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Electric guitar differences?

Tim Leaning 26 Feb 10 - 04:37 AM
Acorn4 26 Feb 10 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 26 Feb 10 - 05:06 AM
Richard Bridge 26 Feb 10 - 05:12 AM
Jack Blandiver 26 Feb 10 - 05:24 AM
Tim Leaning 26 Feb 10 - 05:32 AM
Bryn Pugh 26 Feb 10 - 05:55 AM
GUEST,JonR 26 Feb 10 - 06:10 AM
Tim Leaning 26 Feb 10 - 06:18 AM
Nick 26 Feb 10 - 07:46 AM
Nick 26 Feb 10 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,Burton Coggles 26 Feb 10 - 07:59 AM
Bobert 26 Feb 10 - 08:06 AM
GUEST 26 Feb 10 - 08:12 AM
Nick 26 Feb 10 - 08:25 AM
mattkeen 26 Feb 10 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,highlandman at work 26 Feb 10 - 02:16 PM
Mavis Enderby 26 Feb 10 - 02:31 PM
Dharmabum 26 Feb 10 - 07:40 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 26 Feb 10 - 10:05 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 26 Feb 10 - 10:15 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 26 Feb 10 - 11:49 PM
Darowyn 27 Feb 10 - 04:54 AM
GUEST,Mike Rogers 27 Feb 10 - 05:50 AM
mattkeen 10 Mar 10 - 05:39 AM
olddude 10 Mar 10 - 06:22 AM
Tim Leaning 10 Mar 10 - 05:21 PM
PoppaGator 10 Mar 10 - 06:05 PM
Tim Leaning 10 Mar 10 - 07:16 PM
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Subject: Electric guitar differences?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 04:37 AM

Now don't get me wrong I love to hear electric guitars wailing and grinding.
WHat I feel I should know is what is it that differentiates between the different makes and models re the sound or tone of the things.
To the novice they would appear to be a plank of wood or two fitted with some pick ups and strings.
They are then played through amp etc.
Why do players of these wonderful things lust after some marques models more than others?
Ok I understand wanting the same one that your childhood guitar hero played on your favorite video.
Maybe one that is you fave color.
But why does a "62'Strat" cause such drooling and dribbling among its devotees?.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Acorn4
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 05:03 AM

A lot of this drooling occurs among menopausal men.

You're unlikely to kill yourself with a Les Paul in contrast to a fast motorbike!


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 05:06 AM

Listen to what guitar great Carl Verheyen has to say about his Strat.

I love my Strat!


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 05:12 AM

The differences are sometimes audible. But in many cases they are not.

The difference in sound between single pole pickups and humbuckers is large - and I can certainly hear large differences between various humbuckers (the Jackson C90 being my favourite). There are also very audible differences between various single pole pickups, and there was a step-change in sound when individual pole piece pickups replaced bar pickups in the early 60s.

The wood also affects resonance - a Rickenbacker with its body cavities is instantly recognisable to the ear.

As with acoustic guitars however there is much irrationality. There are lots of acoustic guitars that may be preferred to and some that are outright better than the benchmark acoustic guitars (let's say the early 60s Gibson J-45 and the Martin D-45), and IMHO the status of the early Fender strats is as irrational as the lust for a '57 Ford Thunderbird (a truly horrid car) or a '66 Corvette (which I liked but can be outperformed by millions of Subarus today)


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 05:24 AM

I often dream of owning a 1958 cream Fender Telecaster, complete with ashtray - and I can't even play the guitar.

As for the sound, would Roy Buchanan have sounded the same without his tele? And what of Deke Leonard's trademark staccato?


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 05:32 AM

Now then I have actually held a Rickenbacker bass and I could see it was well made and the finish was good.
I didn't know it had a hollow body.
So I could see where it would cost more than a Kay catalog version.
Ah the vid is interesting stuff gonna watch it again.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 05:55 AM

I have a Gretsch 'Electromatic' solid.

I have also a wee 'practice' amp, 10 watts max.

I wound the gain up to max, put both neck and bridge pickups in and nearly blew the fucking windows out.

I think that the 'crisp' sound of a Telecaster, or an Esquire for that matter, is instantly recognisable.

I have owned two Teles, and would always have another (funds permitting).

I have never played a Tele I have disliked, and never yet played a Strat which I have liked.

Strats, IMO, are vastly overrated.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: GUEST,JonR
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 06:10 AM

Naturally most of these differences are only apparent to players, not to listeners.
The desire for vintage instruments is rather like that of any obsessive collector: those not in the know will be totally bemused as to why a late 50s Strat should be worth (say) 20 times more than a modern copy. And maybe a 100 times more if someone famous once owned it.
Of course there is rarity value, which dictates the price of any antique, regardless of its use value.
And there are some very subtle differences in sound between vintage instruments and modern ones - and not ones which might appear wholly good.
I once played a friend's 1964 Strat, and compared it with a modern Squier Strat. There was certainly a difference in sound: the older one had a kind of grittiness, a "worn" quality. Rather like the difference between a well-worn leather jacket and a brand new one. (And who wouldn't prefer to be seen in the former? Only a terminally uncool person...)
Guitar experts will say that's because the pickups on the older models were handwound, which resulted in more random construction than the "perfect" later machine-wound ones. So the early models have a kind of "character" that newer mass-produced ones don't. From one angle, that's an "imperfection". But it's the same kind of "imperfection" that makes some people prefer vinyl to CDs, which are theoretically more accurate.
However, this is still something that only the most discerning player will spot. Audiences don't give a damn.
I own an early 1960s Epiphone Casino (built in the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo). In many ways it's an inferior guitar: it goes out of tune more than my 70s Tele, and probably more than a modern Casino (made in Japan) would. But the tone (largely down to the P90 pickups) is to die for - IMHO. The sound of that guitar through a genuine valve amp (especially a 60s valve amp) is a kind of holy grail. You just know it's "right" when you hear it (the kind of fruity sound old 50s and 60s records have, that you just can't get today). It's not nostalgia, it's real.
I do think an untrained listener could spot the difference from a modern equivalent - but of course they'd probably be hard pushed to care!
IOW, the difference may not be down to nostalgic delusion, but caring about the difference probably is!


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 06:18 AM

I suppose if some one sat me down and played a few different guitars through the same amp I might get to understand it a little.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Nick
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 07:46 AM

I don't play Electric guitar much so I have a cheap and cheerful Squire Strat which does me fine and is set up reasonably well and is ok to play.

My 18 year old son though owns two Ibanez guitars - a Jem7V and a 7 string RG. Very different than my Strat copy - better sound, better pickups, better made, fretted better, better tone, better action, easier to play at speed, more powerful sound, wider range of tones etc etc I play it very rarely but it's a lovely instrument to play. Bit more expensive too.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Nick
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 07:47 AM

And a Rickenbacker bass has a VERY distinctive sound


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: GUEST,Burton Coggles
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 07:59 AM

Tim,

IMHO the amplifier is just as important, if not more so, than the guitar.

Sorry to muddy the waters!

JonR - sounds like we have similar tastes regarding the holy grail!

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Bobert
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 08:06 AM

The heavvier and more solid the body the more twang...

Mine??? Just a home-made slab of wood with a neck with hand wound pickups... Very heavy slab, tho, and she is as twangy as a Telecaster...

B~


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 08:12 AM

Yes - when it comes to electric guitar, obviously the electronics are what govern the sound (as distinct from playability, a different issue).
And generally what electric guitarists like is the colouring - the distortion - that valve amps in particular produce. (And I don't mean distortion in the guitar FX sense, but in the engineer's sense. Even a "clean" valve amp distorts the sound in a particular way - a way that guitarists find attractive.)
The problem with that plank of wood with wires on is that the sound it makes is dead. With an acoustic guitar, the shape of the body, the type of wood, etc, all give the guitar its character - and we can tell a well-made, expensive one from a cheap one. That character is infinitely subtle, and can vary randomly from guitar to guitar, even the same make and model.
With electric guitar, you only get the same degree of random subtlety (quirky character) from vintage technology: valve amplification and (to some degree) handwound pickups. That's why electric guitarists spend so much time on effects, trying to dirty up the sound to add the character that the instrument itself doesn't contain.
The build of the guitar (its type of wood etc) is far less important, although some solid guitar fans will wax lyrical about wood types. They may be right, but I personally can't go that far. The denser the wood, the heavier the guitar and the more the sustain - I think that's about the only difference.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Nick
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 08:25 AM

If only... (part 345)

In the late 60s/1970 we used to go up to Shaftesbury Avenue / Charing Cross Road area and play and drool over the guitars. Unfortunately Strats and Telecasters cost somewhere between £80 and £110 so, apart from rich friends, we could't afford them. If I remember Strats were a little more expensive than Telecaster's

If only I had bought a truck load of Strats... what would they have been worth now?


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: mattkeen
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 09:10 AM

I don't know if this has already been said but its largely a lot of amp distortion that masks the sound of the individual guitars underneath

The sort of electric music I tend to listen doesn't use a huge amount of dostortion so the difference between roy buchanan and early peter green is massive to me


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 02:16 PM

Guest 26 Feb, I have to differ with your assertion that it's all about the electronics.

An "electric" guitar, even a solid-body, still contains significant elements of an acoustic instrument (acoustic in the perhaps arcane engineering sense that the bits are coupled together and affect each other via mechanical vibrations).

To take an extreme and possibly stupid example, if you fret a string badly so that it buzzes and twonks when plucked, you haven't changed a thing about the pickup coils or the amplifier, but the sound is drastically different -- and that difference represents the acoustic process going on in the instrument.

Much more subtle differences in the acoustic coupling among the parts of the guitar (string, fret or nut, bridge, loose screws on the pickguard...) DO affect the sound, as does the energy absorbing and transmitting property of the various woods used.

So the difference may be subtle, but it's real. The electronics do make a difference as well, of course. The old speaker coils and cones were different than today's mass-produced models, too.

-Glenn, who misses his old Tele but cares not a whit about a Strat


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 02:31 PM

I don't think anyone has mentioned the position of the pickup yet either. You will tend to find that the pickups nearer to the bridge produce a thinner, more piercing tone whereas those closer to the neck sound more mellow. To try and demonstrate:

Telecaster on the bridge pickup, piercing tone (but blistering solo, from about 3:10 is the tone I'm thinking of): Muddy Waters

Gibson ES150, pickup near the neck. Mellow, fatter tone: Charlie Christian

Hope that helps!

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Dharmabum
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 07:40 PM

Hey Bobert,
Did ya make that ax yourself,or is that one of those Ted Crocker deals?
I've been thinkin'about going through my pile of guit' parts to see what I can come up with.

I'm mostly acoustic,but when it comes to pluggin' in,I'm a sucker for a Tele.

DB.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 10:05 PM

When I bought my Hamer several years ago, I tried a half a dozen different guitars, some with better known names, and every one sounded different. I thought the Hamer sounded best. Ironically, I bought it in Wisconsin when I was on vacation and brought it back to Connecticut, where they make them.

It's the same with acoustic guitars. I played several "Identical models of the same brand of acoustic guitar in several stores and picked one that sounded noticeably superior to my ears. Maybe not yours, but your ears weren't buying my guitar.

The other thing with electric guitars is that the amplifier makes an enormous amount of difference. I have a good Fender amp, but my Vox sounds far superior and is much more versatile.

I never bought anything for the brand.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 10:15 PM

another interesting factor to consider before parting with tens of thousands of ££$$ for a classic historic vintage electic guitar..

That 'special mythical sonic vibe' may just be the sound of 50 or 60 year old pickups inevitably losing their magnetic charge
and on their last legs and dieing !!!..


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 11:49 PM

inevitably losing their magnetic charge
and on their last legs and dieing !!!..

I've seen that happen to people, too.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Darowyn
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 04:54 AM

Highwayman above is right. Even the most solid of solid body guitars will flex under the varying loads of the vibrating strings.
Pythagoras discovered that a string fixed solidly at both ends and plucked carefully in the middle of its length would produce tones related to a wavelength equal to the full length, half the length, a third of the length and a quarter of it.
A single string, playing one note thus produces its fundamental pitch, the octave above it, the fifth above that and a further octave above that. Clearly all these frequencies are in tune with each other and sound smooth and harmonious.
If the string is struck with a plectrum close to one of the ends, other pitches, much higher and less simply related to the fundamental are generated, though they die away very rapidly and the string settles into the simpler mode of vibration above. These high overtones are called transients and they give that metallic ping of clang for the first few milliseconds of a guitar note.
If the ends of the string are fixed that's all you can get.
But in practice they are not. The neck of the guitar flexes. The bridge and top of an acoustic guitar breathes in and out- much more so with a banjo! This means two things.
Firstly, that as the neck and body flex, the tension of the strings alters, and makes tiny alterations to the tuning which vary over time.
(That's the bo-inggg sound of a banjo as every note goes flat then sharp before it settles to pitch because of the flex of the skin)
That's the 'pitch envelope'.
Secondly, if the ends of the string are moving, then there are a whole series of extra, less harmonic overtones that the string can produce.
It's the way in which these harmonic and non harmonic overtones arrive and decay that gives an instrument its character.
This link illustrates the way in which the shape of solid body guitars effects the way in which they vibrate.
PDF file on guitars
On amplifiers, a basic characteristic of valve amps is their tendency to create overtones when driven to distortion which are even number multiples of the fundamental signal frequency- so they sound smooth, and actually richer than the original signal. A basic solid state amp tends to generate overtones which are odd number multiples- which after the third, become more and more discordant, and thus sound harsher.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: GUEST,Mike Rogers
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 05:50 AM

Although I'm mainly into acoustics these days I still have my US Tele
Custom and a Jap built '62 reissue Strat, both Fender I should add.
They are as different as chalk and cheese in the way they play, the way they feel and the way they sound. My amp is an ancient Fender Deluxe with those funny old valve things.
If I win a pile on the lottery tonight I'll look for a Gibson 330, a Gretch Country Gentlemen and a Rickenbacher 12 string - all of which are quite distinctive guitars, to complete the collection.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: mattkeen
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 05:39 AM

I had a 61 Epiphone Casino Mike.
As you know this is the Epiphone equivalent of the 330

Mine was sort of honey sunburst and a real howler (as was John Lennon's natural Casino)


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: olddude
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 06:22 AM

Gave my Fender Strat circa 67 to my Nephew about 9 years ago, I never liked playing an electric ... although I love to hear a great lead guitarist , Just never got into an electric. I bought the Strat used from a buddie for 100 bucks at the time ... told my nephew he better take care of it ... can't believe the value of those things today


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 05:21 PM

Cheers Chaps enjoying the comments and Charlie Christian and Muddy Waters tubes.
(cheers Pete)


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 06:05 PM

Is "valve amp" Brit-speak for "tube amp"?

Vacuum tubes, which were once standard equipment in radios and all kinds of electronic equipment, were ostensibly made obsolete by the introduction of the transistor in about 1960. Transistors are MUCH smaller than the old-time tubes (which resembled light bulbs, pretty much), and paved the way for the miniaturization that is still going on today.

Not surprisingly, audiophiles have always preferred certain qualities of the sound produced by the old vacuum tubes, especially in guitar amps.


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Subject: RE: Electric guitar differences?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 07:16 PM

I remember waiting for the "Radio" to warm up LOL.


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