Is this Fender's admission that finish affects tone?

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

  1. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member Vendor

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    Can't argue with any of Flogger's comments.. I just quoted them to suggest such thoughts only perpetuate the notion that the paint and/or how it's applied has some predictable impact on the guitars voice... it DOES NOT... It might have an impact, but predictable?? Notta chance.

    It Does have an influence on the voice, but until that influence becomes a repeatable specific sonic contribution that "you can hear, it cannot be anything other than a random addition to the sonic calculus that produces the voice.

    The whole discussion is tangental to the recurring attempts to quantity every aspect of a guitar so that one could just pick the sonic attributes guaranteed by specific quantified parts and the end result sonically, would be what one was expecting... that will NEVER ever happen...

    the paint is there for two reasons.. it acts as makeup for the "lady", and it keeps your nasty grimy crud from getting all over the raw wood.

    Here it is in Redneck.. Paint don't mean shi* Now lets gettuh beer 'n watch the game, or go fight. :p

    and who ever said it's Marketing is 100% right... and it's not targeting us. Most of us can read between the lines... it's targeting the Millions of wanna be guitarists that don't have a clue.. and the clue FMIC just provided in that article is skewed toward "hooking" in and reeling them in.

    Of course, I used to be in Advertising.. and that's exactly what Marketing is supposed to do.. :rolleyes:


    r
     
  2. hellbender

    hellbender Member

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    So much feeding into the finish narrative. Good for business.
     
  3. Steadfastly

    Steadfastly Member

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    And he had an anechoic chamber and all the measuring instruments there to prove his point.;)
     
  4. musekatcher

    musekatcher Member

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    Those of us that have followed the flattop and archtop markets for many decades, recognize all these arguments that have transferred. Nitro, tone wood, age, parts - all of these were theoretical causes of the mystique and mystery of pre-war Martins and Gibsons. The solidbody market was oblivious to all of this at the same time, and more concerned with hot, ceramic pickups for "super distortion", lol. That alone, makes all of this obvious.
     
  5. disconnector

    disconnector It's been swell, but the swelling's gone down. Silver Supporting Member

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    The problem with a "scientific" discussion about guitar tone is the huge mass of variables in play. We can control many of the variables such as metals for hardware and setup but we cannot control the most fundamental part - the wood. Things that are invisible to the eye like wood densities (which can differ in the same plank from the same tree) have effects which are audible to even puny human ears. Also - wood isn't very stable on the macroscopic level since the size and density of parts changes with humidity levels and temperature. We've all seen setups and truss rod changes from season to season - wood isn't a very "repeatable" substance for real testing.

    What we need to do is to invent a substance that we can use for guitar necks and bodies that is completely controllable as to density, resonance freqs, and stiffness. All of the other variables such as coatings, hardware and setup can be controlled fairly simply. When properly instrumented we would have actual empirical data to use to make decisions about guitar building.

    Once we have that there will actually be a *science* of guitar building.
     
  6. John Quinn

    John Quinn Member

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    I think the word 'admit' and 'admission' are making it look like Fender was hiding something. IMO they weren't hiding a thing - they have been attempting to give players what they think they want. Now I'm not much of a physicist - but I don't think an Electric guitar electronic response is affected by finishes - or if it is it gets into the area that @Ron Kirn talked to - inaudible and unprovable.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
  7. sunking101

    sunking101 Member

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    So what about their American Pro and Elite/Ultra line? They're all poly and by saying what they said it is safe to assume that a cheap MIM strat with upgraded pickups will sound as good as an Ultra strat? Not to mention that the poly Ultra Series costs more than the nitro Originals Series...
     
  8. jnovac1

    jnovac1 Supporting Member

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    i’m interested in comparing unfinished raw wood to pigmented or clear finished instruments.
     
  9. Relicula

    Relicula Supporting Member

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    I have had guitars refinned from poly to nitro, from RS guitarworks, historic makeovers, and Dave Johnson.

    It made zero difference in tone.

    The guitars did not "breathe" better, no acoustical properties enhanced, no bloom to notes, nothing.

    The guitars sounded the same when I got them back, as before I sent them.

    One of my best sounding guitars has a 70's poly finish which was painted over black, with a brush.

     
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  10. Bill D

    Bill D Member

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    I think the idea that the finish could affect the sound of a Strat is the same sort of magical thinking that has allowed marketers to exploit the magical thinkers.

    "These tuning machines/pickguard screws/strap buttons give my Micronesian apewood T guitar a [fill-in-the-blank with your favorite impossible-to-quantify/measure-yet-it's-definitely-there-I-swear-I-hear-a-difference-and-yes-the-full-moon-definitely-affects-peoples'-behavior-and-yes-sugar-really-does-make-kids-hyper-it's-not-just-confirmation-bias comparative adjective] tone."
     
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  11. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Silver Supporting Member

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    I think it's worth noting that whatever the truth of it (or not!), the Fender comment as quoted in the OP doesn't claim that the effect it describes is in any way better, just that some players might prefer it. So as far as marketing hyperbole goes, it's pretty low key and maybe not quite deserving of some of the, um, hyperbole it's getting here.

    Especially because all they really said was the finish in question doesn't affect tone!!! And people who agree that the finish doesn't affect tone are still mad at them. :dunno
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
  12. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    Naked or light oil partscasters must be the finest tone of all.
    You can all afford these instead of CS or PRS nonsense.
    Shiny things attract small minds.:D
    Trolling / marketing. Same thing i.e. bait.
     
  13. blong

    blong Supporting Member

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    Probably gonna open another can of worms here, but, if you can hear the difference in poly vs nitro, but don't hear the difference between stainless steel frets and nickel silver frets, I can't listen to your arguments. If we hear the difference between a bone nut and synthetic nut, but claim on the other side of your mouth you can't hear the difference between stainless and nickel silver frets, I can't listen to your arguments. If you can argue that with all the other variables, pickups, pots, cables, pickup height, string gauge and material, pick material, amp, settings, etc., the player's touch, that you can hear the difference between poly and nitro I can't listen to the argument. I had a client claim his nitro guitars sounded superior due to the nitro, and we plugged up my old 1978 strat through an old twin. His guitar sounded nicer than mine, a little fuller, bright snappy highs. We then plugged both guitars into my Rivera Rake. My old poly covered strat sounded way better. Went to my 1966 Princeton Reverb, his guitar was nicer. Plugged 'em into a 68 Pro Reverb, my strat sounded better, to both of us. Same cable, same to pickers, different results with different amps. Some guitars sound better with some amps, etc. I would never attribute it to finish. Same with Brazillian Rosewood fingerboards. If you can hear the difference between brazillian and indian rosewood, you got better ears than Eric Johnson, and you probably mock him for is idiosyncrasies.

    I'll finish with this: if you hear it, you hear it. I may not. Whatever makes you want to play more and love your guitar more, go for it. But this continual belief that older is better, nitro is better, woods were better and the workers were more skilled back in the day, it's all hogwash. A good guitar is a good guitar, no matter what they components.

    Bob
     
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  14. John Quinn

    John Quinn Member

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    I believe that with very little work - almost all budget guitars can be fantastic players nearly indistinguishable from their expensive cousins (in terms of performance and sound - but not the appearance). The biggest influence would be to add a great player to the mix.
     
  15. VintagePlayerStrat

    VintagePlayerStrat Supporting Member

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    I'm not sure admission is the right word, but could be.

    Fender is clearly setting up a tier here:

    1. Nitro, most delicate, but wood breathes most
    2. Polyurethane, more durable, but wood breathes less
    3. Polyester, most durable, but wood doesn't breathe

    Many guitarists would agree with them. I've only felt compelled to buy the nitro and polyurethane options from any maker and the only ones I currently own from any maker are all nitro (except one with a polyurethane neck.) But I don't believe it's the nitro alone that made them sound best to me and I don't think any guitar player would attribute the sound of the guitar to the type of finish alone.

    Every guitar company is going to apply a little snake oil to their justification for a given finish, yes, very much including PRS. And a big issue, for any guitar company, including PRS, Fender, what have you, is how pricey and difficult nitro is to shoot these days.
     
  16. JukeBoxRat

    JukeBoxRat Supporting Member

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    Nitro, poly, unicorn blood, whatever. I've been playing and buying guitars since I was a teenager in the 90s. Even during the year and a half or so that I sold guitars, paint was a non-factor to me. Paint and even body wood to me has always been more about what looks cool. Ash looks better with a transparent finish than alder or poplar. Ditto with maple, which is why you see maple caps on mahogany bodies. If it sound good, let it rip, baby!

    That said, I'm just as much a sucker for certain kinds of marketing. It's not like I needed another Tele when I bought a HH Fender Player Tele when they came out. But hey, Tidepool sounds a lot sexier than "just another variation of blue". And all the fancy language about the redesigned Fender humbuckers went right to the GAS-zone of my brain. More to the point, though, the guitar rips. Doesn't hurt that it looks cool while doing so.
     
  17. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member Vendor

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    "Interested" would be about all that could be realized..

    the guitar is comprised of many obvious parts, and many not so obvious internal factors that ALL add their influence to the guitar's voice... Thus to examine the premise: the finish or lack thereof influences the voice of the guitar in a specific way, and exactly how so, one would have to develop some method of isolating ALL the contributing factors in the sonic chain. Otherwise you're simply comparing one guitar to another.

    Now a theoretical Physicist perhaps at CERN, the Fermi Lab, JPL, or similar that has access to a super computer could enter data and theorize what does what, but that's a computer, we don't play computers.. so the results would be Academic at best. There is no way to do that and have a viable test unit that represents anything like a real playable guitar.

    Remember when you are listening to a guitar, you are hearing THE GUITAR, you are not hearing the individual sounds of the Bridge, saddles, paint, wood, pots, the cap, the frets, the fingerboard, the nut, the pickups, etc, etc, . . anymore than when you eat a pizza, you're tasting the dough, the cheese, the Pepperoni, the sausage, the ham, the bacon, the pineapple, the avocado, the mushrooms... You taste Pizza..

    Further. . . take salt... the pizza tastes like pizza despite if the Pizza Chef sprinkled 18,987 grains of salt or 19,080.. similarly You do not hear if the wood is coated with Nitro, or how thick it may be.. the difference is so infinitesimally small, it would take the equipment in a very esoteric acoustic lab to detect it definitively..

    so.. again.. Just go play your guitar and do it well.. and all these issues fade with your increasing ability.

    r
     
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  18. jnovac1

    jnovac1 Supporting Member

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    i am thinking more john lennon casino.
     
  19. Eveningtheme

    Eveningtheme Member

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    You nailed it, it's just marketing. I do a much stupider, ham-fisted version of this in my marketing job.

    I think nitro feels 'softer' to the touch on the neck, but I don't think there's any affect on tone.

    Guitars with no finish sure feel nice since they resonate acoustically more, but there's no difference in tone.

    Wouldn't we all be coveting all those stripped 70's strats as the holy grail of tone if that was the case?
     
  20. SinglecutGuy

    SinglecutGuy Supporting Member

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    No they'll talk about other upgrades on those guitars like the neck radius, upgraded pickups, upgraded tuners, etc.
     

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