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15" vs 10" = tonewood

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by kesslari, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. kesslari

    kesslari Supporting Member

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    I watch the "what size speakers should I use" or "15's vs 10's vs 12's vs 18's vs Aliens vs Predators" and it dawns on me - speaker size is the "tonewood" argument of the amps forum.

    Does speaker size impact sound the sound of a rig? Does tonewood impact the tone of a bass?

    The answer in both cases is (IMO) "yes, but way less than many other factors - and not enough to outweigh those factors."

    For a bass - amp, speakers, and eq will far outweigh wood choice in the sound you hear. And different pickups, pickup placement, and string choice will also have huge impact, with a host of other factors making other impacts.
    And two different pieces of the same type of wood can have completely different characteristics.
    So while it is possible to build several identical guitars such as to show the tonal difference between types of wood, in the real world that is relatively moot, and it is also possible to build several guitars to completely mask/negate/confound the sound of the wood involved.

    For speakers - two different speakers of the same size can have completely different characteristics. And box design will have a much bigger impact on the sound you hear than the size of the speaker, while other factors (xmax, etc etc and etc) will have huge impact, more than the physical size of the speaker.
    And it is possible to build cabs that make different speakers sound different, and possible to build cabs that make the same speakers (let alone the same size speakers) sound radically different, or to make different size speakers sound pretty much the same.

    And regardless, there will always be those who hear with their eyes, and who say "Dude, I can totally tell <insert tonewood or speaker size here> when I hear it, and I can tell the difference between <wood or speaker size 1> and <wood or speaker size 2>.
  2. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Gold Supporting Member

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    +1. should be tattooed onto inner eyelids of all TBers (IMHO of course)
  3. Smurf-o-Deth

    Smurf-o-Deth

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    No! Nononononononononononooooooooooooooooooooooo! Music is magic that rides a unicorn into my ears!
  4. christw

    christw Always searching for the right Ric... Supporting Member

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    Hah! Thank you. I needed that laugh this morning.
  5. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Gold Supporting Member

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    ROFLMAO!!
  6. greenboy

    greenboy

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    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
  7. Chrisk-K

    Chrisk-K

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    According to Alembic, the type of body wood hardly makes any noticeable tonal difference. According to them, what makes a difference among basses is (1) the neck wood type and (2) electronics. The bridge makes a subtle difference.
  8. kesslari

    kesslari Supporting Member

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    In a sense that proves my point... "hardly makes any noticeable tonal difference". Which is different both from "makes no tonal difference" and "is the most important factor in determining tone".
    Same as speaker size... :D

    Aside - someone way smarter than me once commented that you could think of a scale of luthiery goals regarding wood and electronics.
    At one end you have Alembic, where the goal is to highlight the tonal contribution of the electronics, and the choice of woods, while beautiful, contribute less to that sound.
    At the other end - Mike Tobias, where the electronics are well selected but the goal is to maximize the contribution of the woods used - and people definitely notice the difference in wood combinations in MTD basses.

    I don't think there is a really similar parallel in speaker cabinet design, but as always, I could be wrong...
  9. cjmodulus

    cjmodulus

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    sig'd.
    edit- dang. too long :(
  10. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice

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    That's wrong, so much so that I question the quote. Most tonal differences are attributable to the body material. Les Paul figured that out long before Alembic even existed. It's why you can try ten P Basses and all ten sound different.
  11. BigOldHarry

    BigOldHarry

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    Hmmm... So you're saying that the difference in sound from equal quality 10" and 15" speakers is imagined, eh?

    Okay....
  12. greenboy

    greenboy

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    Some proponents of neck-through designs say the wings contribute a lot less there, than the neck though. I haven't heard too many say it's practically non-existent though - at least not as a longstanding overarching statement.
  13. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Gold Supporting Member

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    Pickups, pre, strings make so much more difference than body wood as to render it backround noise. Then there's the fact that different pieces of the same wood type can have different densities and resonant properties, so attributing reliable characteristics to 1 wood type is unreliable (that's what makes me laugh the most----ooh Victa would sound so much better if he played a Koa bass) . Fingerboard and neck woods matter, but again, change the necks on a bolt on bass, then close your eyes while you listen to 100 samples and best of luck telling the difference in a quiet room, let alone in a mix. I only know 2 luthiers personally, 1 of whom is renowned in the acoustic guitar world, and both agree with this as it applies to solidbody instruments.
  14. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

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    The Les Paul analogy is a pretty good one, although it includes thickness of wood in addition to wood type.

    I've also noticed that playing with my thumb sounds fuller and different than playing with my fingers. I sometimes wonder why that doesn't come into the discussion on tone.

    And cabinet placement makes a huge difference in the sound coming out of the speakers, but that doesn't get much attention either.

    I'm less sure about how much the type of wood contributes to a solid body sound. I'd guess that it has some, but how do you measure that amount without some sort of A/B test?
    I do know (from building drums) that the different species have different sonic qualities that can be heard. But a drum shell resonates more than solid body bass or guitar, so my guess is that it's a much smaller amount of the overall sound than on a drum.

    Question: How does Tobias maximize the wood's contribution to the overall sound more?
  15. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Gold Supporting Member

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    I should clarify -wood makes a difference, I just do not believe it makes one that is significant or whose nature can be predicted based on the type of wood.
  16. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

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    And another factor in determining how much sound difference you might hear would be how many decibels of sound the rest of the band is generating. A small jazz band might notice nuances that a loud band would not.
    I do know that wood types have a characteristic sound, but if the wood's overall contribution is a small enough factor in the overall sound, then the wood's type would get lost in the result.
  17. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Gold Supporting Member

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    Box and other details matter more. PJB makes cabs that reproduce very low frq with 5 inch drivers. Schroeder puts 15 inchers in small boxes which gooses the mids and negates some lows. Most 410s go lower than most 115s etc etc etc
  18. BigOldHarry

    BigOldHarry

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    But the box is rather native to the driver, as you really don't put a 10" driver into a 15" cab, right? And to try to judge the difference of drivers outside of a cab is equally impossible - they just won't sound like much.

    When I bought my current cabs, I side-by-sided them with the same make/line of 12"s and 15"s - I could hear a distinct difference between each cab, so I selected the 10's and haven't really looked back.
  19. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

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    I think the biggest confusion here and in all these discussions is the 'across brands versus within brands'. With speaker size, I totally agree that it is meaningless to discuss the 'sound of 10 versus 12 versus 15' in general across brands. Some company's 210 cabs are much deeper voiced than another company's 15. One company's 112 might be thin and midrangey, and another company's 110 cab can sound huge down low.

    However, WITHIN a cab line of a single company, the old descriptions of 10's, 12's and 15's often hold true. Whether talking about Eden, Bergantino, GK, SWR, whatever, when you compare the 10 loaded cabs with the 12 loaded cabs with the 15 loaded cabs, you often hear exactly what many describe as the sound of 10's, the sound of 12's and the sound of 15's in relation to each cab WITHIN THAT LINE.

    Useless to discuss across companies, or even across different cab lines within companies, but the old cliche's actually do often hold water within a given cab line. Play a Bergantino NV412, 610 and 215 (all sealed cabs) and you will hear what I'm talking about (as an example).

    To continue with the 'sub OT' discussion on bass wood, there is much more within wood type variance there, but again, WITHIN manufacture, some of the old cliche's about rosewood being warmer, maple being snappier up top, ash being bigger down low, alder behind more low mid present, do hold up at least somewhat when you hold most other things constant (i.e., again, within a given product line, like Fender J's or Sadowsky Vintage basses, etc.).

    IMO, and lots of IME on this one.
  20. Boostedrex

    Boostedrex

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    If I'm understanding the OP's point of view, then not exactly. What I think he's saying (and I would 110% agree) is that there is no "10" sound" or "15" sound" per se. You can build the cab to be more bottom heavy or more mid pronounced. The size of the driver used will only affect the frequency where beaming starts to become a factor. From 400-500Hz on down any size driver can sound identical if the cabinet design is implemented properly.

    Just like people who swear neo drivers sound different from ceramic motor drivers due to the type of material used in the motors. 100% psycho-acoustics.

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