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  #31  
Old 09-18-2019, 09:59 PM
Dawgrit Dawgrit is offline
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Originally Posted by vindibona1 View Post
The opposite of sustain would be decay. "Punch" would refer to something in the ATTACK, or "front" of the notes, and IMO not related to sustain or decay. If you think of the ADSR envelope the opposing elements are Attack/Release, and Sustain/Decay. While I have been "corrected" in the order of the letters I believe they are more appropriately placed ASDR because as one "shapes" the sound you first have the attack or front of the note, then the sustain... which decays until it is released. This stuff is Musicality 101 with orchestral instruments but also applies to guitar in the sense of analyzing the nuances of the guitar's sound.
That makes sense. So where is resonance?
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  #32  
Old 09-18-2019, 10:26 PM
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That makes sense. So where is resonance?
Resonance is probably not the best term to use in the present thread. For a guitar it is the amount of energy
of the string's vibrations that is converted into sound. That sound energy could be dispersed over a shorter or
longer time (the degree of decay), and the term says nothing specific about frequency content. A blues sounding
guitar is most often describe as have more prominent mid range frequency power.
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  #33  
Old 09-19-2019, 04:20 AM
Dawgrit Dawgrit is offline
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Good info, makes sense. But I would say resonance is a perfect term for this thread. I started the thread and it’s called “Resonance versus sustain”.
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  #34  
Old 09-19-2019, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Dawgrit View Post
Good info, makes sense. But I would say resonance is a perfect term for this thread. I started the thread and it’s called “Resonance versus sustain”.
Hi Dawgrit

I want both resonance and sustain. I do NOT see resonance as the opposite of sustain. Decay…whether produced by strings being old, induced by touching/muting strings, or the instrument not being built to encourage more sustain…would seem like the opposite of sustain to me.

And the word resonance has different definitions. I use it to designate the vibration of the instruments I'm playing. Yet there are times when I hear an orchestral stringed instrument being played that I'd describe it as resonant to my ear…and I'm basing that on the volume and projection.

I've always prefer to own guitars with a long sustain because I can shorten it if I want to. But a guitar with dead strings or built without sustain…you cannot lengthen it's ability to hold notes out (sustain them).

I've laced a piece of felt (or other materials) through the string-bed at the tail end (next to the bridge) to cut sustain for fun and effect. Victor Wooten (bassist) and his brother (guitarist) both use a women's hair scrunchy around the upper end of the neck (next to the nut) to cut the ability of strings to sustain.

I've laid the back edge of my palm lightly on the string bed while continuing to pick to simulate pizzicato. I drop the underside of the palm on the strings to fully mute them as I strum for a percussive beat (I call it drop-strum).

Not since I traded off my first $10 guitar for a $75 guitar have I had a guitar which lacked sustain. I always desired an instrument which would ring out and hold chords or notes as needed.

This may be rooted in my love of lyrical melodies. I love long, flowing, sustained passages full of slurs, slides and vibrato. Impossible to play without better than average sustain.

I love a great Bluegrass solo player who is barking out melodies full of runs and arpeggios. But as far as I can tell players like Billy Strings own guitars with really good sustain, projection and resonance yet they produce amazing clarity and volume throughout their solos while maintaining the ability to sustain chords and notes as needed.


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  #35  
Old 09-19-2019, 08:18 AM
vindibona1 vindibona1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Dawgrit View Post
That makes sense. So where is resonance?
Edit: I have to think about this a bit more. I tend to think of resonance as what you hear as a combination of all the fundamentals, overtones and harmonics. I believe you can have several equally resonant guitars, yet with different sustain and decay characteristics which is why a D-18 which has quicker is sometimes preferred to a D28 or D35 or vice-versa. Why this is confusing is two-fold: Because defining resonance, or many of the terms we use is like trying to measure jello with a slinky. Second- Because resonance is loosely related to sustain and decay, but usually thought of (even if poorly defined with an arguable term) during the peak of the sound. Let me see if I can make a point. I'm not sure if my thought holds water, but I'll try...

Below find a link to an online tone generator. The default pitch is A-440. It produces a clear precise pitch. Is it in itself resonant? Or, does it depend on other surfaces to produce the "resonance"? I contend the latter, but I'm not sure. It contains an attack, of course, sustain and release (obviously) without decay or (self-contained) harmonics. Would you consider it to be "resonant" on it's own?

https://www.szynalski.com/tone-generator/

Edit: There is one more element that I'm contemplating now, and I'm not exactly sure how this plays into the discussion, but I'll put it out there anyway...
There is something going on inside the body of my guitars, to a greater or lesser extent that goes beyond the vibration of the strings and even guitar top. In the following recordings I have intentionally strummed the guitar extra hard to try to record the effect on both a Taylor 910 and Martin D35. The effect is present in all my acoustics, but seemingly less in my Taylor GA's, the least in my 614 which has maple back and sides (the 814ceDLX being rosewood as well as the two dreads). I'm not sure how to classify this as part of the discussion of resonance, but thought I'd put it out there anyway. After each chord is stuck the strings and top are IMMEDIATELY fully muted with both hands. Listen for the brieft harmonics coming from the body after the strings and top have been muted. So, the body continues to "resonate" with higher pitched overtones after the strings have been completely muted. So the question becomes, what's going on inside the body while the strings are ringing freely? Surely that must be part of the resonance we are trying to define? Perhaps it is part of what helps us separate resonance from the other elements? [Note: Recordings were done with iPhone about 10 inches from the guitar.





As a side note, what got me listening to this aspect was that in testing the 910 with both TUSQ and bone saddles, the TUSQ saddle elicited much more of this "aftershock" than the bone. The 910 in the recording has the bone saddle.
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Last edited by vindibona1; 09-19-2019 at 09:05 AM.
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  #36  
Old 09-19-2019, 08:40 AM
Larry Mal Larry Mal is offline
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Well, it's worth refreshing ourselves on what the ADSR envelope is, and discussing how it can apply to acoustic guitars (and what the limitations are).



So bear in mind that this is a concept borrowed from synthesis, and with synthesis the designers needed a way to approximate what real world instruments do naturally. So while we can borrow it back from that concept, it is a little limited and imperfect.

But, with acoustic guitars, we will have the attack, which is always going to be very fast, but experienced guitar players will be familiar with some instruments that react a little more slowly than others. Think of a super jumbo when fingerpicking, maybe, or a cheap guitar that was braced poorly and had cheap laminate that is hard to get the sound out of.

The decay can be thought of as the next part, when you strike a string with a pick or fingers you create a transient, which is described as:

"In acoustics and audio, a transient is a high amplitude, short-duration sound at the beginning of a waveform that occurs in phenomena such as musical sounds, noises or speech."

So when you see the above definition, you'll see that a transient is described as "high amplitude" and "short duration", but how long that duration is until the sustain level kicks in is the decay.

Again, with acoustics, this will be very fast, and if you never thought about it you may never have really noticed it. But we've all heard super responsive guitars that just explode with sound and the sound explosion lingers there for a while- the "while" is probably milliseconds, though.

The sustain would be how long your guitar keeps then note alive as you hold it, the release would be how long your guitar keeps the note audible when you don't hold the note.

So I have to disagree that decay is the opposite of sustain or whatever was stated, because if we are going to use the ADSR concept then it's all part of the same phenomenon.

Regarding resonance, I'm going to quote Wikipedia's article on acoustic resonance:

"An acoustically resonant object usually has more than one resonance frequency, especially at harmonics of the strongest resonance. It will easily vibrate at those frequencies, and vibrate less strongly at other frequencies. It will "pick out" its resonance frequency from a complex excitation, such as an impulse or a wideband noise excitation. In effect, it is filtering out all frequencies other than its resonance. "

Let's think of it like this with acoustic guitars. If you took the strings off your acoustic guitar and played it like a drum, then it would still produce sound, right? You would be hearing the top itself function like a very thick drum head. The back of the guitar would be functioning like a drum's resonant head.

And clearly some guitars would make for more loud and lively drums with more harmonic content than others.

So, let's say we add the strings, and we play the strings. Of course the strings are forming a note that consists of the fundamental and the harmonic series, right? We all know that.

But some guitars are going to resonate with the strings also- that is to say, the guitars themselves are going to generate sound based on the stimulus of the string's energy.

That sound can be complementary of the string, that is to say, the resonance of the guitar can produce the same note that the string is making, likely adding harmonic content.

It can also add differing content, like if you played a G note then your guitar might add very subtle other notes. Clearly, if your guitar was adding very subtle shades of C# when you played G, then your guitar would be very poorly designed and that's why most guitar makers take steps to make sure that their guitars add pleasing and complementary resonant notes.

And for the most part, they are successful.

Now, not only can the frequency of the resonance of the guitar be described, but also there is the quantity of it. Take your guitar and apply some gauze to the top of it and you will be taking out the resonance of the guitar top.

This is an extreme example, of course, but you would still be hearing the strings vibration amplified, just with no resonance.

And of course we are all familiar with guitars that have more lively- or resonant- bodies. Usually the thickness of the wood is considered, but the bracing also makes a difference, as does the grain of the wood itself.

It's a complicated subject, sound, because it moves so fast that a thousand things happen before you can think about it.

In fact, you aren't supposed to think about it, your very survival as a human is based on the fact that your ears are such amazing information gathering devices that they can supply a steady stream of information to your brain and reflexes so fast and so accurately that you never consider it. If you had to think about sounds that you hear consciously, well, that's the difference between you being the tiger's lunch or not.

Now, you might take this as me saying "just use your ears!" but I'm not. If a thing exists, it can be named, it can be measured, it can be explained: and that's how human beings learn and teach each other.

So is there a difference between sustain and resonance? There sure is. They are related, they are complementary, and at the end of the day you are going to have to use your ears to decide if any particular guitar has what you want out of those two factors.

But now you know what you are looking for, you know what the concepts are. Good luck.
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  #37  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:03 AM
vindibona1 vindibona1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mal View Post
Well, it's worth refreshing ourselves on what the ADSR envelope is, and discussing how it can apply to acoustic guitars (and what the limitations are).



So bear in mind that this is a concept borrowed from synthesis, and with synthesis the designers needed a way to approximate what real world instruments do naturally. So while we can borrow it back from that concept, it is a little limited and imperfect.

But, with acoustic guitars, we will have the attack, which is always going to be very fast, but experienced guitar players will be familiar with some instruments that react a little more slowly than others. Think of a super jumbo when fingerpicking, maybe, or a cheap guitar that was braced poorly and had cheap laminate that is hard to get the sound out of.

The decay can be thought of as the next part, when you strike a string with a pick or fingers you create a transient, which is described as:

"In acoustics and audio, a transient is a high amplitude, short-duration sound at the beginning of a waveform that occurs in phenomena such as musical sounds, noises or speech."

So when you see the above definition, you'll see that a transient is described as "high amplitude" and "short duration", but how long that duration is until the sustain level kicks in is the decay.

Again, with acoustics, this will be very fast, and if you never thought about it you may never have really noticed it. But we've all heard super responsive guitars that just explode with sound and the sound explosion lingers there for a while- the "while" is probably milliseconds, though.

The sustain would be how long your guitar keeps then note alive as you hold it, the release would be how long your guitar keeps the note audible when you don't hold the note.

So I have to disagree that decay is the opposite of sustain or whatever was stated, because if we are going to use the ADSR concept then it's all part of the same phenomenon.

Regarding resonance, I'm going to quote Wikipedia's article on acoustic resonance:

"An acoustically resonant object usually has more than one resonance frequency, especially at harmonics of the strongest resonance. It will easily vibrate at those frequencies, and vibrate less strongly at other frequencies. It will "pick out" its resonance frequency from a complex excitation, such as an impulse or a wideband noise excitation. In effect, it is filtering out all frequencies other than its resonance. "

Let's think of it like this with acoustic guitars. If you took the strings off your acoustic guitar and played it like a drum, then it would still produce sound, right? You would be hearing the top itself function like a very thick drum head. The back of the guitar would be functioning like a drum's resonant head.

And clearly some guitars would make for more loud and lively drums with more harmonic content than others.

So, let's say we add the strings, and we play the strings. Of course the strings are forming a note that consists of the fundamental and the harmonic series, right? We all know that.

But some guitars are going to resonate with the strings also- that is to say, the guitars themselves are going to generate sound based on the stimulus of the string's energy.

That sound can be complementary of the string, that is to say, the resonance of the guitar can produce the same note that the string is making, likely adding harmonic content.

It can also add differing content, like if you played a G note then your guitar might add very subtle other notes. Clearly, if your guitar was adding very subtle shades of C# when you played G, then your guitar would be very poorly designed and that's why most guitar makers take steps to make sure that their guitars add pleasing and complementary resonant notes.

And for the most part, they are successful.

Now, not only can the frequency of the resonance of the guitar be described, but also there is the quantity of it. Take your guitar and apply some gauze to the top of it and you will be taking out the resonance of the guitar top.

This is an extreme example, of course, but you would still be hearing the strings vibration amplified, just with no resonance.

And of course we are all familiar with guitars that have more lively- or resonant- bodies. Usually the thickness of the wood is considered, but the bracing also makes a difference, as does the grain of the wood itself.

It's a complicated subject, sound, because it moves so fast that a thousand things happen before you can think about it.

In fact, you aren't supposed to think about it, your very survival as a human is based on the fact that your ears are such amazing information gathering devices that they can supply a steady stream of information to your brain and reflexes so fast and so accurately that you never consider it. If you had to think about sounds that you hear consciously, well, that's the difference between you being the tiger's lunch or not.

Now, you might take this as me saying "just use your ears!" but I'm not. If a thing exists, it can be named, it can be measured, it can be explained: and that's how human beings learn and teach each other.

So is there a difference between sustain and resonance? There sure is. They are related, they are complementary, and at the end of the day you are going to have to use your ears to decide if any particular guitar has what you want out of those two factors.

But now you know what you are looking for, you know what the concepts are. Good luck.
Thanks for sharing that. I can see now why in the standard definition of ADSR the D comes before the S. But orchestral musicians playing winds and strings, we tend to think of it a bit differently as we attempt to sustain the tone after the attack and use decay before the release to shape each note, but I can now concede that because the attack tends to be more percussive there often will be a small amount of decay after the attack as noted in the graph. And also based on the graph, the "release" is actually a decay until the sound is stopped. Thanks for sharing that graph which clarifies a whole lot as the concept makes more sense for me now.
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  #38  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:21 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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I am personally grateful to Larry Mal for his contribution and the added comment by Vindibonal - both of which have helped me when struggling to write about the tonal influences of various picks and playing styles.

the statement by our eminent contributor Howard Emerson is unarguable, and reminds me of the old saw:

"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture".

...still fun though.
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  #39  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:45 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post
I am personally grateful to Larry Mal for his contribution and the added comment by Vindibonal - both of which have helped me when struggling to write about the tonal influences of various picks and playing styles.

the statement by our eminent contributor Howard Emerson is unarguable, and reminds me of the old saw:

"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture".

...still fun though.
Andrew,
Thanks.

The obvious confusion regarding reviews, etc the OP first talked about is what I responded to.

It’s a far greater issue than ‘resonance/sustain’ issue.

Only the operator of the instrument can determine (aurally) what a guitar can potentially do IN THEIR HANDS.

One man’s ceiling, et al.

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  #40  
Old 09-19-2019, 10:03 AM
Larry Mal Larry Mal is offline
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Thank you for the compliments- I know that this kind of scientific talk is maybe a little pedantic, but it does help me sometimes to describe what I'm hearing from my guitars (and otherwise) in more specific terms.

Because a lot of times we think of auditory things in terms of other senses, we say "warm" or "dry" or "sweet" and such.

You can put that down to the fact that your hearing is simply so amazing that you never even have to consider it enough to have words for it. Whenever I take a moment to think about how fantastic human hearing is and how wonderfully it has served me my whole life I realize how blessed I've been, how blessed any of us with good hearing are. It simply works, all the time, like I say supplying you with a constant stream of accurate and detailed information regarding your surroundings. You can focus on it if you want, you can make no effort, it doesn't matter- you are still getting the information and you are still making decisions based on it.

Sound goes right to the center of you... maybe that's why when we hear a beautiful piece of music, it can move us to the point of tears of joy, because it goes right to the core of who and what we are. In a sense, hearing bypasses conscious thinking and analyzing. It has to.

I don't need to tell anyone here about the power of music, though. I hope anything I wrote here was at all useful or helpful with getting someone a little closer to the music that makes everything worth it.
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  #41  
Old 09-19-2019, 02:31 PM
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Fair amount of confusion about defining terms and using them in context, but so be it.
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  #42  
Old 10-11-2019, 10:04 PM
Dawgrit Dawgrit is offline
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Wow, impressive amount of knowledge I did not expect to learn from my question. Thank you everyone for contributing. I definitely feel like I have an accurate picture in my head now. Thanks.
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  #43  
Old 10-12-2019, 06:59 AM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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Originally Posted by Howard Emerson View Post
The sooner you start relying on YOUR ears ONLY, the better.

Reading descriptions of sound is a waste of time.

No combination of woods, body shape, size, etc is ever going to equal a particular sound.

You’re the player. You’re the listener.

Respect yourself.
Yep, the same words can mean different things to different people. Try describing a color vocally (without referring to other colors); it's the same with sound.
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