June 8, 2019 at 3:30 am #2411Acoustic SoulParticipant
I did a really interesting experiment with an Abel Armrest that I recorded on my iPhone and some very dry playing and put it on YouTube.
I noticed that everything sonically just kind of made more sense to the player and listeners (tested with wife and local tech and guitar shop employees a week or two ago).
I’ve never really discussed my posture, ergonomics, or technique much with anyone or had any comments so I could have an improper habit that I’m unaware of in regards to how much I hold the guitar with my right arm… I wouldn’t say it’s anything more than a normal situation – perhaps less since I’m a thin dude.
When the shop is building a guitar and putting the conceptualized sound into action via joining everything together and the voicing, is the factor of the elbow dampening the soundboard put into consideration? At first thought, it would seem like it obviously would be…. but I thought about luthiers and how much variety there is between players and thought maybe not. I then conducted this very crude experiment and the results pointed more towards the guitar being voiced without consideration to how much dampening will occur.
I concluded this because the voice of the guitar seemed more accurate/honest to it’s concept and musically was more appealing to my wife, tech, guitar shop, and impromptu audience with the armrest on and thus the arm dampening eliminated.
I thought this made a fascinating question though…. what type of dampening, if any is applied/considered onto the guitar during that or any other part of the build coming from the player’s body? Not something I’ve ever heard discussed!
Does someone stand 8 feet away to also listen so it’s not just from a player’s perspective? Or is there a spectrograph or something to check the ears of the person near to the instrument? I know the lowest notes on guitar take about 8 feet to fully form right?
August 26, 2019 at 3:59 pm #2767Richard HooverSenior Moderator
That’s a pretty evocative question A.S. We could do some spectacular speculation on what kind of predictive luthery would keep your arm from dampening the sound of the guitar, though the solution is already there in the after market arm rest. Here’s a silly analogy: the design of a hand bell precludes damping by attaching a handle that doesn’t conduct resonance. When you hold the bell by the handle your hand doesn’t absorb the vibration and the body of the bell rings freely.
Same with a guitar, until you lay your arm on the resonant surface and damp the vibration with the non-resonent nature of your forearm. This happens more with larger bodied guitars that limit your ablity to keep your arm free of the body. It wasn’t always so. Guitars only needed to be big enough to be heard in the largest room in the house until around a dozen decades ago. These earlier designs were meant to avoid arm contact by allowing the player to comfortably reach over the body while playing. It turns out that relatively larger guitars like the Dreadnought are historically the anomaly. Over the millennia of stringed instrument design the Jumbo and D are recent adaptations made to produce enough volume to compete with banjos, mandolins and other instruments in an ensemble. With sophisticated microphones and pick up systems we now have other options that allow us to be heard.
Back to SCGC; we build guitars for appropriate durability with maximum resonance, sustain and complexity. We don’t compromise these qualities by trying to accommodate all possible dampening influences a player may introduce. On larger bodied guitars that don’t allow the player to comfortably keep their forearm off the body, arm-rests are an excellent aftermarket solution that saves us from adapting the build and messing with an already good thing. All the best, Richard
September 1, 2019 at 4:55 am #2788Acoustic SoulParticipant
Thank you for the reply, that gives me some good insight into the instruments
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