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gibson sound vs other brands

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Gibson has a characteristic sound as do other brands. So what makes for that sound? Is it the thinness of the top or braces or shape. Well now that I have said that it cant be the shape cause they have several. Does anyone here know?

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Yes indeed, Gibson has a pretty distinctive acoustic tone which we all seem to struggle to describe without much success. Guitar tone is very subjective and perception is everything........touble is we all have our own measuring sticks. While we might agree that a particular guitar sounds good, how could we articulate that other than to say it has "good balance" or "sparkling highs" or "sonorous low end". The same could be said of many examples of guitars from a myriad of manufacturers. They're all made of similar materials......spruce, mahogany, rosewood, maple (and others).....they all have bridges and braces of similar shapes and sizes......they all make sounds when you bang on them. How many of us, blindfolded, could name the manufacturer of a guitar played by another (no, you don't get to touch it......just listen!) Could we name the back and side wood from the same test? If we can do that, we should be able to describe that Gibson acoustic tone pretty accurately........

 

I tend to believe that appearance and feel play a larger role in guitar of choice than we'd sometimes like to admit. Of course it must meet our standards for tone, but as previously mentioned, there are dozens of builders that produce very good sounding guitars, with various models made of differing woods and sizes producing "snap" or "bottom" or "angelic highs" within a brand. All that said, for me it is a powerful mid range presence that defines Gibson's tone. Some have referred to it as a "nasal" tone. Some love it, some don't. Some hear it, some don't. Chasing guitar tone with words is futile. Your ears and mine respond differently to the same sounds.......hence the thousands of possibilities in acoustic guitars. Play what your ears respond to favorably and all is right with the world. (Well, maybe not......but at least you'll enjoy playing your guitar!)

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I don't know too? How does Gibson get their sound? Martin? Taylor? Guild? ect................I think it's magic.

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My understanding of the current Gibson tone is that it is derived from a combination of wood thickness, finish type and thickness and bracing patterns, bracing girth and scalloping techniques. Glues may also play a role.

 

The specific details of these conditions would take several paragraphs to even attempt to detail, but some things I have regularly noticed that I think contribute to the sound are:

 

Braces are scalloped in shorter strokes nearer the end of the brace than Martins which tend to have deeper cuts that are longer.

 

According to my calipers, and measuring at the sound hole only, tops on Gibsons tend to be just slightly thicker than Martin and Taylors - both of whom seem to want to press the extremes of engineering.

 

I also believe more attention is paid to the overall construction of a Gibson to keep them strong - this might include glue mixing, application techniques and clamping processes - but I can assure you that any typical Gibson will last longer than any typical Martin and most repair guys will tell you the same.

 

I have owned Gibsons from different eras. I have always found the finish to be a bit thinner (this is personal opinion and perception, not science) but at the same time harder than other major brands. I believe this allows the guitar to resonate beautifully but in a controlled and intentional way. Some Martins will just boom without any control, for instance, where a Gibson intended for banjo killing (such as an AJ) has amazing presence but with a refined punch that you hear clearly. Martins, as one example, can have tremendous presence - but in a confrontational sort of way.

 

It is certain that Gibsons have their own tonality which is very appealing. I found when I was first playing guitar that Martins were all my ears wanted, but as I progressed with playing and my ears started to hear more nuances the Gibson became a regular weapon of choice. I still play both daily, but I think the bulk of my pleasure comes with a Gibson in my hands.

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I've read somewhere that the parabolic arch designed into Gibson's "flat tops" influences the sound, allegedly creating built-in compression and an accentuated mid-range. I don't have the engineering background to stand behind that, but I DO think the original designers of Gibson's flat tops were accustomed to archtop tones with their strong mids meant to punch through a wall of horns.

 

Back when I had a herd of guitars, I could hear this continuum - the L-7 and the Epiphone Broadway I owned had lotsa punch and midrange to die for. The roundhole '31 Gibson L-4 (a guitar I really do miss somedays) had a hybrid sound, archtop with more low end and a distinctive "whomp!" to it when you really leaned into it. When played more gently, the L-4 was definitely the cousin to the '60 LG-2, which was itself the bridge to the '50 J-45. Now THAT had the classic Gibson sound, lots of presence and warmth, thumpy low end (a boom with an archtop decay, if you will). From there I would go to the Guild and the Taylor. The Guild had more treble and a pronounced honk around A440 with a weak low E, while the Taylor had lots of sparkle and shimmer, decent bass (heck, it was a JUMBO, it better have had bass!), and passable mids - but not much better than passable. Both the Guild and the Taylor had longer, 25.5 inch scales, too, which gave them more power, but I think that came at the expense of warmth and tone.

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Gibsons were originally designed and made by people whose expertise was primarily in the building and designing of mandolins---and archtopped guitars. That's why their flatops always seem to have a touch of archtop tonality to them.

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"refined punch" --good one, and good observations, BC. A couple of other things. Gibson tends to favor the "jazz" scale (24.75--exceptions: AJ, J200) and a rounder box, both which tend to smooth out the tone. Also Gibson neck profiles tend to be easier to play on the upper frets imho (12 degree radius vs 16). Re Martins: their preferred scale (25.5) & boxy shape accentuates the tendencies to bloom/bark, particularly in mahogany models.

 

Finally, a cultural note: precison German engineering vs English eccentricity, mate. JK

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Thank you all. I understand it a lot better now.

 

The greatest pleasure of participating in this forum (for me) is when I see that we have contributed to helping someone.

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The generalization that Gibson tops are thicker than Martin or Taylor tops is most likely wrong. They are all very close to 1/8" or .125". The idea put forth that Gibsons last longer because of this purported heavier build is also quite likely bushwah. It's important to do real research and accurate measurements before putting out statements like that. The way the bracing is scalloped is also considerably more complicated and variable than portrayed above and has varied wildly over time for the older brands like Gibson and Martin.

 

About all you can say is that each of the larger factory guitars are built according to a different recipe. Numerous details like kerfing, radiusing, bracing shapes and materials, etc. etc. are different in each recipe and each recipe has also evolved over time.

 

I also second what Buc said above.

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My understanding of the current Gibson tone is that it is derived from a combination of wood thickness' date=' finish type and thickness and bracing patterns, bracing girth and scalloping techniques. Glues may also play a role.

 

The specific details of these conditions would take several paragraphs to even attempt to detail, but some things I have regularly noticed that I think contribute to the sound are:

 

Braces are scalloped in shorter strokes nearer the end of the brace than Martins which tend to have deeper cuts that are longer.

 

According to my calipers, and measuring at the sound hole only, tops on Gibsons tend to be just slightly thicker than Martin and Taylors - both of whom seem to want to press the extremes of engineering.

 

I also believe more attention is paid to the overall construction of a Gibson to keep them strong - this might include glue mixing, application techniques and clamping processes - but I can assure you that any typical Gibson will last longer than any typical Martin and most repair guys will tell you the same.

 

I have owned Gibsons from different eras. I have always found the finish to be a bit thinner (this is personal opinion and perception, not science) but at the same time harder than other major brands. I believe this allows the guitar to resonate beautifully but in a controlled and intentional way. Some Martins will just boom without any control, for instance, where a Gibson intended for banjo killing (such as an AJ) has amazing presence but with a refined punch that you hear clearly. Martins, as one example, can have tremendous presence - but in a confrontational sort of way.

 

It is certain that Gibsons have their own tonality which is very appealing. I found when I was first playing guitar that Martins were all my ears wanted, but as I progressed with playing and my ears started to hear more nuances the Gibson became a regular weapon of choice. I still play both daily, but I think the bulk of my pleasure comes with a Gibson in my hands.

 

 

 

[/quote']

 

 

 

Amazing! ballcorner

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I see Jerry K still feels a need to disagree with everything I say - yet makes no posts and has little else to offer apart from criticism.

 

Good for you Jerry. You are still an idiot.

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ballcorner wrote

I see Jerry K still feels a need to disagree with everything I say - yet makes no posts and has little else to offer apart from criticism.

 

Good for you Jerry. You are still an idiot.

Ballcorner, it's no use standing around looking like a bereaved tapeworm and bleating. You must look deep into the mirror and admit some things to yourself. You must take a firm line with yourself and whenever in future you find yourself tempted to once again take old wive's tales, speculation, and bs you once heard from some guy in a guitar shop and peddle it as actual hard information, tell yourself it's no good and stop short. If you do this day by day, little by little the temptation to spout nonsense will gradually cease and you will become a whole man again.

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Sorry, I thought I was in The Lounge for a moment.

 

Have you seen the "Who's got the best pair of legs" thread?. Read the post from The Lone Stumpy - he's got some very strong views on the subject!

 

This is a great thread thus far and I'd like to see some other comments. I can make no comment on the question in the topic, only to say that every Gibson I've played, I've loved the sound but I'm not articulate enough to describe it - hard question!. I can't say that for any other brand.

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I've also enjoyed most of this thread as I have a difficult time describing sound. Loud, quite, soft, hard, that's all I've got. To me, trying to describe what I hear from a guitar is like trying to shovel fog!

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