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Is this Fender's admission that finish affects tone?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by 5F6-A, May 31, 2020.

  1. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Member

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    Recently I noticed that my son's Fender Player series Strat sounds very good. In fact,almost every player Strat I have heard sounds just as good which makes me a bit suspicious. So I started researching the topic and Fender admits here https://www.fender.com/articles/tech-talk/the-science-and-style-of-finishes that

    "[with a polyester finish] you get tones that are more purely those of the pickups rather than other elements of the instrument’s construction, which many players prefer."

    I was surprised by this admission. That finish type affects the tone slightly was something that I had anecdotal evidence for ages but I was taken aback a bit by Fender's admission as it seems to contradict what I believe was their official position that modern finishes were sonically identical to nitro but more robust and durable.
    What do you think?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Guppie

    Guppie Member

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    Could also be salesmanship to let people spend more money on nitro finishes.
    IMHO if the difference was clear there would be a consensus throughout the guitar player community. Since there isn't the difference is probably not that clear.
    I personally prefer nitro because of the feel. It just feels slightly more organic. But that is just me.
    I would take any statement by a large commercial company with a grain of salt.
     
  3. SinglecutGuy

    SinglecutGuy Supporting Member

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    That specific quote right there was an excellently planned and well-thought out marketing strategy. That article as a whole is also a carefully worded (albeit accurate) representation of their products that not only covers their heritage, but hierarchy of their product line.

    Every company that has a good/better/best or entry-level/intermediate/premier product line has a difficult job to do. They have to promote the value of their affordable and entry-level lineup, while at the same time, never using verbiage in their premier marketing that, while giving clearly represented examples of superiority, never say anything that would seem to diminish the value or perceived quality of their entry-level line.

    Our top of the line product is superior to the rest of our line, but our entry level product is not inferior.
     
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  4. Steadfastly

    Steadfastly Member

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    Fender marketing speak as Singlecut guy explains. In plain words, Fender Snake Oil.
     
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

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    .

    +1 "Marketing Speak". That type of stuff is where the whole "tone wood" set of arguments begins. Some players believe in Tone Wood like a religious experience and will defend it as if someone attacked their religious or political leaders. "They make a gazillion products every day, they must know what they are talking about!"

    The problem is most musicians have spent their time learning music theory and song writing instead of engineering and manufacturing. So they are easily at the mercy of guitar marketers for what is or is not important to the sound of an instrument. As well as the off-the-cuff comments by celebrity players like the paint color or whatever. Marketing only has the official position of trying to sell buyers on getting the latest and more stuff.

    Like any other product advertising ... players must look through the smoke and determine what is real for themselves. Magic beans, or a feather to keep an elephant aloft.

    Fender's Player Series are nice guitars.

    .
     
  6. dreamspace

    dreamspace Supporting Member

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    I have one interesting anecdote regarding finishes and tone, when it comes to Fender.

    Around 8 years ago, I bought a used black Fender USA Standard Strat from the mid 90s. Everything about it looked normal / legit, but it was a bit thicker and square looking than normal, kinda like those old late 70's strats. And it was a bit...dead sounding.

    So I figured it must've been a dud. One day I heard some rattling under the pickguard, so I took it off to check - and it was a loose / chipped piece of finish. Turns out, this guitar had been sprayed over at LEAST 3 times, before they settled on black. First layer was primer, second layer was CAR, third layer was Sunburst, and finally black. The finish was THICK.

    Now, I have no idea whether or not this was a factory screw-up, where they simply did not bother to remove previous paint, or if it was the case of some previous owner trying to refinish his guitar. The black and final finish did look like a pro factory job, not something a clueless person would do in his garage.
     
  7. Ash Telecaster

    Ash Telecaster Member

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    I attended a seminar with Paul Reed Smith. At one time he had changed the finish because he found it affected the guitars tone. He got very detailed regarding his testing and findings. Honestly I don't remember the details any more. What I remember most was his being super detail oriented and driven to get things right.
     
  8. Daves Not Here Man

    Daves Not Here Man Member

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    Which is if I were to guess, exactly the point he wanted you to come away with. It’s his form of marketing: overwhelm you with information until your brain gives up and says “this guy sure knows a lot” and you assume that he’s an authority on everything he says
     
  9. stickyFingerz

    stickyFingerz Supporting Member

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    Whether or not a thick coat of paint affects tone, I don't think marketing blurb is where one needs to conduct his research.
     
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  10. flume

    flume Gold Supporting Member

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    People want to feel good about their purchases. Why evacuate the duodenum all over that?
     
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  11. two fingers

    two fingers Member

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    This.

    Show me on an oscilloscope, or other scientifically-accepted form of frequency analysys, how finish changes the tone the same way every time and I'll follow you into that fire. Ever wonder why no guitar company ever released that kind of data?

    So, make 20 pairs of guitars. Each pair will be made by the same people, using the same tools, same pickups and wiring harness, and from the same trees. One guitar in each pair gets finished with poly, the other with nitro. Then do serious frequency spectrum analysis of each pair. If the nitro guitar in each pair shows a (for instance) "bump in the high mids", we have some evidence (albeit a very small sample size).

    Until you control all the other parameters that affect tone as much as possible, and run some very controlled experiments, "you got nutn".
     
  12. musekatcher

    musekatcher Member

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    That "admission" is code for "I'll lie to you for money." Oldest profession in the world.
     
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  13. spencer096

    spencer096 Member

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    my guess is because it's easier for fender to make money by selling guitars with all of the types of finishes because it makes zero difference to them, rather than wasting time doing research to settle an internet debate.
     
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  14. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member Vendor

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    In the discussion of chemical coatings, the name the paint industry assigns paints, that article is much like "See Jip Run. Run Jip Run." (Alice and Jerry books ca: 1960's) is to a Ph D in the English language arts, or any other language for that matter.

    The most obvious issue is, it infers there is only Nitro, Urethane or Polyester, and they are the same under the name assigned.. That would be incorrect. And a further faux pas, it infers that the nitro used in the 50's and 60's is the same as available today... way, totally incorrect..

    A further cognitive discord is produced by the suggestion, "a lot of science is involved in finish coatings for musical instruments." Umm to what end? how about sharing a little?? :rolleyes: Do you mean a lot of science had resulted in only three different coatings for Fender guitars, one of which is a duplication of that used at fender's inception??

    But that aside.. the premise of the OP, . . " Is this Fender's admission that finish affects tone?" As has been said ad nauseum.. Anything you do to your guitar will effect it's voice... the only real question is, to what extent, and will that degree rise above the threshold of noticeability... to wit.. Paint isn't in that league, it's not even sitting in the nosebleed seats in the stadium..

    Thus the question is moot, of course, the paint factors into the overall voice of the guitar.. However, again, to what degree? A comparison I posed many yeas ago, . . . it's much like the difference between using good ol Morton's Iodized Table salt, vs some organically dried natural sea salt in a Stew, or any other meal.. Is there a difference? Yes, would anyone notice it other than someone with acutely distorted sense of taste? :p No . . Could anyone detect it with anything less than a spectral analyzer, Hell no..

    Thus, there is NO practical way to prove scientifically that one paint coating projects a different, consistently predictable vocalization as compared to another type of paint. There are, quite simply too many other variables in play to make that determination with anything less than a very sophisticated acoustic lab and the motivation to spend the kind of money such an experiment would require.

    And that's the thing in all these discussions.. If whatever, . . . paint in this case, cannot be depended upon to produce specific sonic results every single time, then the sonic yield is a random occurrence with no way to "steer" it to a specific sound.

    Just go play whatcha got and do it well... :D No one givesuh hoot what paint your guitar is covered with.. No one...

    r
     
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  15. ballynally

    ballynally Member

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    what you don't remember is that those 'findings' were never published for people to scrutinize.
    He has made some statements but when pushed he had to admit that the data simply wasnt there or completely insignificant.
    Nobody has ever produced any evidence that an electric guitar finish influences the amplified output (it's even hard to do w acoustic guitars, where the vibration of the top plays a significant role and where the finish has a dampening effect.)
    If indeed one could detect any changes in sound it would be beyond the human ear to detect.
    And even if it was the case, It's so low on the totem pole of variables one might create to vary an electric guitar signal, only a total nerd will make changes to the manufacturing to suit his preconceived ideas.
    PR Smith is a well respected electric guitar maker.His products are top class and beloved by many.
    I trust his expertise. Yet, even brilliant people make spectacularly wrong statements.
    That includes Isaac Newton..:)
     
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  16. Yr Blues

    Yr Blues Member

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    Those players need to revoke their musician card. :FM
     
  17. budglo58

    budglo58 Member

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    I have owned nitro and poly. I have never noticed a tonal difference I could attribute to finish choice. I like nitro because of how it feels and wears. TBH Gibson’s nitro finishes feel as plasticy as poly.
     
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  18. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    This is my experience as well. If someone said my nitro finished guitars were poly I don't think I would even question it until they start wearing more. Modern poly finishes aren't the candy apple thick kind you had back in the day either.
     
  19. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member Vendor

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    consider... the "cheep" finishes, Poly and Polyesters are actually more costly to purchase... the reason they are used is because they're less labor intensive than lacquers. The cost of labor is where the real cost of guitar manufacture can be found.

    If ANY type formulation, etc., of finish produced consistently superior sound from a guitar.. SOME enterprising manufacturer would enlist a lab to verify, validate and certify those qualities, then use the information/data in marketing their "superior" products...

    Not one manufacturer does so... simply because of what I pointed out above.. There are entirely too many other variable factors in play, with no way to neutralize their sonic contributions so that of the paint could be isolated, analyzed and catalogued. Unless you can do that any discussion is based on sketchy unscientific anecdotal "gossip".

    r
     
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  20. two fingers

    two fingers Member

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    True.
    My only point was that until it's done (by anyone really) I don't buy it.

    My hunch is that it HAS been done. But the results were so inconclusive that they were buried. But that's my own tin foil hat tendencies shining through. :cool:
     
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