50's Wood? This is How a Good Les Paul Supposed to Sound Like

Discussion in 'Vintage Les Pauls' started by d1m1, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. BBD

    BBD Senior Member

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    I'm going out for a while now, but in the hope of a more productive discussion later, here are the elements of the system as I see it. Now there is something clearly set out to critique. There are a couple of assumptions:

    Initial energy input is from the picking of a string.

    All energy ultimately leaves the system to the atmosphere - assume an intangible musician :)

    So:

    1/ Energy input into the system = picked string.

    2/ Energy losses from the string are:

    - directly to the atmosphere
    - through forced vibration: via the nut (or fret, if a note is fretted) and the bridge to the guitar body

    3/ Energy loss from the system is *increased* because the entire surface of the body vibrates and sheds energy into the atmosphere and the body has a *much greater* surface area than the string alone.

    4/ The increased rate of energy loss from the string reduces the amplitude and duration of its vibration.

    5/ This reduces the voltage induced in the pickup(s) which diminishes the loudness and sustain of the amplified signal.

    Therefore:

    The more (less) susceptible to forced vibration the body is, the more (less) rapidly it will rob energy from the strings and so reduce the loudness and sustain of the amplified signal.

    This means that less acoustically resonant guitars actually produce an amplified tone that is louder and more sustaining than more acoustically resonant guitars.
     
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  2. boola1

    boola1 Member

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    I'm sticking with Gary, Bernie and Joe on this one.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  3. BBD

    BBD Senior Member

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    Ah, so you can't critique what I say. Thought so :). Which means you automatically lose the argument. Next time you're tempted to tell someone that they don't know what they are talking about, remember that they might call your bluff.

    Here's why I suspect you got confused, but Gary, Bernie and Joe don't, because they know what to listen for:

    1/ Hollow body *acoustic* guitars *do* rely on body resonance for their loudness and sustain (the total opposite of electric solid bodies) and people just muddle things up.

    2/ A 'good' solid body which doesn't resonate excessively and rob energy from the strings means that the string vibration itself will be prolonged and sound that bit louder and brighter acoustically. This gets muddled with body resonance (1). Key point.

    3/ New strings sound like (2), which is why music stores have been known to put new strings on a guitar they are trying to shift.
     
  4. boola1

    boola1 Member

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    Damn, OK you win. 10 internet points for you.
     
  5. BBD

    BBD Senior Member

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    Only 10??? All that typing and this is my reward? :hyper:
     
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  6. PierM

    PierM Premium Member

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    You would be totally right if instead of picking on the strings, you were knocking against the body wood. In such system, a more resonant wood, would transfer more energy to the strings, make them resonating more and for more time. In that case would be indeed energy from the wood to the strings. But since you are picking the strings, it's all energy escaping (damping) from there, down to the nut/saddles, down to the wood and good bye. It's nothing bouncing back. It's not a Newton cradle.

    Wood is damping frequencies and energies away from the system. It will never, ever, give you back anything.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
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  7. Dilver

    Dilver Senior Member

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    Why do people always feel the need to get into an argument and win? ... Especially in a place where we're just trying to enjoy a common interest.
     
  8. NINFNM

    NINFNM Member

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    Does that mean that a guitar made out of graphene, or diamond, or the stiffer material you name it, would be the best sounding?
    Why to use mahogany instead of full maple?
     
  9. rockstar232007

    rockstar232007 Senior Member

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    Because, a full-maple LP would weigh a ton. Not to mention, it would sound significantly brighter.
     
  10. xeizo

    xeizo Senior Member

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    You could simplify it, the string vibrates between the saddle and the nut, if everything beteen the saddle and the nut including both of them is a black unknown box: The stiffer and less resonant the box is, the more the sustain, if ANY movement from the box or parts in the box it will steal energy from the string. Because those movements are driven by the string, meaning less energy left for the string itself to do it's own movement.

    A diamond guitar is less practical and would be damned expensive, already an Ebony guitar would be too heavy, even if I believe it would sound sweet.

    Anyway, if ideal, anything between those two points the string vibrates should be as stiff as possible. I guess Mahogany is just a very good compromise, and maybe you don't want a totally endless sustain, so in parts a compromise can be very good too.
     
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  11. PierM

    PierM Premium Member

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    No really. They were talking sustain, not tone. They are two VERY different things.

    In an electric guitar, tone is slightly affected by frequencies damping happening in the wood. Very slightly, but it's happening, and mostly depends on density and material impedance. Mahogany and maple, they both have a great high impedance, making them very good ideal resonators.

    And btw, let's go back to the OP argument with a new stimulus (but it's about acoustic instruments)....:)

    "Common beliefs are that regular playing and aging of wood improve the acoustical properties of musical instruments, that instruments that are exhibited in museums rather than played lose their quality, that “old fiddles sound sweeter,” and that new ones need to be “played-in.” Humidity and creep are believed to play an important role in this. Hunt and Balsan (1996) show experimentally that regular playing at intermediate or high humidities leads to an increase in stiffness and a decrease in loss coefficient. Beavitt (1996) presents experimental evidence to support his hypothesis that creep facilitated by humidity cycling results in changes in the overtone spectrum of the instrument, making it sound more sonorous and resonant. Segerman (1996, 2001) claims that creep in newly strung instruments affects the sound as it absorbs sound vibrations and that vibrations accelerate creep and thus help a newly strung instrument to settle in faster. Other research shows that the gradual decomposition and loss of hemicellulose with time lowers a wood's density without affecting its Young's modulus (Bucur, 2006). This avenue is being pursued further in current research to “age” soundboard wood by infecting it with a carefully selected fungus to lower the density at a constant Young's modulus and thereby improving the sound radiation coefficient and quality of the soundboards (Zierl, 2005)."
     
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  12. BBD

    BBD Senior Member

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    I hear you, but imagine if you said something correct and got the following back from someone else:

    And:

    And:

    You'd be goaded into a defence of your position, I think. Or maybe you are more chilled than me, in which case, respect. But I'm just not that Zen, I'm afraid :)
     
  13. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    Dude is brutalizing those strings with both hands. REALLY rough on them. That's fine, just pointing it out.

    I'll agree that older Les Pauls seem to be acoustically louder and more balanced than modern ones but without having another one to compare to in the same video/mic/room/position/etc. how could anyone know where this one sits in comparison? Some microphones are also louder and fuller sounding than others.
     
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  14. BBD

    BBD Senior Member

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    Thanks for Wegst (2006), which I hadn't read. It takes the discussion back to the old chestnut about how old eg. 1959 LPs were when they made the classic tones revered today. And to the OP - does a '59 burst sound different today than when it was ten years old in 1969?

    If it does, then it's potentially less suitable for capturing that classic tone than a more modern LP.
     
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  15. Dougie

    Dougie Senior Member

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    Two points of contrast.. A good friend who has worked on the real Pearly Gates more times than he can count, says that it is the deadest, dullest sounding Les Paul that he has ever heard. It's all in Billy's fingers and technique. Yeah my jaw dropped at that statement too!

    Resonance is KING! I invested in a Historic Makeovers LPR8 (avatar pic) and I gotta tell you, acoustically this thing is unbelievable! You strap it on and walk into a room, it FILLS the room! Rings forever and a day! This puppy is SO sensitive to pickups, pots, and even caps that the smallest change makes a HUGE difference in the sound through the amp, one full turn either way on the pickup height screws makes a very audible difference in the "drive" that the amp sees. I have never owned a guitar that is THIS resonant or this sensitive to even small changes. It is a wonderful guitar, by far the most money I ever sunk into a guitar, but I would buy another and another and another of these HM guitars, they are the BEST bang for the buck if you are in the market for a REALLY GOOD Lester.. I have never been happier with a guitar in my life, and I have been playing for 50yrs.

    The real secret? Sustain "coupling" where one part helps another transmit vibration and resonance back to the strings, The hide glue neck joint. Hide glue fingerboard to the neck. Fish glue in the fretslots. These two glues dry clear and hard and have EXCELLENT vibration transferring properties. The old wood of a 50s burst is also put together in the same way with some of the same materials, and a lot of the "hollow vowel" tone you hear in the best bursts, that tone is coming from the neck. You actually "hear" the neck and the effect the mass of the neck has on the audible acoustic tone, and this hollow vowel tone comes through the amp as well, it's not all just because of the PAFs if that were the case, you could put PAFs on a recent Les Paul and get the hollow vowel, this just does not happen.

    It is my contention that if you take a 59 burst, with a nice rounded full feeling 59 neck and shaved it down? You would lose a LOT of that hollow vowel tone, the mids would be greatly diminished from the tonal palette.

    By the same token, you can take a partsocaster, and swap a thin neck for a Warmoth boattail neck and REALLY hear the change in the sound that the neck contributes! You can HEAR the change brought on by this deeper neck really easily both acoustically AND amplified.

    Some of the Burst tone is the old growth wood, but the majority of it is in the glue joints, the neck and it's mass, and the fingerboard itself. The Brazilian Rosewood has it's own sound. Ebony on the same 50s burst would NOT sound the same.
     
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  16. sws1

    sws1 V.I.P. Member

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    Resonance DOES NOT MEAN Sustain DOES NOT MEAN Sound Quality.

    This debate is useless if people keep using these words interchangeably.

    Want the most resonance? Make the guitar out of rubber...you'll feel it vibrate like crazy.
    Want the most sustain? Make the guitar out of something stiff...All the energy will remain in the string
    Want the best sound quality? Trick question...There is no best / better. Tone is subjective.
     
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  17. Mr. Pickles

    Mr. Pickles Mr. Pickles loves you. MWAH! ♥ Premium Member

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    That's what my R9 sounds like and you can hear it both acoustically and plugged in. It's a hollow/woody tone. I agree that an acoustic sound alone is not a reliable way to gauge how a guitar will sound or feel plugged in. I think you can only get that sound today from an R9, maybe an R8 (my R8 doesn't have it even though it still sounds great).
     
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  18. jerry47

    jerry47 Premium Member

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    A heavy Gage string can make any guitar sound acoustic like so what Gage are on it? to me this means nothing. I can make a Orville sound like this with a set of 11/12 on it.
     
  19. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Every great 50's Les Paul I've ever played had good acoustic tone, very similar in nature to the OP's video. Many old Lesters don't have it, BTW.
    The pseudo science used here to "explain away" this very basic empirical evidence collected by many players over the years is laughable. This video also proves that youtube data compression is irrelevant when it comes to evaluating tone, assuming it's an honest representation which this one certainly is.
     
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  20. BBD

    BBD Senior Member

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    You point to the errors. Go on, I'm looking forward to this.
     

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