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Progress in guitar design??????


onewilyfool

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Just Musing here…….Gibson hasn't had a new guitar design since the Songwriter, Ren's own design. From what some others have said on the forum, it is one of Gibson's best sellers???!!!! Then WHY wouldn't they shake the tree again and see if another great design would show up? On other threads we've talked about perhaps a Gibson OM version? It seems that Gibson is stuck in the past. Over 50 versions (at last count, but still rising) of the J-45…endless "vintage" "true vintage" "legend" etc, etc…rehashes of older models. As if Adirondack top and hide glue is worth $3k? I love to honor tradition, but why be a SLAVE to tradition? Can someone tell me why in over 100 years the design can't move forward a little bit? From a design point of view….perhaps a new shape of body, a more modern truss rod (instead of the large bolt truss rod that makes necks prone to cracking) How about attaching the neck to the body AFTER finishing (makes neck resets MUCH more easy to do in the future…..just little things.) From every luthier I talked to, the consensus is that bolt on necks do NOT lose tone when compared to dovetails…why not a new bolt on neck model. There are so many bolt-on technologies out there, even bolt-on AND adjustable for neck angle. How about some carbon fiber?? I've seen it used in neck reinforcement, sandwiched between two layers of wood as braces…the stuff is light and strong!!. I'm wondering if Gibson acoustic even has a R&D department???? It just seems that in the acoustic guitar world, manufacturers look back to the "good old days" rather than looking forward. As new technology progresses, why not guitar design? SURE, keep all the old models, but why not introduce a new model incorporating some of these new ideas??? The Songwriter was a new hat on an old horse, nothing new really technologically. You know…like every year a car company shows off a high tech new prototype model at the car shows, why not the acoustic guitar companies stretch a little at NAMM shows, instead of predictably bringing out the same old horses with different colors??? This may be the only industry that gets away with that….lol…...

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I think there is very little to innovate .

Gibson will not ever do bolt on necks .

As far as a new body size I think it's tough to do too.

 

What they could do is maybe bring out some Tenor guitars

Ukuleles.some L5 acoustics with Birch back and sides.

Maybe a few Kalamazoo models

 

One thing I am glad gibson isn't doing is torrifaction.

There is no point in making the wood sound older or dryer to me.

Part of the fun is aging it myself

 

 

JC

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As for bolt-on necks... That's a Taylor.

 

I'm not at all into Taylors for a cupla reasons, but... some folks are.

 

But basically I think Gibsons, acoustic or electric, essentially have been differentiated in the market with dovetail necks. Even on solidbody guitars.

 

I do think that Gibson sometimes looks at its Epiphones as a way to detect interest in various different sorts of guitars.

 

But when I read even the "go back to the old-fashioned way" in the LP side of the forum, I can't help but wonder if Gibson can win for loosin'. I'm also a bit bothered by Martins and their foreign-made fiberboard guitars that still carry the Martin name just as though they were made in Nazareth, Penn., and MIM Fenders that, if you're not a guitar nut, you really don't have a clue.

 

I'm a happy owner of two of the first batch of AE guitars, Ovations from the early '70s, and I bought 'em new and still enjoy playing them. It's not like I'm a technophobe. And I do not own an acoustic guitar that can't be plugged in.

 

... And I'd love to see something like a CF100 with a piezo pup for less than the eight quadrillion they want for the older ones from the '50s.

 

So ... why not? I guess it comes down to business model. Why?

 

m

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All the "innovations" you mention are available from other manufacturers. They don't necessarily add up to better guitars, though.

 

But the reason Gibson doesn't employ them is that they're in the business of making and marketing Gibsons, and Gibsons are known and loved world round as a traditional-style instrument built in a traditional way. Look at the hatred that Gibson electric customers express anytime the company introduces a new innovation and strays too far afield from their traditional formula. I would except the reaction would be much worse if Gibson tinkered with their acoustic formula, as Gibson acoustic customers tend to be even more dogmatic about what features belong or don't belong on a Gibson acoustic. Heck, look at the dismay many expressed when Gibson dared spray the top of the J-45 gold and pelham blue.

 

Yes the Songwriter and its kin are very successful, but they are a greatest hits package of traditional Gibson features, so the buying public was accepting of it. Not so of the innovative and non-traditional Mark series guitars, though.

 

One final note: I doubt there is an R&D department, at or least one that puts any focus on acoustics. Acoustics represent less than 5% of Gibson's guitar sales, so I think corporate's direction to the division is just to keep doing what it has always done successfully in the past, and don't do anything that might screw up sales it does produce, like make a guitar with any of the features you describe, LOL.

 

Red 333

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All the "innovations" you mention are available from other manufacturers. They don't necessarily add up to better guitars, though.

 

But the reason Gibson doesn't employ them is that they're in the business of making and marketing Gibsons, and Gibsons are known and loved world round as a traditional-style instrument built in a traditional way. Look at the hatred that Gibson electric customers express anytime the company introduces a new innovation and strays too far afield from their traditional formula. I would except the reaction would be much worse if Gibson tinkered with their acoustic formula, as Gibson acoustic customers tend to be even more dogmatic about what features belong or don't belong on a Gibson acoustic. Heck, look at the dismay many expressed when Gibson dared spray the top of the J-45 gold and pelham blue.

 

Yes the Songwriter and its kin are very successful, but they are a greatest hits package of traditional Gibson features, so the buying public was accepting of it. Not so of the innovative and non-traditional Mark series guitars, though.

 

One final note: I doubt there is an R&D department, at or least one that puts any focus on acoustics. Acoustics represent less than 5% of Gibson's guitar sales, so I think corporate's direction to the division is just to keep doing what it has always done successfully in the past, and don't do anything that might screw up sales it does produce, like make a guitar with any of the features you describe, LOL.

 

Red 333

 

Red ,

 

You said a lot of the things I had in my mind but could not express.Well put !

 

 

 

Ren even said in the music villa videos that they got permission to change the name of the street to "Orville Way" because the mind set was to build the old Orville way .

 

 

 

 

 

JC

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Sigh…..you guys did not understand what I was getting at…..fine let all the guitars they make now remain untouched…..but let's see what Gibson can come up with in a new model. Not constrained by history and tradition. My GOD…..do you want to stay with the status quo until we reach 100 different models of the J-45??? I'm pretty sure this could never come from WITHIN the company, they would have to hire some outside guy to come an and shake things up to get something really innovative out of the Acoustic division….

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Sigh…..you guys did not understand what I was getting at…..fine let all the guitars they make now remain untouched…..but let's see what Gibson can come up with in a new model. Not constrained by history and tradition. My GOD…..do you want to stay with the status quo until we reach 100 different models of the J-45??? I'm pretty sure this could never come from WITHIN the company, they would have to hire some outside guy to come an and shake things up to get something really innovative out of the Acoustic division….

 

 

Wily, look at the Gibson video Juan Carlos just posted in another thread here. Addresses some of the things you talk about.

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Red ,

 

You said a lot of the things I had in my mind but could not express.Well put !

 

 

 

Ren even said in the music villa videos that they got permission to change the name of the street to "Orville Way" because the mind set was to build the old Orville way .

 

 

 

 

 

JC

JC…sorry I have to disagree with you on this one. Oriville was only around for a few years in the beginning….not one modern guitar is made to mimic the designs that he came up with. As a matter of fact, Orville kind of disappeared from history after he was bought out, very little contribution to the company except for the name…..

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JC…sorry I have to disagree with you on this one. Oriville was only around for a few years in the beginning….not one modern guitar is made to mimic the designs that he came up with. As a matter of fact, Orville kind of disappeared from history after he was bought out, very little contribution to the company except for the name…..

you are not disagreeing with me at all I only quoted Ren .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JC

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I think Red put it well in terms of overall Gibson production.

 

My argument favoring Gibson and its Epiphone and other subsidiaries is that Gibsons are pretty much all of the same construction, whether electric or acoustic. Set necks... basic shapes...

 

I don't care for the way other firms have other-shaped instruments carrying the traditional name. Heck, you can get a Martin for a cupla hundred bucks - the fact that it's fiberboard doesn't seem to matter.

 

OTOH...

 

I don't see why Gibson couldn't do an experimental subsidiary but - where's the money? Is making fake Taylors the next step? As for the electrics, basically Gibson already is widely copied. So adding Gretsch-type pups isn't that big a deal anyway. Epi already did it.

 

m

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Everything old is new again. Stauffer and Kay Kraft both designed bolt on necks. Don't know about the Stauffer's old school style from the 1800s but the Kay adjustable bolt on necks from the 1920s work like dream. The only folks who would say it has to take something away in sound have never played one.

 

kay_neckadjustdetail_0209_zps350009f2.jpg

 

kay_labledetail_0209_zps01971f0c.jpg

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Everything old is new again. Stauffer and Kay Kraft both designed bolt on necks. Don't know about the Stauffer's old school style from the 1800s but the Kay adjustable bolt on necks from the 1920s work like dream. The only folks who would say it has to take something away in sound have never played one.

 

kay_neckadjustdetail_0209_zps350009f2.jpg

 

kay_labledetail_0209_zps01971f0c.jpg

Zomby do you have one of those!!! I know those are very clever. I think they have patent pending somewhere on the neck apparatus….Now THAT is innovation….lol….Meanwhile Gibson spends millions developing "robot tuning"….sigh

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Zomby do you have one of those!!! I know those are very clever. I think they have patent pending somewhere on the neck apparatus….Now THAT is innovation….lol….Meanwhile Gibson spends millions developing "robot tuning"….sigh

 

 

I have owned several and still have one. I do love my Kay Krafts. Just some good old Yankee Ingenuity. The neck was developed by Italian guitar builder Joseph Zorzi who had worked for Lyon & Healy before going over to Kay Kraft. The guy was apparently always experimenting with new guitar designs.

 

With Gibson though to me the greatest design guy they ever had was Ted McHugh. He is the guy who came up with the archtop adjustable bridge (designed intially for mandolins) and the adjustable truss rod. Talk about creating something that impacted the way guitars would be built to this day. Falls right behind the 14 fret dread & X bracing.

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I dunno...

 

Never cared for the old Kay archtop necks. It seemed like Harmonies were overengineered that way, but Kay was worse.

 

Then again, that's me remembering impressions of guitars in the early-mid 1960s. For what it's worth, I had a batch of different Harmony or Harmony-made guitars at that point. I still have a '50s electric archtop single pup H65 - with an odd 24" scale. The neck's like a baseball bat, but the thing still plays decently and doesn't sound bad at all - IMHO far better than some of the brand's more "modern" rock and country style guitars.

 

But as I say - that's largely memory of a grouchy old man.

 

m

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It not for lack of trying!

 

 

The guitar companies get howled down if they veer too far towards modern.

 

 

Why?

 

 

Every guitarist wants a retro style guitar - very plain wrapper too! Influenced by the current bands/music and something else that is like a non-committal neo-greenie thing that doesn't allow too much 'flash'.....but it has to sound great.

 

 

We were promised by NASA etc we would live on Mars in our silver suits by now, but nobody counted on the internet/computer software thingy that has taken over everything, and now I think people want less tech when they play guitars to balance out too much tech in their everyday lives. I myself have gone from electric Mr Gadget to pure acoustic in the same years I have learned all the tech....

 

 

BluesKing777.

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I dunno...

 

Never cared for the old Kay archtop necks. It seemed like Harmonies were overengineered that way, but Kay was worse.

 

 

 

Some of the best feeling necks I have ever gotten my hands on are pre-War Kays. But yeah, Kay Kraft and Oscar Schmidt necks are why I always chuckle a bit when somebody describes a Gibson neck as a "baseball bat." They are not even in the ballpark so to speak. The exception would be that Oahu Jumbo I recently snagged which has a surprisingly modern feeling shallow C carve. The again, this thing sold for $98 which was just $2 less than a Martin D-28.

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Yeah, and the funny thing about my Harmony archtop is that, even with the horrid neck, with the shorter scale there's something about it that made it just about ideal for playing the country/rock stuff/style like CCR back in the '70s. Even that lousy neck. And... even today it's not bad for playing how and what I tend to do today.

 

m

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I have often puzzled over the "return to the past" in modern guitar design. It is a relatively new thing -- less that two decades old I would say.

 

We got into old guitars long ago -- it is hard to say exactly when, but it is close to 40 years. That was when we discovered and verified the tonal effects of aging. I was very skeptical at first -- it took me maybe ten years of listening and playing to decide that the clarity of old guitars was real, to be able to hear it blindfolded, and to fail to find that effect in enough new guitars to determine that trying to find it is a fool's errand. I must say I have never quit trying -- I spend a very large portion of my life listening to guitars being played (often by me) -- but I am no longer dreaming of finding a new guitar that sounds old. But I guess I'll keep looking forever -- just in case.

 

So I have never understood why old guitar copies are sooo.. popular when they lack the primary feature that make old guitars unique. They are often fine new guitars of course, but they are not old guitars -- so why will people pay old guitar prices for new guitars? I don't get it, but I can't deny it.

 

The new guitars that interest me are those with tonalities that are not available in old guitars. We have a Randy Wood boutique guitar with adi over Cuban mahogany that was originally built for songwriter Ron Peterson -- its bracing is unique, its tonality is between RW and mahogany, and it is very well balanced. The other guitars that I find fascinating are the carbon fiber guitars, although they have not yet reached their potential IMO. They have the potential of tone design through chemistry -- that work has barely started -- and their stability and toughness are very attractive. I mean traveling with old guitars can be like medical transport.

 

Let's pick,

 

-Tom

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The other guitars that I find fascinating are the carbon fiber guitars, although they have not yet reached their potential IMO. They have the potential of tone design through chemistry -- that work has barely started -- and their stability and toughness are very attractive. I mean traveling with old guitars can be like medical transport.

 

Let's pick,

 

-Tom

 

Carbon guitars may never have the charm of a wood guitar, but they have a lot of potential tonally due to the ability of the builder to alter the stiffness of the material and resonance of the body through engineering and construction techniques. The other thing about them as that they do not age. What you get in a new guitar is what you will have 50 years from now.

 

Admittedly, that removes the fun of speculating on how individual guitars will age over time as a result of differences in wood, but it re-frames the guitar as a musical tool rather than an organic, changing entity.

 

Carbon guitars aren't even impacted by changes in temperature or humidity, so in some ways, they make perfect guitars for touring musicians.

 

I keep a little Composite Acoustics Cargo on my boat, and I also use it as a general-purpose traveling guitar. It sounds pretty good for a small, short-scale guitar, At some point, I am tempted to do some real research on higher-end, full-sized carbon guitars. I suspect that we have just scratched the surface on these.

 

And no, that doesn't mean I'm going to give up my conventional guitars. A carbon guitar is never going to smell like aging Cuban mahogany. Although I bet someone will come up with a little bag of something to put inside your carbon guitar to make it smell like wood.

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All kidding aside, I have a theory that at some point we'll all be playing one variety or another of non-wood guitars - and with the exception of "traditional" current composites for the fingerboard that some love to hate now may well be perceived as a tested tradition that should be maintained even if not subject to ongoing manufacture.

 

Don't get me wrong, whether electric or acoustic I generally prefer wood for a long list of reasons. That's regardless that it's frustrating to have to mess with the truss rod three or four times a year because the weather changes so much - or that it's easier to break a guitar made of real wood than variations of composite with or without wood involved.

 

Actually my old - early '70s - Ovations have held up surprisingly well, and better the composite side/back bowl than the wood tops, and these were Ovation's "high end" models at the time some 40 years ago.

 

I refuse to argue "quality of tone" on the things, because both were purchased to use 90 percent as AE instruments, and both the steel and nylon string instruments did quite well along those lines in real life playing anything from saloon country gigs to outdoor semiclassical-jazz "dinner music." That latter was with the nylon "Country Artist," and I'm certain that a properly miked Hauser or high-end Ramirez would have offered "better tone," but frankly it wasn't that big a deal. Nor was the "Electric Legend" seen as a problem pickin' in saloons regardless that a J45 or D28 properly miked may have sounded a bit better in theory. The diners and dancers just didn't care.

 

But wood... I'd love to think we'd have it around forever for guitars. But since I was getting out of high school our U.S. population has doubled and it's gonna continue increasing geometrically. The "save the trees" folks at some point will end up with even the most rabid libertarians simply to keep a few parks on the earth - or perhaps cared for by the the morlocks underground in various lighted protective environments where they might more easily herd and hunt the former Sierra Clubbers as a subspecies of eloi.

 

<grin>

 

m

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