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Retreads’ Scientific Theory of Tone (It’s Not in Mounting Rings)

Retreads

Member
Messages
362
There’s been a spate of recent threads exploring the ridiculous components of tone (strap buttons, mounting rings, etc.). These threads generally make me wish that I had spent the time practicing instead of wasting my life, but, alas, I’m hopelessly addicted to these forums. I believe that the obvious, correct answer is that everything affects tone, even strap buttons. The issue is whether any given factor affects tone significantly.

As an engineer, I have a burning genetic defect that makes me want to model/simulate everything with numbers and theory. To that end, I propose Retreads’ Scientific Theory of Electric Guitar Tone. As an engineer, I also realize that this is an analogy and not a theory. I didn’t say I was a good engineer.

Summary: The sound you produce is comprised of many individual factors. How those individual factors interact with each other creates your Tone. Some factors contribute more to your tone than others, thereby indicating the significance of any one factor.

Analogy: Pi is an infinite mathematical constant. It has digits that go on forever. If you’re trying to calculate something using Pi, you’ll be more accurate the more digits you use. So if you use only the first digit, 3, you’ll be in the ballpark. But if you use 3.14159, you’ll be as accurate as anyone can expect. Tone is the same way. The first factor of tone matters most, but you get better the further you go down. How accurate you get will depend on how *retentive you want to be.

Formula: Here is tone, as expressed in digits of Pi…that is, the first item on the list is the most important and on down.

PI = 3.1415926535897932384626433832

3 How (well) you play
. {point}
1 Pedals/Effects
4 Pre-Amp
1 Pickups
5 Amp Speakers
9 Power-Amp
2 Pick
6 Guitar Scale
5 Guitar Body Materials
3 Caps (uF Value, not material)
5 Strings
8 Pots (Quality)
9 Guitar Weight
7 Fretboard Material
9 Nut
3 Bridge
2 Tailpiece / Trem
3 Power Supply
8 Instrument Cable
4 Guitar Wiring
6 Mounting Rings
Second to Last, undiscovered digit of Pi: Mojo
Last, undiscovered digit of Pi: Strap Buttons

It can also be represented as:
Tone = How (well) you play; Pedals/Effects; Pre-Amp; Pickups; Amp Speakers; Power-Amp; Pick, Guitar Scale; Guitar Body Materials; Caps (uF Value, not material); Strings; Pots (Quality); Guitar Weight; Fretboard Material; Nut; Bridge; Tailpiece / Trem; Power Supply; Instrument Cable; Guitar Wiring; Mounting Rings………………..Mojo; Strap Buttons

How would you reorder Tone ($$)? What would you add? Am I off my Rocker? Help me improve this theory!

Edit: Used the actual digits of PI
 
Last edited:
Messages
2,310
mmmmm Pie.

:D

Tone is in the fingers.

Fingers are in the pie.

Fingers, with pie on them, are in the mouth.

Mmmmm. Pie.

M
 

mark norwine

Member
Messages
17,202
Missing a digit...

PI = 3.1415926535897932384626433832

3 How (well) you play
. {point}
1 Pedals/Effects
4 Pre-Amp
1 <<<<<<< WHAT GOES HERE? GROUPIES, MAYBE?
5 Pickups
9 Amp Speakers
2 Power-Amp
6 Pick
5 Guitar Scale
3 Guitar Body Materials
5 Caps (uF Value, not material)
8 Strings
9 Pots (Quality)
7 Guitar Weight
9 Fretboard Material
3 Nut
2 Bridge
3 Tailpiece / Trem
8 Power Supply
4 Instrument Cable
6 Guitar Wiring
2 Mounting Rings
 

Retreads

Member
Messages
362
Missing a digit...
Like I said, bad engineer (plagued by cut and paste errors).

Groupies are an important factor in the equation that represents Musical Motivation, but, oddly, they have no correlation with tone.

Proof:
Tone + Groupies != Better Tone
Tone - Groupies != Worse Tone
Musician + Groupies = Musical Motivation + 100
 

EtaCarinae

Member
Messages
1,484
It sounds like you are rank ordering the affect that each of these tonal components has on the sound? I think it is a good start. I would add a couple of things here:

1) I would rank the list differently. That said, this list is at least close to the way I might rank it. That said, I think ranking is a little problematic for the following reason

2) Not all of the factors are independent. Here is what I mean. Some of the factors such as the pickups or the scale length will affect the harmonic content of the signal. This is going to be subtle under some preamps (i.e. low gain) and much more noticeable under compression from a high gain pre-amp. What I am saying is, something ranked low on the list might play a much bigger role in the tone depending on the characteristics of another thing on the list.
 

Hawking

Member
Messages
796
Do electric guitars made of concrete fit well in to the scale?

Just wondering, because unfortunately they do exist and it's worth taking extreme examples in to consideration to test your theory
 

SPROING!

Member
Messages
8,794
Now you must conduct a double blind independently corroborated scientific study with a control group to prove eah and every one beyond all doubt or its an Ibby.
 

Retreads

Member
Messages
362
It sounds like you are rank ordering the affect that each of these tonal components has on the sound? I think it is a good start. I would add a couple of things here:

1) I would rank the list differently. That said, this list is at least close to the way I might rank it. That said, I think ranking is a little problematic for the following reason

2) Not all of the factors are independent. Here is what I mean. Some of the factors such as the pickups or the scale length will affect the harmonic content of the signal. This is going to be subtle under some preamps (i.e. low gain) and much more noticeable under compression from a high gain pre-amp. What I am saying is, something ranked low on the list might play a much bigger role in the tone depending on the characteristics of another thing on the list.
Dude, you are right on with #2. The factors are very interdependent.

So in defense of my theory, I posit that you can arrive at a particular tone using different factors, so long as they arrive at a final value close to your target. Thus, I can get a Gibson like tone from a Gretsch if I use the right factors. Some tone equations are harder than others.

Similar to how you can calculate pi using many different methods.
 

Retreads

Member
Messages
362
Now you must conduct a double blind independently corroborated scientific study with a control group to prove eah and every one beyond all doubt or its an Ibby.
I very much intend to do this. In fact, I need everyone on TGP to send me their guitars and amps so I can give them each an independent tone value. I'll cross reference each guitar against the others to determine final factor weighting. Also, I'll pick up a 5-watt Marshall MG amp off the local Craigslist to be used as a control factor when evaluating the guitars. A First Act guitar (likewise acquired from CL) will be the control guitar. My cat will be the independent, blind-test listener.
 

Retreads

Member
Messages
362
I'm surprised wiring is so far down on that list...
Yeah, wiring was a dilemma. I put it low because it seems to be a factor only when it's really bad (ground short, or just crappy). Maybe I'll come up with a corollary to address this. The corollary will also address contributing factors that must be mitigated at some times and have no impact at others, like "Sound Guy" and "It's only 45 Degrees (F) Outside."

I gotta say, I've never heard even the craziest of tone snobs sound off with something like, "All this R9 needs is some better wiring. Then it would be perfect."
 

Geek USA

Member
Messages
663
Yeah, wiring was a dilemma. I put it low because it seems to be a factor only when it's really bad (ground short, or just crappy). Maybe I'll come up with a corollary to address this. The corollary will also address contributing factors that must be mitigated at some times and have no impact at others, like "Sound Guy" and "It's only 45 Degrees (F) Outside."

I gotta say, I've never heard even the craziest of tone snobs sound off with something like, "All this R9 needs is some better wiring. Then it would be perfect."
Pot and capacitor selection has a huge influence over the sound, IMO, especially if you're a volume/tone knob fiddling like me. That would be higher on my list, but I'm a little too lazy to write it up at the moment, hah.
 

THebert

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,455
I would move things like nuts and bridges up in the sense that if something is really wrong with them then you have a serious problem making music at all.
 

RussB

low rent hobbyist
Messages
11,157
I'm not an engineer, but I like pie. Bonus if it comes with ice cream




 

Schroedinger

Member
Messages
2,125
The only thing that you missed was the fact that our measuring tools, i.e. our ears and brains, are only accurate to about 10^-2. If you're really good, maybe 10^-4 or so.
 

dangeroso

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,615
I know this is meant in jest, but I'll repeat what I always do in these threads:

Tone is not in the fingers or playing. Proof is in striking an open chord.

Sound is tone + technique, and is very largely influenced by playing ability.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
34,674
Include how well you listen and adjust as part of the first digit and put me in to the 3.1416 (rounded off) level as the rest is trivial, unless you use one of those elements to the extreme.
 






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