Modern players-tone-proximity to the sound hole

edited April 2016 in Technique Posts: 4,804
I don't know but maybe I'm stating the obvious here.
It really is very obvious when you look at it, but I was blind to it until this morning when the bulb went off on my drive to work.

I was listening to Remi Harris in a car.
I love his tone.
Other players that have partially similar quality to their tone, and I'm going of the top of my head, are Adrien Moignard, Gonzalo Bergara, Koran Agan. All of them have heavenly tone.

All use the rest stroke but they also have this percussive, snappy tone from their single notes.
Even when they play high speed runs, it's there.
And I wondered how do I try to get this tone myself?

Then I realized that with all of them, their picking hand is sound hole biased. It's closer to the sound hole than the bridge.
Opposed to for example Joscho Stephan, who has more bridge biased position. And his tone reflects that too.

So playing closer to the sound hole where the strings are kinda looser, or would you say have less tension, you can get more of that snap when using rest stroke. It won't come without practice of course and I still didn't test this, I'll see what I come up with tonight when I get home.
But it's the place to start experimenting.

So, to how many of you was this always obvious and you were aware of it and vice versa?
Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel


  • terrassierterrassier France
    Posts: 101
    Yes I noticed this too - I like the slightly softer tone.......... it might be frowned on though ;)
  • rob.cuellarirob.cuellari ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 114
    closer to bridge, closer to banjo :D
  • Posts: 4,804
    Also, too close to the neck: flattop.
    These are small differences what I'm talking about.
    Common wisdom recommends somewhere between the bridge and the sound hole.
    But which direction you err can have a pretty big effect on tone.

    I did a flash practice and I like what I'm hearing when erring towards the sound hole, it's just that now I have to retrain myself where to rest my arm.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • IMO for every guitar there is a sweet spot where the tone is at its combined best. Closer to the bridge gets a more percussive less rich tone and further up toward the nut gets a more ho
    Low maybe or mellow tone. Both of these positions are to my mind special effects areas
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Posts: 4,804
    For example
    Gonzalo at 1:10

    Or Koran at 1:45

    This is Adrien with Gonzalo, Adrien is occasionally moving over the hole but mostly stays in close proximity of the sound hole, look at 50s

    Remi as well is often over the sound hole, 1m35s for example

    Also they mostly play rhythm over the sound hole.
    Which I started recently following that video of William Brunard.

    These players also seem to grip the pick just barely so it doesn't fly out of their fingers. But the attack is there in spades.

    This theory only works though if I find examples of top players who play behind the sound hole or are bridge biased and produce a different tone. I looked at Stochelo last night too and he's everywhere, depending on tempo and the type of song and his tone is always Stochelo.
    Joscho, as I mentioned is an easy example of the other side of coin.

    I'll post more as I find good examples.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Agree with Jay about sweet spot. Also what sounds sweet to me may sound crappy to you! I don't like the tone or feel of traditional GJ bridge picking, except when playing rhythm, where I consciuosly pick closer to it! But nor do I play over sound hole when soloing like I would on my Martin.
  • Posts: 4,804
    rgrice wrote: »
    traditional GJ bridge picking

    But that's just it, there's this common wisdom but when you look closer, how many are really hanging around the bridge?
    Towards, closer and over the sound hole seems more common.

    Even with Stochelo and Angelo but I'm still looking for time to find a good examples with a camera shooting straight into a strumming hand.

    I'm gonna go after those above guys tone and moving my arm closer and above the sound hole looks like a starting point.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • I suspect that most of the top guys play where they like the tone the best...and that is likely going to be somewhere in the sweet range which will vary from guitar to guitar a bit

    My experience on the GJ guitars I Have played the tone really starts to get that hollow?? (Not sure what words to describe sul tasto on guitar) sound at the fretboard end of the sound hole and the crisper high freq emphasis of sul ponticello within a few inches of the bridge.

    I use sul tasto on my DuPont on ballads and bossas as it tends to be a pretty crisp and bright sounding guitar
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • richter4208richter4208 ✭✭✭
    Posts: 527
    I've also seen Gonzalo pick exactly opposite what you are describing. When I saw him play several years ago he was playing for near the bridge with a great quacky tone, or banjo like. Maybe he stopped doing that as much? I'm sure he is the sort that can use either to his advantage.
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    edited April 2016 Posts: 1,459
    If you like the sound at the bridge position, you might call it 'bright', if you don't like it you might call it 'harsh'. If you like the neck position you might call the sound 'round', if you don't like it you might call it 'weak' or bland.

    When you want the bridge tone, you play near the bridge, and when you want the round tone you can move towards the neck. There is no one right place, and you might use both extremes, and anything in between, depending on the sound you want - even changing position in the same song.

    The physics is interesting: a guitar string doesn't only vibrate at the fundamental mode, which is the simplest mode of vibration that is looking like a skipping rope. It's actually a superposition of all the difference vibration modes - the overtones. The difference in sound is because a string displaced (i.e. plucked) near the end node (i.e. playing near the bridge) will have more of the energy going in the higher modes of vibration, and it will sound more like a harpsichord (or a cymbal in the extreme). Conversely, the string plucked closer to the center will have more energy in the lower modes and it will sound more like a classical guitar (or a recorder in the extreme).

    All the great players mentioned here are I'm sure aware of this, and able to adjust technique left or right for whatever sound they desired at the time. The most popular with the pros, as far as I have seen, is a position picking at the rear vertex of the soundhole on a petite bouche instrument - as pictured below.

    Straying too far forwards or backwards of that position is generally only used briefly for special effects. One thing I have noticed is a lot of guys move the pick back towards the bridge when doing a tremolo picking thing - I think it's because the strings displace less there so they feel tighter, and the technique is easier. You can hear Django doing this too, both with chords and that thing he does where he frets a 5th fret and the consecutive open string at the same time and tremolo picks it really fast.

    BucojonpowlCharles MeadowsadrianScoredog
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