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Steve Vai's "Pavlovian Wood Resonation Theory"

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ground Pounder, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. On the DVD that came with my new issue of Guitar World, Steve Vai does a gear walkthrough in the studio. When asked about his famous Ibanez Gems, EVO and FLO, Steve goes into his theory about neck and body resonation relationships.

    Steve taps the neck, demonstrating the "thud" tonality of the neck, then does the same on the body. His theory is that guitars that are built with necks and bodies that resonate in fourths and fifths seem to create a more organic-sounding sustain through the resonation, than a guitar which resonates in tritones or minor 2nds, or other unnatural intervals.

    I got intrigued by this, so of course, I grabbed out all my guitars and basses and checked, as best I could, the intervals from neck tone to body tone:


    90's Fender Jazz - minor third
    '05 Dean Metalman V - perfect fourth
    '05 Dean Metalman ML - major sixth
    '04 Schecter Stilleto Custom - somewhere between the major third and perfect fourth


    '73 Les Paul Custom - perfect fifth
    '01 Fernandes Revolver Pro - major third
    '96 Ibanez Sabre - minor sixth
    '03 Schecter Omen 6 - minor sixth

    So what does this all mean? I'm not really sure... but it's an interesting theory, nonetheless..

    (And it also proves again that shredders are just geeks with lone hair.)
  2. interesting. lemme check my basses.
  3. 82Daion


    Nov 14, 2006
    The Daion resonates as a major 3rd.


    Not sure if it really means anything.
  4. Actually... this is very interesting... have you ever played a double bass close to a piano with the sustain pedal activated?

    It's a freakin' awesome experience... you can actually see the strings that have simpathy and the whole room creates a huge resonator... I don''t see why this couldn't happen with solid body instruments.
  5. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Except that depending on where a neck is tapped (and body, actually) it would sound differently, so what's the point?

    When you strike a string, is it producing the same resonant effect in the wood as rapping it with your fist? No. Hhhmmm.
  6. The thing is that, simpatetic vibrations could make the whole guitar vibrate better, have more sustain, clarity, etc... This could actually be part of the answer to do better tight B strings and articulate sounding basses.
  7. 82Daion


    Nov 14, 2006
    You can find nodes that produce one or two strong, defined pitches, however-much like harmonics, in a way.

    Whether this could actually solve anything is doubtful, but it's interesting nonetheless.
  8. The Penguin

    The Penguin duplicate account violation Inactive

    Jun 21, 2006
    I'm not pelagic
    But if he didn't take the neck off the guitar before he tapped he's actually not measuring them separately but simply tapping on different places on a single object. But I guess we could always use more magic tone myths... As long as no steel drum players walk we can decide this is true.
  9. How do you use a bass? in pieces?
  10. The Penguin

    The Penguin duplicate account violation Inactive

    Jun 21, 2006
    I'm not pelagic
    Of course not, but Steve didn't check it in pieces so it's foolish to say he was listening to different parts of things. Before this becomes another scene from Life of Brian ask a drummer if he can change the pitch of a drum by where he strikes it. The more we learn about science the less we need to rely on myths.
  11. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    :meh: My right knuckle makes the bass resonate at a minor 3rd, but my left knuckle makes a perfect 4th!

    Does this mean that I need to start playing left handed :confused: ?

  12. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I think the physics concept of thinking of the bass as a "system" may be helpful here. It's the combination of neck/body/strings/hardware that will have characteristic resonant frequencies that affect what you hear when you play it - or clout it one, for that matter. :)
  13. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    As I pointed out in another thread just now, it's a LACK of sympathetic vibrations that will make an instrument sustain more.
  14. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I'm not sure what Classical Conditioning ("Pavlovian") has to do with what he's trying to explain. Maybe he just needed to throw an important sounding word in there to make himself feel better.
  15. My .60 and 1.0mm picks resonate at a fourth, while my 1.14s vibrate at a minor second. Does that mean when playing pickstyle I should dump my Dunlop Tortex purples? :smug:
  16. The Hammer

    The Hammer

    Jul 13, 2004
    maybe its because this will make all the gear geeks salivate?:)
  17. mark beem

    mark beem Wait, how does this song start again?? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    That made my head asplode.... :meh:
  18. TrooperFarva


    Nov 25, 2004
    New City, NY
    I'd say a larger concern is the fact that you only have 2 knuckles, one on each hand. Are you like one of those side-show lobster people?
  19. jtc_hunter


    Feb 16, 2007
    I would like to know what Bill Fitzmorice thinks.
  20. Thunderwood


    Mar 20, 2007
    Delafield, WI
    hmm interesting thread. What about a graphite neck?

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