Monday, December 21, 2015

Tone Wood. Perfect is Boring

Perfect is Boring 

Ever heard the Electro-Theremin on the good vibration sound from the Beach Boys, created by Paul Tanner. Without the original Theremin, Moog had never developed his first synthesizers. The first Theremin and synthesizers produce a single tone which lags any richness like we have on for instance a Steinway grand piano. 

The secret is in the imperfections. Strings should be perfectly flexible and strings should be fixed 100% rigid at both ends. If the soundboard in combination with the bridge starts to move (which it does because else we didn’t hear any sound), the string doesn’t know anymore where it is connected. 

The result of these two effects is that the harmonics from a single string are not exact multiples. For instance we have 100Hz, 201Hz, 304Hz instead of 100 200 300 etc. These little imperfections (frequency differences of a few Hertz) makes the sound flange, vibrate, role and gives it a magic twang. 

We can increase these imperfections of inharmonic behavior on a guitar by choosing a shorter scale and use a thicker gauge of strings. This combination sounds great but the drawback is, when playing above the 12e fret, the inharmonic behavior (specially on the thicker strings) can give unpleasant beats which doesn’t give the desirable fading rolling effect but results in audible disharmonic tones.  

The quality of a great instrument is hidden in the imperfections