Least descriptive tone descriptors.

trapland

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Hopefully this can be fun and not a pissing match.

I love a good adjective, I love to use interesting ways to describe things, especially across senses. Apparently flavor and sound both draw strong opinions. Here's what wine people say about how to describe wine.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wine_tasting_descriptors


Interesting that they don't claim wine tastes "vintage" considering that's the origin of the word.

I can understand someone describing guitar sound as spanky, gritty, mellow, sparkly, hot, cool, nasal, scooped, swirly, and maybe hundreds of others. But my vote for the least useful description of guitar tone is VINTAGE.

Vintage describes absolutely nothing with regards to how something sounds. Sure, vintage guitars may have certain tone, but they all sound different just as modern guitars do. There is no "vintage" sound, only ways of describing how a specific vintage guitar sounds.

Anyone with me on this? And what are your favorite and most annoying tone descriptors? Feel free to define them, without just using other irrelevant descriptions. Scales of comparison are real. I'll start a few that I think really exist....

Dark=less treble
Bright=more treble
Fat=more midrange
Spanky=very pronounced attack
Sparkle=more of the highest treble range
Harsh=excessive upper midrange

And some that don't.

Vintage =an auditory placebo effect.
Drippy=post sweaty hands tonal adjustment? Maybe more effected?
Chewy= what ?!?!

:naughty: Be nice!
 

Tweaker

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I'd also add a little bass to the "fat" definition...not super bassy, but enough to add some girth. If it's just more midrange, I start to hear "honk" instead of "fat" if that makes sense.

I've heard "gooey" on occasion...never figured out what that meant!
 

MooCheng

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describing tone a as vintage is assuming all 50's 60's tones were the same which they wer'nt.
They were as varied back then as they are now ( sans stompboxes )
 

trapland

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Girth. I always get a chuckle out of that one. But I get it, it at least means not all treble. Gooey? Lol! Gooey is like saying it sounds like a second helping of wiener water soup.
 

dmoss74

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i see you mentioned my biggest head scratcher...chewy. wtf??? :)
 

hbucker

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I like Greasy tone.

Not to get too caught up in a pissing match aspects of this, but our language is full of words that are descriptive outside of the origin of the word: boss, bad, tubular, bitchin', gross, righteous, sweet, snatch, tasty, etc.

Not to mention the common name for a part of the guitar that is completely wrong: Tremolo. It's actually a Vibrato. But that name just didn't seem to stick with us highly evolved guitar players. ;)
 

Tweaker

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righteous

Righteous. That word right there is the PERFECT adjective for tone. Doesn't matter if others have a completely different idea of how someone's tone sounds, if you both like it, righteous will cover all ground.
 

cybermgk

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"not sure I agree with you 100% on your police work, there Lou"


[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ltYYXhGCBo[/ame]

Vintage depends on what they are referring to.

For instance, a statement like "Sounds like a vintage radio", that elicits a certain tone to anyone that has heard an old radio.

Just one example of many.
 

trapland

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Vintage depends on what they are referring to.

For instance, a statement like "Sounds like a vintage radio", that elicits a certain tone to anyone that has heard an old radio.

.
Not sure I can get on board with this one. One of my hobbies is restoring vintage radios. No human I ever met could discern between a vintage vs modern radio, assuming they used similar components. Differences, sure, but in a blind test which one sounds vintage?
 

Brewdude

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I'll go with woody, I've never plugged in my electric guitar and thought to myself 'hey that sounds like that tree outside my window' :dunno:
 

cybermgk

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Not sure I can get on board with this one. One of my hobbies is restoring vintage radios. No human I ever met could discern between a vintage vs modern radio, assuming they used similar components. Differences, sure, but in a blind test which one sounds vintage?
HOWEVER, most average people when they hear the term vintage radio THINK, that small, tinny speaker sound. They may be wrong, but the descriptor still has a meaning to these folks. THAT is the point.

Vintage record player, again a certain tone,

Vintage Organ, again a certain tone comes to most peoples minds,

etc. etc. etc.
 

trapland

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How about "brown"?

We know it's supposed to mean "like Van Halens early sound". But try using quantifiable descriptors and it gets harder to understand. The sound of a voltage starved plexi? What does that sound like? Well, Van Halen of course..... It's circular logic.

Whenever I hear "brown" I think dark, and that's wrong.
 

Brocko

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i have heard chewy used to describe univibes and it kind of makes sense.

i made this a while back.....seems relevant here

 

jestremera

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Beefy, glassy, chimey, wet, mushy, farty, muddy, round, thin...I can go on

Post number 200. Do I get a prize?
 

Tweaker

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Wait farty is actually a great descriptor of tone. Each individual fart has its own unique tone, yet they all sound so similar.

But seriously, I've had "farty" pickups before, and when I described the problem to people, they knew exactly what kind of sound I meant.
 

OldBenKenobi

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There is a lot of very weird psychology in sound and how sounds get associated with words and images. It's not far removed from the Bouba-Kiki effect.

I know what chewy tone is but I can't explain how I know that or even explain what chewy tone is.

How about "brown"?

We know it's supposed to mean "like Van Halens early sound". But try using quantifiable descriptors and it gets harder to understand. The sound of a voltage starved plexi? What does that sound like? Well, Van Halen of course..... It's circular logic.

Whenever I hear "brown" I think dark, and that's wrong.
My theory is that the brown sound has nothing to do with the color brown and everything to do with the word. "Br" is a very aggressive sound, while "own" is a big sound. A fat sound with an aggressive attack. Brown sound.
 

DADGAD

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I like the terms "Raw" and "loose". It describes my custom shop WLH set perfectly.

"Tight" and "focused" are good terms to me too.
 

MoPaul

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If we are starting with vintage tone we should add "modern" to the list. What does "modern" tone sound like?
 

hbucker

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If we are starting with vintage tone we should add "modern" to the list. What does "modern" tone sound like?
I think of mids that are more scooped, and highs that are a little more pronounced, all pushed through higher gain.

Also, modern sensibilities dictate that we need a lot of low end thump, even when it gets washed out by the bass player in the mix.

That's what I think 'modern' means, anyway. But your point is well made.

Reality is, I think we all have an idea in mind when someone suggest a tone is either vintage or modern.
 


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