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  1. #101

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    When it comes to wind (at least jazz) instruments, the one which seems to be hardest to get a good tone from is the clarinet. With great tone (Goodman comes to mind) it's sublime, but the tinny, shrieking tone seems to be all too common. I cannot love a clarinet played with poor tone.

    And I also didn't miss the irony of jzucker making a post which says that tone is in the hands.
    ...or soprano saxophone... which is a clarinet that has lost its soul...

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    Have you listened to Cash's early stuff (e.g., Sun sessions)? That's some great singing -- huge range, in tune, vibrato, dynamics, an ability to swing between scratchiness and clarity, between young and old. His first recording of "I walk the Line" at, what, 22? Man. But lifestyle took a toll on his voice relatively young.


    John
    Yes I pretty much lived through his career and to be sure, he had more voice early, but more authenticity later. That last album "Hurt" was really a tour de force.

  4. #103

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    +1 on "Hurt." Cash delivered big time right at the end of his career.

    I have been a huge Cash fan all my life. I have performed his stuff in almost every setting I have performed in. You can do Cash in a jazz setting, not just in a country gig.

  5. #104

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Seriously... all those "side by side" and "shootout" videos I've done have convinced me that one reaches a certain point where the differences among many well set-up and properly equipped guitars are mainly felt by the player, not heard by the audience. That counts, of course; but I own, for example, in the L5 family, an L5ces, an Epiphone Elitist Broadway, an Aria Pro II PE180, and an MiK Broadway with a Seth Lover pickup in it. That's really the gamut from $500 or so at the bottom to 10 times that at the top. When I play them, I can sort them out easily. The L5ces is like riding in a Mercedes, the MiK Broadway is a Honda Civic. But none are junk, all are wonderful instruments, all sound great. And evidently I have started unconciously developing "my" tone which, regardless of the instrument, seems to end up coming out of the amp.

    I'm still trying to decide if that's encouraging or not.
    A friend of mine who is perhaps the best guitarist I have ever played with (Bruce Forman) once told me that if he ever found a guitar that did not sound like him, he would have to buy it....

    Plus, I am not kidding about Bruce's skill set, and I have played with Larry Coryell, Howard Alden and other Jazz guitar luminaries. Bruce is the best of them all, just not as well recognized (or as innovative).

  6. #105

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    Another performer with no voice but still a formidable singer is Willie Nelson.

  7. #106

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    A friend of mine who is perhaps the best guitarist I have ever played with (Bruce Forman) once told me that if he ever found a guitar that did not sound like him, he would have to buy it....

    Plus, I am not kidding about Bruce's skill set, and I have played with Larry Coryell, Howard Alden and other Jazz guitar luminaries. Bruce is the best of them all, just not as well recognized (or as innovative).
    I've been a fan of Bruce Forman's Masterclass videos for some time! What a teacher!







    Last edited by 2bornot2bop; 12-18-2018 at 10:02 PM.

  8. #107

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    A friend of mine who is perhaps the best guitarist I have ever played with (Bruce Forman) once told me that if he ever found a guitar that did not sound like him, he would have to buy it....

    Plus, I am not kidding about Bruce's skill set, and I have played with Larry Coryell, Howard Alden and other Jazz guitar luminaries. Bruce is the best of them all, just not as well recognized (or as innovative).
    Agreed on Forman being outstanding. And also not sufficiently recognized. Plus he seems to have way, way too much fun with the music...

  9. #108

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    A friend of mine who is perhaps the best guitarist I have ever played with (Bruce Forman) once told me that if he ever found a guitar that did not sound like him, he would have to buy it....

    Plus, I am not kidding about Bruce's skill set, and I have played with Larry Coryell, Howard Alden and other Jazz guitar luminaries. Bruce is the best of them all, just not as well recognized (or as innovative).
    If you said to me hands down who is the finest all around jazz guitar player it may well be Bruce Forman. He has such taste and chops along with what appears to be a very happy spirit when he plays. I never get tired of hearing him play. He does not get the recognition he should really, and maybe he really does not want it either he has zero to prove.

    Bruce is chops with really smooth lines and I love his comping behind a singer. He does it all.

  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Honestly, I've never met a guitar that was set up and played in tune that I couldn't pull a pleasing tone out of. Sometimes you have to work wit what an instrument gives you too...it can actually inspire new ideas...
    This!
    Some people act like good tone is so difficult to achieve you could spend your whole life searching for it, spending money on gear, drive yourself to madness, and never find it. But I can coax a decent tone from most rigs.

  11. #110

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    If tone is in the hands, you need to wash them with this.


  12. #111

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    This is kinda of a joke .. like something you'd read on TDPRI

    Gear doesn't matter when you play jazz, since you end up throwing a blanket over your amp anyways!

  13. #112

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRS
    This!
    Some people act like good tone is so difficult to achieve you could spend your whole life searching for it, spending money on gear, drive yourself to madness, and never find it. But I can coax a decent tone from most rigs.
    I can when it comes to guitar, but never amp. For as long as I've lived, I've never gotten a pleasant tone out of an AC30

  14. #113

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    A friend of mine who is perhaps the best guitarist I have ever played with (Bruce Forman) once told me that if he ever found a guitar that did not sound like him, he would have to buy it....

    Plus, I am not kidding about Bruce's skill set, and I have played with Larry Coryell, Howard Alden and other Jazz guitar luminaries. Bruce is the best of them all, just not as well recognized (or as innovative).
    Bruce is an absolute monster guitar player. I love his playing!

  15. #114

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    Bruce Foreman is great, no doubt. Fwiw, he is currently in the process of having Alexander Dumble build an amp for him. I wonder where he thinks tone comes from? I believe the hands can effect tone.
    Discuss amongst yourselves, while I go visit my mom for the holidays.

  16. #115

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02
    Bruce Foreman is great, no doubt. Fwiw, he is currently in the process of having Alexander Dumble build an amp for him. I wonder where he thinks tone comes from? I believe the hands can effect tone.
    Discuss amongst yourselves, while I go visit my mom for the holidays.
    OTOH he still sounds like Bruce Forman on a Resonator guitar.

    Tone - a players sound, touch and so on 100% comes from the hands.

    For instance Adrian Brendel played my wife's cello, worth a fraction of his. It sounded like him. The missus was kind of thinking about getting a new cello until this rather brutal demonstration.

    But - I don't think he rather have that instrument lol.

    The right guitar won't make it easier to get YOUR sound, but we all are looking for the equipment combination that will just feel and sound right. Bruce wants that Dumble because it will make easier to dial in HIS sound - that's the whole thing about what Dumble does, from what I hear.

    That said, I don't think the right instrument is necessarily a function of more money.... If you find something that works for you, not a bad idea to stick with it, even if it's not the most valuable or coveted instrument.

  17. #116

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02
    Bruce Foreman is great, no doubt. Fwiw, he is currently in the process of having Alexander Dumble build an amp for him. I wonder where he thinks tone comes from? I believe the hands can effect tone.
    Discuss amongst yourselves, while I go visit my mom for the holidays.
    In 15 years when Alexander finally delivers the amp, I guess we'll be able to judge its effect on Bruce's tone. Must ... resist ... saying ... something ... about affect vs effect as a verb ....

    John

  18. #117

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    The hands don't affect tone, they effect tone?

  19. #118

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    The hands don't affect tone, they effect tone?
    Hands actually not being capable of producing a full musical sound (no pitch) they can only approximate "tone," or can only imitate, or act as if they produce tone, thus, they affect tone as in behaving as if they did. They can also influence tone, even cause it via a pitch-producing device, provided it is manipulated by the hands, so that yes, hands can effect tone. Hands can also alter or shape a pre-existing tone, and thus also can be said to "affect" tone.

    The things I will do to avoid grading at a term's end...

  20. #119

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    I will offer one somewhat serious contribution here. I think the more advanced a player is, the more capable they are of achieving "their" tone on almost any instrument. I think excellent, high quality gear matters most to beginning and intermediate players. The beginner needs an instrument and amplifier that, when he gets it right, will not let him down. To have to fight the guitar and amplifier all day long, to have constantly to adapt and shift to accommodate an instrument that has bad intonation, sorry pickups, poor action, and just sounds awful, will discourage a beginner and greatly hinder an intermediate player. So ironically, when someone sees my L5ces and says "YOui must be a great guitar player!" I always say "No, if I was, I would not need a Gibson L5. But as a rank amateur, I need every advantage I can get to sound good."

  21. #120

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    The hands don't affect tone, they effect tone?
    Both, I suppose.

    Effect = makes happen
    Affect = has an effect (influence) on.

    A very large percent of the time, people write effect, but mean affect (rarely, vice versa). Sometimes it's hard to tell what the intent is.

    John

  22. #121

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    It's very common in threads like this to conflate style with tone. As a gross generalization, a player's style tends to be apparent regardless of gear, and most players tend to dial in their preferred kinds of sound within the limits of the actual gear they may be using at the time. IOW, you'll never get a Tele to really sound like a Les Paul and vice versa. If you give George Benson a standard Tele, he'll sound just like George Benson playing a Tele and not an Ibanez GB10.

  23. #122

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    Quote Originally Posted by D.G.
    It's very common in threads like this to conflate style with tone. As a gross generalization, a player's style tends to be apparent regardless of gear, and most players tend to dial in their preferred kinds of sound within the limits of the actual gear they may be using at the time. IOW, you'll never get a Tele to really sound like a Les Paul and vice versa. If you give George Benson a standard Tele, he'll sound just like George Benson playing a Tele and not an Ibanez GB10.
    How about this?



  24. #123

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    That sounds a lot like George Benson playing a tele.

  25. #124

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    I will offer one somewhat serious contribution here. I think the more advanced a player is, the more capable they are of achieving "their" tone on almost any instrument. I think excellent, high quality gear matters most to beginning and intermediate players. The beginner needs an instrument and amplifier that, when he gets it right, will not let him down. To have to fight the guitar and amplifier all day long, to have constantly to adapt and shift to accommodate an instrument that has bad intonation, sorry pickups, poor action, and just sounds awful, will discourage a beginner and greatly hinder an intermediate player. So ironically, when someone sees my L5ces and says "YOui must be a great guitar player!" I always say "No, if I was, I would not need a Gibson L5. But as a rank amateur, I need every advantage I can get to sound good."
    I don’t think I’ve ever had to deal with bad intonation and action even as a beginner 25 years ago. Student guitars are pretty good these days.

    The biggest problem for me was getting an amp that was light and good.... but a cheap guitar through a Fender twin will sound better than an L5 through a crappy amp.

    Imagining that the instrument and amp can supply tone for you at any level is not helpful. Things like right hand positioning, pick attack, fretting, how and where you end notes, developing a true legato sound where notes don’t overlap or separate out, vibrato and so on - that’s something that can be worked on any basically sound instrument. Doesn’t need to be an L5, but if it is, fair enough.

  26. #125

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    Quote Originally Posted by D.G.
    It's very common in threads like this to conflate style with tone. As a gross generalization, a player's style tends to be apparent regardless of gear, and most players tend to dial in their preferred kinds of sound within the limits of the actual gear they may be using at the time. IOW, you'll never get a Tele to really sound like a Les Paul and vice versa. If you give George Benson a standard Tele, he'll sound just like George Benson playing a Tele and not an Ibanez GB10.
    I think that’s a false dichotomy - it’s true what you say, but there are certain things I will do playing wise that will give a jazz tone - I do them on any instrument, Tele, 175, acoustic. It’s not just about dialling it in.... in fact if you *need* to dial in a jazz tone, I would argue you don’t have the playing together yet.

    That said obviously a Tele isn’t like a 175.

    And obviously there are players who use a lot of effects as part their tone. It’s not cut and dried

  27. #126

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    It is rarely about the 85% getting in the ballpark tone with one's fingers and basic gear, but mostly about the last 15% of tone chasing!
    Without psycho acoustic and post purchase rationalization (to take DB expression) a lot of money could be saved.
    A 10-15$ string set can change one's tone more dramatically than a 50$ PIO NOS capacitor
    It seems to me, the return on investment is inversely proportionate to the amount of money spent with nowadays gear quality!
    On the other hand, for some the chase is the fun so it is worth the spending!

  28. #127

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    Flat out... George is a legend. We have been blessed with him. My whole life. Thank God, he is still with us. And I hope George is still with us for the rest of my life.
    PS, one day I’m gonna sit down and play a bunch of Tele’s. And I am gonna leave with the one that sounds and feels right to me. Promise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gitfiddler
    How about this?



  29. #128

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Fundo
    What’s really interesting is that the Godin is pretty unimpressive unplugged (sounds like an unamplified solid body but slightly louder), whereas the 275 sounds beautiful unplugged—very good balance of lows, mids, and highs, which led me to believe it’s Gibson’s MHS pickups, which is what led me to call Pete Biltoft. I described the sound I’m getting with the 275 to him and he recommended Alnico 3 magnets. I hope he’s right!
    I have read somewhere that MHS has Alnico 2 neck and 3 in the bridge. So Peter has it close!

    I had a ES-Les Paul for some months this year and I neither didn't like the MHS pickups. Just a bit muffled too low output humbuckers. Or then it was the guitar that wasn't for my fingers and ears!

    Great thread! I have learned a lot of new (to me) guitarists! Listening to El Hombre now, just perfect... everything! Sound and fingers!

  30. #129

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    I think the point a lot of folks miss concerns the idea of focusing on a certain "good tone" instead of just focusing on "sounding good."

    The latter can certainly be achieved with the hands.

  31. #130

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    I have read somewhere that MHS has Alnico 2 neck and 3 in the bridge. So Peter has it close!
    Ironically, after ordering the pickup from Pete, I received in the mail a pack of TI Bebop 13s (I had Bepop 12s on it before). I put the strings on, adjusted the pickup height closer to the strings, and all of a sudden I’m getting exactly the sound I wanted that I wasn’t getting before! Pete had already shipped the pickup which should be here in a couple of days, but I really don’t need it now. I hope he’ll be open to me sending it back and me getting a refund. So! Both gear and hands matter.

  32. #131

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    Let there be no discussion on the internet that can't be reduced to strawmanning lol.

    The musician has a particular sound in mind... All the elements - instrument, amplifier, technique and so on, go together to make the complete picture, and the quest is to find that sound as a player.... Any gear that gets you closer is worth the money.... Any technique or practice that gets you closer is worth the effort... These things don't get done by halves...

    Creating a good sound - tone - as I understand it with one's technique should be a primary starting point for any guitarist.

    Maybe I'm just old fashioned, because people here are trying to neatly redefine tone to refer to something you have to achieve with aid of MOAR GEAR but that's clearly bollocks, and they know it

    For instance all the posters going 'oh I can't get a good jazz tone, what guitar/amp/pedal should I get' - I guarantee you can sort your basic sound out with no purchases at all in a few weeks if you set your EQ flat and concentrate on the sound and experiment with where and how you pick etc.... anyone with a good sound has done this before they get to the gear side of the equation.

    I mean, that's obvious right?

    Look, if you are a straightahead type player and you can't get a decent - maybe not ideal, but decent - live sound out of one of the entry level laminate archtops on the market and something like a Fender Hotrod, you really need to do more practice. Those guitars are perfectly good. That's why you see pros touring Godin Kingpins and so on.

    But neither does that mean that a great guitar - the right one - won't provide those subtle and not so subtle elements that will make you play and sound better - if only to you. There are loads of stories about players getting new gear and raving about it while their band mates think they sound exactly the same lol... Not always of course, but it goes to show.

    But until you go through that process you won't have a clue what the right guitar for you is anyway... For instance, I'm pretty sure I'm not an L5 player. I find those guitars a bit wooly for my style.

    OTOH, far be it for me to spoil everyone's fun. Nice guitars are nice!

  33. #132

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    That sounds a lot like George Benson playing a tele.
    I thought it sounded like George Benson playing a strat that looks like a tele :-)

    John

  34. #133

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    Tone is in the fingers (and the wrists, elbows, shoulders etc etc)... But the "proof" to me is to hear someone play unplugged, even if it's a solid body. Very few players can make an unplugged Les Paul "talk", if ya know what I mean... If you can sound compelling that way, then you almost can't fuck up the sound with the wrong amp...

  35. #134

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    Interesting that Oscar Peterson, after playing with Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis and Joe Pass, three of the all time great archtop players, spent the last many of years of his life playing with guitarists using solid bodies: first Ed Bickert on a Tele, then Lorne Lofsky on an Ibanez Roadstar and finally Ulf with his Aria. And both Lofsky's Roadstar and Ulf's Aria were pawn shop specials. I don't think there was $200 total tied up between those two guitars combined. The cynic in me wants to believe it was because of the threats posed by touring with a guitar but my ears tell me that Lofsky got some of my all time favorite tones out of that Ibanez rat rod.

    As for Ulf's tone in the video ... I like it. It's warm and fat and it fits very well with Metheny's acoustic.

  36. #135

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    Very few players can make an unplugged Les Paul "talk", if ya know what I mean... If you can sound compelling that way, then you almost can't fuck up the sound with the wrong amp...
    I wish i enjoyed playing my guitars through an amp as much as I do playing them unplugged. I guess I need to practice playing (or just running) the amp, but I don't. I practice playing the guitar, and that's daunting enough.

    hmmm.... Maybe the right amp will translate the sound and feel of my unplugged 575, but I'm guessing it's an "operator error" with my current and all previous amps. (...feeling the GAS coming on.)

  37. #136

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottM
    I wish i enjoyed playing my guitars through an amp as much as I do playing them unplugged. I guess I need to practice playing (or just running) the amp, but I don't. I practice playing the guitar, and that's daunting enough.

    hmmm.... Maybe the right amp will translate the sound and feel of my unplugged 575, but I'm guessing it's an "operator error" with my current and all previous amps. (...feeling the GAS coming on.)
    I think the trick with getting used to it with a guitar like a 575 is start with a volume so low that you still hear the acoustic tone with the amp quietly making it sound a bit bigger and warmer. For that purpose, the right amp is mostly just something small.

  38. #137

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    Interesting that Oscar Peterson, after playing with Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis and Joe Pass, three of the all time great archtop players, spent the last many of years of his life playing with guitarists using solid bodies: first Ed Bickert on a Tele, then Lorne Lofsky on an Ibanez Roadstar and finally Ulf with his Aria. And both Lofsky's Roadstar and Ulf's Aria were pawn shop specials. I don't think there was $200 total tied up between those two guitars combined. The cynic in me wants to believe it was because of the threats posed by touring with a guitar but my ears tell me that Lofsky got some of my all time favorite tones out of that Ibanez rat rod.

    As for Ulf's tone in the video ... I like it. It's warm and fat and it fits very well with Metheny's acoustic.
    Jim, I think the cynic in you is right. A lot of pros leave their fine guitars for the studio and the home while getting cheap guitars for the hazards of travel. And like you, I think Ulf's tone is quite good in the video.

    Query: Do we know that the electronics in Ulf's guitar have not been upgraded in some way? And how about the fretwork? Top notch electronics and fretwork can make a cheap Asian made guitar sound and play pretty damn good.

  39. #138

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    I’ve always liked the story I heard about Jascha Heifetz:

    Immediatey following a performance af a violin concerto, as he begins to walk off the stage, he hears someone shout, “Maestro Heifetz!” He turns and walks towards this very enthused audience member, asking, “May I help you?” The person replies, saying, “Your violin sounds FANTASTIC!!!” Heifetz then lifts the instrument up to his ear and, with a puzzled expression on his face says, “Funny, I don’t hear a thing.”
    Last edited by El Fundo; 12-20-2018 at 03:05 PM.

  40. #139

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    Some reactions to the thread:

    1. Maybe another way of saying the same thing is that your tone is in your mind, to a great extent. You fiddle with the controls and adjust your technique until the guitar sounds right to you.

    To my ear, the issue of humbucker vs single coil may be the biggest single factor in hardware, but it's not the only one. My impression is that scale length is also important. Flats vs rounds on the wound strings. Then solid vs. long scale archtop (I don't hear as much difference between a 175 and a solidbody). Clearly, some amps sound warmer than others.

    2. After many decades playing I noticed that my style of playing required more of my equipment. So, I now I usually play with a processed sound for soloing and clean for comping. I cannot get my solo sound without processing and I can't play my style properly without it . The pedalboard is now more important, by far, than the guitar, since the processing overwhelms the identity of the guitar.

    Years ago, I read a GP interview with a blues guitarist who said that the instrument he played "sounds like a guitar should sound". At first, that struck me as silly. What should a guitar sound like? But, upon reflection I realized that he had a sound in his mind and that this guitar gave it to him. I think all players should have a very clear idea about the way their guitars *should* sound.

    3. I gigged for several years, recently, with the cheapest Yamaha Strat copy. The thin neck was easy on arthritic hands. The clean tone sat well in the mix with horn bands. The processed solo tone took care of weaknesses in the sound of the guitar. I got compliments about the sound. That guitar sold new for $179 with an amp, gigbag, strap, cable and book. Mine had replacement tuners and a Lil 59. My genuine Fender sounded a little better in the middle register but the Yamaha sounded better up high. Perfectly good guitar -- and it doesn't surprise me that a great player like Lorne could sound great with a cheap guitar.

  41. #140

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    Tone is in the fingers (and the wrists, elbows, shoulders etc etc)... But the "proof" to me is to hear someone play unplugged, even if it's a solid body. Very few players can make an unplugged Les Paul "talk", if ya know what I mean... If you can sound compelling that way, then you almost can't fuck up the sound with the wrong amp...
    That is one point of view, and one that is worthy of respect, but I don't think it constitutes some kind of absolute final bar. I have heard people who could really play on an acoustic who were terrible playing an electric. I personally played acoustic for 35 years before switching over almost 100% to amplified, even for casual fun playing at home. I don't think sounding great on an acoustic is a requirement of excellence when someone can play extremely well on an electric. They are really almost two different instruments. I don't try to duplicate acoustic tone on my electrics. I don't play my L5ces because the carved top sounds more "acoustic." Everything for me is about how the guitar responds electrically and drives the amp.

    I can play acoustically, and have done so for decades. But I really think slapping the demand that the "real test" is somehow unplugged simply is too narrow an artistic horizon. Some people just know how to interact with the complex connections between the instrument, strings, pickups, amp settings, room acoustics, etc. to get a pleasing performance. Others know how to work the wood and steel. It's all good. No need to exalt one over the other as if it's the acid test.

  42. #141

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    Why does the electric guitar exist? In other words, what are it’s origins and the original intent, or motivation, for designing it? How did it evolve into what it is today, with the myriad sounds it produces? What was the original purpose of designing the solid body guitar? How did distortion develop into a sound to be desired?

    Would love to see how these questions are answered.

  43. #142

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Fundo
    Why does the electric guitar exist? In other words, what are it’s origins and the original intent, or motivation, for designing it? How did it evolve into what it is today, with the myriad sounds it produces? What was the original purpose of designing the solid body guitar? How did distortion develop into a sound to be desired?

    Would love to see how these questions are answered.
    I don't see why the answers are relevant. You could say "Why was the guitar invented" and say then it was only a means to some previous instrument, which therefore is the standard for judging the guitar. Things evolve. Something spins off of something else, acquires a life of its own, and becomes a different thing, with its own life to live. Electric guitars are more than just Acoustic Guitar 2.0.

  44. #143

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    I disagree. Electric guitars are essentially acoustic instruments made to be heard by the aid of electro-magnetic pickups and an amplifier (or two!).

    The questions are rhetorical and are questions I found necessary to ask some of the hundreds of students I’ve taught over the past forty years when they wanted to sound like their electric guitar-playing heroes TODAY and could not make either an acoustic or an electric sound good. Those students were somehow persuaded that it’s all about the gear, and had nothing to to with hands, or technique. Whenever I would interview a prospective student, I inevitably was always asked the question, “Should I bring an electric or acoustic?” I would simply tell them it doesn’t matter, since it will take awhile to get a good sound out of either one. The stylistic differences will come later when they’re ready.
    Last edited by El Fundo; 12-20-2018 at 04:48 PM.

  45. #144

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Fundo
    Why does the electric guitar exist? In other words, what are it’s origins and the original intent, or motivation, for designing it? How did it evolve into what it is today, with the myriad sounds it produces? What was the original purpose of designing the solid body guitar? How did distortion develop into a sound to be desired?

    Would love to see how these questions are answered.
    The history of electric guitar is an evolutionary process that has taken place over about 80 years. It involves a lot of different intentions and objectives (including strong roots in the amplification of steel guitars rather than what were then known as "Spanish guitars"). Much of that evolution involved solving, or at least lessening the feedback problem and every effort to solve that problem took the instrument further from its acoustic roots.

    Distortion developed as a desirable sound almost immediately after the magnetic pickup was coupled with small tube amplifiers. The recordings of Charley Christian with Benny Goodman which have been so influential over the decades were revolutionary in part because of the "edge_of-breakup" tone that gave him enough sonic presence to compete with horns as a soloing instrument in a loud swing band. As solid body guitars emerged it became even more prominent as guitarists realized that they could get very loud without the fear of uncontrollable feedback while controlled distortion provided a much broader sonic signal.

  46. #145

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    Thank you, Jim Soloway. You get an “A”!

  47. #146

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    So, lest I be misunderstood, both electric and acoustic guitars require a vibrating string and a resonating body, or chamber to produce a sound. Both also require one hand to “fret” the notes, the other hand to strike the string to make it vibrate and cause the body or chamber to respond by resonating. Now, think of a totally electronic instrument, like the synthesizer. Does it resemble a piano in any way other than the keys? No strings, no resonating chamber, no mics or pickups needed to amplify it. Without amplification you push on a key and there’s nothing. Not so with electric guitars.

  48. #147

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Fundo
    So, lest I be misunderstood, both electric and acoustic guitars require a vibrating string and a resonating body, or chamber to produce a sound. Both also require one hand to “fret” the notes, the other hand to strike the string to make it vibrate and cause the body or chamber to respond by resonating. Now, think of a totally electronic instrument, like the synthesizer. Does it resemble a piano in any way other than the keys? No strings, no resonating chamber, no mics or pickups needed to amplify it. Without amplification you push on a key and there’s nothing. Not so with electric guitars.
    That's actually not true. On an electric guitar with sufficient levels of gain an distortion, hammer-ons can produce more than enough signal for a truly monumental sound. It does not require a fretting hand and a picking hand. That is a prominent technique in both rock and modern jazz fusion and is the foundation for a lot of prominent players and it's very much like pushing a key.

    Then you have players like me who do fret and pick but play with a sufficiently light attack that very little acoustic sound is actually produced. My assumption is that I'm using the guitar to provide a controlled signal to an amplifier and my technique is entirely tailored to that purpose.

  49. #148

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    I thought about including that, left hand hammering. I’m aware of Stanley Jordan and even saw him live in the 80s. I’m also a HUGE Michael Hedges fan and have even written some pieces employing lots of left hand hammering. I also employ left hand slurring while soloing. So, whether using the left or right hand, the string has to be struck in some way in order to set it into motion.

  50. #149

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    OTOH, you can whack the keys on an unamplified synthesizer with a sledge hammer and it’s just a dead, mute, lifeless, inanimate object, no different from a rock.

  51. #150

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Fundo
    I disagree. Electric guitars are essentially acoustic instruments made to be heard by the aid of electro-magnetic pickups and an amplifier (or two!).

    ...
    That might be a correct historical description but it does not define the present reality. It also does not serve a prescriptive function about what is best, right, most desirable, or standard-setting. Electric guitars WERE "essentially acoustic instruments made to be heard by the aid of electro-magnetic pickups and an amplifier" but that has not been their primary application or function for maybe 50 years at least. For that, you want a flat-top or classical guitar with a piezo or microphone.

    There is a major epistemological problem in transitioning from a historical description to an artistic prescription. One does not in any way presume the other. It is in truth, merely one's opinion, and that is all. It's a fine opinion, a valid one, but in no way one that binds anyone else except those who admire the opinion-holder and want to emulate them. Which also is a fine thing, but again, not binding on anyone else.