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Pick up Help !
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mambosun



Joined: 05 Sep 2011
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:30 pm    Post subject: Pick up Help ! Reply with quote

After one year of regular use of my Jazz box Gregg Benett LaSalle JZ4, I remain with some doubts and worries..

First, I like my Jazz box very much and don’t want to change for another one; playability, intonation, fit and finishing, decent acoustic sound, etc… really happy with it.

Second, in my quest for the "Jazz Tone" I want (typical 50's Bebop smoky, deep, mellow, round, dark tone : think Johnny Smith, Wes, Tal, René etc...), and after some hardware upgrades (5J Bartolini Floating PU, Rosewood bridge, Thomastik JS 113 strings) and numerous amplifiers testing , I came to the following conclusions:

Only very few amp models came close to the sound I want, usually within a rather narrow “sweet spot” settings. Most amps I liked are too expensive, big and weighty, hence won’t fit the bill (small and affordable practise amp). Hence, the lack of tone versatility of my jazz box worries me a bit, but I will keep on testing.

Beside my limited jazz playing talent, I think the floating PU configuration doesn’t suite me very well; I initially (naively?) thought I would have liked that sort of sound (nice balance between electric and acoustic= woody, deep and rich tone) in the long term, I admit, I have been wrong: the sound is definitively a bit too acoustic for my taste, (I already have a flat top semi-acoustic for that purpose). Maybe I’m too “Humbucker addicted “and just can’t get rid of that type of sound in my head?

Other negative side effect, the floater tends to feed back more easily than a set-in HB, which could be a problem at gigs.

However, on the plus side, I have to mention, every time I play a chord, I like the articulate notes renditions a floater can produce and the more dynamic response ( ie: amplitude between low and loud sounds, no transient here) than I can get from any HB I used so far.

Then the painful question: do I have to swap the floating PU with a routed–in HB, hence to butcher the body, pay a certain amount of money to get it properly done etc…. in order to get the sound I want, this of course, without any guarantee of satisfaction?

The least I can say is that I feel reluctant to jump into this sort of non reversible modification.
I guess I’m not and won’t be the only one

In advance, thank you for your expert advices...
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Posts: 369

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No expert advice to offer...just some random thoughts....

Would the bracing on this guitar even permit installation of a routed humbucker? At least, without destroying the structural and sonic integrity of the instrument? If it is parallel braced, it would probably be okay, but if it is X braced it might not be feasible.

You mentioned Johnny Smith as an example of the sound you're looking for. Well, his signature Guilds and Gibsons were equipped with floating humbuckers...most only have one and that's in the neck position. Soooo...

You're using medium gauge flat wound strings, which weren't widely available during the bebop era. Have you experimented with round wound strings and some gauges heavier than the Thomastiks you have been using?

What about a very heavy, stiff, pick?

Have you tried moving your right hand to a new picking position? Some guitars sound better to me if they're picked up over the firetboard. Others seem to "want" to be picked halfway between the end of the fretboard and the bridge. I think we all get into a habit of holding our picking hand in a certain position, and some guitars don't seem to like some of these stock picking positions and we have to adapt to get the best tone. At least, that's how my ears report it to me.

Are you maybe just sort of obsessing over the sound of the guitar itself? On the bandstand, you are the only one who will really hear the guitar...the audience and other members of the combo aren't hearing your guitar, and they're not hearing a combination of the guitar and the amp. All they're hearing is the amp and that is a significantly different sound than what you are hearing with the guitar on your lap even though it's plugged into the amp.

What I'm getting at with this last idea, is maybe you don't need to do anything different. You may already be achieving a "Johnny Smith-like-tone" from the perspective of your audience...you just can't hear it because you're hearing the guitar AND the amp, but they can because all they hear from 20 feet away is your amp.

Now, I can't play like Johnny Smith, but I have spent many an hour playing a Johnny Smith, and I guarantee you from that experience that what he was hearing is not what you hear when you listen to his recordings.
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mambosun



Joined: 05 Sep 2011
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cjm wrote:
No expert advice to offer...just some random thoughts....

Would the bracing on this guitar even permit installation of a routed humbucker? At least, without destroying the structural and sonic integrity of the instrument? If it is parallel braced, it would probably be okay, but if it is X braced it might not be feasible.

You mentioned Johnny Smith as an example of the sound you're looking for. Well, his signature Guilds and Gibsons were equipped with floating humbuckers...most only have one and that's in the neck position. Soooo...

You're using medium gauge flat wound strings, which weren't widely available during the bebop era. Have you experimented with round wound strings and some gauges heavier than the Thomastiks you have been using?

What about a very heavy, stiff, pick?

Have you tried moving your right hand to a new picking position? Some guitars sound better to me if they're picked up over the firetboard. Others seem to "want" to be picked halfway between the end of the fretboard and the bridge. I think we all get into a habit of holding our picking hand in a certain position, and some guitars don't seem to like some of these stock picking positions and we have to adapt to get the best tone. At least, that's how my ears report it to me.

Are you maybe just sort of obsessing over the sound of the guitar itself? On the bandstand, you are the only one who will really hear the guitar...the audience and other members of the combo aren't hearing your guitar, and they're not hearing a combination of the guitar and the amp. All they're hearing is the amp and that is a significantly different sound than what you are hearing with the guitar on your lap even though it's plugged into the amp.

What I'm getting at with this last idea, is maybe you don't need to do anything different. You may already be achieving a "Johnny Smith-like-tone" from the perspective of your audience...you just can't hear it because you're hearing the guitar AND the amp, but they can because all they hear from 20 feet away is your amp.

Now, I can't play like Johnny Smith, but I have spent many an hour playing a Johnny Smith, and I guarantee you from that experience that what he was hearing is not what you hear when you listen to his recordings.


Thank you very much for the long and informative reply.

First, I fully agree with you about being a bit "tone obsessive".
However, what I'm looking for, is a sound that inspires me when I play, this is something I already experienced with the other guitars I own (Telecaster, semi hollow Ibanez 335 clone) while playing rock, pop or blues with my band. I know, most of the seek-after tone comes from the quality of the playing itself and I'm working at it.
Like I said, I'm just looking for a way to find out the last bit of "right" tone I miss today, hence my question about pickup; this came from an interesting video which demonstrates clearly the difference between floating and routed-in PUs and which puzzled me since:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23_Z3vs1rYQ&feature=player_embedded#!

Regarding your questions:
I don't know anything about the bracing in my guitar, just read the report of someone who made the conversion in Harmony Central web site.

Yes Johnny Smith L5 signature has a floater, and my guitar is equipped with a Bartolini Johnny Smith PU model but his tone in is quite different (not even sure he played a Gibson L5 in his most famous recordings, d'Angelico maybe?).

I still have to check round wounds and heavier gauge.

I tried different sort of picks: jazz tone, dugain ebony, tubby etc..the Jazz tone helping a bit. I too experimented picking positions with mixed results.

Again, I fully agree regarding the sound rendition as a band vs the direct sound I hear from my jazz box while playing. However, I mostly play jazz guitar at home, my band being rock/ pop, hence my quest to get the right tone while practicing.

Like I said in my previous post, I too still have to find the right amp which would help me to find the sound I have in my head.
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Posts: 369

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Yes Johnny Smith L5 signature has a floater, and my guitar is equipped with a Bartolini Johnny Smith PU model but his tone in is quite different (not even sure he played a Gibson L5 in his most famous recordings, d'Angelico maybe?).


Many were made with his signature guitars which differed from the actual L5 CES of the era. They had the floating pickup(s) of course, but the bodies were also not as thick. The tops were X braced rather than parallel braced. The fret boards were wider than the defacto Gibson standard of 1 11/16 inch at the nut. And the scale was shorter than the L5.

I used to own an L5 CES as my main ax and one of my brothers had a Johnny Smith. We'd get together every week or two for several hours to work on new material and then drink mass quantities of beer. Many times we'd swap guitars for a few hours....and while there are similarities, the Johnny Smiths really are different enough to qualify as something other than an L5 even though they're an L5 derivative design.



Quote:
I still have to check round wounds and heavier gauge.


I strongly urge you to do this since you are not satisfied with the tone you're getting. For some reason, flatwounds have become associated with the "jazz sound" in many peoples' minds, and of course, lighter gauges and low actions have become the norm over the past 45 years.

But in reality, the jazz greats performing and occasionally recording during the '40s, 50s and up through the mid '60s, did not, for the most part, use flatwound and/or light gauge strings. They were difficult, and sometimes impossible, to find and that was a factor, but also, and particularly in conjunction with a low action, they don't work the top of an archtop guitar the way the top of an archtop guitar was designed to be worked.

Massive strings, that vibrate freely (as in, roundwound strings) that pass over the bridge at a sharp angle (read that as higher action) transfer more energy, and more quickly, to the guitar's top than do lighter gauge, flatwound strings on a guitar set up with a low action.

This enhanced energy transfer accounts for the rapid attack and sudden decay associated with electric archtops when compared to slabs that deliver a lot of sustain.

This rapid attack and sudden decay shapes the notes and it's what you're looking for when playing lines of jazz 8ths....you don't want a lot of sustain if you want to sound bebop.

And this shaping of the notes has a very real effect on our perception of tone. So if you haven't tried heavy round wound strings yet, in my opinion there is a very good chance that this is what you are looking for.
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mambosun



Joined: 05 Sep 2011
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cjm wrote:
Quote:
Yes Johnny Smith L5 signature has a floater, and my guitar is equipped with a Bartolini Johnny Smith PU model but his tone in is quite different (not even sure he played a Gibson L5 in his most famous recordings, d'Angelico maybe?).


Many were made with his signature guitars which differed from the actual L5 CES of the era. They had the floating pickup(s) of course, but the bodies were also not as thick. The tops were X braced rather than parallel braced. The fret boards were wider than the defacto Gibson standard of 1 11/16 inch at the nut. And the scale was shorter than the L5.

I used to own an L5 CES as my main ax and one of my brothers had a Johnny Smith. We'd get together every week or two for several hours to work on new material and then drink mass quantities of beer. Many times we'd swap guitars for a few hours....and while there are similarities, the Johnny Smiths really are different enough to qualify as something other than an L5 even though they're an L5 derivative design.



Quote:
I still have to check round wounds and heavier gauge.


I strongly urge you to do this since you are not satisfied with the tone you're getting. For some reason, flatwounds have become associated with the "jazz sound" in many peoples' minds, and of course, lighter gauges and low actions have become the norm over the past 45 years.

But in reality, the jazz greats performing and occasionally recording during the '40s, 50s and up through the mid '60s, did not, for the most part, use flatwound and/or light gauge strings. They were difficult, and sometimes impossible, to find and that was a factor, but also, and particularly in conjunction with a low action, they don't work the top of an archtop guitar the way the top of an archtop guitar was designed to be worked.

Massive strings, that vibrate freely (as in, roundwound strings) that pass over the bridge at a sharp angle (read that as higher action) transfer more energy, and more quickly, to the guitar's top than do lighter gauge, flatwound strings on a guitar set up with a low action.

This enhanced energy transfer accounts for the rapid attack and sudden decay associated with electric archtops when compared to slabs that deliver a lot of sustain.

This rapid attack and sudden decay shapes the notes and it's what you're looking for when playing lines of jazz 8ths....you don't want a lot of sustain if you want to sound bebop.

And this shaping of the notes has a very real effect on our perception of tone. So if you haven't tried heavy round wound strings yet, in my opinion there is a very good chance that this is what you are looking for.


Thanks a lot Cim.
Today I use 13-53 flatwound, what would be your recommendation for heavy round wound (gauge, brand), bearing in mind I need them not to be too tough to play because of my limited jazz guitar skill?
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Posts: 369

PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Today I use 13-53 flatwound, what would be your recommendation for heavy round wound (gauge, brand), bearing in mind I need them not to be too tough to play because of my limited jazz guitar skill?


It's not a matter of skill...it is simply a matter of becoming accustomed to the feel of heavier strings and an action that is higher out of necessity to accommodate the larger string diameters. Since you gig in a rock/pop group using a different guitar, there is really no harm in setting up your jazz box quite differently than it is today -- if it takes you a few days or even a few weeks to adapt it is still all practice and development as a player.

In terms of brand(s)...I'd go cheap for the first experiment (and you might find you like the cheap strings better anyway). A local shop stocks Ernie Ball strings in bulk and I can put together a set for about $7.00, and unlike the prepackaged sets, I get to pick and choose the gauges I want for each string. So, that's the approach I recommend...it is too easy to waste a bunch of money on prepackaged string sets when experimenting.

Plus, Ernie Ball nickle-wound strings are fairly representative of the strings commonly available "back in the day."

As to gauge(s) -- well, there are obviously a couple of approaches you could take. One would be to begin increasing the the string gauges incrementally as you experiment in an effort to find the sound you are looking for without the guitar feeling too different from what you are now accustomed to.

However, this isn't your main gigging ax, so why not take a big step? You might try this:

1st. Plain .014 or .015

2nd. Plain .017 or .018

3rd Wound ..028

4th Wound .038

5th Wound .048

6th. Wound .058

Sometimes, people's initial reaction to a recommendation like this is that the guitar would be unplayable with these "cables."

But think about it: Only the 6th string is heavier than what you already use (albeit except for the 6th string each being installed one string lower than these) and you don't have a problem fretting the .053 E string from the Thomastik set you play today...

You will probably have to raise the bridge slightly and reset intonation, but odds are you won't need a truss rod adjustment.

If that doesn't work the top of your guitar, probably nothing will. About the only thing left to try (assuming you have adjusted the pole pieces on your pickup) that I can think of would be to find a used Polytone Minibrute II for a couple of hundred dollars and see
if that floats your boat.

Sorry for being long winded, but I'm retired and between part time day jobs right now, so I've got nothing better to do than to be long winded. Very Happy
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trotsky



Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 438
Location: Sarnia Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For years I played a traditional 17 inch archtop guitar with a floating pickup. I loved the acoustic properties of the instrument and still do.
The sound of the guitar acoustically blended 50/50 with the electric sound of the floating style pick up was really nice however any louder than that and I started to dislike it.
About 3 yrs ago I moved back to the semi hollow sound that I loved when I was a kid. It turns out to be way better suited to the type of jazz that I am playing now and for the time being I don't see myself going back.
I think I know what you are talking about with your tone search and unfortunately I don't think that it can be found with a floating pickup.

I would suggest getting another guitar before carving up your existing one.

The pickups that I am using right now are Lollar Imperials and man they are sweet!!
Might want to check that out
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Posts: 369

PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I think I know what you are talking about with your tone search and unfortunately I don't think that it can be found with a floating pickup.


The reason I disagree is that Mambosun gave specific examples of the jazz sound sought...for example:

Quote:
...Second, in my quest for the "Jazz Tone" I want (typical 50's Bebop smoky, deep, mellow, round, dark tone : think Johnny Smith, Wes, Tal, René etc...)


Not only was J. Smith a proponent of floating pickups, many of the other big name jazzers did play with floating pickups...very common to slap a DeArmond Rhythm Chief on an acoustic L5, Super 400, Epiphone Emperor, etc. They got away from these when they could for convenience and because this setup could be a bit noisy (and prone to amplifier feedback), but the sound -- it was the sound Mambosun referenced. And of course, during the 1960's, Gibson introduced the H.R. Epiphone and then the H.R. Gibson -- again, a floating pickup -- and although H.R. himself didn't use his signature model(s) extensively, these models nail the "jazz sound" too.

When you get right down to it, all else being equal, the difference between floating and routed pickups amounts to little more than this: The floating pickup delivers slightly faster attack and slightly more sudden decay. The routed pickup offers slightly more resistance to amplifier feedback along with a tad bit more sustain.

Semi-solids can be fabulous guitars, but they obviously are not essential to "the jazz sound" Mambosun is talking about, because that "jazz sound" was well established long before anyone designed or built a semi-solid guitar. And in fact, the slight increase in sustain provided by a semi-solid relative to a true hollowbody archtop is a departure from the response of the type of guitar that was used to develop "the jazz sound" in the first place.
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mambosun



Joined: 05 Sep 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all for your kind and substantial contributions.
(BTW, sorry to Cjm if I mispelled his"name").

I know "Tone quest" is a very debatable and hot topic. I'll soon investigate the heavy round wound option, but just wonder if theses won't sound brighter than flat wound, which is not the right direction where I'm looking at.
Other question to you experts (or at least far more experienced than I am): Floating PU is supposed to retrieve more acoustic tone in the process of electrifying the sound of the archtop than P90 or HB, hence I guess the acoustic properties is critical there; as a matter of fact, a real Gibson L5 or similar models will always get a better mix of acoustic & electric sound than, say, an asian clone as mine? While route in HB won't make such a difference between a 10 000$ guitar and 800$ one?
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Secret2goodtoneispractice



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 271
Location: Spinning & shimmering aqueous sphere

PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1) Respect and admiration for you and others here. No disagreement with opinions and tone quests.

2) In my own tone quest I experienced:

a) Replacing a stock Ibanez floating pickup on their JSmith copy yielded little sonic change. Tried a Bartolini floater. Then tried a GB10 floater. That JS guitar had its own tone, which was not my tone. It was the wood, construction, and finish of that specific guitar that produced the bright tone that lacked the fatness I sought. String composition and gauge changes only mildly changed overall tone.

b) Although there are amazing-sounding jazz guitars with floating pickups, not all jazz guitars with floating pickups are amazing sounding.

3) After spending much time and money modifying guitars I have learned that if I am not happy with the basic tone of a guitar, I avoid purchasing it. I buy . . . what resonates . . . with me.

All others are avoided (or in my past, sold).

"Floating PU is supposed to retrieve more acoustic tone in the process of electrifying the sound of the archtop. . ." Not necessarily. Think Ibanez GB10 with its very fat sounding neck pickup.

"Gibson L5 or similar models will always get a better mix of acoustic & electric sound than, say, an asian clone as mine. . ." Your Asian clone is only a clone in the way it looks. It is not constructed in the same manner as an L5. However, consider L5s: L5s with full humbuckers sound different than L5s with floating pickups. Your ear must be the judge as to what tone you prefer.

My guess is that your guitar has a laminate top with parallel bracing. Feel inside the F-hole to confirm that the top brace runs parallel to the neck. If it does, you can (assuming great wood and tool skills) install a route-in HB. I recommend a Gibson 57 Classic neck pickup, with good quality pots and jack. This pickup has a certain tone that transcends guitars. My intuition is that you could be very happy with this pickup in your guitar.

However, please note that my intuition was wrong in many of my modifications. You may be better off finding the guitar with the exact tone you love, keeping your current one as a backup, or selling it and moving on.

Finally, here's an article from GP Mag that you might like to read: http://www.musicplayer.com/article/jazz-boxes-under/Jan-07/24926

Best!
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Floating PU is supposed to retrieve more acoustic tone in the process of electrifying the sound of the archtop than P90 or HB, hence I guess the acoustic properties is critical there; as a matter of fact, a real Gibson L5 or similar models will always get a better mix of acoustic & electric sound than, say, an asian clone as mine? While route in HB won't make such a difference between a 10 000$ guitar and 800$ one?


Well, that's what they'll tell you.

Here's my opinion about that:

The industry's foundation is the premise that what you have, no matter what you have, isn't good enough, or at least all wrong for what you are trying to do.

And it doesn't matter if it was ideal two years ago, or twenty years ago, or 60 years ago, and it doesn't matter if it will be in demand as a desirable "vintage" piece tomorrow. At this moment, it is all wrong, all garbage, and the only solution is to spend money.

Lots of money.

And guitar players, including a lot of big name guitar players, are sort of of a superstitious lot, and more than willing to buy into the marketeers' promises of magic.

So you either "pays your money and takes your choice," or you save your money for whisky and put in your time and effort practicing and performing.

I don't agree that floating pickups retrieve more acoustic tone than routed pickups. Pickups generate a signal sent to an amplifier when a near by ferrous string vibrates in the pickup's magnetic field. Period.

Floating pickups don't interfere as much with the guitar's top, which is a sound board, so the guitar equipped with a floating pickup will usually be a little louder acoustically if all else is equal...but all else is rarely equal.

The audience doesn't hear it anyway. They just hear the amp. What little difference there is between floating and routed pickups is mostly a matter of attack, decay and sustain...and that's what is heard if anything different is heard....and that difference is extremely subtle. It exists, but it almost demands electronic test equipment to detect.

But people, including guitar players, "hear with their eyes." If it looks like it ought to sound a certain way, then it does.

You compared your Asian built clone to a "real L5." In reality, the difference is about the same as the difference between an L5 and an ES-175. Both have become icons of jazz guitar. One is a big, expensive, often difficult to manage, gold plated, carved spruce feedback monster and the other is a rather plain plywood box that was priced a lot lower than the L5 "back in the day."

And when you listen to recordings of Wes Montgomery, you can't tell by the sound whether it was recorded when he was still playing an ES-175 or if it was after he decided to "standardize" on the L5. People will try to tell you they can, but their perceptions are corrupted by having heard or read accounts of when he played what model of guitar.

The note you hear, sounds the way it sounds in large part because of the note that preceded it and the note that follows it.

In other words, content and not the medium is of primary importance. Johnny Smith doesn't sound like Johnny Smith because of a carved spruce guitar with a floating humbucking pickup. Barney Kessel did not sound like Barney Kessel because of a plywood guitar with a massive routed single coil pickup.

My suggestion remains: Try the heavier strings. They're cheaper than a new guitar that you don't need. Yes, they will make the guitar acoustically louder. They may make it sound "brighter" to your ears, but it is just as likely that you will decide it doesn't sound as "thin and tinny" as it does with the lighter strings. You'll just have to experiment to find out.

The other thing I didn't tell you is that the heavier strings and higher action may be something you learn to prefer because it gives your fingers a bit of a "bounce" that may help you articulate single note lines...that, in and of itself, can make the guitar "sound" better to your ears.

But it's all just opinion. Take it for what it's worth.
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Secret2goodtoneispractice



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cjm wrote:
I used to own an L5 CES as my main ax and one of my brothers had a Johnny Smith. We'd get together every week or two for several hours . . . Many times we'd swap guitars . . . while there are similarities, the Johnny Smiths really are different enough to qualify as something other than an L5 even though they're an L5 derivative design.

This is a key quote for your issue. The sonic difference between these guitars is distinct and noticable. For example, Listen to someone like Ron Afif playing a JSmith guitar (Xbrace, carved top, floating pup). You know that's not a fat sounding L-5.

Listen to Jimmy Bruno on a Benedetto Fratello (Xbrace, carved top, floating pup). You know that's not a fat sounding L-5.

X-brace floating humbucker sounds markedly different than inset full humbucker, laminate or solid top. Ask Bob Benedetto. Ask Mark Campellone. Both are accessible by telephone.

Different does not mean better.

Better is what is better to / for you.

; )
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Trust your own opinion of a guitar or amp. Form your opinion from what you value. Your need, preference, circumstance, experience, and opportunity are the most important factors.


Last edited by Secret2goodtoneispractice on Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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cjm



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
X-brace floating humbucker sounds different than inset full humbucker, laminate or solid top. Ask Bob Benedetto. Ask Mark Campellone. Both are accessible by telephone.


Yes, they sound different. And they sound different than single coil pickups and a single coil P90 sounds different than a single coil "Charlie Christian" pickup.

But not a whole hell of a lot different. Not so much that you can't twist the knobs on the amp enough to get the same sound from two different guitars in most cases.

I respect guys like Bob Benedetto. He is creating true works of art.

But, he has to sell these works of art in order to survive in the business of creating art. To persuade people to part with serious back pocket money for one of his works of art, his job is to differentiate his art works from other art works, and from the mass produced artifacts created by modern industry.

He has to eat, so I'll forgive him for overstating the case a bit.

The question is, do we really require his exquisite sculptures of wood, steel, resins and copper in order to practice our own performance art -- music?

And I think the answer is "no." Not unless we draw some otherwise missing inspiration from the act of holding an exquisite piece of art on our laps as we perform.

The reason the answer is "no," is that these differences are extremely subtle despite overstatements to the contrary.

We are conditioned to accept the notion that "You get what you pay for," and setting aside the guitar business for a moment, industry routinely exploits that conditioning by arbitrarily setting price points to differentiate between products of similar quality and similar cost of production. I know. I was once a part of that as a cog in the machinery.

To be fair, it costs a lot to produce a hand built guitar that stands as a work of art in its own right, and it necessarily costs more to buy than mass produced industrial output.

But in the final analysis, the guitar is a tool. A musician's tool used in performance art.

A handcrafted, individually forged, gold plated, engraved box end wrench really won't do a better job of tightening the seat height adjustment bolt on a bicycle than a mass produced wrench made of decent steel.
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mambosun



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again Cjm for your wise statements: I fully agree with your analysis of the current marketing practice which is quite similar in many other business areas. I try to be wise myself, but it's sometimes difficult.
Like I said before, I assume, the quest for the "right tone" might end up one day as soon as I manage to improve my jazz guitar playing to a large extent, and the "tool", apart from ergonomics and intonation, would become a less relevant issue. On this, I guess Secret2goodtoneispractice won't object.Wink
I will experiment round wound and keep on amp testings.
BTW, if you have any suggestions for an affordable small tube amp which could help me to fine-tune my tone, I have to retire my Roland Microcube soon..
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Secret2goodtoneispractice



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 271
Location: Spinning & shimmering aqueous sphere

PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Pick up Help ! Reply with quote

mambosun wrote:
. . . Beside my limited jazz playing talent, I think the floating PU configuration doesn’t suite me very well . . .

I trust your ear. I also trust mine. Abilities of players like Ron Afif or Jimmy Bruno do not change the tone of their Xbrace floating pickup guitars. That tone is just that tone. It is what it is. We like what we like. Whatever we choose is fine if we are happy with our choice.

A cool example for anyone interested in this discussion would be two Jimmy Bruno instructional DVDs: "No Nonsense Jazz Guitar" and "Inside Outside Jazz Guitar." He plays very different guitars with very different sounding tones. You can hone your chops, and lick your chops for the tone you prefer.

Conclusion: Whatever sound you like works for me.

Best wishes and peace to you all!
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Beware of alliances that are formed by dividing relationships of others.
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Trust your own opinion of a guitar or amp. Form your opinion from what you value. Your need, preference, circumstance, experience, and opportunity are the most important factors.
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