Guitar

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Transcript

Okay, so I hope you like that last second we got a little deep but I think it's pretty interesting to take something that we slept through in physics class and make it applicable to data and did you ever think we'd be talking about nodes and any nodes right anyway, let's get to the fun stuff and but before I get on to this subject I just want to make make you make this very clear. I'm not a religious zealot. I'm just gonna list all the facts and dropping some opinions from time to time I know there's plenty of nasty guitar forums out there that people screaming each other over gifts Gibson versus Fender straight through next versus bolt ons but here's where I stand. All of these things that is tools in your tool belt that you use to create beautiful music and if you can do that on old Ivan as you found at a garage sale years ago, then who am I to shame you into buying you know, multi thousand dollar vintage strat if it works for you, then it's great.

It works for you. I'm just not That dogmatic to actually show you how agnostic I am on this topic. My main computer is a Mac running both Mac and Windows, I switch back and forth. I use multiple applications and multiple guitars, multiple apps, multiple stompboxes, hardware, software, whatever works and I hope you do too. I'll just try to list the options and the general positions of most of stuff out there in terms of the benefits and in the shortcomings of all options. If you don't agree about your favorite artists or about the merits of a certain guitar feature of your top, Sabir anyway after that long disclaimer, let's look at the main category of guitars.

There are many many more guitars and these four but let's just go through with the Stratocaster Telecaster, Les Paul and 335 type and in terms of what type of guitar thou art style, they are Both of the fenders and the Les Paul they're all solid. So then made out of a solid piece of wood where the 335 is a semi acoustic in terms of the woods. The fenders tend to be made out of ash and older les Paul's typically make mahogany and 325 is a maple and poplar. The scales on the fenders are 25 and a half inch the skylink and the Gibson's are 24 and three quarters coming in three quarters much shorter, which means that you need less string tension on them to bring them to the same pitch as you would anything with a 25 and a half inch scale. That's why you can get kind of more of a chunkier time out of the Les Paul my 335 because the string tension is a little bit a little bit less.

In terms of the pickups on the Stratocaster you have three single coils, two single coils and the Telecaster that there's a few things that are different on the telly. Tell is pick up as a copper plate measure on the base of the pickup and the pickup itself. under the bridge, rather than to the plastic pit guard in the case of the Stratton It's also worth noting the TELUS pickup is angled slightly towards the bridge to favor the higher overtones on its thin strings then on in terms of the Gibson's, they both have to humbuckers in terms of the invert tone strategies brought, the Telecaster is brighter than that, let's pull 10s bill bit darker and the 335 tends to be a little darker as well to sustain the fenders have good sustain the Les Paul plays the best and a 335 would probably come in a little bit less than that, but in terms of its susceptibility to feedback or whether it's microphonic.

The Stratton tele analyst poor tend not to be but the 335 tends to be a little bit more microphonic. Now because we're going to be talking about electric guitars, we need to talk about pickups. The pickup is basically a transducer that converts the movement of a string into an electrical current, if you will. Wave a wire across a magnet electric current is produced. And because the string vibrates back and forth, the resulting current is AC alternating current, the electrons move back and forth along that cable. So, a pickup is basically a magnet with a very thin, why cold around that magnet coiled around thousands of thousands of times there are several variables such as a magnet types and strengths, wide gauge and winding count which ends up making kind of how hot that pick up is and also what tonal curl coloration has, without getting into all the hairy details.

There is things that play in every part of the signal chain that color, the tone of the sound. And in AC circuits. You don't just have simple resistance you have frequency specific resistance, which means that Juda electrical characteristics, namely capacitance and inductance everyone little part of your signal path, including your cable begins to color the sound. I won't get into the math of all of that, but the capacitance of any part of the circuit will tend to be more resistant to low frequencies and inductance will be resistance resistant to high frequency and the entire path gives you a frequency curve that will just have a little resonant bump in the mids. Somewhere between say two and five k generally pickups with higher inductance will be darker in time and have higher output. Not all that decide that some pickups will sound brighter than others.

Some will have a higher output that can maybe overdrive your preamp better than others. We'll play a few guitars in a moment to hear how each guitar and each pickup sounds in your average strat. tele. Les Paul and semi acoustic. Now one other difference you'll see in guitars, whether in the pickups sorry whether the pickups are the single coils or humbuckers in a single coil will generally have a brighter sound but will be susceptible to hum the clever way that humbuckers are designed as they're wired out of phase and with reverse polarity on the magnets that way, the signal generated by inductance that is the movement of your string within the magnets that's passed through. But any noise picked up through the air, I reproduce exactly 180 degrees out of phase and they just cancel out.

Now one thing to consider is that you need to realize that your guitar is really part of a circuit we tend to visualize that signal goes down a chain into the next thing and the effects and apps speak and so on. And that's a great way visualize that signal flow. But what's really going on is that AC is moving back and forth along a circuit and things like your pickup, your cables, your load resistance at whatever you're plugging your guitar in, creates an RLC circuit. That's the inductance of the pickup, the capacitance of the cable and also how long the cable is, and what the load resistance is at the AMP or affect input the plug in, they all work together to create this low pass filter and all those variables affect how hot your signal is, and also how dark or bright The tone is.

Let's see if my four main guitars here at each of the pickup positions and hear how they sound in either a clean setting or a dirty setting. So what kind of controls are on your average guitar on your stress. Typical strat, you have a pickup selector which used to just be three ways until some guys started to realize that you can slide the selector or right in the middle to engage a combination of two adjacent pickups here. Fender has since made five way selectors pretty much the standard there, then you have the master volume control, but sometimes it just doesn't just affect the volume. I mean, it's a great way to back it off a little bit, too. Men drive your preamp into distortion, but the reduction of volume can sometimes tweak the impedance match between you your guitar and sorry, your guitar output, and that capacitance can roll off the highs if this is a real problem.

When you back this off there you can wire a treble bleed capacitor, crush your volume knob, just google treble bleed circuit for details. You then have tone controls which roll off the high frequencies. Now unless you have an active guitar, that is one that you would have to put a battery in the back something like that. The tone controls normally on most guitars are passive, which means they only cut frequencies that aren't boosting anything. So if you want to basically atone, then you would roll off the hook. high frequencies, so you're left with more fundamental than all of those shimmery harmonics.

Now, let me just put that back in a passive guitar, like any of the four we're concentrating on right here the typical time circuit is simply placing placing a capacitor, which shunts only frequencies above a certain threshold in terms of the frequency range here to ground. Generally, the smaller capacitor value the higher the frequency point will be, the larger the cap value, the lower the point will be making the tone circuit much darker when you roll off the tops in terms of where that that roll off happens in a typical strap, the tone controls after the neck and middle and with the bridge pickup, always going to stretch through that keep in mind there are many different types of strap models out there and many folks tweak their wiring so your mileage may vary. Just simply play through and experiment with those different pickup positions and see which tone controls does what on your particular guitar.

Now in your typical tele you have a master volume plus one over here, and also a master tone control which affects whatever pick up combination is selected. Now in your typical Les Paul, you'll have forgotten to bring that one out here. And also 335 you'll have a separate volume controls but each of the pickup and separate tone controls for each of them there. Now some guitars like this Epiphone, Les Paul, have special switching pots that you can pull out and turn these humbuckers into single coil. You might even have things like coil taps that tap out so we can give you less wines for a different kind of sound. There also some guitars have faced switching to now there are many different types of words that will give you different results with the main two characters.

Six would be levels of sustain and the tonal color. Now there are a bunch of different words out there that can be used for your body, top neck and fingerboard from the old standby standbys, like ashen alder used in a lot of the strat and tele bodies with maple necks but these have Maple next year and sometimes you can have a rosewood fingerboard for a slightly darker SAP. Now Woods like this will tend to give you a brighter Spanky sound as opposed to the heavier mahogany used in a lot of the les Paul's, maple and poplar is typically found on on the 335 type guitars. Now there are many exotic woods out there including some you can even use or even transport like Brazilian rosewood you can get you actually you can you can get your guitar confiscated if you travel across borders and ethnicities tree and Lacey's assorted Lacey Act now resistance to feedback.

Varies from guitar to guitar with a 335 being the most susceptible to feedback, though less than a full bodied acoustic would be. And you actually use this to your advantage by leaning your 335 towards your speaker to get a nice controlled sustained feedback. That would have to be the 335. I think interesting story. Epiphone or Gibson? Yeah, actually what happened was interesting story when I was 17 years old.

60 Or 70 years old. My dad was not a musician, took his Christmas bonus, and bought a Rhodes for my brother who was playing piano scented drums for my sister and bought me a 335 which I still have to this day. Oh, that's a cute Yes. Yeah. And so that's my 335 but that was the guitar because you know at the time All the LA studio guys were playing 335 so that's what that's what I got was a 330. Wow.

My first guitar. How only today I was 12 years old. I traded a motorcycle. For my first guitar. I have dirt bikes growing up and traded a guy for a guitar called an old style. It was a German bizarre thing had one foil pickup in the middle of it.

Six strings looked a little like a Rickenbacker 4000 series bass, kind of a sort of a really cheap version of that. That and some, I don't even remember the brand of the AMP but it had some weird design on the speaker grille and it was like it was made out of plexiglass or something the speaker grille It was a bizarre little thing. And I had a K one of the orange k fuzz pedals and that made everything just sad. Better Yeah, and that was that was my first guitar the first guitar that I bought or maybe my probably my parents bought for me was actually a Fender Telly you folks bought you can to tell yeah American Standard. Wow It was back back then in like 1989 it was on it was under $500 which was a lot of money but yeah, that was my first guitar and really the guitar I played that I cut my teeth on and I didn't get another electric guitar till after a couple years after I graduated college that I had just Telly for almost 10 years or so I convinced my parents to buy me this came from Service Merchandise.

I don't even think they're still around. It was one of those warehouse stores. You write what you want on the ticket and they bring it it comes out on the conveyor belt. But yeah, it was harmony guitar. And an AMP from service person died How old were you? Oh, that must have been a good day.

Oh, it was great. I got it for Christmas. Christmas and I immediately plug that thing in and just started banging and no idea how to tune in anything. I knew nothing about it and just want to start you know, taking taking guitar lessons and I mean the thing had action this high. You could Limbo under it. It was brutal.

It was and it was like it was so cheap. And it was you know, years later I I stripped it down and turns out was made out of plywood. It was in a solid piece of wood is a piece of plywood and just had these funky p90x pickups in it but it had this bridge it was just like a curved piece of metal with notches in it and then it had you know it was on kind of like a two nematic where it has the you know, the thumb screws that go up and down but you put all the way down to the body and the action still this high and you know, I had I known then what I don't know. I put To shim the neck and change them change the pitch but I'm not sure that the radius of the bridge either it was a it was $89 guitar and a $29 amp.

So you can see a lot of folks have many different guitars it really comes down to the style of music that they prefer now if you're in a Stevie Ray Vaughan Eric Johnson or you know john mayer, then use what they use they use strats if you're into Albert Collins or Steve Cropper or Brad Paisley then Italy would be your would be your weapon of choice if you you know, if you just can't get enough of Jimmy Page or slash or Joe Perry human, you know, you got to go with a Les Paul and Larry Carlton, Chuck Berry and BB King all took their signature sounds from semi acoustics like you know, like the 335 over here, so rather so rather than getting hung up on the exact wood and pick up combination from scratch, just counting Would my suggestion is jumped to the front of the line by looking at the guitars that most of your influences play.

So let's briefly look at the construction of these guitars and how they kind of differ. First up we have next we have basically three different types of ways in which the neck is joining the body. In your typical Gibson, you have a set neck in other words, the neck is glued to the body some set next have a tenon joint that slots down deep in the body for a more solid joint in your typical Fender, you will have a bolt on neck. And this was predicated on Leo fenders idea of mass production and ease of modification. Just pull one neck off and screw another one straight back on. It's no secret that the offender was influenced by Henry Ford and some people consider that the Telecaster was kind of like the Model T a guitar of its of its time.

Now another next now that I have an example of this, but that would be a special Right through Nick with a net goes all the way from the top here all the way to the back of the body and the rest of the body is just kind of like wings that just bolt on to the the top and the bottom of the neck right there. Now, at the end of the day, the job of these joints is to be really, really tight to transfer all the vibrations and resonance all throughout the body of the guitar. Some folks like all this subject some folks absolutely swear by step by set next but there's obviously downside is that if this neck goes bad, you got to send it back to the factory on the fender, you can just unscrew it and screw on a new one. Now, all you need to make sure of at the end of the day is that you have a very very solid joint on all those four surfaces of that of that joint bolt on that doesn't have snug plans will lose this time.

Also a set neck that used too much glue to fill the gaps will then sustain as well. Now next are typically single pieces, although some will have a detached headstocks of course, some have separate finger boards and some are just straight through next like like this. Now most next cut parallel to the ground, although some can be cut perpendicular mahogany and rosewood fingerboard that the typical combination for Gibson's maples are typically used over in fenders. Now, scale length is different here. They differ between the models 25 and three quarter inches on fenders. Gibson's are a half inch shorter coming at 24 and three quarter inches.

Now you have to tighten a longer scale to get the same pitch, which gives you a kind of a 20 year time the Gibson's have a little less string tension producing kind of a chunkier time. And course you can exaggerate this on any guitar just by tuning your guitar down a half A full step. Now in terms of pickup placement, the closer you are to the bridge, clearly, the brighter the tone will be the closer the neck, the more the fundamental you'll hear. And this has to do with the nose and the any notes that fall in different places across the neck, if you're a play an open a, the ends of the string and the nut, the nodes, they don't move, the ADDIE note is the place where most of that movement happens. And that's at the 12th fret, the exact halfway point between the nut and the bridge.

If you do a little wave theory, the wavelength of an A 110 hertz is twice the length of a string because when you think about the string has to make all of its way up and then on its way down, that's twice the length of a string. If you were to gently pull the string back at the 12th fret, you would hear a lot of the fundamental right here at the 12th fret that very few people play guitars right here. Right, plus, it doesn't really look that cool. So you play back here because of all those reflections that go up and down the string, but you know, multiple times multiples of that 110 hertz, bounced around the string at the same time. It's kind of hard to visualize because of a section of the string county bit one place at one time, but multiple harmonics all vibrate around and cancel each other out, so that you have really a constantly changing complex waveform moving along the string that represents not only the fundamental, but also those harmonics along there, too.

If you softly pull that string halfway through there, you'll hear pretty much just the fundamental, you strike the string back here. Hit the string hard, you're invoke a bunch more of those harmonics. Anyway, on most guitars, you'll have selected to Bring up more of the fundamental at the neck position or more of the high frequencies at the at the bridge position bring up this pickup here, a lot of fenders, you'll also have an angled bridge pickup to bring up the higher harmonics you can see that's close to their of the highest strings to and less comparatively of the of the low E here have a clear there are clearly good and bad places to position a pickup and I hear a lot about the magical 24th fret, you know exactly halfway through here. And there's a lot of good math to support them in terms of not wanting to place the pickup at a node of several harmonics, but there's a fatal for that reason.

And that's because all those calculations are based on open strings, the nodes shift as the string becomes shorter. And so that mystical magic magical position, the catch all that perfect node on your guitar is it's really a moving target. You fret up and down the neck. There's one more type of pickup that you might find on a guitar and that's a hex or MIDI pickup in guitar sense where you play any connected a keyboard or MIDI module you have a special pickup, that's actually six pickups in one the track the pitch of each string separately there translate that pitch into a MIDI note number that can trigger the guitar synthesizer or any other connected module. Now it's a tall order to be able to do this because a MIDI keyboard just has to have a contact underneath each key to census pitch. A guitar synth needs to track that pitch and also pitch bend as well.

As you know, when you perform by Brown, keep in mind that lower notes take longer to perform their full wave cycle and that can be enough milliseconds to introduce latency, which can kind of kill a feeling of your playing. Fortunately, this track has gotten significantly better lately with each new model that comes out. So basically translates that into something they can go out to any connected So this is a guitar that is has a specific MIDI pickup on it. There are also other ones that will just allow you to to plug in any guitar and then turn that into MIDI. And there's also some that will just do that through USB. So that's the story in terms of guitars.

Obviously, there are many more models out there to try, but it would be impossible to list them all here. It really is a monumental compliment to visionaries lightly offended that his designs have basically remained unchanged since the middle of the 20th century. That's pretty amazing. Now, a guitar is a it's a fairly simple machine, basically a fixed and resonator with electromagnetic transducers that generate small amounts of AC alternating current that move onwards to create killer time but again, if the signal chain ended right here, rock and roll would be disallowed. That's no good. Let's go ahead and look onward to the applicators.

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