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Chambered vs. Weight Relieved Test Answer


rocketman

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Thanks to all who made many comments and observations. To recap, I played identical riffs, one with a chambered body and one with a weight relieved body. Both have BB Pro pups and the heights are identical. The riffs can be found

and
. I recorded all clips using CUBASE 4 with a direct line from my Line 6 Vetta II.

 

OK, here's the answer. It's NONE!! I used my Strat and my Sonex. No, I'm kidding (he he he). The answer is that on all riffs...the second one is the chambered one.

 

Here are a few of my observations, which some pointed out too. The chambered one is louder on the clean sounds; at least it seems that way, but this may be due to a crisper high mid, as Dynadude states, which is more audible to the human ears. I'm guessing that the sound resonates more through the body which helps to amplify it more. In blind tests, after playing one right after the other, I could tell which one was chambered quite easily for the clean sounds. The distorted sound difference was a lot more subtle IMHO. The weight relieved one does seem to have a fuller bottom sound to it.

 

So now we need to do a test with an R9. Tim, I'll only need your R9 for a year or so. I want to bring it to the acoustic lab at the university and do some thorough testing with my guitars too. So, feel free to bring it by my house next time you come down my way. OK, I'd be happy to pick it up so that you don't need to make the trip!

 

Once again, thanks for your opinions. This was a lot of fun for me...

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Great poll.

 

Thanks for doing this. It does demonstrate the the sound is similar but there is a difference.

 

Is it the chambering, the difference in wood, a combination of both?

 

Also, I agree Tim should give you his R9 for about a year to do a comparison of these 2 against his. Heck, throw in a real '59 for a really good comparison. :-

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A good test Rocketman. Just to muddy the waters a little (it comes natural). I was pretty sure the guitars were going through a digital modeler - the distortion in particular sounded digital. Digital processing sucks a lot of the tone out, and reduces the tonal differences between guitars. I think if this test was tried again with a valve amp, there would be a marked difference, especially at louder volumes.

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in test 1, the 2nd guitar (the Chambered one) during its clean tones at the beginning (it starts at around 47 seconds), i hear a fuzz like you didnt turn down the distortion all the way, but you have to strain to hear it

 

anyone else hear it

 

pretty cool test tho

 

i like the chambered one better

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Rocketman:

 

I'm glad to hear these results.

 

I liked the swiss cheesed Les Paul (the first one) much better personally. It sounded darker and fuller on the clean channel and the distorted tone had more 'meat' behind it, compared to the chambered Les Paul. To each his own, (no one sounded worse), but I could here the differences clearly. All those little details/differences in tone are huge for me.

 

To get clear: I think it's all about those little details that can make a Les Paul sound so special and unique + feel/playability is always different.

 

You can play two R9's side by side and you''ll notice that they both sound and feel different. It's up to the guitarist to get picky/critical or not...........

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in test 1' date=' the 2nd guitar (the Chambered one) during its clean tones at the beginning (it starts at around 47 seconds), i hear a fuzz like you didnt turn down the distortion all the way, but you have to strain to hear it

 

anyone else hear it

 

pretty cool test tho

 

i like the chambered one better[/quote']

 

Yeah I noticed that too. The amp setting was exactly identical for both. I picked the ’65 Brit Plexi J-45 Marshall JTM-45 amp from the Vetta II for the clean sound. Not sure how they modeled it, but it seems as though the chambered one picked up a little of the bite from this modeled amp.

 

I don't have any real tubes amps around anymore, but I would like to do that test someday too...

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To be quite honest man, and I totally applaud your effort, but playing them through computerized stuff just isn't the same as a tube amp.

 

If you're going to do a gear demo, don't use modelers or computers. Just mic up a tube amp. Those digital things make everything sound the same. Get a good tube amp and you can hear the difference between the wood, pickups, string gauge, and picking nuances.

 

Your test pretty much proves that there is a slight difference using a modeler - at best. This difference can be attributed to other things too though like wood density, grain pattern, age, etc... Two solid body or two chambered body guitars can have audible sonic differences. The real test is in a touch sensitive tube amp where all the characteristics of the guitar can come out.

 

What about spacing between the pickups and the strings? Are the guitars setup the same?

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It´s easy to criticise. Why don´t you guys do a better test?

 

I´m still thinking that Rocketman did well. It´s interesting that there was a difference. Even through computerized equipment. I didn´t understand this test as a buyers guide or saying which one´s better. I think none of them sounds better or worse. And if I had to buy one, I´d try them myself to find out which one I like better. I wouldn´t rely on somebody elses test. Even if he used a tube amp. So to me what Rocketman did was cool and interesting.

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It´s easy to criticise. Why don´t you guys do a better test?

 

It´s interesting that there was a difference.

 

I'd love to do a test through my Marshall if someone would lend me a chambered.

 

It's very simple. For this test to have any validity, the guitars must be played through a real amplifier. I have to be honest and say the 2 guitars did not even sound like Les Pauls to me, they sounded like 'generic' electric guitars. That's down to the digital modeling, where the signal is sampled and processed to model the particular amp/cab. A further stage is needed to convert back to anaogue for use through speakers - also these conversions introduce latency.

Digital has it's place and it is very convenient, but if we are serious about tone, it has to be valve/tube - Gibsons deserve nothing less !

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Validity for what? This was neither a buying guide nor a chambered bashing. It was just showing that there is a difference. And there will be a difference when playing them through a tube amp as well. Some people are using computerized equipment all the way. They never tried a tube amp.

 

I´d also like to hear both guitars through my Marshall. But I couldn´t or didn´t test it yet. Rocketman did a test with his equipment and I appreciate it. And since everybody uses different playing styles, pickup height and so on you could never do such a test that´ll be to everyones liking.

 

I do not want to say that your point is wrong. Of course it isn´t. But I think we shouldn´t criticise without doing better.

 

Only my opinion.

 

B.t.w. what Marshall are you using? Mine is a TSL.

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The title of the topic was chambered vs weight relieved. So it was about the differences. And this is precisely my point - to hear those differences, we need the best possible amplification, not something that turns the tone into ones and zeros, then back again.

 

We are here on the forum because we love Gibson tone. Therefore it's understandable that many of us are interested in how tone varies with different woods and construction methods. I am not bashing either guitar, I am bashing the method af amplification. It's commonly known that a basic guitar can sound great through a good amp, and that a great guitar will sound poor through a bad amp. I'm not saying a Vetta is a bad amp - it's very versatile, but if we really want to hear the differences, it has to be a real amp.

 

I have 3 digital modelers, one analogue modeler and the Marshall. There is an incredible difference between all. What might seem most surprising, is when it comes to the digital gear, each manufacturer claims to have carefully modeled 'well known classic vintage' amps. But if you compare each one's version of say the JCM 800, they all sound different ! And of course, none sound like the real thing.

 

I have a JMP 50W mark II (EL34).

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HE doesn´t even have a tube amp. And there are many people out there just using modelers.

 

To YOU or ME a Marshall, or at least a tube amp, is the real thing. But not necessarily for anybody else.

 

I understand your point. But I understand his as well. He did the test as good as he could. For all whom it may concern. And there may be quite a few.

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The title of the topic was chambered vs weight relieved. So it was about the differences. And this is precisely my point - to hear those differences' date=' we need the best possible amplification, not something that turns the tone into ones and zeros, then back again.[/quote']

So it could be seen as some sort of cruel irony that even the sound using a tube amp would have been converted to and from, not only ones and zeroes, but also the lossy bad sounding compression of Youtube :-) Everything we hear except for live performance has been digitized... works pretty well too, judging from my CD collection.

 

IMO it was an entirely valid and useful test. The test was about differences in tone, not the delightful sound of tubes. If anything could be better, it would have to be using uncompressed wav files. I definitively learnt something interesting, anyway - thanks rocketman.

 

DJ

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Do you believe there are people out there who think digital is 'the real thing' ?

 

Not really, no. But I know that some people use digital stuff because it´s easier if you want to be versatile. And I really knew a guy (bassplayer/singer) who wanted his whole band to use digital equipment - for a southern rock cover band. But I have no idea whether they think it´s the real thing.

 

But with the matter we are discussing here there is no right or wrong. It´s a matter of taste and preferences. I respect everyone who´s into digital stuff, I ain´t. I´m not even using any kind of additional effects. Everything that doesn´t come with a stock Marshall amp is not necessary.

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So it could be seen as some sort of cruel irony that even the sound using a tube amp would have been converted to and from' date=' not only ones and zeroes, but also the lossy bad sounding compression of Youtube :-) [/quote']

 

A tube amp recorded digitally, then compressed for Youtube is obviously going to lose some sound quality. Do you know of a compression method which does not affect quality ?

But in the case of digital modeling, the tone has been reduced in quality right at the start ! Then it goes through all the compression necessary for Youtube, lowering quality further. No contest.

 

Shame we didn't get to hear 'the delightful sound of tubes'. The very foundation of Rock 'n' Roll guitar...

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Do you know of a compression method which does not affect quality ?

Yes' date=' there are some (look here), FLAC is one that is reasonably popular, but they don't compress nearly as well as lossy codecs.

 

But in the case of digital modeling, the tone has been reduced in quality right at the start!

Yes, the modelling may be bad compared to the thing it tries to emulate. However, the AD/DA conversion doesn't rob the guitar of it's tone to any degree that normal people can hear (I haven't checked lately, but I believe an ABX test of state of the art AD/DA vs straight through would not reveal any perceived difference for normal people)

 

Anyway, the point is I don't think notion that differences in tone can't be heard properly on anything but a tube amp is entirely reliable. The differences in tone remains (and aspects of it may possibly be more clearly heard through some Digital/SS equipment...).

 

And yes, Yuotube is a killer at any stage in the chain. Wav files for serious auditioning, please.

 

Shame we didn't get to hear 'the delightful sound of tubes'. The very foundation of Rock 'n' Roll guitar...

Agreed - tubes rock! Just remember kids, excessive Tubeworship is as bad as any other form of fundamentalism :-))

 

DJ

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Anything that removes or changes information lowers the quality. Whether we can hear the difference is another thing entirely...

I agree that differences will be heard on guitars played through digital equipment, but those audible differences will be greater when using an analogue amp - solid state transistor, or valve. I've been using digital gear since around 1990, and regard it as a 'necessary evil' for certain situations where its convenience outweighs the tone loss. An issue I find annoying is latency, particularly when using a modeler into a digital recorder. Those conversion/modeling stages start to add up !

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Well I'm staying out of this one. As many of you know, I'm a professor and I do a lot of research. The bottom line behind all research is that one should never take one data point as the end all of everything. I just gave one data point here. Do with it what you wish. Have fun y'all...

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