• Adam Chan

This guitar sounds majestic! What is that?

Sound, noise, music, tone, etc. They are different to our ears but they are common in fundamentals. They are all vibration energy. Everybody wants his / her guitar to sounds good. Without new technology to replace our ability to hear and discern sounds, our ears are the only tool to differentiate what are good sounds and what are not. Are most people discerning about sounds?


In a certain guitar shop I witnessed an interesting sales process. A customer test playing an acoustic guitar and the shop sales guy watched on by. I was browsing around and listening to the guitar being played. It was a good sounding guitar to me.


The customer who test played the guitar asked the shop sales for comments regarding the sound. In these words the shop sales guy said,"This guitar sounds majestic and it suits you." Wow… I was trying understand what that actually meant.

I began to comprehend the ways our ears listen to sounds through building guitars. While I stand on no scientific verifications, my comprehension was based on my field experiences and observations in my line of work.


Specifically for guitars, our body would pickup the low frequencies tone, a.k.a. bass notes. Generally we are able to feel bass notes as though it is going through our body. It wasn't loudness of bass notes but it was how these notes have made us feel. The next range of frequencies would be the high notes. They can cut through other frequencies and get in our faces pretty quickly. Generally we described high notes as sharp, piercing, bright, etc. Right after that, we would hear the mid ranges. Lastly we should hear some overtones coming.


As for majestic sounding… I still wonder where that fits in.


When one tries to describe sounds, at best metaphors are being used. There is no way to word sounds to the point that the receiver knows exactly how it should sound. Some examples like, thunderous, rumbling, piercing, soothing, sinister, creepy, etc. These words don't describe the sounds but rather how one might feel if he hears it.


Going a little scientific here; "the loudest sound clocks in at a staggering 194 decibels." This statement described the sound that was measured. However it merely tells the sound pressure level or the loudness. How about "A" note 440Hz? Hz is shorthand for Hertz, it is a measurement of the speed of vibration in sound waves. Does it get clearer in understanding sound?


It is actually impossible describe the entire spectrum of a tune in how it makes a person feels. Instead of packaging such a complex stimuli into a mere word, we should just identify what are audible to our ears. Nothing to do with metaphorical descriptions, only focus on what are heard; the bass notes, high notes, mid notes and overtones. In my next blog article, I shall go a bit further from here to make sense of those audible notes.

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