you tried bending a guitar body? have you tried bending a guitar neck? Which can you bend and change the tones? So the important wood is the neck, and the even more important material is the truss rod constantly resisting the string pull. Why is there not a discussion of tone-metal truss-rods?
There's a StewMac video with Joe B. and his tech, where they talk about how a loose truss rod can have a negative effect on the guitar's tone. This actually happened to me, when I wanted a bit more relief on a great sounding tele with lots of sustain. Loosened the truss rod (too much) and it had a very negative effect (sustain gone, less attack, less definition). The relief and action did not even change at all because it's a pretty big neck. Tightened the truss rod again and it's back to great. Seems like the loose truss rod absorbed a lot of vibration.

Found the video:
 

Mark Kerr

Member
Messages
33
They do? What about ebony?

And mahogany doesn't look like that dark of a wood to me.
In the first few examples I found with a quick search, ebony was described as sounding warm like rosewood but with subtle differences.

The typical mahogany as used in guitars is darker looking than the woods people tend to describe as sounding bright, like maple or swamp ash. Mahogany seems to be the first wood that people usually describe as warm, and interestingly enough, sometimes as having a strong mid-range, possibly because it's near the middle of the wood color range.
 

CaptNasty

Member
Messages
791
There's a StewMac video with Joe B. and his tech, where they talk about how a loose truss rod can have a negative effect on the guitar's tone. This actually happened to me, when I wanted a bit more relief on a great sounding tele with lots of sustain. Loosened the truss rod (too much) and it had a very negative effect (sustain gone, less attack, less definition). The relief and action did not even change at all because it's a pretty big neck. Tightened the truss rod again and it's back to great. Seems like the loose truss rod absorbed a lot of vibration.

Found the video:
Yes, this is what the “wood does not affect tone” camp fails to get. The guitar vibrates. This is undeniable. One can feel it.

The energy to cause the vibration comes from somewhere. It does not come from the environment, it comes from the strings. That means that through a chain of components the energy is moving from the strings to the body. Any energy removed from the strings is energy that is not present in the string to be translated to electrical signal by the pickups. All objects have resonant frequencies and the RF is not the same for all objects.

In other words, anything that removes energy from the strings affects the way the string vibrates. Anything the affects the way the string vibrates affects what the pickup hears from the string vibrating within the pickups magnetic field. What the pickup hears is the amplified voice of the guitar.

None of the “wood does not affect tone camp” has provided a cohesive and compelling counter thesis to explain why the energy removed from the string by the guitar chassis would not affect tone. To the contrary they have failed to show that all materials remove the same amount of energy at the same frequencies... a requisite for different materials to have no variation in tonal impact. The entire counter argument is a patchwork of loosely coupled scientific observations held together by blind faith, “common sense”, and belief that is devoid of a comprehensive, unifying thesis.

The whole “human hearing can not differentiate things below 1db” guy’s argument is not comprehensive, compelling, nor persuasive. The fact that an electric guitar played acoustically causes the wood to vibrate, that we can hear the vibration emanating from the wood, and that the volume of the vibrating wood is greater than 1db (a whisper is roughly 20 dB and the vibration of the wood on an unplugged electric guitar is louder than a whisper), leaves me with the thesis that the energy removed from the string is greater than 1dB. For the “below 1dB” argument to have any chance of holding up, the sound energy of the vibrating guitar would have to be below 1dB.
 
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Ron Kirn

Platinum Supporting Member
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6,796
personally I don't think many actually think the Wood doesn't effect tone.. It's just in this context, a forum, it's often difficult to convey thoughts...

Yeah, wood DOES effect tone... as does all the other facets that comprise a guitar... it's just there's no way to know definitively what the guitar will sound like until it's completed..

Again you cannot walk into a guitar shop and say.. "OK, I want to sample guitars that only have great sounding tone wood..." You simply play 'em, and they reveal who they are as you do so.. then ya pick one.. The tone of the wood mattered only in the context that it was part of the sonic signature of the guitar you were playing..

a luthier can "steer" the intended "voice" in a direction, but a specific sound, that requires mystic abilities. The discussion is compounded by several variables.. Someone's hearing is one, as is any cognitive biases brought to the "table". Also in play are the various degrees to which one wants a guitar to "sound like" something they've experienced... and their recollection of what it actually sounded like. Few realize.. the average for someone being able to accurately recall the sound previously heard is 15 seconds... beyond that it's only a vague recollection of a familiar sound heard.

an example is.. You're at a "joint" listening to a group playing as you're ordering your Lophraig .... all of a sudden the group cuts in with some well known tune.. and you think, "Damn, they have the sound nailed..", you turn and they're playing the entirely wrong gear.. and you think, "How in hell are they doing it..."

Now if you could have the original group there, so you could A/B them, you would hear a vast difference. It just the psyche, being familiar with the song, "fills in" the differences, and you hear what you expect... don't argue with me, go talk to a Shrink that specializes in such.

Some consider "sounds like" as having been achieved if the spectral traces resulting from an acoustic lab's examination comes close to matching an original (not gonna happen).. and for others.. it's simply if it's "close 'nuff for gubmint work" it's good 'nuff.

For me.. unless you can take knowledge of some factor relative to a guitar and use it to purchase a guitar and get the desired sound as a result of that applied knowledge, it's useless, it does not matter... it's simply good for a discussion .. that's where the Wood's potential sonic sculpting falls... I don't care what type lumber you choose, or how it sounds as you bonk it to hear it ring, or listened to it's resonating sounds as it's machined... the eventual sound will ONLY be a composite of what the wood brings, plus everything else.

Choosing a specific species because it's reputed to produce a certain sound has more to do with your expectations than the reality, and that reality has more to do with you getting the guitar you really want than getting the guitar that makes the sound you think you want.

For instance, you hear Ash produces a more "snappy" sound.. so you go to Guitar Mania, an say ya only want to sample Ash guitars... the sales guy "screws" with ya an throws an Alder one into the mix... you play and determine the one made of alder has the "snappy" sound you want... so who was wrong... You.. for being :close minded" or the Sales guy for screwing with ya..

Or if you want a Bluesy, Jazzy sound, you immediately think of Mahogany... it doesn't matter that many other species are suitable... and that some would say plain will not work.. but a Luthier can do the unexpected.. but if one convinces you to choose another lumber other than Mahogany,,, that's a mistake.. simply because you will wonder forever if you made the right call, and your "psyche" simply will not hear the sound you expected..

Psycho acoustics can be a bytch..

r
 




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