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Lets test the vintage debate!!! PLEASE READ


JonathanD

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I wonder is there really is a difference between Vintage basses and new ones besides the price? I want to compare a Vintage fender and a MIA new fender and have the people here take a poll and see if people can actually tell the difference. I really dont know; there might be a difference and there may not be. However I would like to end this quibbling and subject this to a blind opinion test.

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If anyone can help me conduct this experiment I would be grateful. First I just want to see if anyone would be interested and if people would actually listen to the sound bites and answer a poll. I do not have a new or old fender. Does anyone have both types that is willing to put them to the test?

--------------------

Proposed Methodology.

Set the 2 basses up the same, neck scale, string height, and any pother things we can collectively think of. Play a very simple part or scale on the vintage bass that goes up the neck. Take the PUPs out and play the same part on the new fender MIA bass (2 reasons for not using MIM, scale length, and the wood is completely different and we are just testing for differences in age and build). This can be played by anyone who has access to these 2 things and be sent to me, I would like a video though just so I can be certain there is confounding variables. Or if I could come to you and record them myself that would be the best situation with the least amount of digital processing. Recording should be done in 32BIT 96K sample rate on both. Only one gain change should be made to each to make them the same volume. And each will be changed once to make sure they go through the same process

I will think of any other variables over the next few days. Please PM me if you have access to these basses and would like to see what happens. Then I will post them in a way that can be listened to in Wav. Format (I will also need help with this because I do not know how or where to do so) I might have a short survey to see how much experience each person has with fender this way if all the fender guys can pick out the correct bass I can run correlation and T-Tests to make sure the none fender experienced players didnt skew the sample.

---------------------------------------

I would also like to do this with monster cables and see if people can actually tell the difference or it is a placebo effect.

 

Please let me know of any concerns or problems with this set up, and I will continue to think about it for a while.

I would appreciate the help.

I tried my best to be clear. Please ask questions on any unclear or confusing parts.

 

P.S. Does anyone think that any guitar companies would be interested in this little experiment? I dont know of any like it.

Jonathan

 

 

 

 

 

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Originally posted by dnkritr:

[QBP.S. Does anyone think that any guitar companies would be interested in this little experiment? I dont know of any like it.

Jonathan [/QB]

So maybe the Mag would be interested in doing this? Why don't you repost this in the Bass Editor's Forum?

 

McG.

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Somewhere I have a recording where I did exactly that:

 

I recorded a friend's '68 Precision and my Fernandes P bass which has a Seymour Duncan Antiquities pickup.

 

Both basses had brand new La Bella flatwounds on them.

 

We couldn't tell the difference in the studio.

 

They felt pretty similar as well.

 

If I can find the cd we made (which won't be easy considering what a mess my house is in at the moment [more of a mess than usual because of remodeling] I'd be glad to post my tracks.

 

Hearing basses over computer speakers doesn't always tell me a whole lot...but we were listening over the monitors in a commercial recording studio.

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I Think this is a great idea but would be very time consuming and need a completely controlled envirnment. Why don't we ask Bass Player Magazine and the Fender factory to take a major role in this? The test could be between a new Jazz deluxe and a 60's Jazz. You would need the same player, same music, same strings, same amp, same cables. same EQ everything the same except the guitars. A second comparasion could be made by actually switching the pickups.

I'm for it.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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If you do discover a distinctive or subtle difference, then you will want to know why they sound different. Is the the Wood, or the Electronics? It also would be good if many of the Lowdowners took place in the listening test and gave their opinions.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Originally posted by zeronyne:

Just out of curiousity, where did you find an interface that does uninterpolated 32bit recording?

I built it.

No really, sorry about that... if I did it it would have to be 24 bit recording. It's a Presonus Firepod.

 

 

 

 

 

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like Rocky said, I would want to know what the differance is. I ahve heard a couple people sayit is that the make up of the wood has changed as it has been exposed to bass freq. over the years. If there is any truth to that then the pickups would not matter. Also, whenever you do a scientific test, you normally only test one hypthese at a time otherwise you dont know what is causeing the differance if there is one.

 

 

 

 

 

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I recently (as an experiment) changed the pickups in my '71 Jazz Bass. It now has HAS-Sound Ju-Ju pickups in it.

 

The change in sound was very subtle...this bass still sounds almost the same as it did before and I really doubt that anyone other than me would be able to tell the difference.

 

So maybe the wood is more important than the pickups.

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If Wood does change over time, maybe someone could tell us how it changes. What happens to it? My only experience is reusing lumber from a nearly 100 year old house. It was so hard, you could barely drive a nail into it. Some wood dries out more over time, some woods may gain moisture content. We have all pretty well accepted that old wood produces a "Vintage Tone" I think it would take some very serious lab testing to come up with a reliable answer.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Most wood dries out over time.

 

One of the voodoo claims is that the musical vibrations that the wood of an instrument is exposed to over the years somehow aligns the molecules of the wood.

 

This is why a "closet classic" is not going to sound as good as an instrument that was owned by a player.

 

If the player had a mojo, then the bass would sound even better.

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Well, I don't know if I can say it without sounding really egocentric or something, biut I really think I would be able to tell the difference between a well-played vintage axe and a brand new one.

 

I know, I know, what with the advent of "vintage" sounding pickups, etc. and such, a lot of new axes really can sound "vintage", at least enough so that they'd fool someone who doesn't have the ears George Martin or someone.

 

But there are so many tactile cues on an instrument that has been well-played, particularly if it was by someone who really knows how to play, I can't imagine not being able to tell the difference between one of those and one fresh out of the box.

 

Now, if it had been bought by some joker who played it once or twice and then locked it in a closet, I don't know if I could tell the difference. but then, even if it was a "vintage" axe, it really would still be a "new" axe on every other level. It would just cost more.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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Are we talking sound or feel here?

 

The wear on the finish of the neck on an older instrument makes it feel better to most players and both my friends and I have taken some of the finish off of new necks with steel wool in an attempt to get that feel.

 

It works, folks, but don't try it at home.

 

Many new instruments are coming with necks that have a buffed finish or a very light finish.

 

Of course a new instruments doesn't have all the dings and dents that an old one has...but that can be taken care of.

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

Most wood dries out over time.

 

One of the voodoo claims is that the musical vibrations that the wood of an instrument is exposed to over the years somehow aligns the molecules of the wood.

 

This is why a "closet classic" is not going to sound as good as an instrument that was owned by a player.

 

If the player had a mojo, then the bass would sound even better.

Ha LOL. Like the audiophile guys that buy the 40-50 dollar discs of wood that claim to be able to turn the treble response of a speaker by place the disc on top and turning it one way or another!

 

I do know that the vibrations have an effect. I don't know if it has that effect. I think the mojo of having a cool vint that you like allot is going to have a bigger effect on the sound.

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"I'm sure I could tell the difference"...well, the whole point of the test is that everyone says this, but it's not been tested.

 

I also took this to be about sound, not feel. Feel is a totally different kettle of fish.

 

So let's test the sound issue; I like the idea.

 

The description of the test sounds like it's running several tests together: the test of the sound & the test of the difference. But the first test is to establish whether there IS a difference at all. That's a huge task in itself, so leave the pickup swapping etc. until later.

 

There are, let's say, heaps of variables even there: at minimum, (a) the age of the instrument, (b) how much the instrument has been played, © and the inconsistency of production. You would need to sample old instruments with lots of play, old instruments with little play, & new instruments. I say instrumentS each time, because in each case you need a sampling to account for inconsistencies from one to the next.

 

And all of this is before factoring in any of the pre-/post-CBS issues, in the case of Fenders.

 

It would be good to review the results from an audiophile's perspective, from an experienced bassist's perspective, & digitally.

 

In short--it's time to call Adam & Jamie.

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I know that nowadays people use the expression,"He's got the mojo," but a mojo is an actual ritual object which gives you good luck.

 

For a while I was playing gigs with a real bluesman named Cool Papa. At one point he said, "we're going to play a song called Got My Mojo Workin' and I've got my mojo right here, heh, heh." Then he patted a little bag on his belt.

 

Whew! At that point I realized that this stuff is real.

 

"Keep that thing away from me," I said.

 

I then played the best version of the song I ever played in my life. I was afraid that I'd be struck by lightning if I didn't.

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I gave myself an idea. Mythbusters take ideas submitted to them online. Why don't we send them a letter? Here's a first draft:

 

"There is a huge market in vintage guitars and basses, with instruments often fetching tens of thousands of dollars more than their newly-made counterparts. The prices are high in part because of musical instrument collectors, but also because many players are convinced that the vintage instruments sound (and feel) so much better than new ones. On the other hand, there is anecdotal evidence suggesting that even an inexpensive new instrument can be upgraded to sound vintage. More than that, many makers claim that their new recreations of their older instruments reproduce that vintage vibe, and these do a brisk business. However, none of these claims has ever been tested. Although there is no way to test what sounds good to different people, we believe it would be worthwhile to determine whether appreciable differences in sound and tone between new and vintage instruments could be detected using blind tests.

 

"Amplification and recording gear must be held constant, and the same player must record all samples because the tonal differences from player to player can be very significant. String type, and the instruments string scales, must also be held constant. Other variables are more difficult to account for. For instance, in the case of Fender electric guitars and basses, players have always held that production quality is very inconsistent, so the fact that an instrument is old does not always make it better, and such differences are noticeable in new models, as well. Players also say that the long-term effects of playing change the wood of the instrument, and thus the tone; there is anecdotal evidence, then, suggesting a difference between vintage instruments that have received little play and those that have received much play. Another theory is that the materials and/or the aging of vintage pickups and circuitry makes a difference in sound. Players also claim that there are significant differences between Fender instruments produced before and after Fender was purchased by CBS Instruments. For all these reasons, a wide sampling of instruments would be needed.

 

"We think it would also be important to compare the recordings from multiple points of view: an expert audiophile, an expert player, and a digital analysis.

 

"The first question is whether there is, in general, a noticeable difference in sound between new and vintage instruments of the same type. If there is, it is a further question what accounts for that difference: for instance, if all the instruments ran the same pickups and circuitry, would the differences between them remain?

 

"In short, does vintage really sound different?"

 

Thoughts?

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Originally posted by dnkritr:

I wonder is there really is a difference between Vintage basses and new ones besides the price? I want to compare a Vintage fender and a MIA new fender and have the people here take a poll and see if people can actually tell the difference. I really dont know; there might be a difference and there may not be. However I would like to end this quibbling and subject this to a blind opinion test.

------------------------

If anyone can help me conduct this experiment I would be grateful. First I just want to see if anyone would be interested and if people would actually listen to the sound bites and answer a poll. I do not have a new or old fender. Does anyone have both types that is willing to put them to the test?

--------------------

Proposed Methodology.

Set the 2 basses up the same, neck scale, string height, and any pother things we can collectively think of. Play a very simple part or scale on the vintage bass that goes up the neck. Take the PUPs out and play the same part on the new fender MIA bass (2 reasons for not using MIM, scale length, and the wood is completely different and we are just testing for differences in age and build). This can be played by anyone who has access to these 2 things and be sent to me, I would like a video though just so I can be certain there is confounding variables. Or if I could come to you and record them myself that would be the best situation with the least amount of digital processing. Recording should be done in 32BIT 96K sample rate on both. Only one gain change should be made to each to make them the same volume. And each will be changed once to make sure they go through the same process

I will think of any other variables over the next few days. Please PM me if you have access to these basses and would like to see what happens. Then I will post them in a way that can be listened to in Wav. Format (I will also need help with this because I do not know how or where to do so) I might have a short survey to see how much experience each person has with fender this way if all the fender guys can pick out the correct bass I can run correlation and T-Tests to make sure the none fender experienced players didnt skew the sample.

---------------------------------------

I would also like to do this with monster cables and see if people can actually tell the difference or it is a placebo effect.

 

Please let me know of any concerns or problems with this set up, and I will continue to think about it for a while.

I would appreciate the help.

I tried my best to be clear. Please ask questions on any unclear or confusing parts.

 

P.S. Does anyone think that any guitar companies would be interested in this little experiment? I dont know of any like it.

Jonathan

Am I getting this right?

 

The combos tested would be:

 

vintage bass / vintage pups

 

vintage bass / new pups

 

newer bass / vintage pups

 

newer bass / newer pups

 

Perform the tests both direct in and through a bass rig.

 

I'm about four hours from you and could supply a very good rig to perform the tests through. I think that the biggest confounding factor would be strings. Maybe you could persuade tnb to do the playing since he is a professional and lives near you. Might make a good excuse for a mid-west lowdowners meeting.

 

 

www.ethertonswitch.com

 

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Originally posted by dcr:

I gave myself an idea. Mythbusters take ideas submitted to them online. Why don't we send them a letter? Here's a first draft:

 

"There is a huge market in vintage guitars and basses, with instruments often fetching tens of thousands of dollars more than their newly-made counterparts. The prices are high in part because of musical instrument collectors, but also because many players are convinced that the vintage instruments sound (and feel) so much better than new ones. On the other hand, there is anecdotal evidence suggesting that even an inexpensive new instrument can be upgraded to sound vintage. More than that, many makers claim that their new recreations of their older instruments reproduce that vintage vibe, and these do a brisk business. However, none of these claims has ever been tested. Although there is no way to test what sounds good to different people, we believe it would be worthwhile to determine whether appreciable differences in sound and tone between new and vintage instruments could be detected using blind tests.

 

"Amplification and recording gear must be held constant, and the same player must record all samples because the tonal differences from player to player can be very significant. String type, and the instruments string scales, must also be held constant. Other variables are more difficult to account for. For instance, in the case of Fender electric guitars and basses, players have always held that production quality is very inconsistent, so the fact that an instrument is old does not always make it better, and such differences are noticeable in new models, as well. Players also say that the long-term effects of playing change the wood of the instrument, and thus the tone; there is anecdotal evidence, then, suggesting a difference between vintage instruments that have received little play and those that have received much play. Another theory is that the materials and/or the aging of vintage pickups and circuitry makes a difference in sound. Players also claim that there are significant differences between Fender instruments produced before and after Fender was purchased by CBS Instruments. For all these reasons, a wide sampling of instruments would be needed.

 

"We think it would also be important to compare the recordings from multiple points of view: an expert audiophile, an expert player, and a digital analysis.

 

"The first question is whether there is, in general, a noticeable difference in sound between new and vintage instruments of the same type. If there is, it is a further question what accounts for that difference: for instance, if all the instruments ran the same pickups and circuitry, would the differences between them remain?

 

"In short, does vintage really sound different?"

 

Thoughts?

That's a great idea!

 

 

www.ethertonswitch.com

 

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Originally posted by dnkritr:

Proposed Methodology.

Set the 2 basses up the same, neck scale, string height, and any pother things we can collectively think of.

In principle, I like the idea of a blind test. But two basses, one old and one new, is a ridiculously small sample from which to draw conclusions about "vintage" vs. new basses. You might hear a difference, and you might not, but it would only be the difference between that particular old bass and that particular new bass. You couldn't make any general statements about all vintage vs. all new basses from it.

 

If we had an idea of how many "vintage" basses (say, pre-CBS for a clean, non-debatable "vintage" cut-off date) are in existence, and how many "new" basses there are in existence (oh, say, post 1990) I could go to the Inspection Department at work at look those numbers up in their Sampling Tables. That would tell us how many basses from each group we would need to include for our testing to be statistically meaningful. I'm guessing it would be hundreds from each group.

 

Otherwise, nobody would have confidence in the results. The "vintage" fans would say, "Oh, that one was a closet queen, not A Player, so it wasn't as good as a really Great Vintage bass." And the new bass fans would say, "See, my 2005 Reissue of a 1954 P-Bass is JUST AS GOOD AS THE ORIGINAL."

 

And I think that for the test to be meaningful, just hearing a difference isn't enough. If all the claims of "vintage" fans are true, the majority should be able to recognize the "vintage" sound-- openness, airiness, attitude, ballsiness, what adjective you want to make up.

 

But without a large enough sample for the test to have statistical meaning, I think that it wouldn't do anything more than create more debate.

 

Ed

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And after I posted my response, I see that dcr had made much the same point in his reply concerning Mythbusters-- the sample size needs to be more than one from each group.

 

I find the phrase "anecdotal evidence" to be kind of amusing, though. Which is it-- anecdotal, or evidence?

 

Ed

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I like the Mythbuster's idea. We can get them to test a Cort, a Squire, an Alvarez and a First Act. At the end of the show, Adam and Jamie can blow them up in a microwave full of bug bombs.

 

Lately, I've seen some episodes where they seem oblivious to certian principles of conservation of momentum and inertia, not to mention some other basic principles of physics. Then again, San Fransisco may have repealed some of those laws since I left in 1979.

 

Does a black vintage '60 Jazz play faster than a black new Jazz Deluxe?

 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

 

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