acoustic guitar body resonance
Old 28th October 2006
  #1
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acoustic guitar body resonance

Does a good player play the note that the guitar body resonates at much softer than other notes in order to keep his/her playing even?! I have two different size acoustics here and the one resonates at D 146.83 and the other slightly sharp of G# 103.83. When played evenly, D's are significantly louder than other notes on the smaller guitar and A's are loud on the other. Why isn't this a problem for other people? What if I eq'd a bit of the fundamental and first overtone of the resonant frequency out of guitar parts? Does anyone do this? Would I just end up making it sound 'less like a guitar' by taking this part of the sound out? It does help to even the notes out. I suppose other acoustic instruments exhibit this same phenomenon....

Thanks.
Old 30th October 2006
  #2
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I can only speak for myself but yes, I play each guitar differently. Guitars that are bright, I lay off my attack and guitars that are boomy I dig into the top strings. I listen for that kind of stuff and so yeah, if there are some notes that pop out I lay off, more often though there are more dead notes than resonant ones.

This problem occurs with most guitars. Guitar manufacturers are more interested in specs than build and tonal quality. The good stuff is measured at the manufacturing process and tuned properly. I don't mean measured in thickness I mean in frequency. I would assume most people just compress the track or like you, EQ it accordingly. I just make sure I buy the right instrument.

jl
Old 1st November 2006
  #3
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Thanks for the reply. It seems there's not much traffic here as I suspected, since I didn't even know this part of the forum existed, but subject-wise it seemed like the appropriate place to post this.

So you are saying that this only occurs in poorly crafted instruments rather than being an inherent propertiy of acoustic guitars and other instruments with a resonating chamber? I was thiniing that a certain volume of air would correspond to a certain note and then all guitars of that size would have a resonance there, and that note would be emphasized.

Anyone else have any insight?

Thanks.
Old 11th November 2006
  #4
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Anyone?
Old 24th November 2006
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eyesore View Post
Does a good player play the note that the guitar body resonates at much softer than other notes in order to keep his/her playing even?! I have two different size acoustics here and the one resonates at D 146.83 and the other slightly sharp of G# 103.83. When played evenly, D's are significantly louder than other notes on the smaller guitar and A's are loud on the other. Why isn't this a problem for other people? What if I eq'd a bit of the fundamental and first overtone of the resonant frequency out of guitar parts? Does anyone do this? Would I just end up making it sound 'less like a guitar' by taking this part of the sound out? It does help to even the notes out. I suppose other acoustic instruments exhibit this same phenomenon....

Thanks.
What guitars are you using? A good quality acoustic should play evenly across the spectrum.

Jim
Old 26th November 2006
  #6
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Acoustic guitars resonate at specific frequencies and as you have noticed, that can be annoying as hell. The great classical virtuoso John Williams has come up with an interesting dampening technique of locating the area on the soundboard where the resonances peak (by pressing lightly on the top with your forefinger) and placing a bit of gum to the surface area. Experimenting with size and placement on the inside of the cavity can even out those resonances enough to make them less noticable. But your ears still have to 'feel' around them with your touch while performing after all is said and done.
Old 7th December 2006
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runamuck View Post
What guitars are you using? A good quality acoustic should play evenly across the spectrum.

Jim
Actually, I find that this issue is more pronounced on the better quality instruments. I have a David Webber that rings out some weird overtones in standard tuning, but really performs wonderfully in open-d. I've tried a few different Collings guitars that really peak out around A. The superior tone woods and lighter bracing make this phenomenon much more apparent on fine guitars, than on less expensive instruments with a thicker top and heavy bracing. My clunky old Gibson B-25, for all intents and purposes a "student" guitar, is far more even across the spectrum. As a banjo player as well, I find that one has to be really attentive to head tuning and choice for the same reason. Violinists often have to work to combat "wolf tones", and usually have a good luthier make some tweaks (like the one's attributed to John Williams) when setting up the tone bar. It took me a long time of adjusting and tweaking the cone in my National to not have Bflat ring out in open D and G...that was an ugly mess.

So, it isn't uncommon at all. And a good luthier ought to be able to help minimize it with some variation on internal damping.
Old 7th December 2006
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by eyesore View Post
Does a good player play the note that the guitar body resonates at much softer than other notes in order to keep his/her playing even?
I think it's all done subconsciously. A great player will adjust to everything constantly i.e the room/the instrument/humidity/noise level of the audience/his physical state/etc. I can't imagine playing and analyzing these things at the same time.

What you also shouldn't forget is that the player is located 'behind' the sound and physically connnected to the body of the guitar. You might feel an exaggerated resonance at certain notes but the picture will be TOTALLY different from audience perspective, especially since the room and its own tonal resonance will come into play. IMO, acoustic guitars are totally dependent on the room and that's why it often can be very frustrating for the player no matter how good he or she is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyesore View Post
D's are significantly louder than other notes on the smaller guitar and A's are loud on the other. Why isn't this a problem for other people? What if I eq'd a bit of the fundamental and first overtone of the resonant frequency out of guitar parts? Does anyone do this? Would I just end up making it sound 'less like a guitar' by taking this part of the sound out?
Are you talking about solo recordings? Obviously this would be very different from denser mixes. I really think that a lot the specific frequency talk is useless since every element of the mix has to co-exist with everything else. EQ-ing the fundamental of the acoustic guitar will change the perception of other elements of the mix too. This might or might not work so in the end it's all about the big picture.
Old 20th December 2006
  #9
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Interesting question. But no, I don't adjust my playing to suit a guitar's particular sonic fingerprint. I find, though, that when I write a song on a particular guitar, it ends up being the most suited to be played on that guitar. So I guess, I might be subconsciously favouring the particular sonic attributes of each guitar as I play it.

Generally, if a guitar has too big a sonic fingerprint (aka wolf tone), it needs sorted. I do check for it when I'm audiutioning a new guitar. But every guitar has a wolf-tone; it matters where, and to what degree. For example, my OOO-28 is particularly pleased with it's "A", and shows it.
Old 20th June 2007
  #10
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I am glad I came across this thread...

On the acoustic side I primarily have experience with nylon string guitars - I have three of those.
My old Takamine CS132 yields nice mellow even tone. It records nicely, but I prefer playing it live.

My Yairi CY140 is a different beast - it has way too many overtones almost regardless of where it's been played. It's very vive and vibrant. Slow, single string passages reveal the character of the guitar the best, but they are also the hardest to accept after being recorded. Nevertheless, I use it primarily for recording. It has a ton of character stringed with a nice set of Hannabach Silver Specials or Savarez 520R.

I was recording with it two weeks ago and the engineer made remarks a few times regarding the richness of its overtones. I had to change on the fly they way I was playing some of the parts. The tracks are supposed to sit well in the mix. The recording chain was DPA 4011 pointing at the last fret, KM84 over my shoulder, Millennia HV3C, to PT HD. This is a great setup of course, but a little too sensitive for a guitar that would be a lead instrument in a mix (IMHO). The engineer who's mixing my project commented that the guitar is a bit muddy, but when you solo it, it sounds great. For a solo guitar work it would be a killer.

With that said, I definitely would like to find a way to tame the guitar a bit. The most energy comes of out of B on the 6th string. It causes sometimes sympathetic buzzing. I don't have any idea where to start, but I'll keep reading this thread for more tips.
Old 20th June 2007
  #11
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Wolf tones

These notes are called "wolf tones" and are just a fact of life. I have a bunch of great vintage instruments and they all have them. Sometimes to the tune of 10 dB louder! Mike placement and room quality are probably the most important factors in dealing with this issue from the engineering point of view. I find a bit of compression and eq can help too, but I use these things mostly as a corrective measure anyway. From a producing point of view, if it's an instrumental you could suggest a capo/key change... Or switch to another instrument whose wolf tones are not as fundamental to the key of the song you are tracking. Or put a different string on... etc...
Old 20th June 2007
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gdim View Post


With that said, I definitely would like to find a way to tame the guitar a bit. .
You need to make friends with a good luthier who can help you figure this out. I can highly recommend Joe Glaser in Nashville ( everybody else in town will vouch for him as well) although he works primarily on steel string guitars I think.
Old 21st June 2007
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundbarnfool View Post
You need to make friends with a good luthier who can help you figure this out. I can highly recommend Joe Glaser in Nashville ( everybody else in town will vouch for him as well) although he works primarily on steel string guitars I think.
I am in FL, but I'll remember your recommendation. I have to take my Tak for re-fretting and while there I'll ask the luthier that works on my guitars about the "wolves" in the Alvarez. The guitar has a character that I like, but it needs to be tamed a bit to allow me to record it with less headaches.

By the way, I achieved very good results with recording it at home through AT4050 and a RODE NT5 as a spaced pair, through a Vintech 1272 (w/ Air mod), to MOTU 828mkII. Liked the Neve-like sound out of the Vintech better vs the very clean Millennia which captured my guitar sounding more like a classical guitar.
I play a lot of Latin jazz (samba, bossa, nuevo flamenco) and I am looking for different "colors". My dream tone would be a cross between Lee Ritenour and Earl Klugh, more on Earl's side.

Recording acoustic guitar alone isn't easy at all.
Old 21st June 2007
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gdim View Post
Recording acoustic guitar alone isn't easy at all.
Yeah, it's a bitch! Much easier if you could clone yourself twice: one to engineer and the third to produce.
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