Discussion:
Mellower tone?
(too old to reply)
Tony Done
2013-10-16 22:18:11 UTC
Permalink
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.

Thanks.
--
Tony Done

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456

http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
Tony Done
2013-10-16 22:22:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
Oops, wrong group. But if anyone has any ideas......
--
Tony Done

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456

http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
jtees4
2013-10-17 15:04:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
Let me start by saying I know NOTHING about these guitars. I think
we're talking 100% acousitc...so I would say...is it possible that
there are other types of strings that could change the sound? I'm
thinking coated or something less metallic?




*************
Some of my music:
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=789610
Tony Done
2013-10-17 21:00:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by jtees4
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
Let me start by saying I know NOTHING about these guitars. I think
we're talking 100% acousitc...so I would say...is it possible that
there are other types of strings that could change the sound? I'm
thinking coated or something less metallic?
*************
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=789610
And Rich. Thanks for the suggestions. Picking position doesn't make
sufficient difference - I'm looking for something that sounds like
Cassandra Wilson. Different string types has also been suggested in the
acoustic group - old string, flatwound, coated - and detuning a bit. I
have a idea that something thick sounding would be the answer, say nylon
tone with the mass and tension of medium acoustic steel strings. I don't
think such things exist.
--
Tony Done

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456

http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
e***@yahoo.com
2013-10-17 21:28:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
Post by jtees4
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
Let me start by saying I know NOTHING about these guitars. I think
we're talking 100% acousitc...so I would say...is it possible that
there are other types of strings that could change the sound? I'm
thinking coated or something less metallic?
*************
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=789610
And Rich. Thanks for the suggestions. Picking position doesn't make
sufficient difference - I'm looking for something that sounds like
Cassandra Wilson. Different string types has also been suggested in the
acoustic group - old string, flatwound, coated - and detuning a bit. I
have a idea that something thick sounding would be the answer, say nylon
tone with the mass and tension of medium acoustic steel strings. I don't
think such things exist.
--
Tony Done
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456
http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
Fill it with cotton. e
Tony Done
2013-10-17 22:23:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Post by Tony Done
Post by jtees4
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
Let me start by saying I know NOTHING about these guitars. I think
we're talking 100% acousitc...so I would say...is it possible that
there are other types of strings that could change the sound? I'm
thinking coated or something less metallic?
*************
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=789610
And Rich. Thanks for the suggestions. Picking position doesn't make
sufficient difference - I'm looking for something that sounds like
Cassandra Wilson. Different string types has also been suggested in the
acoustic group - old string, flatwound, coated - and detuning a bit. I
have a idea that something thick sounding would be the answer, say nylon
tone with the mass and tension of medium acoustic steel strings. I don't
think such things exist.
--
Tony Done
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456
http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
Fill it with cotton. e
<g> I think you're confusing mellow with dead. Listen to some Cassandra
Wilson.
--
Tony Done

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456

http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
RichL
2013-10-17 22:36:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
<g> I think you're confusing mellow with dead. Listen to some Cassandra
Wilson.
Is there a specific song you have in mind that would illustrate what you're
looking for?

I did a YouTube search on Wilson. I restricted it to live performances,
because in studio recordings you never know how much post-processing is
added to instrumental tracks to "sculpt" the tone.

Unfortunately in most of what I've found so far she's not playing an
instrument, and her backing musicians vary from one clip to the next and are
playing different types of guitars.

In the one live clip I've found so far that features her playing, she's
playing a classical guitar. That to me seems consistent with your
description.
Tony Done
2013-10-17 22:41:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by RichL
Post by Tony Done
<g> I think you're confusing mellow with dead. Listen to some
Cassandra Wilson.
Is there a specific song you have in mind that would illustrate what
you're looking for?
I did a YouTube search on Wilson. I restricted it to live performances,
because in studio recordings you never know how much post-processing is
added to instrumental tracks to "sculpt" the tone.
Unfortunately in most of what I've found so far she's not playing an
instrument, and her backing musicians vary from one clip to the next and
are playing different types of guitars.
In the one live clip I've found so far that features her playing, she's
playing a classical guitar. That to me seems consistent with your
description.
<g> I was thinking of her voice (like dark chocolate), apologies for the
confusion. Eg "Death letter".
--
Tony Done

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456

http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
benj
2013-10-18 02:26:09 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 18 Oct 2013 08:23:31 +1000, Tony Done wrote:
.
Post by Tony Done
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Fill it with cotton. e
<g> I think you're confusing mellow with dead. Listen to some Cassandra
Wilson.
Heh. I was going to say shove foam under the strings... :-)

But I see you are wanting to keep the sustain but change the tone. This
means strings, pickups or post-processing. The ultimate would be a
modeling DSP but I'm not sure anyone has done such a thing for lap
steels. Might experiment with modeling pedals for acoustics though.

If it were me, as a first cut I'd shove the output through one of my
graphic equalizers to try to get a handle on what EQ would get closest to
the tone I wanted.
Tony Done
2013-10-18 05:02:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by benj
.
Post by Tony Done
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Fill it with cotton. e
<g> I think you're confusing mellow with dead. Listen to some Cassandra
Wilson.
Heh. I was going to say shove foam under the strings... :-)
But I see you are wanting to keep the sustain but change the tone. This
means strings, pickups or post-processing. The ultimate would be a
modeling DSP but I'm not sure anyone has done such a thing for lap
steels. Might experiment with modeling pedals for acoustics though.
If it were me, as a first cut I'd shove the output through one of my
graphic equalizers to try to get a handle on what EQ would get closest to
the tone I wanted.
<g> I think I could fix it if it was amplified, using EQ as you suggest,
but this is the acoustic sound that I'm trying to modify. One option I
just tried was reducing the soundhole size; I used a cd and bit of
sticky tape. The body of a guitar is a Helmholtz resonator, so making
the soundhole smaller lowers the air resonance pitch of the body - think
ocarina. The effect was promising, the hard bright edge was reduced. I
might make something prettier that includes a pickup or buy one of those
nice looking lute hole thingies.

Any other suggestion would be welcome though.
--
Tony Done

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456

http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
benj
2013-10-19 00:43:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
<g> I think I could fix it if it was amplified, using EQ as you suggest,
but this is the acoustic sound that I'm trying to modify. One option I
just tried was reducing the soundhole size; I used a cd and bit of
sticky tape. The body of a guitar is a Helmholtz resonator, so making
the soundhole smaller lowers the air resonance pitch of the body - think
ocarina. The effect was promising, the hard bright edge was reduced. I
might make something prettier that includes a pickup or buy one of those
nice looking lute hole thingies.
Any other suggestion would be welcome though.
Oh, you are talking about a Hawaiian guitar. I wouldn't call that a "lap
steel". I'm not sure how to mellow that out. Reducing the sound hole size
does lower the note of the body which give a hint of a deeper tone but
really doesn't roll off the highs. I was recently playing around with
changing the sound hole size of a Fender acoustic guitar I was working
on. (bought it for $20 with some cracks that I glued). It doesn't change
the tone that much. The low notes sound deeper though.

You might try stuffing some fiberglass batting or cotton over the sound
hole but I think most of the brightness comes from the top. That means
what you really need to do is put some sort of rubber or absorbing
material between the bridge and the top to block highs. But on a normal
guitar the bridge is glued on the wood so that ain't gonna happen. Maybe
a rubber strip under the saddle if it uses one? Glue lead sheets to the
top of the guitar? I don't know. I'm just free-associating now! :-)
Tony Done
2013-10-19 07:19:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by benj
Post by Tony Done
<g> I think I could fix it if it was amplified, using EQ as you suggest,
but this is the acoustic sound that I'm trying to modify. One option I
just tried was reducing the soundhole size; I used a cd and bit of
sticky tape. The body of a guitar is a Helmholtz resonator, so making
the soundhole smaller lowers the air resonance pitch of the body - think
ocarina. The effect was promising, the hard bright edge was reduced. I
might make something prettier that includes a pickup or buy one of those
nice looking lute hole thingies.
Any other suggestion would be welcome though.
Oh, you are talking about a Hawaiian guitar. I wouldn't call that a "lap
steel". I'm not sure how to mellow that out. Reducing the sound hole size
does lower the note of the body which give a hint of a deeper tone but
really doesn't roll off the highs. I was recently playing around with
changing the sound hole size of a Fender acoustic guitar I was working
on. (bought it for $20 with some cracks that I glued). It doesn't change
the tone that much. The low notes sound deeper though.
You might try stuffing some fiberglass batting or cotton over the sound
hole but I think most of the brightness comes from the top. That means
what you really need to do is put some sort of rubber or absorbing
material between the bridge and the top to block highs. But on a normal
guitar the bridge is glued on the wood so that ain't gonna happen. Maybe
a rubber strip under the saddle if it uses one? Glue lead sheets to the
top of the guitar? I don't know. I'm just free-associating now! :-)
I like the idea of a different saddle. In typical kona fashion it used a
piece a fretwire as a saddle and could easily be replaced with something
the dimensions of, say, a satay stick.

I bought one one of those fancy lute hole covers today, and it has a
foam backing under the patterned top. I can experiment with different
size holes in the backing, and it will be near-invisble from the top.
--
Tony Done

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456

http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
e***@yahoo.com
2013-10-18 13:27:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Post by Tony Done
Post by jtees4
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
Let me start by saying I know NOTHING about these guitars. I think
we're talking 100% acousitc...so I would say...is it possible that
there are other types of strings that could change the sound? I'm
thinking coated or something less metallic?
*************
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=789610
And Rich. Thanks for the suggestions. Picking position doesn't make
sufficient difference - I'm looking for something that sounds like
Cassandra Wilson. Different string types has also been suggested in the
acoustic group - old string, flatwound, coated - and detuning a bit. I
have a idea that something thick sounding would be the answer, say nylon
tone with the mass and tension of medium acoustic steel strings. I don't
think such things exist.
--
Tony Done
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456
http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
Fill it with cotton. e
<g> I think you're confusing mellow with dead. Listen to some Cassandra
Wilson.
--
Tony Done
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456
http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
Change the EQ on your hearing aid?? (just kiddin)- ed
RichL
2013-10-17 17:39:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for the
gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a bit?
Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP phos
bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural reasons.
Thanks.
I assume that tonal changes induced simply by plucking the strings farther
away from the bridge aren't enough to cut it?
LULU
2013-10-18 14:24:47 UTC
Permalink
Use an old cotton t-shirt to "absorb" some of the brightness. Cut the t-shirt into several pieces and place them into the soundhole until you reach a level of brightness that you like. The fabric won't "deaden" the sound as much as you might think. Don't knock it until you've tried it. This is an interesting technique to try with a hollow-bodied instrument and a soundhole pickup.

Good luck,
Lulu : )
e***@yahoo.com
2013-10-18 14:59:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
--
Tony Done
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456
http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
AhhhHaa. try a felt pick !!! .. ed


http://www.guitarcenter.com/Dunlop-Standard-Felt-Guitar-Picks---1-Dozen-110302-i1165082.gc
gonjah
2013-10-18 15:23:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
--
Tony Done
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456
http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
AhhhHaa. try a felt pick !!! .. ed
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Dunlop-Standard-Felt-Guitar-Picks---1-Dozen-110302-i1165082.gc
That's what I was thinking but he maybe using finger picks. If that's
the case, try different ones?

http://www.jimdunlop.com/products/guitar-picks

That or change stings? Both picks and strings?

The picks are a cheap place to start.

IMO: It's just the nature of the instrument. Try another approach.
Tony Done
2013-10-18 21:48:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by gonjah
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
--
Tony Done
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456
http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
AhhhHaa. try a felt pick !!! .. ed
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Dunlop-Standard-Felt-Guitar-Picks---1-Dozen-110302-i1165082.gc
That's what I was thinking but he maybe using finger picks. If that's
the case, try different ones?
http://www.jimdunlop.com/products/guitar-picks
That or change stings? Both picks and strings?
The picks are a cheap place to start.
IMO: It's just the nature of the instrument. Try another approach.
I'm a nail picker. <g> And Ed's felt pick would be a good deal less
painful than a plastic one for what I think he should do with it.
--
Tony Done

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456

http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
e***@yahoo.com
2013-10-21 19:53:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
Post by gonjah
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
--
Tony Done
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456
http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
AhhhHaa. try a felt pick !!! .. ed
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Dunlop-Standard-Felt-Guitar-Picks---1-Dozen-110302-i1165082.gc
That's what I was thinking but he maybe using finger picks. If that's
the case, try different ones?
http://www.jimdunlop.com/products/guitar-picks
That or change stings? Both picks and strings?
The picks are a cheap place to start.
IMO: It's just the nature of the instrument. Try another approach.
I'm a nail picker. <g> And Ed's felt pick would be a good deal less
painful than a plastic one for what I think he should do with it.
--
Tony Done
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456
http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
If you gonna go that direction I suggest you shove that felt pick in your ear..
ed
Tony Done
2013-10-21 20:20:02 UTC
Permalink
http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
Post by e***@yahoo.com
If you gonna go that direction I suggest you shove that felt pick in your ear..
ed
Now that's a better idea.
--
Tony Done

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456

http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
Tony Done
2013-10-22 01:15:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
I have an all-sapele (I think) kona lap steel that doesn't get played as
much as is should because it sounds too bloody bright and cheerful for
the gloomy stuff I like to play. Any suggestions for mellowing it down a
bit? Reduce soundhole size maybe? O-port? I'm currently using 13-56 JP
phos bronze strings, and don't want to go any heavier for structural
reasons.
Thanks.
Just a follow up. I've bought a cheap fancy (the lute hole style)
soundhole cover with a foam backing and cut a hole about 1 3/4"across in
the backing. I played it this morning, trying to learn some Jerry
Douglas stuff. It was substantially less strident than before, and more
pleasant for practicing in a quiet environment.
--
Tony Done

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=784456

http://www.flickr.com/photos/done_family/
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