- Dec 8, 2009
- Reaction score
I have some issues with all of Jim Lill's videos, but I still think that they are very interesting and that a lot can be taken from them in a practical sense. His cabinet video was quite good, I thought.That guy does great videos in his "where does the tone come from" series. Everyone should watch the one he does on amp tone. But with this one, I have some issues. There are some holes and assumptions.
On a side tangent, Eric, have you read the translated publication "Physics of the Electric Guitar" by Manfred Zollner? I'm curious what a physicist has to say about it.
Regarding Zollner, I haven't read the entire thing (it's quite long!), but I've read some of it. What I've seen is all quite good. I've read other books on the physics of instruments though, for instance Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics by Benade and The Physics of Musical Instruments by Fletcher and Rossing. Music and sound come up a lot in physics education, as it all falls under the umbrella of physics: vibration, oscillations, waves and energy, stress/forces on rigid bodies, electromagnetism, etc. I don't think that the average guitar player realizes how fundamental all of those topics are in physics, and how often musical instruments come up in university physics curricula as simple, easy-to-understand examples of more complicated scenarios.
About myself personally, I shouldn't pass myself off as a physicist in the sense that I don't have a PhD in physics. I'm not one of those brilliant, all-knowing physics professors--and I don't say that tongue-in-cheek! I had professors that were incredibly intelligent and educated about an enormous and diverse range of applications. They seemed to know everything! I have degrees in physics and electrical engineering though (B.S. and M.S.), so I know a fair amount, but I'm more a typical engineer/physicist working at a company.
In electrical engineering school I took entire classes not only on signal processing, but audio spectrum signal processing. I took a few classes on amplifier design as well, but none of those were audio-specific. Most were about power and RF amplifiers (no-one really teaches anything about tube guitar amps anymore anyway as they're outdated technology). So I know a lot about how an electrical signal is generated, transmission line theory and how it propagates through cables, what happens at different stages of amplification, and all of that. Most of my engineering career was spent in aerospace analyzing conducted and radiated emissions on aircraft: basically the same thing as signals going through a guitar/cable/amplifier system, just much, much higher frequency. I left engineering a while ago to teach, though. I teach physics and the occasional engineering (and rarely chemistry or math) class now.
So I do know a good amount about all of this stuff, but I'm not expertly qualified to comment on the Zollner work, etc., and don't want to come off like I am. I realize that I can sound know-it-all or condescending at times, but I think that's mostly because the average musician or musical hobbyist doesn't understand how well-understood all of these things are. There's just not much room for magic fairy unicorn dust when it comes to electric guitar tone anymore.