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Vintage acoustic tone affected by dirt on the body?
Old 16th October 2019
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Only, my experience in reality goes 100% against that theory, and to me does not make any sense whatsoever. It's a resonant box of wood with thin walls. How can a layer of muck on that NOT dampen the tone?
Not that it was "muck," but when early carved-top guitars and mandos had pickguards they were never glued on. Suspended instead. There had to be a reason.
Old 16th October 2019
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Not that it was "muck," but when early carved-top guitars and mandos had pickguards they were never glued on. Suspended instead. There had to be a reason.
Yes there was - the top of the instrument where those devices were being placed wasn't flat.

On a similar vein - I just replaced the pickguard on a 9-string Yairi acoustic I've had laying around. No difference with or without the pickguard.

I understand everything effects tone. I have a hard time believing you could build up that much muck on an acoustic guitar surface that would make more difference than the rest of the work that was just done to the instrument. Meaning correlation does not equal causation.
Old 16th October 2019
  #33
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Originally Posted by Bstapper View Post
Yes there was - the top of the instrument where those devices were being placed wasn't flat.
Good point. :-)
Old 16th October 2019
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bstapper View Post

I understand everything effects tone. I have a hard time believing you could build up that much muck on an acoustic guitar surface that would make more difference than the rest of the work that was just done to the instrument. Meaning correlation does not equal causation.
What rest of the work? The machines were swapped and now the old originals are back. The frets were done. That's it. The tone was gone.

The plastic bridge came off later, was filed into the shape of the not entirely flat top and went back on. Solved the burring sound on bass notes, but changed zero about the overall tone. That went with the first time where only machines were swapped and frets were done. And no, it's not just the frets, although of course they also changed sound, but the entire thing sounds different, even just stroking across open strings, no fretting. How do you explain that?

And the layer was pretty thick. He said he had never seen a guitar with that much muck on it.
Old 16th October 2019
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
What rest of the work? The machines were swapped and now the old originals are back. The frets were done. That's it. The tone was gone.

The plastic bridge came off later, was filed into the shape of the not entirely flat top and went back on. Solved the burring sound on bass notes, but changed zero about the overall tone. That went with the first time where only machines were swapped and frets were done. And no, it's not just the frets, although of course they also changed sound, but the entire thing sounds different, even just stroking across open strings, no fretting. How do you explain that?

And the layer was pretty thick. He said he had never seen a guitar with that much muck on it.
You'd better start doing some sweaty exercise, then immediately playing the guitar for an hour while smoking cigarettes or cigars. In about a year, you could probably build up a reasonable layer of musician mank.

Pouring some whiskey in the sound hole might help too?
Old 16th October 2019
  #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
The plastic bridge came off later, was filed into the shape of the not entirely flat top and went back on...
The bridge is wood and the saddle is plastic/bone/something, no? At any rate, if the shape of the bottom of the bridge was changed, then so was the coupling between the strings and the top.
Old 16th October 2019
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
The bridge is wood and the saddle is plastic/bone/something, no? At any rate, if the shape of the bottom of the bridge was changed, then so was the coupling between the strings and the top.
No, the bridge on this thing is actual, brown plastic and just a surround for the ceramic saddle on screws through the middle. The Gibson style adjustable thing. But for just the year of 63 they put actual plastic bridges on. Typical random Gibson madness. Still sounds good though so .......and again to be clear, the bridge was done in a second move, the tone went in the first where the bridge wasn't touched.
Old 16th October 2019
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolk martin View Post
You'd better start doing some sweaty exercise, then immediately playing the guitar for an hour while smoking cigarettes or cigars. In about a year, you could probably build up a reasonable layer of musician mank.

Pouring some whiskey in the sound hole might help too?
You'd have to stick it in a small room with Keith for a decade or so to get it.back lol
Old 16th October 2019
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
No, the bridge on this thing is actual, brown plastic...
Not even cool, retro plastic like bakelite or celluloid?
Old 16th October 2019
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
The bridge is wood and the saddle is plastic/bone/something, no? At any rate, if the shape of the bottom of the bridge was changed, then so was the coupling between the strings and the top.
Picking my kid up from school, so gotta be quick. But if Karloff has the original bridge/saddle for his CW, then the bridge is indeed plastic and the saddle is ceramic. That’s how Gibson did most of their flattops in ‘63-‘64. Plastic was the future then. Go figure.
Old 16th October 2019
  #41
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sorry, but as soon as you say the bottom of the bridge or bridge saddle was modified and suggest that this work has less to do with potentially impacting tone than grime on a guitar you have lost me.

Let's just say for the sake of argument that string height didn't change, mass of material didn't change. The contact of the saddle and bridge with the top of the instrument is so critical that anything less than perfect contact of surfaces has a major impact on tonality. Anyone with experience installing piezo pickups and working with bridge saddles will have first-hand knowledge of how critical those elements are.

In any event I'm obviously on the side of your repair guy on the grime aspect. The rest is entirely suspect without actually having been there watching the work and knowing first hand the before/after scenario. It would be pure speculation on my part to come up with a real opinion that supports, or doesn't, your claim of grime on the guitar and its impact on tone. I didn't actually see the grime. I didn't actually see the rest of the work performed.

But I still think you're crazy.. ;~)
Old 16th October 2019
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
What rest of the work? The machines were swapped and now the old originals are back. The frets were done. That's it. The tone was gone.

The plastic bridge came off later, was filed into the shape of the not entirely flat top and went back on. Solved the burring sound on bass notes, but changed zero about the overall tone. That went with the first time where only machines were swapped and frets were done. And no, it's not just the frets, although of course they also changed sound, but the entire thing sounds different, even just stroking across open strings, no fretting. How do you explain that?
I would explain that via the truss rod adjustment that would have been performed when performing the fret work and whatever new location it landed on likely being different than where it was before as well as the brand spanking new strings that may just be wrong for that particular instrument.
Old 16th October 2019
  #43
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Mainly, you are not reading properly though. The bridge has nothing to do with it as it wasn't touched until AFTER the tone change.

And you are imagining the strings, or you again didn't actually read what I tyoed and assumed me a nutter. lol

And you say a rod adjustment will change the tone of the instrument and it's decay/sustain when just stroking across the strings without fretting anything?
Old 16th October 2019
  #44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post


The odour of the Colonel's buckets causes me unrest though.
Fish and chips, then.
Old 16th October 2019
  #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Mainly, you are not reading properly though. The bridge has nothing to do with it as it wasn't touched until AFTER the tone change.

And you are imagining the strings, or you again didn't actually read what I tyoed and assumed me a nutter. lol

And you say a rod adjustment will change the tone of the instrument and it's decay/sustain when just stroking across the strings without fretting anything?
Maybe I'm imagining the strings. You mean the guy did fretwork on your instrument, cleaned the guitar, and didn't change the strings?

And yes - a truss rod adjustment will ultimately change the string geometry and can impact the sound of the instrument even if you are not fretting anything. I'm not saying for sure that is what you are experiencing, but I find it more likely than cleaning the instrument having that major of an impact. But I haven't actually seen said grime or the extent to which you neglected that poor instrument. ;~)
Old 17th October 2019
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bstapper View Post
Maybe I'm imagining the strings. You mean the guy did fretwork on your instrument, cleaned the guitar, and didn't change the strings?

And yes - a truss rod adjustment will ultimately change the string geometry and can impact the sound of the instrument even if you are not fretting anything. I'm not saying for sure that is what you are experiencing, but I find it more likely than cleaning the instrument having that major of an impact. But I haven't actually seen said grime or the extent to which you neglected that poor instrument. ;~)


How do you get to assume I 'neglected' the instrument?? lol You sure have an active imagination and a propensity to not read the posts that would have cured your assumptions before they got out the gate.

And, yes new strings went on, but the strings before were also new, i.e. the tone difference is not the strings. Also something you would already know had you bothered to read the thread before commenting.
Old 17th October 2019
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post


How do you get to assume I 'neglected' the instrument?? lol You sure have an active imagination and a propensity to not read the posts that would have cured your assumptions before they got out the gate.

And, yes new strings went on, but the strings before were also new, i.e. the tone difference is not the strings. Also something you would already know had you bothered to read the thread before commenting.
You will have to turn me on to these "stay new forever" strings. Mine start to diminish in a matter of a day or two.

Out of curiosity did you notice a weight difference in the instrument? A typical guitar finish might weigh as much as 3-4oz. The amount of grime we are talking about must have been 1/2 pound or more.

Now some might suggest that a 1/2 lb of **** all over a guitar finish is a sign of love and a sure indicator that an instrument has been well cared for. I, on the other hand, happen to view an instrument with a 1/2 lb or more of excrement to be a sign of neglect.
Old 17th October 2019
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bstapper View Post
You will have to turn me on to these "stay new forever" strings. Mine start to diminish in a matter of a day or two.

Out of curiosity did you notice a weight difference in the instrument? A typical guitar finish might weigh as much as 3-4oz. The amount of grime we are talking about must have been 1/2 pound or more.

Now some might suggest that a 1/2 lb of **** all over a guitar finish is a sign of love and a sure indicator that an instrument has been well cared for. I, on the other hand, happen to view an instrument with a 1/2 lb or more of excrement to be a sign of neglect.
You don't read, do you?

If you did, you would have known that I bought the guitar like that and the service/clean happened shortly after buying it. Hence any 'neglect' was clearly down to however many owners it had the last few decades. And yeah, the strings WERE new before as well as after the service as like I said I juggled lots of different strings when I bought it, specifically pointing out that it sounded perfect with new strings. Before the clean, that is. So no difference from string age. And I can't help you with forever strings I'm afraid. But you would have known all that if you had read the thread before assuming. And yes, the guitar probably is in fact lighter now.
Old 17th October 2019
  #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
You don't read, do you?

If you did, you would have known that I bought the guitar like that and the service/clean happened shortly after buying it. Hence any 'neglect' was clearly down to however many owners it had the last few decades. And yeah, the strings WERE new before as well as after the service as like I said I juggled lots of different strings when I bought it, specifically pointing out that it sounded perfect with new strings. Before the clean, that is. So no difference from string age. And I can't help you with forever strings I'm afraid. But you would have known all that if you had read the thread before assuming. And yes, the guitar probably is in fact lighter now.
My bad, I thought you were upset the guy cleaned a mountain of **** off of your instrument without asking. I must have misread what you wrote.
Old 17th October 2019
  #50
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Nah, you just clearly skipped most of it and jumped in, but it's ok. No one died.
Old 17th October 2019
  #51
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Also, can I thank everyone for their thoughts. Was just curious whether people generally thought it normal to clean vintage instruments wihout asking.
Old 21st October 2019
  #52
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I'm more into classical guitars, but ever luthier I know says that accumulated dirt influences the sound. I never had a dirty guitar, but sometimes people bring guitars into their workshops wit a lot of goo and ask for re-polishing, and the guitar changes a lot (with classicals usually for better).
And BTW people bring the guitar in specifically for cleaning and, if needed, new french polish, actively asking for it.

But there is a story of a local luthier (RIP) who devastated quite a few guitars by making even structural changes he deemed to be a great thing to do... I know of two professional guitarist who were heartbroken by the results of these 'improvements' on their vintage guitars, until they finally found a luthier who was able to restore the guitars to a better shape (of course going back to the original state is almost never possible in those cases... Actually A luthier should never do things unasked for IMHO
Old 21st October 2019
  #53
Three things

1. I'm guessing the thick layer of gunk did dampen the resonance (and shorten the sustain) of your guitar, but also that the main culprit is the change in the sound board, not the edges or the back, both of which are designed not to resonate due to their shape, not to speak of the fact that the back already was clean.

If it was me, I'd experiment with damping the sound board with something like gaffer tape pieces applied in various positions, sizes and thicknesses (doubling up to increase thickness) to the sound board. You don't have to stick them hard to dampen resonance so you should be able to apply them to the outside surface, but if you're nervous you could try reaching inside the sound hole and trying various spots on the inside of the soundboard. Damping the inside should be just as effective as damping the outside.

If that worked then you might leave the tape inside or consider applying violin lacquer or varnish, both of which apparently are designed to dampen resonances. An (expensive) example of which I am aware is 'C37' formulated by Dieter Ennemoser and which is intended to be applied to speaker cones and wood panels to control resonances. I interpret this as mechanically lowering the "Q" of resonances.

2. In my experience the angle the string makes going over the saddle of the bridge has a surprisingly large effect on tonality; the lower the saddle (and thus the less the angle) the duller the tonality. This is easily and cheaply experimented with. The reason is fairly easy to visualize if you picture the side view of the string from the ball end to the saddle and realize that the soundboard is vibrated by the rocking motion of the bridge caused by the varying tension caused by the vibrating string rocking the bridge. If there was no angle at the saddle, all that would be transmitted to the bridge would be a movement in the direction of the string, i.e., parallel to the soundboard surface, and you can see that wouldn't do much.

3. If you can find NOS Guild strings, try them. In my experience they never sound as bright as most others when new, but most others lose that brightness very fast whereas the Guilds hold onto their slightly mellow tone forever, relatively.
Old 21st October 2019
  #54
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(only one year in 63 they put actual plastic bridges on these)

So, without checking the specs of the 1963 Gibson CW’s, I have to ask....did this guitar have a plastic bridge or a plastic saddle? I would have thought it was just the saddle, and a new bone saddle would have given this guitar more focus and clarity.

Just my thought.
Old 21st October 2019
  #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rojaros View Post
I'm more into classical guitars, but ever luthier I know says that accumulated dirt influences the sound. I never had a dirty guitar, but sometimes people bring guitars into their workshops wit a lot of goo and ask for re-polishing, and the guitar changes a lot (with classicals usually for better).
And BTW people bring the guitar in specifically for cleaning and, if needed, new french polish, actively asking for it.

But there is a story of a local luthier (RIP) who devastated quite a few guitars by making even structural changes he deemed to be a great thing to do... I know of two professional guitarist who were heartbroken by the results of these 'improvements' on their vintage guitars, until they finally found a luthier who was able to restore the guitars to a better shape (of course going back to the original state is almost never possible in those cases... Actually A luthier should never do things unasked for IMHO
Sounds like you're thinking how I think about it. You must be mad too then.

And, I suppose to most people the change in sound IS in fact for the 'better', or at least more impressive and openly sonorous than it was before. Only, it had the foggy magic world going on that made me buy and adore it before. Hey ho. If I ever get in that situation again I now know how to play it.
Old 21st October 2019
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Dawkins View Post
Three things

1. I'm guessing the thick layer of gunk did dampen the resonance (and shorten the sustain) of your guitar, but also that the main culprit is the change in the sound board, not the edges or the back, both of which are designed not to resonate due to their shape, not to speak of the fact that the back already was clean.

If it was me, I'd experiment with damping the sound board with something like gaffer tape pieces applied in various positions, sizes and thicknesses (doubling up to increase thickness) to the sound board. You don't have to stick them hard to dampen resonance so you should be able to apply them to the outside surface, but if you're nervous you could try reaching inside the sound hole and trying various spots on the inside of the soundboard. Damping the inside should be just as effective as damping the outside.

If that worked then you might leave the tape inside or consider applying violin lacquer or varnish, both of which apparently are designed to dampen resonances. An (expensive) example of which I am aware is 'C37' formulated by Dieter Ennemoser and which is intended to be applied to speaker cones and wood panels to control resonances. I interpret this as mechanically lowering the "Q" of resonances.

2. In my experience the angle the string makes going over the saddle of the bridge has a surprisingly large effect on tonality; the lower the saddle (and thus the less the angle) the duller the tonality. This is easily and cheaply experimented with. The reason is fairly easy to visualize if you picture the side view of the string from the ball end to the saddle and realize that the soundboard is vibrated by the rocking motion of the bridge caused by the varying tension caused by the vibrating string rocking the bridge. If there was no angle at the saddle, all that would be transmitted to the bridge would be a movement in the direction of the string, i.e., parallel to the soundboard surface, and you can see that wouldn't do much.

3. If you can find NOS Guild strings, try them. In my experience they never sound as bright as most others when new, but most others lose that brightness very fast whereas the Guilds hold onto their slightly mellow tone forever, relatively.
Excellent post, thank you! Your point 3 is something I have been very aware of indeed for a long time, but now when I think about it I can't remember exactly how the break angle over the saddle was when I got her, and since it is the ceramic Gibson on screws thing and was set for my preferred action both before and after I hadn't thought of that. But then, as he did alter the truss rod, and probably quite a bit, as before the top few frets were not playable, a setting resulting in the same action might in fact have had quite a different break angle!

Thank you, that one is valuable indeed! I rarely go past the 12th fret, so might ask him to 'unoptimise' the rod back to the region of where it was, and see whether I get a shallower break angle and mellower sound from it. Your post has put. big smile on my face, thank you very much indeed for your thoughts!
Old 21st October 2019
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeleBluesDude View Post
(only one year in 63 they put actual plastic bridges on these)

So, without checking the specs of the 1963 Gibson CW’s, I have to ask....did this guitar have a plastic bridge or a plastic saddle? I would have thought it was just the saddle, and a new bone saddle would have given this guitar more focus and clarity.

Just my thought.
No, unusually it is actually the bridge which is plastic, the saddle is ceramic. The Gibson adjustable contraption as plentiful on the 60's guitars, only this time with a plastic surround/bridge.
Old 21st October 2019
  #58
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I don’t think you will find the truss rod adjusting the break angle, but by its very nature it changes the geometry in respect to distance of strings from the top. And that’s what I was getting at earlier when suggesting that can have a dramatic impact on tone.

In any event - get out there and rub some crap on that guitar and let us know how it goes! Maybe some chewing gum, a little bacon grease...
Old 21st October 2019
  #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bstapper View Post
I don’t think you will find the truss rod adjusting the break angle, but by its very nature it changes the geometry in respect to distance of strings from the top. And that’s what I was getting at earlier when suggesting that can have a dramatic impact on tone.

In any event - get out there and rub some crap on that guitar and let us know how it goes! Maybe some chewing gum, a little bacon grease...
Fairly predictable that the last few posts made you pop your head back in to lather somw luscious bacon grease on the thread. lol
Old 21st October 2019
  #60
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Sorry, breakfast time here!
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