View Poll Results: Character or neutral tones – what do you prefer?

Voters
25. You may not vote on this poll
  • I want an instrument with a lot of character

    16 64.00%
  • Right in the middle

    6 24.00%
  • Give me a blank canvas of a guitar

    3 12.00%
Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Posts 1 to 19 of 19
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    Thinking of my journey with archtop guitars in the new millenium I went from a very even sounding, maybe a bit boring Ibanez Artcore AG75 (my poor man's GB) to a guitar with a lot of character, a solid wood carved eastman AR 905 and back to a more "neutral" tone with the Ibanez GB10 I got as an early christmas gift from my wife.

    The Artcore was my first archtop after a short hiatus when I was switching gears from pro musician to pro writer. I was in a band doing "light jazz" then and we did some very nice recordings from that cheap guitar.
    I did get involved with the online platform "archtop germany" during that time – doing some interviews, reviews and reports for them – which influenced me to long for a solid, carved archtop. Eventually I got an Eastman which somehow fit the bill. My band said it has way more "character" then the Ibanez but honestly I was struggling with howling feedbacks and "wolftones" from the beginning.
    I quit that band and started to work in an acoustic trio (g, b, dr) for which it was better suited. Yet the howls bugged me enough that I switched to a telecaster after a few years and didn't look back.
    Then last year we started an organ trio playing "funk jazz". The tele somehow didn't sound right for it so I went through 2 semi hollows only to find out I don't like these but prefer the tone and attack of a real hollow body. I'm an avid Grant Green fan so the ES 330 was a natural choice to replace the 335 and I'm quite happy with it.
    But when my wife gave me the GB10 as an early christmas gift I immediately felt at home. IMHO it's a rather neutral and even sounding guitar – something like a blank canvas seem to fit me well. Well actually it has more character than the artcore – maybe it's safe to say it sits right in the middle. Actually I thought that should have been the instrument I should have bought right away as logical step up. Would have spared me a lot of money and frustration.

    What's your story?

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    Very similar to yours. I've never been able to justify the investment in a carved archtop. A D'A NYL-2 with a pressed top was on the brink, but currently I play mostly an Ibanez AFJ-91 on my (rare) gigs, or ES-175 1959 VOS if it's more of an occasion. An Epi Emperor Regent (with roundwounds) works perfectly for big band type comping. The one I regret selling was a Yamaha SA2200, the one I'm eyeing is a small fully hollow semi, probably a Casino Club if the nut is not too narrow.

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    Put my vote in as "I have no idea what this means"

    Seriously though, every guitar has a character to my ears, I either like it or I don't. Congrats on finding a good guitar...when you find one that works for ya, gotta hang onto it.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    Most of the "character" comes from, or is, the player.

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    When I try out guitars, what always captures my attention most is a sweet warm top end. That's what I want for my jazz tone. It's what keeps me inspired while playing a guitar. So I think that is a guitar with character. That top end is what will make me either buy or not buy a guitar. On the bottom end, I actually prefer a guitar with less bass, but I don't think that is as important as the bass can easily be altered with strings and tone controls on the amp. But IMO, you can't dial in a sweet singing top end, that comes from the guitar (and the fingers, of course). All these little intangibles are much more important for solo practice than group performance.

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    For you the model X guitar will sound inspiring and it will make you play better, have more fun, practice more, etc. At the same time it might sound totally un-inspiring and dull to my ears, to the point of turning me off even. Also , I have found that the "true" character of a particular instrument might not reveal itself immediately , some guitars need to be played, explored, caressed, coaxed into giving up the goods and that can take some time and effort on your part ....

    To me the term "Character" is somewhat misleading : a semi like the ES-330 has a specific feel and tone due to its thinline construction PLUS the reduced weight (no center block) and the P90 pickups so OF COURSE it's going to sound different from an ES-335.
    When I try and describe a certain type of pickup I might use the term "character" like in
    - sharp
    - rotund
    - sweet
    etc.

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    Sounds like you're comparing carved tops to laminated. Each has it's advantages and disadavantages, or perhaps characteristics, and yes they are different.

    Both sounds like a plan.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug View Post
    ...the one I'm eyeing is a small fully hollow semi, probably a Casino Club if the nut is not too narrow.
    Casino "Club" or Casino "Coupe"?

    I have had a Casino Coupe for a few years and enjoy it very much.

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    This poll makes zero sense to me I am completely lost.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    How would a tele be classified?

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    Yes, Casino Coupe. Thanks for the correcition. Wasn't sure of the name but too lazy to check.

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    If character means living with a guitar with it's own weird quirks that include uneven tonal response, and inconsistency of note to note attack and sustain, I will take the blank canvas.

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    Neutral vs with character can mean:

    1- More compressed vs more dynamics
    2- More even loudness along the strings across the fretboard vs more relatively dead or resonant frets
    3- More fundamental vs more overtones
    4- Even proportion of overtones and fundamental vs varying proportions on different areas of the fretboard (even vs uneven timbre)

    What OP means by character should be made more explicit for votes to mean anything.
    Character to me is more about evenness of dynamics and timbre across the fretboard. No guitar, no matter how well it is built is even. In fact guitars' "characters" change throughout their lives.

    Unevenness is more noticeable in guitars that have more dynamics and overtones. That's why laminate guitars may sound more "neutral" and carved guitars may sound like they have more character.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 11-18-2019 at 04:01 PM.

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    Last week I was puzzled by the use of the word "natural". This week I'm puzzled by the word "neutral". In both instances, the real definition of the words is the sound of a stretched string that's been plucked with no other factors influencing the sound. In the real world of guitar, that doesn't happen. Everything influences the sound, often in competing and contrasting ways but that's hard to describe so we start making up sh!t to try to make the words fit our preconceived ideas. My thought is that we should go with whatever does the best job of getting closest to the sound in our heads. We all have our own ideas of that and often those ideas are dramatically different from one another. If you're not sure of that tonal ideal, then be prepared for an expensive journey of discovery but whatever you decide, it's not going to be either natural or neutral.
    My CD "Bare Handed" is available as a download at Bandcamp.com
    http://jimsoloway.bandcamp.com/album/bare-handed

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    All guitars have some sort of character. Arguably, a full response/full range amp or PA can be "neutral" (ish), but guitars by definition cannot. But I think the OP is trying to say that for what he is trying to do musically, he finds the character of some guitars somehow gets in the way, whereas others have a character that (to him) is somehow less assertive or noticeable, and is asking whether we look at it that way. My answer would be kind of yes and kind no. I always notice the characteristics of the instrument I play (that's the whole point of having more than one guitar). But I play a lot of styles of music, and my semi-hollow's neck pick-up sound fits pretty much anywhere, pretty much never gets in the way of what I'm trying to do, and feels most like "home base" to me, even though I often play my other guitars.

    John

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    I only wish my hand had a character

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    Without definitions, I don't know what you mean by character. I suppose you can take Tal's approach of quantifying each guitar's attributes across a number of dimensions. If you plot all guitars according to the various dimensions, then you identify some (presumably non-uniform) distribution of guitar qualities. Something like:

    What do you prefer: guitars with "character" or more "neutral" sounding?-3d-view-4d-gaussian-mixture-model-used-our-experiments-png

    Using this model for the distribution, you can maybe ask questions like: Are the ones with character the `unique` ones (i.e. the observations with low likelihood given the model)? But then if you partition the data by era, the ones with character today were probably just the norm at a given time. I don't think Charlie Christian would have thought his rig to have any 'mojo' at his time because to him it was just the electric guitar sound through the guitar amplifier sound.

    Anyway, I want my guitar to have a lot of character. I want it to have that distinctly neutral character that a good guitar has by nature.

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    I think character is a subjective thing, something that comes with time.
    I doesn't matter if you have a cheaper guitar, or a very expensive 'vintage' one.
    It's about the player, the songs played, the way it ages.
    (I assume this is an answer to a admittedly confusing question)

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by omphalopsychos View Post
    Without definitions, I don't know what you mean by character. I suppose you can take Tal's approach of quantifying each guitar's attributes across a number of dimensions. If you plot all guitars according to the various dimensions, then you identify some (presumably non-uniform) distribution of guitar qualities. Something like:

    What do you prefer: guitars with "character" or more "neutral" sounding?-3d-view-4d-gaussian-mixture-model-used-our-experiments-png

    Using this model for the distribution, you can maybe ask questions like: Are the ones with character the `unique` ones (i.e. the observations with low likelihood given the model)? But then if you partition the data by era, the ones with character today were probably just the norm at a given time. I don't think Charlie Christian would have thought his rig to have any 'mojo' at his time because to him it was just the electric guitar sound through the guitar amplifier sound.

    Anyway, I want my guitar to have a lot of character. I want it to have that distinctly neutral character that a good guitar has by nature.
    And I thought _I_ had too much time on my hands ...

    John