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  #61  
Old 01-26-2021, 09:28 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Al, I will try that with the next string change. So far my approach has only been to change one thing at a time, so I know what effect is attributable to what change. As I told a friend via email yesterday, I am busy making lemonade out of lemons.

Last edited by Earl49; 01-26-2021 at 12:45 PM. Reason: tpyo fixxed
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  #62  
Old 01-26-2021, 09:48 AM
steelvibe steelvibe is offline
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Default mellow strings?

I’ve recommended folks upgrade their varied plastic saddles for bone on here before. My tired old ears can hear a difference. Bridge pins not so much,but other than string choices nothing fine tunes tone than optimal saddle material. This has been true on high wooden acoustics for years. You can also color the saddle black with a Sharpie if you don’t care for the look.
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  #63  
Old 01-26-2021, 10:09 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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What I struggle with is the five other Emerald guitars that I already have that have NOT needed special dedicated strings or replacement saddles - or anything else - and they all sound wonderful. (Ditto for my Blackbird, CA, Rainsong carbon fiber guitars, or wood for that matter). There is just this one single tonal outlier. But I will keep trying.... I always thought that bone saddles and nuts would produce more clarity and brightness versus Tusq, Micarta, Corian or other plastics? That is the exact opposite of what I need.
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  #64  
Old 01-27-2021, 10:33 PM
al_az al_az is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl49 View Post
What I struggle with is the five other Emerald guitars that I already have that have NOT needed special dedicated strings or replacement saddles - or anything else - and they all sound wonderful. (Ditto for my Blackbird, CA, Rainsong carbon fiber guitars, or wood for that matter). There is just this one single tonal outlier. But I will keep trying.... I always thought that bone saddles and nuts would produce more clarity and brightness versus Tusq, Micarta, Corian or other plastics? That is the exact opposite of what I need.
Earl, I certainly can see where you are coming from. I, on the other hand have tweaked almost every guitar I have ever owned. I have played mostly electrics over my 46 yr of guitar playing. I would swap pickups, swap magnets, change speakers, change tubes. Sometimes my wife said I tinkered more than I played. Once I found what I liked I would stay with it for years, eventually, my ears or tastes would change and I would tweak again.
So here is my take on MY x-20. When it arrived it sounded unbalanced,thin, muffled. So after trying several strings I came to the conclusion that it needed more, not less. It needed fuller, tighter lows and mids with more overtones. Drop a TUSQ saddle on a hard surface and listen to it, drop a bone saddle and listen to it. The bone just is bigger. That is why I went with the bone saddle and MY experience with it is that it just made the overall balance bloom. Bigger, rounder, more balanced. However, don't trust my experience I have significant high-end hearing loss from the PRS's through my boogies. You have nothing to lose.

Last edited by al_az; 01-27-2021 at 11:20 PM.
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  #65  
Old 01-29-2021, 12:03 PM
jwellsy jwellsy is offline
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Originally Posted by al_az View Post
Drop a TUSQ saddle on a hard surface and listen to it, drop a bone saddle and listen to it. The bone just is bigger. That is why I went with the bone saddle and MY experience with it is that it just made the overall balance bloom. Bigger, rounder, more balanced.
Tusq vs Bone in a CF, that's an interesting trial. I can see trying it on my X10. The real test would be to see if could possibly improve my X30's sound, I doubt it.
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  #66  
Old 01-29-2021, 12:09 PM
al_az al_az is offline
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Originally Posted by jwellsy View Post
Tusq vs Bone in a CF, that's an interesting trial. I can see trying it on my X10. The real test would be to see if could possibly improve my X30's sound, I doubt it.
Of course, there is the old saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it". I have to admit I have not always heeded that advice. I live by "you will never know if you don't try"

Let's not forget the biggest problem with tinkering, investigator bias. I can not tell you how many times I thought my tinkering made significant improvement only to undo it weeks or months later. Boy can the brain ever twist what the ear hears. I have a closet full of speakers, tubes, pedals, that constantly remind me of the subjective nature of my tinkering

Last edited by al_az; 01-29-2021 at 01:49 PM.
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  #67  
Old 02-01-2021, 10:29 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Al, I gave your idea a shot. Dropping bone and Tusq onto a hard counter top, the bone gives a duller "thud" whereas Tusq gives a distinct "tink" with more ringing and overtones. So I swapped saddles for bone without changing strings and that mellowed the guitar's tone noticeably.

Then I took it a step further. The bone saddle was in my parts box, removed from an old guitar that was lowered for a piezo pickup. When looking for shim material, I happened to see a rubber band nearby, and it was the same width as the saddle slot. Hmmmm...... So I next put the saddle on top of a section of rubber band in the slot, which acts as a vibration isolator. Normally we would avoid any isolating element between the saddle and the bridge, but I'm trying to tame harsh high frequencies. Rubber selectively isolates higher frequencies when used under machinery. This is an unconventional approach for sure.

It mostly worked! Next I will try a fresh set of the mellower Silk & Bronze strings that gave better results last time. I may be getting close to acceptable tone! It sounds much closer to the sweet tone of the old X20 now.
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  #68  
Old 02-01-2021, 11:41 AM
jdinaz jdinaz is online now
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I'm sorry Earl, but that's a bit sad that you have to put a rubber band under the saddle. Great out of the box thinking, but shouldn't need to be done. I am glad you are getting closer to an acceptable tone though. I wonder what Emeralds thoughts on that would be? Thanks for keeping us updated.
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  #69  
Old 02-01-2021, 02:02 PM
steelvibe steelvibe is offline
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Okay, I'm gonna be that guy and just say it...

"I told you so".

More often than not, replacing cheap plastic substances with bone is going to yield better results and sometimes it's shocking. I've replaced plastic with bone on 3 guitars; a Breedlove, Martin, and RainSong. All were improvements. I would even switch back to make sure my ears weren't freaking (heck maybe they were/ are), but crazy I may be. My Journey already came with a bone saddle so no tinkering there... sounds good.

At any rate I'm so glad to hear you are getting somewhere with what you want Earl. That's excellent tinkering sir.
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  #70  
Old 02-01-2021, 05:27 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Originally Posted by steelvibe View Post
Okay, I'm gonna be that guy and just say it... "I told you so". More often than not, replacing cheap plastic substances with bone is going to yield better results and sometimes it's shocking.
The shocking part to me is that the bone was perceptibly deader (more internal damping) than the Tusq during the drop test, the exact opposite of what I had expected. Bone being a harder material, I expected more brightness and ringing in the saddle, not less. Knowing that string type can only go so far, I was forced to dig deeper. Without a compensated b string, the intonation is now slightly off, but that is another issue.

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Originally Posted by jdinaz View Post
I'm sorry Earl, but that's a bit sad that you have to put a rubber band under the saddle. Great out of the box thinking, but shouldn't need to be done.
I concur John, but I'm too pigheaded to just give up, even on what I perceive to be a tonally defective guitar. (I actually could have returned it, but would have lost a bunch of dollars - the details are confidential, so don't ask). Meanwhile I have been researching the theory of music instrument acoustics, corresponding with others far more knowledgeable than myself, and applying my professional noise & vibration control experience. This effort could easily turn into a master's thesis if I cared about such things. It was almost serendipity to see and then try the rubber band, but it seems to work.

I played it for an hour last night, quiet bare nails finger picking. It was still a tad brighter than ideal, but much improved. Tonight I will try strumming with a flat pick to see if that is similarly tamed too. Next will be a new set of strings, probably the Silk & Bronze that were better before. Eventually I may settle on Monel mediums or a Bluegrass medium/light set of Polyweb Elixirs, once the choices are narrowed down. The guitar wants mediums for acceptable playing tension, given the short scale.
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  #71  
Old 01-20-2022, 11:45 AM
RCW RCW is offline
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I recently joined the Rainsong club with the purchase of a used H-DR1100N2. I really like the strong projection, but having a bit of a struggle finding the right balance between volume and brightness. It came with Elixir PB coated strings, and when it was time to replace them, I decided to try Martin Retro strings. It's been about a month, and although they project very nicely, they still seem to bright for what I'm looking for. Given this is a hybrid - carbon and glass - I wonder if it is extra bright to start with. Other than going all the way to silk and steel, are there strings in between that are warm and mellow, and with reasonable longevity?
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  #72  
Old 01-20-2022, 12:42 PM
jdinaz jdinaz is online now
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I always found the Hybrids to be the mellowest of the RS's, but still leaning to the bright side, nature of the beast I think. As far as strings....you might find something more mellow than the Retros, but I don't know what they would be other than the silk and steel you mention.
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  #73  
Old 01-20-2022, 06:16 PM
steelvibe steelvibe is offline
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I've always thought Retros sounded great on RainSongs (previous Shorty owner). However, Retros are very "neutral", and while mellow they lack bass. I find they suit my style, but I can see why many wouldn't like them- especially strummers. Silk and Steel are even worse in my opinion. They sound tinny and "thwacky" on carbon fiber, lacking body and substance. The only silk and steel strings I've actually liked are LaBella Mediums. Now those are nice strings- mellow with great projection!

You might try GHS Vintage Bronze. It does seem counter intuitive with 85/15 composition, but I promise you they are nice and mellow while remaining punchy in the bass. You also don't get that weak tinny/ thwacky sound that you get with S&S. I suspect it is because they are stronger and have more tension, thus drive the top better.

Nothing has life like you get with Retros, but I've gotten a couple months out of a set of Vintage Bronze making sure to wipe them down and keeping my hands clean before playing. At $8 a set I feel confident recommending you try them.
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  #74  
Old 01-20-2022, 09:40 PM
RCW RCW is offline
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Thank you for the suggestions. I am primarily a strummer, with an occasional bass run here and there - just a beginnner. Sounds like GHS Vintage Bronze might deliver the sound that I'm looking for. I'll give 'em try, along with a few others, and report back.
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  #75  
Old 01-21-2022, 10:57 AM
Jim in TC Jim in TC is offline
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Any particular reason not to go "all the way" to silky strings? I am finding the pricey Plectrums to be just right (Emerald X7, great tone, easy on the fingers, a little less volume but no big deal) but there are other options and for me, anyway, they hold up as well as any.
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