How important is unplugged electric tone to you?

Tone_Terrific

Supporting Member
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31,764
If an electric guitar sound better than others without amplification it also sounds better amplified.
The question remains as to what do you mean by 'better' and do the criteria for one type of guitar apply to other types?
Can you compare a Tele to a 335? A Strat with a pickguard against one without, etc., all using the same criteria applied to the acoustic sound?
I'm in the 'no' camp but that does not preclude comparison of some characteristics.
 

korus

Member
Messages
1,169
When a structure like a guitar neck or bridge resonates at its natural resonant modal frequency(s), it draws same-frequency vibrations from the strings, so that they are no longer heard.
The underlined text is factaully incorrect.

We all know what overtones of vibrating string are and now we shall see which frequencies of these remain in string and which are removed and how that happens. It's dead easy to grasp.

Maple vs mahogany
Maple is harder.
Maple has higher resonant freq range.
Maple create more resonance with higher overtones.
Maple dampens, attenuates and REMOVES lower overtones FROM string's vibration more and faster.
Tone unplugged is brighter with maple.
Tone plugged is brighter with maple.

If underlined text was correct we would hear maple having BRIGHTER unplugged tone AND DARKER plugged tone. Cause maple would remove higher overtones, while lower overtones would remain in string and pickup would detect lower overtones. And we would hear deeper tone coming from a speaker.

We don't. It is physically impossible. Vibrating string and body parts supporting it CANNOT vibrate at different frequencies.

Overtones dampened by body are those removed from string vibration. Body absorbs these faster.

Overtones creating resonance with body stay in string vibration longer. Body does not 'fight' these.

Resonance of body with string is the tone we hear - unplugged and plugged.

That is why unplugged tone of solid body electric 'matters' - because unplugged, primary, acoustic tone is Tthe Tone of the instrument, before electric signal generation and manipulation colors it a bit.

Harder metal alloy sounds brighter. Harder wood sounds brighter. Mechanical resonance cannot be prevented. When you hear brighter unplugged, you will hear brighter plugged.

It is actually sad that no matter how simple this is there is no way that each and every person reading this will grasp it esp those who cannot hear it clearly. And there is nothing we can do to change the design of life that causes that limit.

Yet.

If 'science' look-alike 'knowledge' helps, so be it. I am sure you will keep posting these same links.
 
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Tone_Terrific

Supporting Member
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31,764
It is actually sad that no matter how simple this is there is no way that each and every person reading this will grasp it esp those who cannot hear it clearly.
Change old strings for new strings. The difference is there, plugged in or not.
But did it take any change in body resonance to build, alter, or hear that change?
The whole thing is a can of worms.
I don't think we can even understand or agree upon what 'resonance' actually is under everybody's variable set of examples.
Are dead spots not a product of resonance?
 

eigentone

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,231
I'm reading several people's opinions/beliefs that unplugged electric tone has zero importance. All that matters to them is how it sounds coming out of an amp.

Meanwhile, I think it is fair to say the vast majority of people in the "unplugged electric tone is important camp" believe that the sound plugged in and amplified is also important. They believe that (some of) the guitar's acoustic properties translate to its amplified tone. Somebody familiar with Teles could, for example, play a Tele unplugged for a minute and have an idea of its acoustic properties. Some (not all) of which will translate to its amplified tone. Play it for an hour before plugging in and they could establish a deeper understanding of its acoustic properties. Again, some of which will translate to its amplified tone.

Suppose you hire a professional photographer. Wouldn't it be weird if the photographer lost all ability to make objective decisions regarding the subject, lighting, angle and perspective whenever she wasn't looking through the camera? Sure, looking through the camera helps for the fine details but a professional photographer who is familiar with her tools should have a good idea how what she sees directly with their eyes will appear when she looks through the lens. She should ordinarily be able to choose, as examples, a good starting point for perspective or lighting without relying on her camera.
 

korus

Member
Messages
1,169
Change old strings for new strings. The difference is there, plugged in or not.
But did it take any change in body resonance to build, alter, or hear that change?
The whole thing is a can of worms.
I don't think we can even understand or agree upon what 'resonance' actually is under everybody's variable set of examples.
Are dead spots not a product of resonance?
Flat top acoustic
Hollow body jazz box
Semi hollow with center block
Chambered solid body
Non chambered solid body

String vibrate on all. Body (parts) vibrate due to resonance with strings. These vibration of large body parts is the tone we hear and call it unplugged tone. The only thing that varies is the amplitude. Thicker the wood, less flexible it is and amplitude drops. We hear lower amplutude it as less loud unplugged tone. It is only quantity (amplitude) that is different but the quality = resonance, the principle of vibrations propagating to adjacent objects is the same.

Therefore, dead spot cannot be at the resonant frequency by the very definition of the term resonance. Otherwise extreme resonance of standing vibration and destructive effect of it would not exist. Vibration would simply pour itself from one object to another just like water does. And we know bridge vibrating at the frequency of soldiers marching does not stop/fight against their legs from - marching. edit : not very good example as enervy is being added, unlike the vibrating string but you get the idea.

Neither does body vibrating at dead spot frequency stop the string from vibrating at that feequency. What happens is dampening, attenuating, absorbing the vibration by NOT vibrating. Which is the direct opposite of resonance.

Clearly if peak resonant frequency exists, there is no reason why peak ANTI resonant frequency or peak DAMPENING frequench cannot exist for the very same object.

peak resonant freq = maximum of resonance and minimum of dampening

peak dampening frequency = maximum of dampening and minimum of resonance

This is my take on what we call dead spots. Regardless, where and when vibration of one object is stopped by another object it cannot be called resonance - it is dampening.

Hence the all confusion and misunderstanding whenever we mention resonance. A word cannot be used to denominate 2 directly opposite physical processes.
 
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Brad2

Member
Messages
560
The question remains as to what do you mean by 'better' and do the criteria for one type of guitar apply to other types?
Can you compare a Tele to a 335? A Strat with a pickguard against one without, etc., all using the same criteria applied to the acoustic sound?
I'm in the 'no' camp but that does not preclude comparison of some characteristics.
Well I have a Squier Mustang and I before I bought one I tested several copies that they had in store. Although they basically had the same pick ups hardware, etcetera cause they were from the same series they all soounded different. The one I have bought sounded the best. The other copies sounded thin and tinny compared to mine. And my copy sounded best without amplification and resulting therefrom also sounded best with amplification.
 

Tone_Terrific

Supporting Member
Messages
31,764
String vibrate on all. Body (parts) vibrate due to resonance with strings. These vibration of large body parts is the tone we hear and call it unplugged tone. The only thing that varies is the amplitude. Thicker the wood, less flexible it is and amplitude drops. We hear lower amplitude it as less loud unplugged tone. It is only quantity (amplitude) that is different but the quality = resonance, the principle of vibrations propagating to adjacent objects is the same.
Are you implying that the resonance(s) remain at the same frequency as mass and flexibility vary and only amplitude changes?
 

Gclef

Member
Messages
2,249
The underlined text is factaully incorrect.

We all know what overtones of vibrating string are and now we shall see which frequencies of these remain in string and which are removed and how that happens. It's dead easy to grasp.

Maple vs mahogany
Maple is harder.
Maple has higher resonant freq range.
Maple create more resonance with higher overtones.
Maple dampens, attenuates and REMOVES lower overtones FROM string's vibration more and faster.
Tone unplugged is brighter with maple.
Tone plugged is brighter with maple.

If underlined text was correct we would hear maple having BRIGHTER unplugged tone AND DARKER plugged tone. Cause maple would remove higher overtones, while lower overtones would remain in string and pickup would detect lower overtones. And we would hear deeper tone coming from a speaker.

We don't. It is physically impossible. Vibrating string and body parts supporting it CANNOT vibrate at different frequencies.

Overtones dampened by body are those removed from string vibration. Body absorbs these faster.

Overtones creating resonance with body stay in string vibration longer. Body does not 'fight' these.

Resonance of body with string is the tone we hear - unplugged and plugged.

That is why unplugged tone of solid body electric 'matters' - because unplugged, primary, acoustic tone is Tthe Tone of the instrument, before electric signal generation and manipulation colors it a bit.

Harder metal alloy sounds brighter. Harder wood sounds brighter. Mechanical resonance cannot be prevented. When you hear brighter unplugged, you will hear brighter plugged.

It is actually sad that no matter how simple this is there is no way that each and every person reading this will grasp it esp those who cannot hear it clearly. And there is nothing we can do to change the design of life that causes that limit.

Yet.

If 'science' look-alike 'knowledge' helps, so be it. I am sure you will keep posting these same links.
That statement is correct. You assume that the resonance adds to the string vibration, when it really gets cancelled due to phase cancellation.

If a string is vibrating at 880hz, and the guitar's resonance is 883 hz, the string will die out slower than when the guitars resonance is at 880hz. Then it is almost instantaneous. The harmonics are multiples of the fundamental and therefore keep going for a bit. When the resonance dampens the fundamental, you are left with the bright harmonics.

I have proof, empirical as it may be, for you.

My ibanez rg3xxv has a resonance in the b saddle adjuster on the bridge. If I touch the saddle while playing a B17th fret, the saddle vibrates like crazy for 2 seconds until the note dies.

If I tighten the adjuster all the way down and retune, there is no issue through the actual wood structure. It starts and stops in that saddle, and on the bridge.

The strings energy was stolen at the saddle, not the guitar.

I happen to agree that the guitar wood does matter, but in more of an eq manner.
A highly resonant guitar with the same eq/tonal signature as a less resonant guitar would sound almost exactly the same, but would have different (less) sustain characteristics

Resonance is the opposite of sustain. One will always subtract from the other.

Resonance does not make a sound. In fact, it takes a vibration (plucked string) to cause resonance. Every product will have a resonance. Weight is added to combat resonance. If you eliminate resonance, you increase sustain. Hence the 70s desire for 13lb les pauls with all heavy brass hardware. Most guys will tell you that they got more sustain......and a heavier guitar. The sound didnt change much at all.
I never got the desire for sustain as a requirement. Who sustains a note for more than 4 seconds or so?

Tone matters, right? What do the call those things that adjust bass and treble? Oh yeah, TONE controls.
So what really matters for all those "tone" gurus is tone (or eq. Or the bass/treble spread. Or tonal spectrum) of the built guitar.

A highly resonant guitar with an eq that sounds like ass will translate as such plugged in. Pickups can be used to mitigate that, but cant fix it.

Spectral eq is all that really matters. Take that seymour duncan 59 and place it in a guitar that sounds naturally scooped and what do you get? A scooped out mess. Now install it in a guitar that is more middy sounding, perhaps with a small lack of bass? Completely different pickup, right?

That is why one guy loves the sd59 and another doesnt. And also why the same pickup sounds different in every guitar.

And sound waves get cancelled by others that oppose it. That happens very fast. Like when a body resonates.

A gradual decrease sustain (decay) means there is little/no frequency cancellation happening.
 

korus

Member
Messages
1,169
That statement is correct. You assume that the resonance adds to the string vibration, when it really gets cancelled due to phase cancellation.
Let me get it clearly what you are saying. Flat top acoustic guitar body (top and back) vibrations created by mechanical resonance with string actually are OUT OF PHASE with string's vibrations?

Most of sting vibrations' goes at anchor points parallel with string due to string contracting after initial elongating.

Out of phase means when string CONTRACTS and PULLS a tuner and a bridge towards each other, body AT THE SAME TIME does the OPPOSITE it PUSHES tuner and bridge AWAY each from the other.

Do notice that both tuner and bridge are FIRMLY attached at head-stock and center of body. If string PULLS tuner and bridge TOWARDS - both wood of neck and body can only follow metal of tuner and bridge.

What actual force - from where, by what - would make metal and than wood move in OPPOSITE direction of string movement?

The only force (released potential energy stored in elongated string by picking it) present in the system is string contracting and elongating - thus pulling and 'pushing' (actually, releasing) both metal parts and wooden parts in the EXACT SAME DIRECTION as string moves, which is the very definition of IN PHASE.

So, what force you detect in this system that causes movement of body opposite to strings to create out-of-phase movement - and resulting in 0 sum - no vibration faster - shorter sustain?
 

korus

Member
Messages
1,169
Are you implying that the resonance(s) remain at the same frequency as mass and flexibility vary and only amplitude changes?
No, clearly the frequency varies due to mass/thickness difference, but amplitude also varies from very loud (acoustic) to very quiet (solid-body) - and that huge variance in amplitude causes some to understand it as different physical process happening when it is not. They mistakenly identify difference in quantity as a difference in quality and suddenly there are different physics at play with acoustic and electric guitars.

And that is funny idea. The physics is one and the same. Every guitar ever made is an acoustic guitar. Just like every guitar with carbon steel strings and pickup is an electric guitar. Tone is created/defined exactly the same way on every guitar ever made - by string under the resonance/dampening of the body (parts).
 
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strumminsix

Member
Messages
4,019
I'm a clean player for the most part. My experience is that electric guitars that are more acoustic or resonant usually give me a more enjoyable plugged in experience while many that sound dull unplugged, sound dull plugged in.

Yes there are exceptions. Yes your experiences are different.
 
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Ridgeback

Member
Messages
1,925
Only on full hollow body electrics like jazz boxes. To me, those are a mix of both their electric and acoustic properties. Otherwise, I do strum electrics unplugged to feel the amount of string vibration transfer in the neck and body but that really has nothing to do with the acoustic tone of the guitar.
 

Robotechnology

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,282
The most important aspect is it’s unplugged tone for me because I don’t swap pickups. When it makes logistical sense I aquire 2 or 3 of the EXACT same model and keep the one that sounds acoustically the best because plugged in inevitably it ALWAYS sounds the best out of the 2 or 3. This is one of the reasons I find it so hard to sell my guitars as I really go out of my way to find the best sounding example of it!
 
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Hired Goon

Member
Messages
656
Also if acoustics don't matter at all then why are fret buzz sounds reproduced so precisely by pickups?
Or for example another simple experiment. Apply the headstock to a wooden table or wall and tell me the plugged in sound and resonance doesn't change. Just try it :p
Because fret buzz takes away from the sustain and purity of the vibrating string. A pickup is not a microphone, it's a transducer of mechanical energy to electrical energy.

Your pickup can't hear your guitar wood singing to you, but it can "hear" anything that takes away energy from the string vibration. Different "tone" woods simply take away string vibration in varying degrees. It's up to you to say if the energy removed by alder or maple is more pleasing to you.

A more important variable to me would be sustain. I would prefer a guitar that sustains than sings acoustically. That singing you hear is lost energy.

There seems to be a massive discrepancy here between science based thinkers vs artists. Sorry but in this I'll side with the scientists, no matter how good or experienced the artist is. There are a lot of amazing artists who can play things the scientists can only dream of but they lack the analytic thinking required here.
 

PAFunk

Member
Messages
20
I don’t worry too much about the tone of a guitar unplugged but I do look for guitars that are more resonant. I don’t have any empirical evidence that this translates to electric tone, but it’s more fun for me when I can feel a guitar ringing in my hands.

I also think the amp has more to do with the plugged in tone than the guitar. Well made it’s a 50/50 split. The amp has a sound and the guitar colors that sound in a certain way.

I break down guitars into tone families: Strat, Tele, LP, 335. I decide what family I’m shopping for then I pick the one with the most comfortable neck.
 

-sku-

Member
Messages
502
Because fret buzz takes away from the sustain and purity of the vibrating string. A pickup is not a microphone, it's a transducer of mechanical energy to electrical energy.

Your pickup can't hear your guitar wood singing to you, but it can "hear" anything that takes away energy from the string vibration. Different "tone" woods simply take away string vibration in varying degrees. It's up to you to say if the energy removed by alder or maple is more pleasing to you.

A more important variable to me would be sustain. I would prefer a guitar that sustains than sings acoustically. That singing you hear is lost energy.

There seems to be a massive discrepancy here between science based thinkers vs artists. Sorry but in this I'll side with the scientists, no matter how good or experienced the artist is. There are a lot of amazing artists who can play things the scientists can only dream of but they lack the analytic thinking required here.
Lost me at guitar scientists.
 

DonaldDemon

Member
Messages
8,541
I've never cared about the unplugged tone, it's an electric, how it sounds plugged in is all that matters to me.
 

MikeMcK

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,721
Not at all important per se, but my experience is that a solid body that stands out when it's not plugged will almost always sound great when it is. Caveat: I don't use a super high-gain rig and play clean a lot of the time. If you're cranking gain most of the night, it probably doesn't matter at all.
 

Timtam

Member
Messages
2,042
The underlined text is factaully incorrect.

We all know what overtones of vibrating string are and now we shall see which frequencies of these remain in string and which are removed and how that happens. It's dead easy to grasp.

Maple vs mahogany
Maple is harder.
Maple has higher resonant freq range.
Maple create more resonance with higher overtones.
Maple dampens, attenuates and REMOVES lower overtones FROM string's vibration more and faster.
Tone unplugged is brighter with maple.
Tone plugged is brighter with maple.

If underlined text was correct we would hear maple having BRIGHTER unplugged tone AND DARKER plugged tone. Cause maple would remove higher overtones, while lower overtones would remain in string and pickup would detect lower overtones. And we would hear deeper tone coming from a speaker.

We don't. It is physically impossible. Vibrating string and body parts supporting it CANNOT vibrate at different frequencies.

Overtones dampened by body are those removed from string vibration. Body absorbs these faster.

Overtones creating resonance with body stay in string vibration longer. Body does not 'fight' these.

Resonance of body with string is the tone we hear - unplugged and plugged.

That is why unplugged tone of solid body electric 'matters' - because unplugged, primary, acoustic tone is Tthe Tone of the instrument, before electric signal generation and manipulation colors it a bit.

Harder metal alloy sounds brighter. Harder wood sounds brighter. Mechanical resonance cannot be prevented. When you hear brighter unplugged, you will hear brighter plugged.

It is actually sad that no matter how simple this is there is no way that each and every person reading this will grasp it esp those who cannot hear it clearly. And there is nothing we can do to change the design of life that causes that limit.

Yet.

If 'science' look-alike 'knowledge' helps, so be it. I am sure you will keep posting these same links.
We have noted before that your conception of solid body electric guitar physics is not supported by the experiments that have been performed on real guitars. I can only point you to those guitar science experiments to verify this ('You can lead a horse to water, but ...' ?). It is the same science that applies to other vibrating structures. So you could discuss it with a structural engineer and s/he would be able to explain the physics to you from work on vibrations in bridges or buildings for example. You can say that your theories don't agree with that, but you would have to produce your own experiments to convince anyone. If you keep posting unproven theories as if they are fact then we will have to continue to call you out with the direct science from guitar-playing/-building scientists, engineers, and physicists.

Note the end-to-end proof by MIT-PhD engineer/guitar builder on a real SG in the video:
1. Guitar string frequency measurements show a missing frequency, that corresponds to a structural resonant modal frequency of the neck (~167 Hz).
2. Neck is measured to be vibrating at that modal frequency; but the string vibrations that should include that harmonic/overtone are missing it.
3. Neck is clamped to stop its ability to vibrate.
4. The missing frequency re-appears in the strings/pickup output.
Q.E.D.


The physics is then explained. Same as bridge/building vibration physics.

More associations between neck resonant modal frequencies and dead spots (ie vibrations removed from the strings by the neck's vibrations).


Also:
 
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