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Thread: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups?

  1. #21
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarStv View Post
    I don't think I've played a semi-hollow that was quieter unplugged than any solid body guitar, and fully hollow are louder than semi. Do you believe that to have full tone one must therefore play a semi or fully hollow bodied electric?
    Honestly, acoustic and semi hollow bodies must be discussed completely different than a solid body -as Acoustics and Semis are designed to take a portion (if not as much as possible in an acoustics case) of the energy and transfer energy into sound pressure waves somewhat secondary or totally irrespective of the pickups efficiency of transduction -whereas in most cases a solid body guitar are not (unless chambered etc).. they are designed to maximize transduction into the pickup circuit.

    It's almost like to separate threads needed to discuss the physics.

    And then we can start several guitar religions afterwards...
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by NegativeEase View Post
    Honestly, acoustic and semi hollow bodies must be discussed completely different than a solid body -as Acoustics and Semis are designed to take a portion (if not as much as possible in an acoustics case) of the energy and transfer energy into sound pressure waves somewhat secondary or totally irrespective of the pickups efficiency of transduction -whereas in most cases a solid body guitar are not (unless chambered etc).. they are designed to maximize transduction into the pickup circuit.

    It's almost like to separate threads needed to discuss the physics.

    And then we can start several guitar religions afterwards...
    The purpose of acoustic vs. solid body design is different - but since both of them have bodies attached that *do* on some level vibrate the air and make sound (one by design, the other basically as a symptom/side-effect,) I think there's room for limited comparison. The piece of the discussion that's maybe missing is, 'what are the causes of some solid-body guitars being louder than others un-amplified.' There are a few reasons an unplugged electric can quieter than the one next to it, with potential that any of those reasons would create a correlating quiet or louder sound plugged-in.
    Last edited by Silence Kid; 10-31-2019 at 09:56 AM.
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  3. #23
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by Chistopher View Post
    That's not how it works. You cannot indefinitely store 5-10 times the energy of the string in the form of potential energy in the body of the guitar. You are proposing that there is perpetually a large amount of potential energy in the guitar ready to be converted to kinetic energy, that never gets burned up. This is a violation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

    As for the whole acoustic volume versus electric volume, does it really matter? Honestly, I've never had an amp where I felt that at 10 I needed more volume.
    Sorry bud, but there are plenty of cases that disprove your idea of the guitar's operation......you need way more reading on this area before you understand this part of physics.

    For one, I've never said that the energy is perpetual....we all know notes die after time, so this seems a patently absurd notion in the first place. So its either your misreading of what I said, or deliberate misconstruing more like.

    The guitar holds the strings tension only due to the structure being placed under tension....its why you need a trussrod after all....to straighten the neck to account for string tension bowing it. So for sure there is energy stored in the guitar. When the note dies, it is back in equilibrium with the string tension still the same as it was before. Again, stored in the guitar once the note dies.

    When you pluck the string you add more energy.....it is the act of taking the guitar out of equilibrium (similar to the Newtons Cradle) that charges the tensioned wood and string to move the other way.
    Unlike the Newtons cradle which uses gravity to assist, it is more like a spring that is pulling the string ever more strongly to return to neutral.....which then overshoots and the process happens again and again.

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    Mojo's Minions St_Genesius's Avatar
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    What about all the stored energy in the ATOMS of the guitar itself? If we could harness and release that, the tone would be... Explosive.
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by Silence Kid View Post
    The purpose of acoustic vs. solid body design is different - but since both of them have bodies attached that *do* on some level vibrate the air and make sound (one by design, the other basically as a symptom/side-effect,) I think there's room for limited comparison. The piece of the discussion that's maybe missing is, 'what are the causes of some solid-body guitars being louder than others un-amplified.' There are a few reasons an unplugged electric can quieter than the one next to it, with potential that any of those reasons would create a correlating quiet or louder sound plugged-in.
    You can do the research for the next few years to try and find the answer to that. But in the end it doesn't really matter. So knock yourself out. While you're at it, determine the ultimate thickness and type of wood which should be the cap/top of a solid body to get the most final amplitude out of the system (guitar), and if wood density or grain pattern also have an affect. I'd be interested to know why one wound string may sound louder than another wound string comparing the ratios of one alloy of winding and/or core wire to the other.

    I'm sure that these will each have some affect on the volume level and that all of these can be precisely scientifically measured. I'm sad to think that I will probably be passed on to the other side by the time you finally have some reliable data, but I take comfort in knowing that no matter what your results show, it will prove that for all practical purposes...it doesn't matter anyway.
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexR View Post
    Sorry bud, but there are plenty of cases that disprove your idea of the guitar's operation......you need way more reading on this area before you understand this part of physics.

    For one, I've never said that the energy is perpetual....we all know notes die after time, so this seems a patently absurd notion in the first place. So its either your misreading of what I said, or deliberate misconstruing more like.

    The guitar holds the strings tension only due to the structure being placed under tension....its why you need a trussrod after all....to straighten the neck to account for string tension bowing it. So for sure there is energy stored in the guitar. When the note dies, it is back in equilibrium with the string tension still the same as it was before. Again, stored in the guitar once the note dies.

    When you pluck the string you add more energy.....it is the act of taking the guitar out of equilibrium (similar to the Newtons Cradle) that charges the tensioned wood and string to move the other way.
    Unlike the Newtons cradle which uses gravity to assist, it is more like a spring that is pulling the string ever more strongly to return to neutral.....which then overshoots and the process happens again and again.
    If you say so boss. You've lost all credibility with that last post, and the stuff you got right in this one is not as big an effect as you make it out to be.
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  7. #27
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    I've been doing some thinking about this. Let's focus on string vibrations. This is what an electric guitar pickup is 'seeing' and converting to signal, so should be all we care about when discussing loudness and sustain of an electric guitar.



    1. A plucked string held between two anchor points vibrates. As it vibrates it loses small amounts of energy from friction with the air (nothing we can do about that, few guitarists are able to play in a vacuum).

    2. When a string is plucked, it vibrates. But there's a maximum amplitude that a string can vibrate, and the gauge (mass) of the string and the pitch it's tuned to determines this. Heavier strings will sustain for longer (check the sustain of the low E on a bass vs the high E on an electric guitar). Energy initially enters the system from the plucking action, so the heavier string must therefore be able to accept/store more energy before maxing out.

    3. If the two anchor points holding the string are deform-able and not completely rigid, these deformations will absorb energy from the vibrating string. A steel guitar neck will sustain longer and louder than a guitar neck made of rubber. The wood that a neck is made of, the inclusion of a truss rod, the stability of the joint used to hold the headstock (if any) all contribute to the rigidity of a guitar neck and thus to the anchoring of one of the points . . . so will have an impact on sustain.

    4. Sound is mechanical energy lost from the vibration of a string via radiant waves. A plucked string will produce some sound as it vibrates though the air, but this is usually pretty minimal. An acoustic guitar works to make loud noise by robbing some of the energy from the string to vibrate the flat top (through the bridge). The top of the acoustic guitar then vibrates a large quantity of air and we hear a loud, resonant sound. (Heavy strings on an acoustic guitar produce less sustain than lighter strings on an acoustic guitar because the heavier strings vibrate the bridge and the top of the guitar more, which causes chaotic vibration at the anchor points. This vibration slows the string down more quickly.)



    From point 4 I think that it's clear that production of (any) sound is evidence of energy leaving the vibrating string system. Therefore the louder that an electric guitar is acoustically, the more vibration will be robbed from the string sounding and the less signal a pickup will 'see'. An acoustically quiet guitar is not losing sound energy and thus is more likely to be efficiently transmitting your music to the speaker.


    The only real exception to this would be when playing a guitar at high volumes. A guitar that is acoustically loud is more likely to feedback. The top resonates sympathetically with the noise coming from the speakers, which causes a positive feedback loop - body resonating causes strings to resonate, which causes the pickup to get more signal, which causes the speaker to produce more signal. That's why a hollow jazzbox or semi-hollow guitar will howl like a banshee when you plug it into a Metal Zone where a Les Paul will be comparatively well-behaved. An acoustically loud guitar gives you this feedback effect at lower volumes than an acoustically dead guitar.


    There's one other thing to consider. Point 3 indicates the necessity of minimal deformation from the anchor points (bridge and nut, or bridge and fret for fretted chords). We've all played/heard dead sounding guitar bodies that aren't acoustically resonant. There are a variety of ways that a body/neck system can rob energy from a vibrating string without making much sound:
    - The bridge could deform slightly absorbing energy
    - The body or neck could be softer/mushier, absorbing this energy
    - The nut or fret could be improperly seated, and give slightly to absorb some energy

    You might hear this energy being absorbed (probably as a kind of buzz), or it might be largely released as heat. I think the latter accounts for 'dead' sounding guitars . . . where they're set up properly and play OK, but don't seem to give much back to the amp. A guitar that's dead sounding for this reason will impact what you hear when plugged in.




    The reason I think that this is a contentious question is that there are two 'right' answers:

    If you want to optimize signal from an electric guitar, an acoustically quiet guitar is probably a good place to start looking. The guitar should be acoustically quiet, but the strings should feel like they ring for a long time. If you are often playing at high volume on the edge of feedback, you might find that an acoustically loud guitar is the best place to start looking (and might be drawn towards unpotted or even slightly microphonic pickups). This type of guitar will get you to that 'edge of feedback' point more easily, which you can use to manipulate and more than make up for the loss of volume/sustain due to sound vibrations.

    And we should all stay the hell away from acoustically quiet guitars without much sustain.



    NOTE - This response ignores the benefits of energy loss. This is not always a bad thing. None of us are used to hearing a pure signal - so some energy loss in the mids, lows, or highs may well reduce sustain and signal to the amp . . . but will also give a guitar it's characteristic sound. Loss of highs might make a strat sound particularly sweet, loss of low mids might cause an LP to cut through better than others. I still think that an acoustically quiet guitar without much sustain is likely to suck though.
    Last edited by GuitarStv; 11-01-2019 at 01:10 PM.
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  8. #28
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Easy. The one that sounds louder is more hollow than the other. More air, more resonance. Compare a weight relieved one to a regular one for example.

    Stop wasting your resources doing research on this bull, and start playing.

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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    I think we can have a discussion without attacking, right?
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    I’m sure that there’s a bunch of science involved in the real answer... all of which I am COMPLETELY unqualified to address, so here are my gut feelings on the subject:

    1) There are tons of factors that affect an electric guitar’s sound and feel. String composition, string gauge, scale length, body & neck materials, nut, bridge, tuners, player’s mood, player, electronics... the list goes on and on.

    2) It’s very difficult to isolate anything in this mess of factors because sometimes the combinations matter more than the individual components.

    3) Pickups make a bigger difference than anything else to the end sound.

    4) Amps & effects make a bigger difference than pickups or even guitars.

    5) Thinking this hard makes my head hurt.

    Conclusion: There are too many factors for there to be a magic formula and too many experts with different opinions available on the internet. I personally try (not always successfully) to just be open-minded about any guitar until I’ve actually tried it out.

    Therefore my answer to the original question, whether acoustic volume affects amplified volume, is a solid definite maybe... but I doubt that it’s enough to matter.


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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarStv View Post
    I don't think I've played a semi-hollow that was quieter unplugged than any solid body guitar, and fully hollow are louder than semi. Do you believe that to have full tone one must therefore play a semi or fully hollow bodied electric?
    You ought to read my entire post.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    I think we can have a discussion without attacking, right?
    Whoa. Hold your ponies Dave.

    I didn't really see any "attack". Who was "attacking" who?
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    Whoa. Hold your ponies Dave.

    I didn't really see any "attack". Who was "attacking" who?
    Posts were removed. It always puzzles me when people disparage people talking about guitars on a guitar forum.
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    I love when people come up to me and say “Your guitar sound was better on Stoner Witch, when you used a Les Paul. “...I used a Fender Mustang reissue on that, dumbass!

  14. #34
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    I think we as guitarist are too stubborn admit this, even to ourselves, but in this day and age, the only reason to buy a guitar is how it makes the player themself feel. Does wood make a difference? Regardless of the actual science, if you feel like wood makes a significant difference that cannot be compensated for later down the change, then it does. I've bought guitars that sounded less than optimal because while they didn't have the best tone, they felt great and had mojo. Never have I done the opposite. If I hear a guitar that sounds stellar, but plays like a potato, it's going right back on the wall from whence it came.
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    Whoa. Hold your ponies Dave.

    I didn't really see any "attack". Who was "attacking" who?
    The post was removed.
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by Chistopher View Post
    I think we as guitarist are too stubborn admit this, even to ourselves, but in this day and age, the only reason to buy a guitar is how it makes the player themself feel. Does wood make a difference? Regardless of the actual science, if you feel like wood makes a significant difference that cannot be compensated for later down the change, then it does. I've bought guitars that sounded less than optimal because while they didn't have the best tone, they felt great and had mojo. Never have I done the opposite. If I hear a guitar that sounds stellar, but plays like a potato, it's going right back on the wall from whence it came.
    Exactly. I think my opinions on the subject sometimes fall outside the mainstream because feel and liveliness are as important to me as tone. Actually more important, since feel is pretty much intrinsic to the wood. Adjustments can sometimes change the feel slightly, true. But pickups & pots can change an electric's sound a lot.

    Someone who only considers tone or unplugged sustain would draw different conclusions than I, and those would be right for them.
    Just as mine are right for me.
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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    My amp has 4 volume knobs.

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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    And an attenuater
    Er I mean or
    Last edited by PS412; 11-02-2019 at 05:50 PM.

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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by PS412 View Post
    My amp has 4 volume knobs.
    Yes, but how do they sound acoustically?


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    Default Re: If an electric guitar is acoustically louder, does this translate through pickups

    Quote Originally Posted by BriGuy1968 View Post
    Yes, but how do they sound acoustically?


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