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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsacion?   You are logged in as Guest
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Andy Culpepper

Posts: 3025
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Echi

IMHO the right hand string feel can vary from guitar to guitar. I think it's more noticeable on flamenco guitars than classical because of the wide variety of right hand techniques and accuracy required for flamenco. I can't say I know 100% what causes it but it is NOT the overall stiffness of the top.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2022 4:30:00
 
gerundino63

Posts: 1748
Joined: Jul. 11 2003
From: The Netherlands

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

Pulsation is nonsense.... it’s just about action, and as mentioned you just raise the bone saddle


Be carefully Ricardo,
You will wake up Anders.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2022 8:24:35
 
RobF

Posts: 1613
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

quote:

ORIGINAL: Andy Culpepper
IMHO the right hand string feel can vary from guitar to guitar. I think it's more noticeable on flamenco guitars than classical because of the wide variety of right hand techniques and accuracy required for flamenco. I can't say I know 100% what causes it but it is NOT the overall stiffness of the top.


I’ve often wondered if a form of synesthesia comes into play, where the sound of the guitar influences the perceived “feel”. In other words, a punchy guitar with a quick response giving the sensation of having a harder feel than a guitar with more bloom to the notes being perceived as softer. It may not entirely account for the phenomenon, but I do feel it does come into play.

Along the same lines, orange guitars can naturally be perceived to feel harder and more ‘flamenco’, whilst…
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2022 9:29:14
 
Echi

 

Posts: 1132
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

.. some orange guitars have 3 mm thick tops... it's quite natural to feel they are stiff.
The top thickness of my Conde is around 2.8 mm and for a reason.
It's famous the statement of Tomatito: Conde are "male guitars" with ideal "top pulsacion".

I think the matter here goes together with projection even though is difficult for me to explain what I mean.
I used to play around a guitar made by Arcangel; as Richard said many times, you feel it hard and quite dull if played softly. it's like she was made to sing and project ahead the notes when and if pushed properly. The tone then passes from being bassy and dull to take out it's edge and clarity. They speak about guitar being "forceful".

I eventually couldn't afford that Arcangel and I was disappointed with the Caceres I got instead.

I found the same kind of character in a lovely Manzanero (lately sold) and eventually in a '84 spruce Ramirez which in my opinion is an outstanding guitar if you play it right.
Someone said some 80ies spruce Ramirez are soft, but often it's because the player didn't find the spot of threshold to make it sing yet (or they are a little overbuilt).
My idea is that this is a Madrid thing and has something to do with the way they use the long under bridge patch and 5 struts bracing.

To come back to the original statement: it's difficult to separate the idea of pulsation/elasticity of the top from the force necessary to get a good tone and projection of a guitar.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2022 11:01:16
 
RobF

Posts: 1613
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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Echi

quote:

The top thickness of my Conde is around 2.8 mm


Yeah, the one I have now is in that region, too. I also had a 2001 Filipe V that was well over 3mm. It was so thick I didn’t trust the readings I was getting on my hacklinger gauge. I didn’t really like that one, however, and only had it for a very brief period of time. It’s set-up was excellent, I just didn’t like the sound at all.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2022 17:15:46
 
Echi

 

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

I agree.
It's fun because a Conde Felipe V was also one the first guitars I was using my Hacklinger gauge to and I really thought the calliper was not working properly...

The '81 Conde is thick (top at 2.8 mm) but I find it lovely though.
My '63 Conde is at 2.4-2.6: not thin either.

I never went that thick with my guitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2022 17:41:22
 
RobF

Posts: 1613
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Echi

quote:

To come back to the original statement: it's difficult to separate the idea of pulsation/elasticity of the top from the force necessary to get a good tone and projection of a guitar.


I agree.

I think maybe synesthesia is not the right word as much as the guitar and player exist as a closed loop system with the player making minute and possibly unconscious adjustments to ‘normalize’ the sound and feel of different instruments. If strings and setup are equalized what remains to give these perceptions? Also, how is the same instrument perceived by different players?

I’m also remembering about how Ricardo has mentioned a number of times how when he records himself playing different guitars it’s hard to distinguish differences between them during playback. I suspect he’s playing at a level where some of the adjustments being made are unconscious and the differences in sound and playability he hears and feels while playing are present and notable, but the adjustments he makes to pull the sound he wants out of each guitar glosses over that in playback. It’s like the old saying about a good player being able to make anything sound good. It’s all part of the closed loop, of which the guitar is only one element. It’s the adjustments being made that might be giving the perception of ‘pulsation’ with different guitars, of which sound is a part of the feedback mechanism (as well as feel).

In other words, with all other things being equal, like strings and setup and the like, I’m not convinced a ‘looser’ feeling guitar is actually a physically looser instrument. Same as with a harder feel. How much of the sensation steps out of the actual physical (not sound) characteristics of the instrument?

P.S. I’m recovering from emergency surgery today so some of this might just be the meds talking, lol.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2022 17:50:57
 
RobF

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Echi

quote:

The '81 Conde is thick (top at 2.8 mm) but I find it lovely though.


I really like my 80s Conde, too. It’s about the same thickness as yours. It’s not one of their prettier works and is pretty beat-up looking, but it’s a sweetheart.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2022 18:01:23
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 3025
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to RobF

quote:

I’ve often wondered if a form of synesthesia comes into play, where the sound of the guitar influences the perceived “feel”. In other words, a punchy guitar with a quick response giving the sensation of having a harder feel than a guitar with more bloom to the notes being perceived as softer. It may not entirely account for the phenomenon, but I do feel it does come into play.

Along the same lines, orange guitars can naturally be perceived to feel harder and more ‘flamenco’, whilst…


That's fair. I mostly notice it with picado, because I suck at picado. On some guitars it feels like my fingers physically can't get through the strings fast enough on certain runs, because the strings feel too stiff (and this is with my normal D'addario EJ45s that I always use). But it is certainly a complex feedback loop and as a human being I know my senses are not always accurate :).

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 23 2022 4:38:03
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14899
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

quote:

I can't say I know 100% what causes it but it is NOT the overall stiffness of the top.


Right. Except for golpe, there is no “feeling” from the top. There can be sound differences, such as EQ of course. Like when I played that Pedro de Miguel and was shocked by the tone, and it turned out Blackshear had at it at some point…removing wood basically. But I would not say the guitar went from the perceived typical “hard pulsation” to a “soft pulsation”…rather it simply sounded more flamenco/punchy. The feeling is in the strings and neck. This return ready set for picado Paco speaks of, he doesn’t want to have to get so darn close to the bridge to feel that. Hence he admits his stage guitar is no fun to play at home…he always requires a “nervous energy” to play it, and it works, where as an easier guitar doesn’t deliver on stage. I know exactly this feeling he describes, and it is simply ACTION. In a party if I am doing the lead melody stuff, falsetas, I choose the HIGH ACTION guitar, invariably, so that the thing will project. The low action guitars are hilarious as fun as they are to play, the strings buzz out on the frets and no sound projects, sound like a banjo. You can get super close to the bridge and play lighter to off set it, but it can’t compare.

But the action over the fingerboard is only one aspect. The other is how the neck angle is set that affects the right hand feeling. So there are two actions at play, and there is no standard words to differentiate. “Low bridge” is fine, but in combo with action over the fingerboard you discover the hard guitar vs the easy or soft guitar. Normally, the soft guitars are good for rhythm and the hard guitars are good for lead melody stuff. Top stiffness and thickness does not influence this situation, but affects the EQ of the sound. This is also negated once you use mics/speakers etc.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 23 2022 20:22:10
 
Andy Culpepper

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Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

Luthiers: it's art!
Ricardo: it's EQ.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 24 2022 2:10:39
 
Echi

 

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Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

quote:

I know exactly this feeling he describes, and it is simply ACTION. In a party if I am doing the lead melody stuff, falsetas, I choose the HIGH ACTION guitar,


I understand your point and respect your idea, but imho it's a simplification of the whole problem.
Classical guitarists/luthiers are more aware of the thing even though they are more concerned about tone production/sustain than mere stiffness for fast picados.
People fond with Hauser guitars may speak for hours to explain it even though they will declinate it as the way the top bounces back in relation with tone production and projection.

Just my 2 cents
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 24 2022 12:54:57
 
RobF

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Echi

It wouldn’t be too difficult to run an empirical experiment using a solid body electric guitar and some pedals. Mess around with changing attack, sustain, etc…and see if it affects your perception of the ‘pulsation’. Does a highly compressed or smoothly distorted signal ‘feel’ different under hand from a clean signal or a punchy signal? How about playing technique, how is it adjusted to deal with the various sonic characters? The results might be surprising to an exclusively non-electric player, but in my experience the feel of a guitar does change with changes to the sonic signature (if that’s the right word). I suspect the answer to the pulsation riddle probably lies somewhere in the middle, with sonic fingerprint, setup, top response/movement all contributing, but I’m more in the set-up/EQ camp, I suppose.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 24 2022 14:04:09
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 3025
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

95+% of the guitars I make and play simply feel "normal", in that I can't discern anything unusual about how they feel, or the "pulsacion" or what have you, given their setup. Different guitars certainly require different setups, for example I recently worked on a Paul Sheridan classical guitar for a very famous artist that simply needed 6 mm action in order to eliminate fret buzz. She had taken it to other luthiers who couldn't figure out the problem, and finally we just decided to raise the saddle to the point that it wasn't buzzing anymore. That guitar is as loud as a jet engine so it kind of makes sense that it needed a high action. Of course it was very difficult (for me) to play at that point, but that didn't change anything about the right hand feel that I noticed.

When you handle hundreds of guitars though, some interesting edge cases pop up. For example, and I'll admit it, one guitar I made for a client in 2019. 2.5 mm 12th fret action, 7.5 mm string height at the bridge, 2 mm thick top with air resonance around F#. But for whatever reason, the strings would start to feel stiff. This client may be more sensitive to it than most, but he didn't have this problem with his other guitar, or the second one I made him. I took it back in trade because I love it, I think it's a great guitar. But for whatever reason, on certain days I do notice that it feels stiff to me. I don't know if it's humidity, personal perception or what, but it just seems to be temperamental. But again, the vast majority of guitars just feel pretty much normal given their setup. It's rare that I discuss pulsacion with a client or have anyone bring it up or complain about it.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 25 2022 2:32:17
 
Echi

 

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

My guess is for a piece of spruce with long grain stiffness above the average (given the same mass).
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 26 2022 11:25:02
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14899
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to RobF

quote:

It wouldn’t be too difficult to run an empirical experiment using a solid body electric guitar and some pedals. Mess around with changing attack, sustain, etc…and see if it affects your perception of the ‘pulsation’. Does a highly compressed or smoothly distorted signal ‘feel’ different under hand from a clean signal or a punchy signal? How about playing technique, how is it adjusted to deal with the various sonic characters? The results might be surprising to an exclusively non-electric player, but in my experience the feel of a guitar does change with changes to the sonic signature (if that’s the right word).


When I was a kid, I learned alternate picking from the Paul Gilbert instructional video (like countless others). At one point he reduces his volume and distortion using a clean tone and says “you might have to pick a little bit harder”… implying that playing with the effects means you should pick softer. Basically HE feels like the sound he wants, let’s call it rhythmically loud and aggressive, goes away with a clean tone and therefore he notices the strings responding dynamically to his pick attack. He claims that distortion “masks” the cleanliness of your playing…but what he really means there is the LEFT hand sound. When we play clean tone electric, like acoustic, the left hand involvement decreases and the right hand takes over sound characteristics. We necessarily feel that response of dynamic range and instinctively pick harder or softer depending on what our ear wants. But the distortion effects compress the dynamics, or rather, drive it all to the roof and limit it…so the normally quiet or imperceptible noise comes WAY up, and here is where “clean” playing involves muting with BOTH hands to high degrees to make a decent sound.

(EDIT: want to add we do dulce or ponticello by selection neck or bridge pickups respectively. Using a dulce neck pick up on fast picking does not affect picking attack, but might “mask” the harsh metallic noise the bridge pick up gives you when running fast treble lines. Just like in flamenco, picado on bass strings closer to bridge, on electric we clean up the sound on the basses by using the bridge pick up and palm muting etc.)

So what does all that mean? Because “action” has not changed in anyway with the above concept, then the perceived “dynamic range response” is what we should understand “pulsation” is. If you now go back and read what I described about the playing in a party situation, where I need the HIGH action guitar in order to get the dynamic range response required (low soft action frets out and can’t be heard loudly, unless doing rhythm), we can see how the issue is transferred to acoustic instruments. If on the contrary, there is a belief that action does NOT affect the dynamic range and response of a guitar, or is a minor factor and that it is “something else” such as top stiffness etc, then there is your “pulsation”.

So there lies the point of issue…what affects the dynamic range of a guitar the most? That is pulsation.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2022 17:33:11
 
estebanana

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

This is so muddled and strange I’ve never understood this word pulsation and I just think it’s something Anders was obsessed with to make sure everyone knew he lived in Spain because he said it everY five minutes.

I still sounds like a way that the Good Vibes catalog would rate the action of an electric vibrator. It’s just a bunch of bullshiet.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2022 19:00:39
 
Echi

 

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to estebanana

Not only in Spain really.
I don't understand why in USA the concept (which in many places is considered as something obvious) is so controversial.
When you order a flamenco guitar to a maker in Spain they'll ask you if you have any preference in terms of "pulsacion" of the guitar ... anyway. Obviously you can survive also without questioning what is this and that's ok.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2022 21:34:01
 
Andy Culpepper

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Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

Very interesting how opinions have changed since the beginning of this thread

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2022 21:35:21
 
devilhand

 

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Ricardo

So what the heck is pulsation on guitar? Can I summarize it this way?

Higher action results in soft pulsation.
Lower action results in hard pulsation and stiffer/dull sound.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2022 22:26:46
 
RobF

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Echi

quote:

I don't understand why in USA the concept (which in many places is considered as something obvious) is so controversial.


I don’t think anyone is suggesting that different guitars can’t feel different - harder, softer, quicker, looser, and so on. It’s more as to the ‘why’ of it that is of interest.

It’s just that there can be such a measure of myth or preconception when it comes to guitars. And then marketing also gets thrown into the mix and the waters become even muddier. The thing is, that which can seem intuitively obvious can often change when subjected to rigorous analysis. Look at the evolution of radio or, more recently, digitization. There’s a lot about that stuff that at first glance seems counter-intuitive until the math is applied and understood. Single side band? Nyquist’s theorem? Heck, phase locked loops and demodulation? None of that stuff seems intuitively obvious at first. At least, it didn’t to me…and then the math is applied and you can’t argue with it and things start to make sense and that which seemed so obvious before becomes quaint and the intuition evolves.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2022 1:08:47
 
estebanana

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Echi

I don’t have any idea of what pulsacion is. It’s an abstraction, it’s a word that doesn’t seem to translate for me.

But seriously, set up has a lot to do with how a guitar sounds and feels. So does top thickness, scale length, brace stiffness.
The thing is, there really are not any empirical ways to test what pulsacion is, because the guitar is too complex. The problem with an empirical mode of testing these separate attributes and structural stiffnesses is that you cannot isolate each component from the others, so you have nothing to measure.

The word we’re looking for here is ‘haptic sensitivity or haptic feedback. Something like that. Haptics is the study of how objects feel and respond to our touch. It probably possible to study the haptics of how a car feels to drive, brakes, accelerator, seats, geometry of seating and other factors go into how cars feel. It’s a different engineering process and can more easily be separated out into sub routines. A guitar is more complicated because parsing out the effects of top thickness, nut/saddle height and other parts can’t really be separated out and measured.

I think all those things have a say in how a flamenco guitar does alzapua, rasgueado and picado, but I can’t after many years of building them and talking to others who build them figure out why. I just know you work in a zone with certain thicknesses of the top, scale length and bridge weight and you get a guitar that works for flamenco.

I think top thickness is important, but it’s a paradox that good flamenco guitars can be made with 3mm thick tops or 2mm thick tops and that the 1mm of difference is quite a big stylistic difference.

Can you change the guitar significantly after it’s built? I really don’t think so. Can you bring more out of a guitar by a thoughtful and accurately fitting nut and saddle, yes you can. Can you subtly change the feel with different strings? For some people it works with certain guitars.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2022 2:19:03
 
estebanana

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

What would dear Ron say about pulsacion? Probably very little because I think he understood that mythology and translation obscured the meaning from Spanish to English.

I think he summed it up well when he posted this classic Ron humor photo:



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Attachment (1)

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2022 2:36:52
 
n85ae

 

Posts: 877
Joined: Sep. 7 2006
 

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

I think pulsation is a real thing

If you build and brace the top in a way where the strings don't make the bridge and the vibrating
plate area of the top move easy it will feel hard, and vice versa if you make the same things soft and mushy
it's going to feel too soft. I would suggest this is the thing which is being called "pulsation". I just spent a
few weeks tearing the back off, putting it back on and tearing it off again to re-brace a guitar which my
Dad made that was initially way too soft, and then I changed the fan braces to a stiffer spruce, and added
closing braces. Then it was too stiff, and so off with the back and I thinned them and now it feels a lot better.

It sounded good after the first change, but was unpleasant to play because it felt too stiff the second change
to the braces made all the difference.

I'd say every luthier who posts here, all know what this feeling that's called "pulsation" is, but they just
argue endlessly about what it's called. :)

Jeff
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2022 2:43:02
 
estebanana

Posts: 9383
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to n85ae

That was a sample of one guitar. There are guitars that you could carve most of the braces out and they don’t significantly change.


No one would disagree changing the braces may change the was it feels, but here is the problem with your proceedure. You had no idea how much to change it and you had to take the back off twice before you got something you liked.

Imagine taking the back off an expensive guitar and not having any idea how much bracing to add or subtract in order to get the Goldilocks Zone? There is no way to come up with a universal formula. Because if there was, we’d all be using it.

Pulsacion is just a word, there are many spoken and unspoken was to understand what makes a flamenco guitar ‘switch on’ but there’s no formula or fail proof recipe. You simply have to do it a lot and be guided by your interior unspoken intelligence coupled with a few diagnostic tools.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2022 3:25:42
 
Andy Culpepper

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From: NY, USA

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

The thing is, there really are not any empirical ways to test what pulsacion is, because the guitar is too complex.


This is the truth. It's wise to adopt a little humility in discussing topics like this because understanding every detail of how the little universe that is a guitar works is just beyond our puny brains at the moment.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2022 3:55:43
 
RobF

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

quote:

ORIGINAL: Andy Culpepper

quote:

The thing is, there really are not any empirical ways to test what pulsacion is, because the guitar is too complex.


This is the truth. It's wise to adopt a little humility in discussing topics like this because understanding every detail of how the little universe that is a guitar works is just beyond our puny brains at the moment.


There’s no denying the guitar is complex, but when the entire human/instrument interface is taken into consideration as a whole things really start to go nuts. The empirical experiment I suggested was more intended to isolate the human element of the equation by removing as much as possible any of the physical variances and focussing just on whether sound can influence feel. It wasn’t intended as a way to measure the elusive ‘P’ word, I hope I wasn’t coming across that way.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2022 4:50:52
 
Andy Culpepper

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From: NY, USA

RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

Not at all, Rob. Personally I agree with your take that it's partly influenced by our perception of tonal qualities and the perceived force or effort required to produce the desired sound.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2022 5:00:16
 
estebanana

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to Andy Culpepper

Oh my god I want to stick a fork in my head.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2022 6:17:27
 
RobF

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RE: Can you correct a too soft pulsa... (in reply to estebanana

Which brings us to the age old question…

What does one do when one comes to a fork in Stephen’s head?

A. __
1. Check to see if he’s done.
2. Take it.
3. Nothing, he thinks he’s Zathras.
4. Run.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 28 2022 7:09:34
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