How does sound affect playability/technique? - Jemsite
Gear, Equipment, Recording & Off Topic Gear, Equipment, and Recording discussed here. Amps, pedals, whatever.

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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-10-2020, 02:43 AM Thread Starter
 
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How does sound affect playability/technique?

The title is a little vague because the topic is rather broad. To give you an idea of what I mean, this is a video of Andy Timmons playing through a Mesa/Boogie Mark Five: 25 with Doug West dialing in the tones. I have the relevant section all cued up:


If you watched the video, you will notice Andy Timmons playing changes when Doug West engages the Graphic EQ and drops the Mids. This is only explained afterward. Andy Timmons is a really good player and is improvising using his intuition, nothing appears planned. The only thing that mechanically changes is the sound of the amp which is being controlled by Doug West, yet Andy Timmon's playing also changes rather significantly at the same time. They both acknowledge "it becomes easier to play."

I got the impression Andy felt the guitar was physically easier to play. I've never heard anyone say they "heard a guitar sound easier to play." With that said, I have experienced the "playing better because the guitar sounds better" upward spiral but that involved a whole new guitar.

Can the amp (and other gear) affect the feel of the guitar at volumes similar to the video? If so how does that work?
Does the sound of the amp affect the ear/brain, which causes you to adjust your playing to what you think the guitar can do well based on the sound you are hearing?

Your thoughts and knowledge are appreciated...
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-10-2020, 02:38 PM
 
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Re: How does sound affect playability/technique?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly View Post
"...I got the impression Andy felt the guitar was physically easier to play. I've never heard anyone say they "heard a guitar sound easier to play." With that said, I have experienced the "playing better because the guitar sounds better" upward spiral but that involved a whole new guitar.

Can the amp (and other gear) affect the feel of the guitar at volumes similar to the video? If so how does that work?
Does the sound of the amp affect the ear/brain, which causes you to adjust your playing to what you think the guitar can do well based on the sound you are hearing?

Your thoughts and knowledge are appreciated...
Very cool video, and point of discussion, thank you for sharing! I do believe that amps/gear can affect how we play even at practice volumes. In simplest terms, think of trying to play a full on thrash riff while the amp is dialed in for a blues tone. It is hard to do, at least for me , because the sound from the amp does not reflect what I am expecting, and it limits what I am willing to do on the guitar. I suppose its very similar to reamping. When I reamp, if I cannot have a reference sound in the ball park of what I am looking for, I much rather not hear the guitar at all, and just play to the other tracks. The human ear/brain interaction is very weird, due to our need to be able to understand human speech, and does not interact/react linearly to sound, that is why we perceive different frequencies as louder/softer even when presented at the same SPL. I apologize, I do not remember the specifics of it off the top of my head, but our ear/brain can be easily tricked in regard to loudness, Given that, I do not see it as much of stretch to players adjusting their playing based on the sounds they hear. Just my .02. Again cool point for discussion, and thank you for sharing!
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-11-2020, 05:24 AM Thread Starter
 
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https://www.boss.info/us/promos/gt-1...de/#contents02

This link should take you to BOSS’s GT-1000 manual which introduces AIRD. Basically, AIRD makes the GT-1000 sound and feel good. It is the only scrap of evidence I can find that indicates an amplifier has a “feel” to the “sound.” They do not go into detail because it’s a “complex interaction” but I suspect the underlying concept could be explained.

I realize BOSS is using this as a marketing tool but I don’t think they made up “physics” to sell pedalboards. That would be hard.

As for the ears/brains/expectations, they all play a significant role in how we perceive sound. That is freakishly true! How does that extend to our sense of touch (physical dexterity) and how the guitar can feel/become “easier to play” when the only thing that changes is a slider on the amp?

I feel we have all experienced something like this in someway but it is counter-intuitive several times over making it hard to ask questions.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-18-2020, 08:42 PM
 
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I can't play with a bad tone. It's like my brain is going "this isn't right, something off" and I'm half focused on it sounding off and how to fix it. Whereas if the tones great my brain is going "this rocks" and I'm 100% focused on playing, rather than my subconscious having a disconnect between what I'm hearing not being in agreement with what I am expecting to hear.
I get the same problem when playing completely dry if I haven't been practicing, as I can hear every little nuance that isn't 100%, I little bit of delay or reverb helps to mask that.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-18-2020, 08:55 PM
 
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Re: How does sound affect playability/technique?

Well for me, I don't feel at home unless I am plugged into a Soldano. Since 2005, when I got my first SLO, it really forced me to clean up my technique and really learn to pick. It is so unforgiving , yet has the most organic, 3D liquid tone of any amp I've ever tried. This amp auditioned me, not the other way around. Over the years, I have owned and tried out a few other amps, and even had to play through someone else's setup a few times, but it really feels "off" to me. Some people like to find that one sound, that one guitar, that one amp,,and just mold into it forever, and I'm that kind of player.

Last edited by JemSLO; 03-19-2020 at 10:01 AM.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2020, 12:50 AM
 
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Re: How does sound affect playability/technique?

I think you tend to subconsciously adapt to different tone, especially in regards to dynamics it can help or hinder you. It's like something my bassist recently said about the pickups/active preamp in his Custom Shop Ibanez bass (it was made for some artist, then sold on) after moving from a modified Squier Jazz. "The humbuckers sound alright but you can't get the things to shut up"... Basically the louder more aggressive sound and dynamics of the guitar messed with his playing and he was always trying to compensate to get it to sound how he wanted, in the end he stopped playing it and went back to his Jazz for months while it gathered dust.

Then he swapped out the pickups and ripped out all the active electronics and replaced it with a passive Jazz bass setup and now he likes it.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2020, 06:51 PM
 
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I react the same way to tone as others have said they do here. I need good tone. There is something weird I recently experienced, maybe someone here has an answer to this.

I have a Peavey jsx 120 watt half stack with jj's 6L6 GC power amp tubes and tung-sol in the preamp. My father also bought one, he has similar tubes... he's always loved the sustain I get. We thought it was just my pickups... Or my head... Tubes. Turns out he was running in mono, I have always played in stereo. He changed his to stereo 16ohm like mine. And the amp sounded huge like mine did. Swelling singing feedback... That I've always enjoyed. So for me... My amp in stereo is just incredible. Though I do not understand why in mono the sustain isn't there... And it doesn't sing with nice sweet feedback. Though in stereo, it's all there.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-20-2020, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: How does sound affect playability/technique?

"A little bit of delay or reverb helps" could probably be a guitar maxim.

There seem to be three areas that affect how a guitar "feels" to play that have nothing to do with the playability of the guitar: compression, gain, volume. Compression seems to be the most important part because it is used from "country" to "metal" to "contemporary jazz fusion metal death." Compression can be achieved many ways. Gain can be achieved many ways too (if needed). Volume can only really be achieved by turning the Volume knob up (or better projection through larger speaker cabinets with more speakers) but it affects the gain and compression levels in the process. They all seem to be intertwined and they all seem to affect the "feel" of the guitar.

Your thoughts...
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-20-2020, 06:41 AM
 
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Ah you reminded me of something. Not sure if everyone does this... Or can because some amps are set up differently. I keep my master volume set around 7. That's pretty high for a 120 watt head. But my channel volumes are lower... Around 3ish (it varies cuz not all channels push as hard). This seems to warm and thicken the tone. Changes the natural compression of the amp thus making the sustain better. But yes I agree 100 percent about compression. Every amp has its own character with the compression it naturally creates, but it will change how easy it feels to play. That's why higher gain is easier to play fast because compression is higher.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-20-2020, 07:33 AM
 
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Re: How does sound affect playability/technique?

I love mids, my goal is usually more mids. I've never felt "less mids makes it easier to play"... but compression surely does. I wonder if switching in the graphic EQ circuit on that amp also switches in another tube gain stage (driver), which would also increase the compression... because compression DOES make it easier to play...

I've always liked that video- sounds like a really versatile amp, and smaller and ALOT lighter than Andy's usual amp, the Lonestar.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-21-2020, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: How does sound affect playability/technique?

The weird thing is how compression makes the guitar feel easier to play and yet our fingers and hands are doing the same thing on the same guitar whether it is plugged into an amp or not. The electric guitar works using the same acoustic rules as all other stringed instruments but when those rules are turned into an electrical signal and sent into an amplifier, how the amplifier is dialed in affects how the electric guitar "feels" in our hands. By changing the sound of the amplifier, we also change something about how the guitar "feels" to play. We also talk about sound but notice Andy Timmons did not say "its easier to listen to" when Doug West lowered the 750Hz slider, he said, "its easier to play" which suggests a change in physical effort.

Intuitively, it makes sense, but when you really think about it, it's actually kind of unusual which makes it interesting. At least to me.
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