I did something terrible, and it was sort of by accident. Originally, I was not going to talk about this. It was meant more as a personal experiment, but I do think it is interesting and worth discussing, so I am going to do that anyway, hopefully it won’t offend anyone too much.
In especially YouTube comments, but also other places like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, I often get questions about my choice of guitar. A lot of that is positive, which is great, and of course, some people don’t like it, which is fine as well, but there is another category of people who seem to question or even criticize my choice of guitar since I play a semi-hollow 99% of the time. Keep in mind that I have been on the internet for a long time, and this is not something that really bothers me, but that was always a very odd reaction to me and it made me curious. The comments would be asking why I am not using the Gibson ES175 as my main instrument, since that is a “real” jazz guitar or why I “settle” for a semi hollow guitar when I could also use an archtop. With those kind of questions it was often clear that my guitar was inferior to a “real” jazz guitar. And that is the reason why I ended up with this experiment. Which started with a YouTube Short and TikTok video that didn’t have anything to do with all of that.
The 3 Guitars Video
A few weeks ago, at the very beginning of 2023 I posted this YouTube short , where I compare the sound of 3 of my guitars.
My original idea was to record Straight No Chaser, and a chorus of comping on each of the guitars and then just cut from one guitar to the next. While I was doing that then I realized how close they sounded, and I mean they sounded very very similar I’ll let you hear it in a bit. It was difficult for me to tell them apart.
That gave me the idea to try something else. I redid the recordings, and I decided to play the same comping chorus with all guitars so that I could switch around audio and video without anyone noticing.
For me, personally: If I didn’t know it was 3 different guitars then I would maybe not even notice and just think it was one guitar, I really think they sound that similar. Which was also what a lot of people said in the comments.
And keep in mind that the video and the audio on these still don’t match, so when you are seeing the 175 then you not hearing that guitar, I will tell you what is what later in the video, and also add some other guitars to the mix just to figure this out.
All Jazz Sounds The Same
Maybe it is a bit rude of me to trick you guys like this without a warning, and my original plan was of course to never tell you about it, I just wanted to know if anyone could tell. And it was a bit like the fairytale “of the Emperors new clothes”because nobody really could. But then I was watching some Glenn Fricker videos, a Canadian YouTuber who I find very entertaining and watch quite often, but keep in mind that he is a Metal recording engineer, so it may not be everybody’s cup of tea. He has been making a series of videos on guitars and pickups and how that doesn’t really matter. It is almost as if he is trying to prove that all metal sounds the same, though I am not sure that is the conclusion he is hoping to reach. However that did make me think that maybe I was also just proving that in terms of sound then it doesn’t matter that much what guitar you play, because they pretty much sound the same, it is much more about how the guitar responds to your playing and how you react to that which is important and the sound is not really changing. But I will show compare 5 of my guitars later in this video so that you can make up your mind for yourself.
Going Against Expectations?
It is interesting how the mind works with this, when I posted the video I did say not to listen with your eyes, and I’ll return to that later. I guess it is a bit like eating blue food, even if it tastes the same then you don’t really want to eat it, because it looks strange. And in that way, we also listen with our eyes, and if all your heroes play big archtop guitars then that is also what you want to hear, or in this case see.
Which was also clearly the response in the comments, most people preferred the sound of #1 which was the video of the ES175, with a few people even getting into odd comments that go with that territory like “natural resonance”, “organic depth”, or “warm complexity”. You can probably tell that I am bit skeptical with those ways of describing the sound, especially since they don’t really say anything about how it sounds. But it is of course nice that so many people love the sound of my Ibanez, which is also what I play in most videos, because that is the guitar playing when you see the ES175.
A side-note: Listening With Your Eyes
The term “Listening with your eyes” was something I learned on the fractal forum when I was still active over there and working on getting the sound I wanted out of my AxeFX. A very common problem was that people would set amps up in the way that they were used to, but not actually listening to how it sounded and reacting to that, so complaining that there was too much bass on the Fender Deluxe model, but still having the bass on 6 or 7 because it shouldn’t be necessary to turn it down, and the response was almost always “if there is too much bass then why don’t you just turn it down, that is what you are hearing and that is what the bass control is for” And that stuck with me: don’t limit yourself to what “is reasonable” or “to be expected” you just listen and dial. It takes away the “emperor’s new clothes factor, which is practical.
Unexpected Guitar Choices
Before I get into comparing guitars, then I want to just talk a bit about how a certain sound is sometimes associated with a certain guitar, but that is not always how it actually works.
If you don’t know it then you most likely won’t realize that Ed Bickert or Lorne Lofsky play solid body guitars, I guess I am talking a lot about Canadian guitarists today. And I was also really surprised that Wah Wah Watson plays what I think is an L5, but if I listen to him then my ears would be quicker to suggest that he played a Tele. I reacted the same to James Browns guitarists who often play semi-hollows and not fenders because that is what I thoguht it sounded like. At the same time, would Stevie Ray Vaughan sound THAT different if he played a tele or maybe a Les Paul? Ulf Wakenius is very often playing a Les Paul which I believe is a Japanese copy not a Gibson.
The Problem With Jazz-Tone on a Solid-body
Though the SG1000 pushes the amp a bit. In general, the problem I always found with getting a solid body to sound more like a hollowbody or a semihollow is that you can only cut frequencies not add them, and you very quickly run the risk of making the sound muddy with a solid-body because you take a way high-end with the tone knob when you actually want to boost the low end. Probably an EQ pedal would be a better solution but that is for another video.
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