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Old 03-21-2019, 08:01 AM
Paddy1951 Paddy1951 is offline
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Default We Want Our Children To Be Bright... Not So Much Our Guitars

There have been hundreds of comments, topics of discussions, complaints and sometimes talk of acceptance of bright guitars on AGF.

Because I don't want this to be the usual Martin-Taylor skirmish, I am going to ask we leave them out of the discussion. Taylor was designed to have the sound it does and so be it. Martin? Do we know if it was designed to have the sound it does?

My question is why so many guitars tend to have a brighter sound? I am speaking of the numerous but good imports.

In 2019, it isn't that hard to reverse engineer an item as relatively simple as an acoustic guitar. With advanced manufacturing techniques, there is not a lot of hand wizardry involved anymore.

Woods may not be as common, not old growth anyway. So, there is difference there.

So, why doesn't somebody blueprint a classic guitar, say a J 45, build it as close as possible to the original specs and produce a like sounding, NOT BRIGHT sounding guitar?

I certainly think they would sell. As far as I know, a guitar's sound cannot be patented and most guitars are too generic for their designs to be patented.

Why not more guitars with the sounds people claim to prefer? Yes, I realize that there are different tastes.

I will use one of my own guitars as a real life example.
I have a Seagull S6 Spruce Top. People generally like the S6 but many say the spruce top is.... Yup, too bright.

Godin must know how to tame that brightness, somewhat the result of the wood combination, but still controllable by bracing type, placement, etc.

For me, I have no issues with the spruce top. I do think, however, more spruce top S6s might be sold if the tone was moderated somewhat. Not to duplicate the cedar topped versions, just a bit to offer a lower mid spruce sound.

Let the games begin.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:13 AM
stringjunky stringjunky is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paddy1951 View Post
There have been hundreds of comments, topics of discussions, complaints and sometimes talk of acceptance of bright guitars on AGF.

Because I don't want this to be the usual Martin-Taylor skirmish, I am going to ask we leave them out of the discussion. Taylor was designed to have the sound it does and so be it. Martin? Do we know if it was designed to have the sound it does?

My question is why so many guitars tend to have a brighter sound? I am speaking of the numerous but good imports.

In 2019, it isn't that hard to reverse engineer an item as relatively simple as an acoustic guitar. With advanced manufacturing techniques, there is not a lot of hand wizardry involved anymore.

Woods may not be as common, not old growth anyway. So, there is difference there.

So, why doesn't somebody blueprint a classic guitar, say a J 45, build it as close as possible to the original specs and produce a like sounding, NOT BRIGHT sounding guitar?

I certainly think they would sell. As far as I know, a guitar's sound cannot be patented and most guitars are too generic for their designs to be patented.

Why not more guitars with the sounds people claim to prefer? Yes, I realize that there are different tastes.

I will use one of my own guitars as a real life example.
I have a Seagull S6 Spruce Top. People generally like the S6 but many say the spruce top is.... Yup, too bright.

Godin must know how to tame that brightness, somewhat the result of the wood combination, but still controllable by bracing type, placement, etc.

For me, I have no issues with the spruce top. I do think, however, more spruce top S6s might be sold if the tone was moderated somewhat. Not to duplicate the cedar topped versions, just a bit to offer a lower mid spruce sound.

Let the games begin.
Thicker.stiffer tops make brighter guitars. Manufacturers will err that way because it's safer for them in terms of keeping returns to a minimum.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:32 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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In my experience, I have played plenty of guitars that I have not found to be too bright. Models by Yamaha, Alvarez, Eastman and Guild just to name a few. I do find that many models by Breedlove and McPherson to be too bright and or thin to my ears. It is just so subjective and there are so many factors in the building process that affect tone. I am using brand names here for a shortcut since regardless of brand, each guitar is its own thing and there is variety within each brand, though probably it could be argued that they each have an overriding tonal signature, as the OP has already mentioned with Taylor and Martin.

I had a guitar that had a brighter edge to the trebles than I preferred and I tried some GHS Vintage Bronze strings on it and that did the trick.

My tonal preference leans towards the darker but I haven't found that hard to find among the guitar choices out there.

Best,
Jayne

Last edited by jaymarsch; 03-21-2019 at 08:33 AM. Reason: Added content
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:32 AM
Steadfastly Steadfastly is offline
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Many people buy a guitar because of what is printed on the headstock. That will not change.

As for copying a certain sound, that has been done by a few companies but many people want the original one for various reasons, usually not tone.

If a person wants a certain tone today, they can get it. It just takes time and research. If a person wants it bad enough, they will do it. Many don't have the time, energy, knowledge or resources to do it so they settle on something in the range of what they were looking for.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:35 AM
Aaron Smith Aaron Smith is offline
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It’s a lot easier to darken a bright guitar through string selection, picks, playing style etc. than it is to brighten a dark guitar. For those that play with bands or ensembles, how the instrument sits in the mix alongside other instruments in a consideration. All that aside, I like what I like and there’s a certain amount of brightness I prefer.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:37 AM
Arch Stanton Arch Stanton is offline
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I love the spruce tops. I have heard that the Adirondack is the premium of spruce tops, but Sitka is still a premium high quality wood. I called Taylor and told them the sound I was looking for, and without going into detail, he said I wanted a spruce top and a solid rosewood back and sides, emphasis on rosewood. So I went and tried that wood combo in a Martin and Taylor. I won't compare the two, but nonetheless, they both had the sound I was looking for. The guy from Taylor knew exactly what I was talking about, a bright sound, like a bell. I would not have got that sound with a cedar or mahogany top, although I do like cedar, or with an import from China or Mexico producing a laminated top or back and sides. It's so amazing how much personal preference plays a role in this stringed instrument. Ranting and comparing over two different guitar maker's is useless. Good post, I hope I didn't trail off your point.

Regards,,,
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Last edited by Arch Stanton; 03-21-2019 at 08:43 AM.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:38 AM
bufflehead bufflehead is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paddy1951 View Post
For me, I have no issues with the spruce top. I do think, however, more spruce top S6s might be sold if the tone was moderated somewhat. Not to duplicate the cedar topped versions, just a bit to offer a lower mid spruce sound.
Why stick with spruce? Red cedar, which is in the mahogany family, is less dense than spruce. It provides a warmer, more harmonic tone. (As an added bonus for people living in humid environments like the Pacific Northwest, it resists moisture better than spruce.)

I'll take warm over bright tones any day, and I'm surprised how long it took me to discover cedar tonewood. This probably relates to the fact that I didn't move to the PNW until recently. Were I to purchase another guitar, I'd definitely be looking for another red cedar top. And I'd certainly begin my search with guitars built in Oregon, Washington or British Columbia.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:43 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steadfastly View Post
Many people buy a guitar because of what is printed on the headstock. That will not change.

As for copying a certain sound, that has been done by a few companies but many people want the original one for various reasons, usually not tone.

If a person wants a certain tone today, they can get it. It just takes time and research. If a person wants it bad enough, they will do it. Many don't have the time, energy, knowledge or resources to do it so they settle on something in the range of what they were looking for.
I know that this is true for me. I have put a lot of time into discovering what I am looking for and researching how to best get exactly what I want. Not everyone has the time or inclination.

Best,
Jayne
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:47 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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I don't know that we need to overthink this. I suspect many people buy guitars with a brighter sound because they like the brighter sound. Is it all or even most? I don't know that exactly.

Why might someone like a brighter sound? Different tastes. And then, a built-in brighter EQ usually works better in a band live mix or in recordings with multiple instruments.

I'm actually surprised that there isn't a more "old guy" preference for brighter sounding guitars since as we age (and as to the guy thing I've heard that's is also more male related) we loose our sensitivity to high frequencies. I often worry that my mixes may be to bright since I'm overcompensating for that.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:50 AM
DesertTwang DesertTwang is offline
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Perhaps I'm alone in my assessment, but I wonder if we are confusing "bright" with "good-sounding." To me, a guitar either sounds "bright" as in "good," or "not bright" as in "dull and lifeless."
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Old 03-21-2019, 09:07 AM
bufflehead bufflehead is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertTwang View Post
Perhaps I'm alone in my assessment, but I wonder if we are confusing "bright" with "good-sounding." To me, a guitar either sounds "bright" as in "good," or "not bright" as in "dull and lifeless."
Rather than Bright <-----> Dull, I think of a tonal polarity that runs from bright to warm. There's a spot on that scale where bright is good. or at least okay, but too bright is not.
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Old 03-21-2019, 09:15 AM
richpjr richpjr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankHudson View Post
I don't know that we need to overthink this. I suspect many people buy guitars with a brighter sound because they like the brighter sound.
Exactly what I was thinking when reading the OP.
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Old 03-21-2019, 09:22 AM
musicman1951 musicman1951 is offline
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I imagine there are multiple reasons - with price being the first. I selected my Lowden over the same model with different woods because of the darker, richer tone - at quite a jump in price.

And I'm sure there are people who simply prefer a bright sound: because it works better in the mix of their ensemble or just because they do.
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Old 03-21-2019, 09:36 AM
rstaight rstaight is offline
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For me it depends on what I am playing. If it's a piece that is happy and bouncy, upbeat if you will, I want to play an instrument that is bright.

If I'm play something that deals with lose or blues I want a guitar that is a bit darker and muted.

Just depends on what I am playing.
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Old 03-21-2019, 09:43 AM
Knives&Guitars Knives&Guitars is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankHudson View Post
I don't know that we need to overthink this. I suspect many people buy guitars with a brighter sound because they like the brighter sound. Is it all or even most? I don't know that exactly.

Why might someone like a brighter sound? Different tastes. And then, a built-in brighter EQ usually works better in a band live mix or in recordings with multiple instruments.

I'm actually surprised that there isn't a more "old guy" preference for brighter sounding guitars since as we age (and as to the guy thing I've heard that's is also more male related) we loose our sensitivity to high frequencies. I often worry that my mixes may be to bright since I'm overcompensating for that.
Well said,
If you examine many of our favorite recordings of acoustic guitar from 60's and 70's, lots of High end EQ was often added to the top end of guitars. Playing solo, or playing in a group (or in a recording) are two different things. Often brightness is what is needed.
Further investigated; many of our current acoustic Players came from Electric guitar backgrounds. Electric guitars have a propensity towards brightness. Thus many of our new players want that type of brightness.
And even if you are not from the new generation, and are an Ancient guy like myself...some of us still prefer Bright sounds. Many of my favorite recordings from the 60's and 70's came from the Big Maple Bodied SJ200. But I did not know that until recently. Those guitars where not publicized as well as Mahogany and Rosewood guitars.
And If you are lucky as I am, You might be able to find a guitar with those penetrating trebles, warm punchy midrange, and thunderous bass. My guitar has it all. Lucky Man am I, thanks to new designs, bracing and new tonewoods.
As Frank said, don't over think it. Some want bright and some like dark. There is no right or wrong.
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