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tennisplayer

What effect does a cutaway have on the sound?

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Some people said that never noticed any dramatic difference between a cutaway or non cutaway version of otherwise similar guitars.

 

To me, I can't say that I can hear a big difference b/w a cutway and non-cutway guitar, but I think a non-cutway model which still has a little bit "fully" sound than a cutway one. In other words, they are not big difference on sound, but the difference can be heard!

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Dunno. I have full-size dreads with and without. Not a lot of difference in my opinion.




"Not a lot of difference ....."
does it mean there is still a little difference?

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I read an article just last night that basically said that because the lower portion of the soundboard is much more active than the upper, a cutaway has very little effect. But it does effectively reduce the soundboard size and air volume, so the overall effect is that of playing a slightly smaller guitar.

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I read an article just last night that basically said that because the lower portion of the soundboard is much more active than the upper, a cutaway has very little effect. But it does effectively reduce the soundboard size and air volume, so the overall effect is that of playing a slightly smaller guitar.



Prolly right. Like I said, with mine they seem to be about the same. There's way more volume difference in how I hit it when I'm playing than in whether or not theres a cutaway.

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I read an article just last night that basically said that because the lower portion of the soundboard is much more active than the upper, a cutaway has very little effect. But it does effectively reduce the soundboard size and air volume, so the overall effect is that of playing a slightly smaller guitar.

Visiting with a luthier over the weekend using a small device built expressly for this purpose & vibrating at 60 cycles, we actually proved that the upper bout of the soundboard is very active, "almost", or erhaps "as active" as the lower bout. Turning the guitars over, checking a half dozen different instruments (Webber, McKnight, Yamaha, CA) (solid tops, laminates & carbon fiber) the upper bout was the hottest part of the guitar.

In all cases, it was the waist that manifested the least active part of the guitar.

What does it mean for your cutaway? I don't know. But it debunks the long and widely held belief that the upper bout is not very active.

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I have both cut and uncut,


take that smirk off yer face I'm talking guitars here; really, some people, minds like sewers, ;)

anyways --- To me the major difference is sound is probably not the result of any 'real estate' issues, but in the way the instrument solicits and facilitates being played. Yup, I'm talking adventures down the dusty end.

In my experience cutaway players are much more likely to incorporate forays down there into their play, and hence their sound.

Otherwise I have to admit, like a lot of other disputed sound affecting issues e.g. African Elephant v Indian Elephant v Woolly Mammoth for nut material, I really don't hear it - certainly outside the differences between any two guitars...

( Actually on the nut issue I would incline to go with Giraffe. I mean longer bones are bound to give you longer sustain aren't they, y'know, I mean, like logically... )

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longer bones are bound to give you longer sustain aren't they, y'know, I mean, like logically... )



:facepalm:

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Visiting with a luthier over the weekend using a small device built expressly for this purpose & vibrating at 60 cycles, we actually proved that the upper bout of the soundboard is very active, "almost", or erhaps "as active" as the lower bout. Turning the guitars over, checking a half dozen different instruments (Webber, McKnight, Yamaha, CA) (solid tops, laminates & carbon fiber) the upper bout was the hottest part of the guitar.

In all cases, it was the waist that manifested the least active part of the guitar.

What does it mean for your cutaway? I don't know. But it debunks the long and widely held belief that the upper bout is not very active.



You should start a thread on this Q. I'd be very interested to hear more about this.

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You should start a thread on this Q. I'd be very interested to hear more about this.


Would start a thread, however it doesn't "prove" that the cut significantly changes the sound. It provides a datapoint to that end, perhaps, is all. What it does prove is that the cut removes a significant piece of the resonating portion of the guitar. Many will infer that this must change the sound. Hard to argue maybe but we did not have two like make/model guitars; identical except that one had a cut and one did not. You would have to do this and then meter the two of them for comparison. Nevertheless, the test we were shown and participated in unquestionably debunked the oft-held belief that the lower bout is the overwhelming champion of the instrument's resonance.

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Would start a thread, however it doesn't "prove" that the cut significantly changes the sound. It provides a datapoint to that end, perhaps, is all. What it does prove is that the cut removes a significant piece of the resonating portion of the guitar. Many will infer that this must change the sound. Hard to argue maybe but we did not have two like make/model guitars; identical except that one had a cut and one did not. You would have to do this and then meter the two of them for comparison. Nevertheless, the test we were shown and participated in unquestionably debunked the oft-held belief that the lower bout is the overwhelming champion of the instrument's resonance.



I wasn't suggesting a thread from the cut vs no-cut perspective. I was more interested in the device you were using and what it measured, and so forth. That's what has me intrigued.

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I wasn't suggesting a thread from the cut vs no-cut perspective. I was more interested in the device you were using and what it measured, and so forth. That's what has me intrigued.


Ah, I see.
The device was a vibration motor, custom-made for the luthier. It had a foam rubber attachment at the bottom which clipped onto the strings just forward of the bridge.
There was a rheostat speed control on it.
As it vibrated, we ran our fingers across the soundboard, and later the back, too.
In another test using the same device, the luthier used the contents of a teabag sprinkled out upon the top to pinpoint dead spots on the top. Theoretically, the tea would settle on the quietest areas of the top.
The closer you got to the edge of the top (where it is glued to the side) the less active it becomes. No surprise there, right? The waist was not very active on any of the guitars tested.

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Ah, I see.

The device was a vibration motor, custom-made for the luthier. It had a foam rubber attachment at the bottom which clipped onto the strings just forward of the bridge.

There was a rheostat speed control on it.

As it vibrated, we ran our fingers across the soundboard, and later the back, too.

In another test using the same device, the luthier used the contents of a teabag sprinkled out upon the top to pinpoint dead spots on the top. Theoretically, the tea would settle on the quietest areas of the top.

The closer you got to the edge of the top (where it is glued to the side) the less active it becomes. No surprise there, right? The waist was not very active on any of the guitars tested.



That's cool. Thanks.

Did you test it on guitars with different bracings? I'd be curious how the tea reacted. The tea is like the smoke used in wind tunnel testing, i.e. trying to visualize what the eye can't see. Very cool, indeed.

Not wanting to hijack this thread is why I thought a new one might be better. I could ask a hundred questions.

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No cutaways for me. When I've A/B'd same models with/without cutaway, the ones without always seem to have more bass and more volume. I could be mishearing based on my own assumptions, but I think I hear a difference, and I go with tone. I like 12 fret necks as well.

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tested a lot of different guitars and bracings. The motor in this tool failed to move the tea as much as we had hoped. Guess it just would have required a bigger motor. Perhaps silica sand would have bounced better across the top than the tea leaves; not sure. Hudman and Kwakatak witnessed this too. Hopefully they will chime in with additional and better information. :snax:

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Interesting Queequeg.

This is how Chladni patterns are formulated, to define the monopole and cross dipole locations on a top. However, differing frequencies spread the patterns in different manners. I use a signal generator, a transducer, and glitter to obtain my results. Different frequencies affect different locations of the top.

As to the question of cutaways, even though some internal air volume is lost, it makes little difference in the overall sound of a guitar, at the frequencies that a guitar generates.

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Finally, I think that the tone suffers immeasurably on all acoustics past the 14th fret anyway.



I have to disagree with that. Most acoustics, I agree, do not have a good tone past the 14th fret. However, not all are that way. My Parker has useable tone all the way up to the 19th fret, its highest fret.

And on the thread topic, yes it does make a difference in tone, but in my opinion that difference is negligible.

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Guitars made with and without a cut are not discussed in their entirety here. The obvious? Yes. Q's illustration of vibration is done with an unknown sonic match. I mean to say that the source of the test vibrations is probably not at a frequency normally encountered across the top of a guitar. They are probably of a low frequency with very large peak-to-peak distances guessing from the desription of the device and the visual results of inducement. This area of sound frequency will make sand dance on a sidewalk in the area immediately local to the inducement point but it doesn't travel very far because it is not a very linear waveform. Increase the volume and it will but that's getting even more artificial. The waveforms in a guitar are such that the upper bout will not normally "see" the lower frequencies anyway for the same reasons. The lows and low mids remain in the lower bout on all guitars because they are frequencies that just don't travel far. There's much to be seen on these interwebs that illustrate acoustic guitar sound generation and which part of the guitar is responsible for which frequency ranges. None of them I've seen discuss the upper bout with any degree of significance. That's why a cut is an economy even the best of the best luthiers know they can employ without sacrificing the sonic qualities of their guitars.

Tit for Tat: Q makes a suggestion of A/B'ing identical guitars with the exception of a cut on one. I've mentioned that before, as others have, to get an idea of the sonic differences. I would go one further and suggest A/B'ing identical guitars without cuts first and get an average of the differences charted. Then do the same for identical guitars with a cut. Then take both averages and contrast them. This kind of data would require transducer pick-ups (aka accelerometers) laboratories normally use to accurately measure even the slightest imbalances in rotating equipment such as motors to gauge the health of bearings and schedule maintenance accordingly. Some of you are familiar with such preventive maintenance inspections and know the accuracy of the equipment I'm mentioning. In keeping with the accuracy the strings on each guitar must be plucked identically to ensure they are displaced and released with a measureable accuracy and not just some player casually playing some song. Then, and only then will there be a qualified answer to this much debated topic. But, to my knowledge it hasn't been done yet.

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My two cents. Nothing scientific.

I could always here the difference of a cutaway. I prefer a guitar without. I do play mostly in the top 5 frets though if that makes a difference. I have tested this with Gibsons and Martins. Though I like some of them, the non-cutaway versions just sounded better to me.....all the way up the neck.

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I have to disagree with that. Most acoustics, I agree, do not have a good tone past the 14th fret. However, not all are that way. My Parker has useable tone all the way up to the 19th fret, its highest fret.


And on the thread topic, yes it does make a difference in tone, but in my opinion that difference is negligible.


I have never played a Parker acoustic, so I won't challenge that. I know that Ken Parker employs some very unique architecture and engineering to his guitars. Still, I've played all the usual and ordinary guitars plus lots of extraordinary acoustics over the last 40 years and I never heard one that sounded worth a tinker's dam past the 14th fret.
I'll have to make it a point to test-drive a Parker.
And speaking of Parker, Adrian Belew [King Crimson] will be bringing his Parker Fly to Ann Arbor next month. Never seen him live before. I'm looking forward to that show.

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will be bringing his Parker Fly to Ann Arbor next month. Never seen him live before. I'm looking forward to that show.



I watched him (and his Parker) from the 6th row at the King Crimson concert in Nashville last Summer. I don't think I've ever seen anyone play every inch of a guitar like that.

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