Let's take my 4-string CBG from a Camacho box as an example: acoustically it doesn't sound at all, but with two Power Rails from GuitarFetish even with a simple amp with volume and gain only it sounds great. With the idea to learn from each other, let us know, how your CBG sounds without an amp and with which pics it sounds great. What do you think about this idea?
I think that there has been a lot of "progress" in instrument building simply based on aesthetics and sales. Someone needs their instrument to sell so the create a new shape using new designs and because it becomes popular it also becomes "what people think it should sound like".
There's also the " happy accident " factor where something new and odd aesthetically has a really interesting or new sound to it.
To say that an instrument should never be changed because it has reached perfection acoustically is both naive and restrictive. We would be creating cigar box lute's if this was the case.
On the other side of this debate, square shaped boxes producing great sounds makes perfect sense to me. If we look at recording studios we want to make a recording room acoustically dead by getting rid of all the reflective surfaces. The recording engineers nightmare is a small bright room with parallel walls roof and floor. The frequencies of reverb between the distances of the walls etc produce standing waves that he has to deal with. Thinking closer to home if you listen to a slow sweeping frequency waveform from your hi-fi and record the result you can catch these standing wave frequencies and adjust your hi-fi multiband eq to compensate for the room. This way you can get a richer sound.
It seems to me we are jus dealing with small rooms when we build our guitars. Standing waves inside the boxes. We could probably predict these standing waves by measuring the distances. Guitar shapes in the past dealt with the soundboard vibration and refined shapes, thickness, harnesses, strut posishape, wood types, even Stradivarius used to thin and tweak the soundboard in certain ways. We don't really want to spend a huge amount of time figuring out all this stuff for our soundboards because you boxes change shape for each guitar (this is why luthiers choose a standard size shape and box design, to refine the soundboard).
If we spend time understanding and predicting enclosed box size standing frequencies we can chose which tuning we should use, which scale length will be best, etc. If you understand harmonic scales and are truly great at fret placement, you can enhance the standing waves inside the box.
Personally I'm just happy with my accidents. But yeah, I do understand a little bit about why some of these builds we are making sound just as good as any instrument out there for sale.
This is how things were explained to me.
A hollow body will vibrate sending sound waves throughout the sound chamber. Those waves will act like a ping pong ball inside bouncing off the top and bottom gaining force and speed and then through the soundhole as volume. The shape and depth has it's influences on the volume and tone.
The drawback is the excess vibration of the top interferes with the vibration of the string causing loss of sustain. This is why a block was inserted under the bridge connecting the top to the back. This keeps the bridge stable to promote sustain while allowing the rest of the top and back to react to the soundwaves and vibrations, but the stabilizing block partially subdues the vibrating top and bottom resulting in diminished acoustic volume. Then Luthier's started using F holes to get better volume from blocked bodies.
The Lute(first acoustic guitar) had a round back like the Ovations of today, but that design was dropped by the Luthier's of the day for the flat back because of it's faster and overall better response. Likened to the fastest point from A to B is a straight line.
When I built my Cedar acoustic build, I placed the bridge in the center to get better vibrations. That can't happen if the top sinks in from string pressure, so I glued a brace across the bridge to the sides giving the bridge support. But this acts like a bridge block stopping some vibration.
A CBG isn't like an acouctic guitar, violin or other stringed instrument. It has it's own qualities and personality. It can sound close to a guitar,violin or other stringed instrument, but not exactly like one of these others unless it's built the same way. Of course it wouldn't be like a CBG then.
"Sounds just as good" is a description given by someone that can't tell the difference because of their own level of hearing abilities or someone that is satisfied enough to not care. In either case, they are right to themselves. You can't make them hear what they can't hear and if they don't care their not really going to give it any more time. If you can hear the difference, great. Arguing about it will just be a waste of time though.
Old saying: It's Close Enough For Rock N Roll. These are CBG's, not Acoustic Concert Hall Instruments. People that are used to hearing those instruments can tell the difference and they're not wrong about that either.
So peel back the lid and talk about the worms some more or go fishing and play your CBG/Stradivarius. LOL
I'm with you 100% on this post Paul. They sound like what they are and if a person wants something else that's the direction they should go. The fact that these instruments can be made by an untrained, poorly disciplined person like me is a big part of their charm.