Posts by Crispy Panther

    Thank you tedtan for that article.

    Since it was published the Health and Safety Executives both in Europe and America have revised their recommendations downward.

    As more evidence of the damage to hearing by sustained noise levels has become apparent and regulatory authorities and employers have become more risk averse in the face of litigation from unions for affected employees.

    You make a good point regarding the size of listening room and the 85 dB level (now today reduced further) for cinema sized mixing rooms such as those found in Hollywood or Pinewood or the major recording studios that they utilise.

    Your excellent point reminded me of a church meeting I visited some time ago where the morning service was in a huge hall with a suspended array P.A. system. However, they had an evening service in a much smaller hall, without a P.A. and the singers belted their voices out at full pelt. It was sharply painful and hurt my ears to be in the same room with them singing, and I was sat right at the back of the hall.

    I was able to have an opportunity to speak with them at length afterward about the need to modify the dynamic of their vocal projection according to the size of the room. But really the problem was far less about their voices, and much more about the physical dimensions of the room they were singing in. Failing to understand that and make adjustment for the difference in size of venue. They were kind enough to drive me home afterward! 😊

    Many people appear to think that sudden loud bursts of noise or peak levels of music are responsible for most of the damage done to hearing.

    In point of fact, our ears do not respond quite in the manner most people imagine. They are predisposed to be adversely affected not so much to sudden transients or peak levels of sound, but rather to average or RMS levels of sound that are usually far lower, but also usually far more constant.

    Therefore, the best way to think about this issue is not that your ears will be damaged by a sudden loud sound that takes you by surprise, but by constant, continual lower levels of sound, that your hearing is exposed to over a far longer period of time. It is the sustained period of exposure your ears endure that actually does the damage.

    Time is the danger element. Long periods at an average lower level are more dangerous than short periods at a higher level.

    Of course, if you set your monitoring level at a high level to start with. Quite apart from the peaks you might encounter, the average level you will be exposed to over a long recording or mixing session is going to be that much more potentially damaging to your hearing.

    An analogy.

    Your outer and inner ear features Sterocilla, groups of hairs that move when sound enters our ear canal.

    Stereocilia (inner ear) - Wikipedia

    These in the inner ear do not move in free air but are pushed about by an inner ear gel which moves them as a result of the various mechanism of the ear responding to sound.

    We could liken these hairs to a field of wheat. You walk through the field once which doesn’t take long, and it appears no damage is done at all. The wheat moved around a bit but soon recovered.

    But if you walk back and forth all for many hours, day long across that same field. Eventually you will notice that quite a bit of wheat has actually been trampled down. The stems have broken and they will never recover.

    The hairs of the inner ear are grouped by frequency. So, what happens if you subject your hearing to long periods of sound without proper care, is that you may not really notice any actual loss of hearing at all at first, but you may have partially lost hearing at certain frequencies, dependant upon what you were listen to so loud for so long.

    It is therefore often a gradual process of hearing loss, affecting different areas of frequency bit by bit. And by the time in everyday living under certain situations that you really start to notice your hearing just isn’t as good as it once was, lamentably, irreparable damage, has already occurred.

    As tedtans article amply demonstrates, once you delve deeply into the matter of level setting, and it varies according to the situation, it can become a mind bogglingly complex business to get your head around.

    Old pal Bob Katz who was here a while back lecturing, devised his K-System that some might find helpful. But for those easily bewildered by technical complexities I heartily commend the advice given earlier, which is so easy and simple to implement and follow.

    Adjust your monitoring level so that for the overwhelming majority of the time, you could converse across the mixing desk with an engineer, hearing and being heard, without either of you needing to particularly raise your voice. This will be safe and the mixes you create at this level, will hold together well, regardless of what volume the end users set their Hi-Fi to.

    Ace mastering engineer Bob Ludwig would at times have a client attending a session who wanted to listen to their mastered recording as a higher level than he normally utilises.

    He would set the volume higher as requested without playing anything back, show the client the play and the stop switch. Then leave the room and the client to listen... without him. A professional approach.

    Its that serious!

    This is an excellent topic for discussion and to promote better awareness of the issues

    There are entirely differing Health and Safety Standards advised and regulated by statute in Europe and America.

    The European Standard errs more to the side of safety than the American Standard which historically has always been rather less cautious and careful in respect to employees.

    Although there are Producers about who appear incapable of mixing sound unless its horrendously loud. They are the exception, probably have severe hearing damage, and their example should not be followed.

    You only get one set of ears to last a lifetime.

    Rather than quote a lot of regulations and figures, and give advice about sound level meters.

    I prefer to think about this issue as follows. If you are Producing, whether tracking or mixing, set the level of your monitors at a point where you can comfortably converse with your Recording Engineer across the mixing console, without needing raise your voice.

    This approach is easy to implement and will provide a good, safe level for the protection of your ears, and also an excellent listening and working environment. One that will be suitable to utilise for sustained periods without unhelpful and unnecessary fatiguing of the ears of yourself and any others that are present.

    Quite apart from the advantage of protection one’s hearing, there is an additional benefit, equally desirable, that no one seems to ever mention. Apart from a small number of colleagues that are world class leading, sought out specifically for their mixing skill.

    Generally speaking, in the experience of both myself and other colleagues described above, we share the opinion that mixes which have been created whilst monitoring at an excessively loud level, tend to more easily fall apart when listened to at a far lower, comfortable level by the average consumer in their home environment, who have neighbours to consider.

    This is in part due to the Fletcher-Munson effect already mention whereby, due to an inefficiency of the human ear, the bass and treble ends of the frequency spectrum become less audible, as the consumer listening level is decreased.

    When the studio monitoring level is especially high, our perception of the bass response tends to become significantly stronger, along with the treble end as well. So, a properly balanced mix created under such circumstances will as a consequence, have its bass and treble frequencies, but particularly bass, adjusted downwardly, more than is ideally intended.

    The ears and brain can thus be deceived, because the strong monitoring level increases and misleads the mixers perception of those important frequencies, creating a mix that works well in the studio environment at those settings, but rather less well under differing circumstances. If the recording is sent to a good Mastering Engineer, who recognises the issue, then they can of course take corrective action. But many people today don’t utilise such services, so the issue can remain unrecognised.

    Therefore, when the consumer listens to the recording and for reasons of amiable sociability in wider society, chooses to select a more suitably comfortable, lower listening level.

    A lower level of a mix created at a significantly higher level with more strongly presented bass and treble frequencies, when the music was mixed. The result is that the bass and treble frequencies, suddenly are no longer presented as they were ideally conceived and intended, and as a result, the mix can more easily fall apart. This is why some consumer quality Hi-Fi amplifiers have a loudness button.

    But our experience has been that such undesirable complications do not occur in the same manner utilising a lower monitoring level.

    If the mix is created in the recording studio whilst being monitored at a more modest and comfortable listening level as described earlier, and somewhat lower than most musicians might typically expect.

    Then, again our experience has been that such a mix, still holds up well if subsequently is listened to at an altogether higher level. Our ears and brains appear to entirely compensate for the consequences of any resulting differences.

    Perhaps its that our ears brains especially like the extra bass and Hi-Fi treble’s which may follow when the mix created at a low monitoring level is boosted in volume. Which of course may be the precise reason many people like to record and mix at such a level in the first place. But there are dangers with that approach, and they are not simply the damage they are likely to do to our hearing.

    A relative of mine is the Professor who led the team that developed the model of the human ear which is used by surgeons and medical experts, audiologists and audio designers everywhere. He was the vice president of the British Society of Audiologists.

    For the university research project, EMI Research Laboratories at Hayes Middlesex designed a special pair of full range speakers for the experiments and KEF manufacturing, fabricated a unique “one off” set of speakers, exactly to their design, especially for the tests, prior to the advent of the C.D.

    In order to determine what excellent hearing acuity actually looked like they needed to test the hearing of great numbers of people. Unfortunately, at that time, Disco fever was a popular trend amongst young people, deemed to be most likely to possess excellent hearing acuity, as with age that ability gradually diminishes.

    What was found was that the hearing of candidates who simply attended loud Discos, was so severely affected by the experience, (something probably most of them took little notice of, or simply shrugged off), that they were entirely unsuitable for the purposes of the experiments. Which was to determine exactly what excellent hearing actually looked like, by measurement under clinical conditions.

    So here above are two good reasons for monitoring a sensible level. To protect your ears reliable functionality, and enable you to create better mixes, that will work well at every level with which they may be subsequently heard.

    Thank you!

    I am happy to accept your apology.

    And have no ill towards yourself or indeed anyone else.

    Some time back we had a gathering here, where students learn adversarial debate and the speaker, for which I have considerable admiration, spoke well about the importance of choosing words carefully.

    If you visited the house of commons where the British Parliament debate you would find a golden patterned line, either side of the dispatch box where party leaders stand to speak. These two lines are an exact two sword lengths apart as sometimes a debate would mutate into a lively jousting match.

    I include his talk below as its extremely interesting, some may find it so.

    I wish you well, and hope you enjoy the weekend! 😊

    Jordan Peterson | Full Address and Q&A | Oxford Union - YouTube

    Quote: “I know that anything I say will be ignored in favour of further pretentious floundering around the subject.”

    It’s a pity you have deigned not to read the earlier posts, because you could have by so doing avoided falling into precisely the same trap as earlier, once again.

    With respect, you appear to be claiming that I haven’t responded to some point of yours. When in reality, from the very first interchange, I’ve responded to insulting and belittling claims, point by point and blow by blow, effectively shooting down them all.

    Your second post included the line: “life is too short to read through all that, so I haven’t.” Clearly, from the start you have deliberately and repeatedly ignored and attempted to avoid engaging with the successful responses to your assertions. Thus, proving yet again the truth espoused by my dear friend:

    “Always take careful note of what a person will point out and criticise in another. It is an infallible law of the human personality that people criticise in others, the aspect they most dislike about themselves.”

    All of us, I hope will admit we make mistakes from time of time. It’s simply a part of being human.

    The great trick in life though, is to positively learn from the mistakes we make.

    And thus, heartily commend it to you as a helpful way forward.

    Thanks Again for Playing 😊

    Quote: “Anyone who does not rate the Fractal products (or any other similar tech - Helix, Quad and perhaps even Nam now) is foolish.”

    To be honest, though there is a plethora of good products out there.

    In regard to them all including and perhaps most especially the Fractal, I never liked their user interfaces at all. They lost me right at that very point.

    I tremendously prefer the user interface of the Kemper with its extensive layout of knobs, which to me at least, makes the Kemper Profiling Amplifier somewhat similar in design to the conventional type of amplifiers, I am most accustomed to.

    I’m sure the overall design aesthetic of the Kemper has been deliberately chosen to ensure conventional old school guitarists and bassists will be entirely comfortable and immediately at ease with the controls. That to me at least, is a distinct advantage.

    With respect to many other devices on the market.

    Those who grew up living with digital equipment will not have any problem with them.

    But those who are instinctively more familiar with traditional amplifier layouts, will like me, feel more at home with the Kemper has been my take, from the very first.

    Beyond that there is the aspect of company ethos and many people have negatively remarked about Chris the founder of Fractal whose comments I have no wish to repeat.

    But as someone stated earlier: “Christoph is a class act and treats his people well” and for me at least, such matters rate very highly in my estimation, and are a guiding principle, where it comes to investing money in a company’s products.

    With respect.

    There are so very many points of yours that have been effectively dealt with.

    But only one singularly, solitary answer, that you appear to have been capable of responding with.

    I appreciate your reluctance to engage.

    And am given to understand that approach and avoidance, is common and basic, found in all forms of living organisms, right down to single cell creatures.

    Thanks for playing :)

    Quote: “Can I ask why you format as you do? It is not any standard style that I am aware of. One or two spaces after a period is the norm to separate sentences.. – snipped for shortness - Almost 200 lines for a simple post?”

    Quote: “I’m not arguing with this and with due respect given, life is too short to read through all that, so I haven’t.”

    Unfortunately for you, as your friend disclosed above, it’s actually, really quite short. Therefore, very easy to read, so there’s no genuine reason not to as it truly wouldn’t take long at all.

    Unless of course, there were no genuine arguments left in one’s arsenal, having had all the previous ones, shot down so very easily.

    Having been readily taken apart, it’s no wonder, one declines to read as you do.

    To be forced to rethink, poorly conceived conclusions.

    Quote: “In answer to one of things I feel you haven’t got a clue about, regarding “What other manufacturer has given so many upgrades, completely freely to its customers?”, Fractal. Regular updates for its products (for free) and way more regularly than Kemper does.”

    With respect, feeling someone hasn’t got a clue, does not make it so in reality.

    However, the globally accepted rules of debate delineate that engaging in Ad Homien attacks.

    (Insulting, demeaning or attacking the person rather than addressing the issue under debate) signal the person engaging in such underhand devices, has effectively lost their argument.

    And the whole debate!

    If one is going to indulge oneself in debate.

    It would appear advisable to at least, take steps to begin to understand the rules.

    Again, with respect, it would appear that where debating is concerned, you appear to suffer from the very issue, you actually accuse me of.

    A very dear colleague of mine, founded an Institute of Counselling, where they train people to become personal counsellors to help people in need of such assistance.

    They train candidates to various levels up to MA and BA (Hons) level certificated by the University of London. I got involved with them at a time when they required new premises to work from.

    We organised a tour of events starting at The Royal Albert Hall and touring. 145,000 people bought tickets and we raised the money to acquire a Large Estate and Major Stately Home, within one single week.

    The founder was a very experienced man in helping people with their problems and he would say on occasions: “always take careful note of what a person will point out and criticise in another. It is an infallible law of the human personality that people criticise in others, the aspect they most dislike about themselves.”

    Therefore, I repeat: “Again, with respect, it would appear that where debating is concerned, you appear to suffer from the very issue you accuse me of.”

    Thank you, for once again proving the absolute validity of my dear friend’s observations and assertions.

    I have always found them to be, invariably trustworthy and reliable.

    In regard to Fractal. I looked at them long and hard but felt the Kemper to be a superior company in every respect. This is about people and ethics al. True innovators and the clear market leaders with a far better product and user interface from my perspective.

    Interesting that you failed to mention Fractals recent substantial price increase in 2023.

    Perhaps that is how they are able to give away free updates!

    Quote: “Can I ask why you format as you do? It is not any standard style that I am aware of. One or two spaces after a period is the norm to separate sentences..”

    – snipped for shortness –

    “Almost 200 lines for a simple post?”

    Have you ever read P. G. Wodehouse's brilliant "Jeeves and Wooster" or any of his stories?

    The late Queen Elizabeth’s Mother, King Charles Grandmother, would spend an hour every afternoon, sitting with a Gin and Tonic, giggling like a schoolgirl at these incredible funny stories.

    His writing style fits your descriptions of mine perfectly, yet his is far more radically spacious so apparently far more deserving of the unwarranted personal criticism you have specifically aimed at myself.

    I fear you have fallen into the same trap as you friend, once again, as you did so conspicuously previously, indulging in Ad Hominin attacks. Attacking the person rather than the real actual issue under debate. I deprecate the fact that your short-term memory appears to be failing you at this point in your life, but only genuinely wish you well for the future.

    For those unfamiliar with the concept of an Ad Hominem attack.

    In sporting terms, they are the direct equivalent of a sports man, perhaps lacking the ability and talent to correctly tackle the ball; to unsportsmanlike tackle the person instead, and try to take out the man, rather than win the ball.

    It is common in debate, when individuals have no real argument left to withdraw into attempting to discredit, belittle or in some way mildly insult the person they are unsuccessfully debating and losing to. In the forlorn hope that no one will notice, and mistake their insults, for genuine points of argument.

    Therefore, under the established rules of proper debate, the first person to indulge in such deplorable behaviour, is deemed to immediately have lost both their argument and the entire debate.

    I could explain why I write as I do.

    However, it would make for a rather unnecessarily long post.

    Furthermore, as it would involve a very interesting explanation, I don’t want to place myself in the position, of so richly rewarding, deplorably bad behaviour.

    During my life it has been my humble privilege to assist future Prime Ministers and Presidents of America, who have thus benefitted. If you can improve your behaviour, you may find yourself similarly benefitting, when it is appropriate.

    Thanks for playing once again! :)

    Quote: "A premium product designed for working professionals at the top of their game, the most versatile device on the market. One that has proven itself and its worth, like all the greatest amplifiers over an extended period of time.”

    Quote: “Honestly, this is ridiculous.”

    Thank you for thoughts.

    So, let’s examine them, and see if your courageously novel notions, hold up to proper scrutiny?

    With respect, you appear to be arguing that the Kemper Profiling Amplifier is not a premium product designed for working professionals at the top of their game.

    However the premium price of the Kemper and the fact that a great many top professionals utilise the product, more than adequately entirely testify to the complete opposite and actively militate against such a view.

    Would we do better to believe the first-hand testimony of top musicians whose scintillating level of talent, most can only aspire to, in their wildest dreams?

    Or you?

    People hereabouts will decide for themselves!

    Quote: “it’s not the most versatile device and doesn’t come close to being the most versatile device either.

    It depends on what you mean by “versatile”.

    Politicians could be considered to be outstandingly “versatile”, but their adaptability might not be considered by many to be an asset.

    Today for example, there exists a massive plethora of equipment on the market, heavily laden and feature rich with apparent “versatility”.

    Yet more often than not, though they are sometimes rich with cosmetic aesthetics, and indeed are capable of performing singularly peculiar functions desired by few, if any at all if user requests are anything to go by.

    Their “versatility” seemingly offered, simply fails to deliver.

    Except in the manner of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, our fine four fendered friend”.

    You may recall the vehicle was not only a multiple Grand Prix winning racing car; but could also float on water, fly like an aeroplane and was capable of taking off vertically.

    Whereas, most people want a good quality, thoroughly reliable, well performing vehicle, with good dynamic handling and safety features. Small on the outside, big on the inside with a cavernous boot. Low kerb weight, fast acceleration and good fuel economy.

    The salient point being, “cosmetic features and seeming versatility” lose out to quality every time, for those who genuinely know what they want. Solid build quality shines through. Along with genuine economy in use with highly practical characteristics, that truly benefit the owner.

    You see, its versatility with quality, that has a genuinely practical use.

    Another analogy.

    Today the digital recording scene is strewn with devices offering every conceivable type of feature.

    Yet all the greatest professional recording equipment lacks such apparent versatility. Accomplishing what they were designed for with magnificent verve and aplomb.

    Musicians I worked with cut their teeth working with people like Joe Meek and George Martin. Folk who took the quality equipment that was available to them and tweaked it with ingenuity in a highly creative manner, to create entirely new sound effects.

    In a world of endless VST effects, creative individuals of that era made far more practical use of the meagre quality equipment available at the time, utilising it in entirely new ways, with far greater effect than anyone appears capable of accomplishing today despite all their current advantages.

    Quality with versatility.

    The sheer depth of editing choices the Kemper amplifier afford the conscientious player, is quite mind blowing.

    The features they offer are genuinely desirable, widely wanted, useful and practical to working professionals on the move.

    Some equipment manufacturers promise much, but fail to deliver where it counts. To be fair I suppose that is a kind of “versatility”. But not one I would wish for.

    Whilst Kemper promise little, but over deliver precisely where it counts. What’s more, there is a continual overwhelming stream of upgrades and make overs that they deliver completely to users for free.

    What do players most want, the pretty screens and the ability to perform functions they have little interest in, that you appear to commend?

    Or genuine quality, practical usefulness and ongoing innovative additives that increase functionality, gifted entirely for free to owners in thanks for their brand loyalty?

    People hereabouts will decide for themselves!

    Quote: “neither is it at the top of the tree and they’re not in a class of their own, either.”

    Following the recent disclosure of the incoming upgrades, which appear to continue to keep Kemper right at the pinnacle it has occupied for so long. With respect, that would appear to be a laughably moot opinion, few hereabout would agree with.

    What other manufacturer has given so many upgrades, completely freely to its customers?

    Clearly in this respect, as well as so many others Kemper is in a class of its own.

    One might disagree.

    But people hereabouts will decide for themselves!

    Quote: “That’s a hell of a long post to be spouting some fairly ignorant and narrow minded views.”

    Not at all.

    Its par for the course where I come from.

    Anyone here will tell you its completely normal for me to present a comprehensively well-argued case.

    My old friend Michael Gerzon, now sadly no longer with us, has been known to have phone calls that lasted a full seven hours.

    I suspect you would have expressed a similar view regarding many of Michael’s opinions at the time he expounded them, but you would have similarly been proven wrong.

    Someone once said: " what Michael has done is what the world will want in thirty year’s time." For sure that proved to be true, but few could understand what he was doing and so to my mind at least, it is such people themselves that are fairly ignorant and narrow minded in their views, if anyone is.

    But people hereabouts will decide for themselves!

    'Into The Soundfield' - Michael Gerzon & Ambisonics at Oxford (Official Documentary 2018) - YouTube

    Just so you know, Michael Gerzon who in his short life published 121 white papers on audio engineering, won the Audio Engineering Societies Gold Award, and who Ray Dolby looked to for advice and to consult, is widely seen as the natural successor to Alan Blumlien.

    Alan Blumlein - Wikipedia

    Quote: “I love Kemper, their ethos and the way they look after the staff and fiercely protect their products and keep them running far beyond other products end of life”

    With respect, the statement reads like you actually believe Kemper is in a class all of its own. Which is precisely the simple point I have been making all along.

    So, I will respectfully ask you what my friend George Massenburg once asked a fellow who similarly appeared to be arguing with us, two entirely opposing viewpoints, simultaneously.

    Are you a Contrarian?

    People hereabouts will decide for themselves!

    Quote: “but they and the product are not the all shining, all dancing example you’re painting out, either.”

    I am absolutely convinced that the overwhelming majority of Kemper users, who have spent their hard-earned money consider their carefully considered purchases a genuinely sound investment and money well spent.

    Most especially following the recent announcement of a complete handful of highly desirable upgrades, quite revolutionary make overs soon to be available as a heartfelt complimentary gift to their ever admiring, loyal customers.

    With all due respect, I believe it to be entirely ill advised to imply condemnation of their personal judgement and mental capabilities by insisting the commonly held awe in which they view their purchase, is completely misplaced in that manner.

    For people hereabouts will decide for themselves!

    Thanks for Playing! 😊

    Quote: “Yes, I think the Kemper Mini is a better money making idea for CK, and I am certain this is something they will eventually release;”

    Thank you for your view, which is one I have repeatedly observed from particular individuals on this forum.

    However, it is a viewpoint that like so many things in life can seem to make perfect sense, but which from a business sense may not be sensible at all.

    If you think about it, Kemper is being asked to design a product which will primarily have as its main competitor, the existing Kemper Profiling Amplifier range.

    A premium product designed for working professionals at the top of their game, the most versatile device on the market. One that has proven itself and its worth, like all the greatest amplifiers over an extended period of time.

    Kemper are being encouraged by some to design a product that will inevitability draw sales away from their class leading, innovative design, and that will undercut the profitability of the company.

    Premium products command premium prices that make’s for a company with healthy profits. Profits heathy enough to facilitate rewarding customer loyalty to the brand with top class service and support.

    Furthermore, it enables occasional gifts of class defining make over product updates, like the one just announced featuring five separate highly desirable, usefully functional additional elements, that will augment and extend their top of the tree device.

    Quite different from the superficial, cosmetic aesthetics offered by some.

    Or the strictly limited features offered by others. Or the cheap, poorly supported devices widely available.

    By focussing on the wants and needs of professionals in terms of high quality, versatility and functionality; whilst improving and providing options to simplify adding modelling to an already outstanding set of features.

    All for free! Kemper really is a most praiseworthy company.

    Yet there are still those that desire a cheap Kemper, which would have to be made in China.

    Outside the ability to validate product control by the owners and design engineers involving global, logistical complications.

    And the problems wouldn’t stop there. If a third-party manufacturing company fabricated a product for Kemper at a cheaper price.

    As soon as possible, they would look to cheaper component suppliers and replace them wherever they could, to increase their own profitability.

    That’s what happens, soon after it is clear a product is selling. Nothing in business ever stands still for long, especially in the field of product manufacturing.

    Alternatively, if such a product was manufactured in house by Kemper in Germany.

    Then they would be able to, as at this time, control product quality, validating their own manufacturing processes and maintaining the quality of component supply.

    But that would involve a large capital investment by Kemper in terms of purchasing new premises or extending existing ones. Incredibly expensive new plant would be required along with a significant increase in well paid personnel.

    All to manufacture a product they will have to sell for a much lower cost, that will directly compete with their existing products, and deliver far lower profitability per unit sale.

    And that in a market already more than adequately served with inferior products, at rock bottom prices, that perform simple tasks for mass market consumers, content with “johny come lately” brands.

    Sitting on the coattails of true innovators like Kemper, to make some money in the process by stealing their ideas, and never mind the product issues or delivering a quality service to their customers.

    Serial investors look to get in at an early development stage or catch the wave during a surge of interest in a particular product. They have an exit strategy and pull their money out, as product interest begins to wane.

    Their customers are really buying into built in obsolesce, and many of them don’t mind being part of a throwaway society. Whilst others are bemused and disappointed as they are left high and dry requiring support, with no capital to provide it remaining.

    In contrast, Kemper is the expensive gift that simply keeps on giving.

    Initiating trends, continually innovating and improving products that professionals appreciate for their quality, reliability and longevity.

    Like Formula 1 drivers. Those at the front are in a completely different race to those in the middle of the pack or lamentably bringing up the rear.

    With complete respect to those asking for a mini-Kemper. They are really asking the company to become involved and engrossed in a completely different race altogether, to the one the have so obviously been leading for so long.

    Catering for mass markets instead of premium markets mean one has to sell far, far more many units to ever be highly profitable.

    And that in an already overcrowded sector of the market. Lower prices mean cheaper, less reliable components, poorer service backup, and long term, lower reputational kudos.

    In the finality, unless a company can generate and sustain substantially good profitability, then it really doesn’t have a future. In this respect its important whatever product development Kemper engage with, ensures sound profitability by virtue of its existing, class leading reputation being built on, augmented and extended in future.

    They seem to already be in an entire class of their own, long may it be so!

    Quote: “It has everything to do with G strings. I still have yet to see, read, or hear anyone say what a string is made of?

    With all possible respect.

    It would appear that you failed to watch the you tube movies I posted for your benefit a little earlier.

    If you had then you would know that these plain strings are fabricated from the underlying steel thread utilised in manufacturing the strong base for automotive tyres.

    That thread is drawn through large machinery made in Germany and reduced to the sizes required for plain strings made from high quality high carbon steel. With respect, if you want to lean more about this matter, I suggest you actually watch the movie.

    It was put there, just for you! 😊

    Quote: “Because chocolate was the store's most popular flavor, they put it on display in the front of the store (it was a big store). Other flavors were at the back corner, about as far from the door as you can get. The car had a problem with "vapor lock," which will resolve itself after sitting for a while. The extra time it took to go to the back of the store allowed things to resolve, and his car started. So, it turns out he wasn't crazy after all, but it's easy to understand the mechanics thinking otherwise.”

    A great story. Brilliant. Love it!

    And a terrific example of how we human beings are instinctively predisposed to think, view and interpret life, absolutely in terms of cause and effect.

    Backing up a few decades, the motor industry had a great deal of problems where car owners would attempt to explain the issues they were having with the products they had newly purchased, only to find themselves subjected to a similarly less than sympathetic reception.

    Eventually, major automotive manufacturers realised these negative consumer/dealer interactions involving customers who had paid a high price for their newly purchase pride and joy, was causing them a huge amount of reputational damage. Resulting in the financial loss of brand loyalty and repeat sales.

    Their response was to develop a new, very well-educated, highly trained breed of engineers to inhabit service receptions and be the first point of contact and interact with consumers. These individuals had a tremendous depth of background in automotive engineering, kept their mouths shut and their ears open, listened carefully to consumers with product issues; and were able to interpret what the customer was telling them, into a faithful diagnosis from an engineering viewpoint for the mechanics.

    A great public relations exercise.

    I live in a region where most of the Formula 1 racing cars are designed, and so get to know and meet the people that design and build these products and also occasionally, meet the drivers that race them and their engineers.

    In my experience the very best drivers usually start out as youngers driving go karts. That particular sport involves the driver learning for themselves what adjustments and changes they need to make on their go kart for any particular race track, to optimise its performance and make it fully competitive.

    As they grow over time through the various ranks of various racing sport Formulas, the abilities they learnt for themselves as to the adjustments that will be required to optimise their vehicle. Enables them to be able to properly analyse and interpret issues they have with their now far more advanced vehicles; and most accurately inform the race engineers of the changes that will be required to fully optimise the performance of their Formula 1 vehicle.

    Of course, the engineers also have a great deal of telemetric data from the sensors on the vehicles. But the first-hand knowledge and experience of a driver, who learnt most of the underlying basic principles for themselves on go karts; usually gives the engineers the most clear and direct feedback to enable them to properly interpret the absolute plethora of information at their disposal most successfully. Perhaps the supreme examples of such drivers are Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, multiple Grand Prix Champions.

    The owner of the Formula 1 team lived in the same city as me.

    He played the drums and whenever his team lost, he would go home and thrash away on his kit beating his frustrations out on it with merciless fervour for a while.

    His team had a complex issue where they were unable to receive the telemetric date from their cars sensors, that was putting them at a distinct disadvantage to their rivals.

    A company I had “an interest” in, owned a specialised, large Anechoic Chamber so we allowed him to bring their Formula 1 racing car into it so we could analyse what on the car (and where) was causing the interruption to the transmission of the telemetry data, leaving them in the dark as it were.

    As I recall, close to the transmission device there was some parts of the vehicle generating electro magnetic interference. Once that was detected (which you need a specialised chamber to be able do) then they were able to take steps to rectify the problem, change things about and were subsequently able to clearly receive the data transmissions from the vehicle.

    Suddenly their racing performance out on the track improved enormously.

    The salient point is, whether it’s a typical consumer vehicle, a Formula 1 racing car, or even a doctor in general practice with a patient.

    The abilities to first communicate and listen, properly understanding the issue involved; and then to correctly analyse and properly interpret accurate information, is a cardinal key to successful resolution.

    In this respect, initial and accurate information gathering is extremely important.

    All too often, individuals and consumers give sparse oddments of poorly collated detail as best as they can recall them.

    Forgetfully omitting obvious necessary, relevant information like Operating System Data of both their device and their computer alike.

    And somehow expect a moderator or service ticket tech to instantly be miraculously enabled make sense of their car crash of scrappy information.

    Furthermore, often entirely disregarding the self-induced, impatient user errors, that create issues where none exist. Speedily flitting between settings without allowing the time required to enact the change, signalled three steps earlier, from what the user is now attempting. 😊

    Easier to blame the device or call for an update or a new model altogether!

    Quote: “I noticed 10 edits. Size matters.”

    I totally concur.

    Typically, I write in a word processor and transfer into the forum.

    As I can utilise the font and size and I am most comfortable with whilst writing.

    However, I edited the post and changed a number of words during the posting process.

    All the words and sentences added at that time turned out to be in a different font and a different size once the post was made.

    As you rightly state, size matters, so reading through the post afterward alarmingly found 10 different instances where consistency of font and size didn’t exist.

    But I gradually corrected them as time allowed with the other things I was attending to to ensure a more cohesive and readable presentation.

    It could be frustrating to me how at times, word processors change things like fonts and sizes, and change the words I wrote into something I didn’t.

    Happily, I am not the type to allow myself to be frustrated by such picayune issues, and I trust this helpful explanation satisfies any curiosity regarding the matter.

    Thank you for pointing it out and providing me this opportunity.

    And wish you every happiness for the forthcoming weekend! :)

    Quote: “You even suggest that I might have a financial interest in discouraging preventitive maintenance”

    I was simply pointing out what you had actually written.

    Having read some of it, one can comprehend and appreciate how that might be embarrassing for you.

    As follows..

    Quote: “the majority of failures that I see come from equipment that someone else owns. It shows up in a failed state that I get paid to resolve.

    Thus, I was highlighting the truth that if you are employed to deal with equipment failures, routine preventative maintenance would undermine the financial benefit you accrue from those failures for which according to your words, you get paid to deal with.

    There’s nothing faulty about that logic whatever!

    But again, I do appreciate how that might be deeply and profoundly embarrassing for you.

    With respect, earlier you appeared keen to judge me by my own words.

    But subsequently rail against the fact as I pay you the respect of similarly judging you by your own words.

    The English language more than adequately affords a description of people whose attitude is: “Do as I say but do not do as I do.”

    Have you ever considered becoming a politician? The remuneration is good and you appear to be adequately equipped with the necessary gifts.

    Quote: “Preventive maintenance is useful and I believe it is a good idea when it is acutally preventative.

    I think it’s entirely self-evident that anything that has been found to be useful in preventing unwanted issues and problems is a good thing to know about and try.

    Especially if it can’t do any harm but might do some good.

    The point of forums is trying to help each other.

    And its why I have been writing all along.

    Quote: “Labelling it preventative when it is not is misinformation.”

    With respect, it appears that here, your logic can be deemed to be faulty.

    To be fair minded, what we can truthfully say is that you do not believe certain practises are helpful in any way at all. You have made your view clear.

    Contrariwise, we can also truthfully say that the founder and Chairman of RME, along with myself and the multitude of others who have followed his advice, have indeed found it to be extremely helpful and have subsequently avoided unwanted issues successfully.

    That internal company statistical data exists which substantiates that and is the basis for the given advice in regard to rotary controllers in high level audio devices, as well as, and in addition to, existent empirical evidence and the experience of practitioners of such routine maintenance.

    Hence there is a choice that presents itself.

    I trust we both agree that problems with both components are existent.

    Thus, one can refuse to believe the latter and not bother to engage in the simplest possible routines, thereby experiencing component problems and failures.

    The evidence for such issues abounds in past forums of equipment that utilises these high-end rotary controls and indeed typical instrument and audio potentiometers alike.


    One can engage in extremely easily implemented routines and subsequently enjoy fewer, if any at all (as in my case) unwanted issues and problems.

    These routines do no harm whatever and are the simplest possible disciplines to invoke whenever its convenient to do so. What could be possibly be easier?

    I mentioned that more knowledgeable people than myself and I am sure, either of us, have given the excellent advice in regard to rotary controllers. So far so good in my view.

    However, although cleaning pots with Deoxit and turning them is a well proven routine practice in electric engineering situations. It is also true to write that many, just like myself, have found that simply turning a slightly scratchy potentiometer a few times, can very often clear the slight scratchiness that can occasionally appear.

    So common is this experience to the life of electronic guitarists and bassists etc. et al. That it appears alarmingly rudimentary to have to write it for you. That you appear to be unaware of this phenomenon, that almost everyone who has ever owned an electric guitar or bass, will have at some time encountered and easily cleared, simply by turning the knob a few times.

    Therefore, to rail against such widespread, proven routines that many players have instinctively utilised, without really thinking about it at all too much, appears argumentative to say the least.

    I prefer to consider that your particular limited experience with specific computer peripherals has given you a different outlook and that you are being honest to that singular view.

    And I trust in the innate wisdom and experience of electronic guitar and bass players everywhere to decide for themselves.

    Which course of action if any, is best to employ.

    Quote: “Turning the pot after spraying is a good technique to help clean the contact points inside the pot.


    It is a well tried and tested, proven, maintenance routine.

    I believe in professional recording studio protocol's, standard operating procedures and regular routine maintenance.

    Quote: “Turning the pot on a well funtioning unit as preventive maintenance is a silly notion”.

    As is described above, that runs contrary to my and most other electronic instrument players experience. That is the only silly notion hereabouts.

    As many a suddenly slightly scratchy potentiometer has been cleared by the simple turning of a knob a few times. Albeit sometimes as just affording a temporary solution. It can work and often does work and hardy a player exists who has not used this device at some point in their playing experience.

    Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t, then cue the trusty Deoxit and try turning the potentiometer again a few times (as you clearly agree). But turning the knob is the primary, elementary act to try. That is pure common sense.

    Quote: “A rotary encoder is not a potentiometer.”

    This is written as though it were a statement of revelation.

    Who to? With respect, it would appear only to yourself, and to affirm the fact.

    As I do not believe anyone is unclear about that, apart from yourself who at times, have appeared to conflate the two together.

    (Places hands over face and shakes head from side to side). Where is a palm emoji when you want one?

    Quote: “There are many different types and for some of these it is likely that infiltrating one with Deoxit or cleaning spray will damage or compromise it.

    Thank you so very much for writing this.

    So you agree with me that a rotary controller in computer mice and rotary controllers on professional high end electronic audio equipment are quite different animals altogether.

    Although the mouse is one I am unsure which animal would adequately describe these monster encoders utilised on professional audio equipment with all the varying functions they afford?

    Quote: “for some of these it is likely that infiltrating one with Deoxit or cleaning spray will damage or compromise it.

    With respect, no one anywhere in this thread has ever advised the application of Deoxit or any other solvent on rotary controllers.

    I would be ridiculous to do so and again, with respect, the only person to have actually brought up the possibility of using solvents on rotary controllers is indeed yourself.

    However, I can well understand why you would do so.

    Having run out of any substantive arguments whatever to support the narrow views you hold. Based upon your knowledge of devices that do not directly correlate to the actual subject this thread is engaged in discussing.

    By initially engaging in Ad Hominin attacks (faulty logic indeed), your argument was clearly doomed to fail from the start. It is thus unsurprising that as your weak points of debate sink without trace into oblivion, a link to solvent use and rotary controllers might provide a diversion for those, who otherwise, will see your flailing hand above the surface, desperately grasping this straw of solvent use.

    I wish you a most happy day.

    Quote: “Your statement "as a result" makes the claim that your preventative maintenance is the reason that you never had a faulty pot or rotary control. Period.”


    I viewed the above, neither as a “statement” per say, nor as a “claim” as such. Nothing so grand at all!

    It’s simply that we as human beings have a natural propensity to think, speak and act in terms of cause and effect. This is pretty basic psychology I would have thought.

    So, you should reflect more deeply upon the preceding sentence as they form a naturally flowing stream of consciousness: “I consider the trouble it takes to do this, to be standard operating procedure and regular preventative maintenance, with an annual plan.”

    If you want to argue that standard operating procedures, and regular preventative maintenance, planned annually will not assist in avoiding component failure.

    Then there exists an overwhelming multitude of electrical designers and engineers, car designers, engineers and mechanics as well as aircraft pilots and maintenance crew who would actively take an opposite view.

    If you prefer to fly in a plane whose maintenance has been grossly neglected, then I defer to your personal choice, wishing you every good luck with that.

    However, I think prevention is better than cure, and after 57 years with a considerable amount of equipment, this approach appears to have served me very well indeed.

    Therefore, I commend it to you, it the hope that it will genuinely be of benefit. This forum is about trying to help one an another and really quite simply, that's all I want to do

    Years ago, my group was helped by the late Rupert Neve the inventor of the modern recording console, who put all his top bods at our disposal.

    And I live quite close to the factory where the Solid State Logic company design and manufacture the recording industries, state of the art professional recording consoles.

    To them, to argue that precautionary regular, planned, annual maintenance of professional electrical recording, audio and musical equipment was unnecessary; would I fear and I state it with all due respect, make any one who took that view, a complete laughing stock, hereabouts.

    Quote: “I've designed rotary control circuits and if you have ever used the scroll wheel on a Logitech mouse”

    Forgive me for pointing this out, but an electronic circuit is different to a electronic component.

    Just as a cheap computer mouse and its internal components differs in many respects, not the least being cost as well as qualitatively, to the rotary controls used in high end professional audio equipment.

    By way of analogy, as you are acquainted with computer equipment you surely must realise that not all hard drives are equal. The MTBF or “mean time before failure” varies greatly between models and makes, and between consumer models and models intended for professional industry application.

    All this is entirely self-evident or should be at least to any reasonable person.

    Quote: “sending a general message to users that occasionally twisting a knob will result in never needing to change a faulty potentiometer or experiencing a problem with a rotary control is just not accurate.”

    In that case, why have you written it?

    As I have not anywhere at all, written any such thing.

    Nowhere have I stated that: “occasionally twisting a knob will result in never needing to change a faulty potentiometer or experiencing a problem with a rotary control”.

    If I have, then let’s examine the evidence. For if you can provide positive proof that I have written such words, then with respect, you will be the greatest magician since Houdini.

    Again, with respect, you appear to have willingly conflated two entirely separate issues, which to a certain point I can understand. But the imaginatively novel attributions you claim that I have made, extend and augment quite simple points, into conclusions totally beyond anything, genuinely intended.

    Perhaps my communications skills are found wanting.

    Or English is not actually your native language.

    Or you have an over active imagination.

    Quote: “I like sarcasm(assuming you meant it that way) probably more than most.”


    I profoundly deprecate sarcasm.

    Being taught from any early age, it is the lowest form of wit.

    Irony is a much more effective humorous device I have found in my public debating at the Oxford Union and elsewhere.

    Speakers | The Oxford Union (

    Quote: “Either way, your response has no basis in my reality”

    I see that and clearly observe your singular outlook.

    You repair computer mice and so your point of view is based upon your experience.

    Last night my wife told me my son had rung her to say that he found a mouse running in their hallway.

    Pebbles their cat, had brought them the present of a live mouse (again) as a reward for all the loving care and attention they lavish upon her.

    I do appreciate that the issues one can experience with mice can be difficult to deal with and certainly would cause one to take a very particularly focussed view of the problems they present.

    Perhaps the question is, does your reality, directly and genuinely correlate to components utilised in high end and professional audio equipment designed for decades of use as against a disposable computer peripheral, consumers expect to replace?

    I think not!

    Quote: “since the majority of failures that I see come from equipment that someone else owns. It shows up in a failed state that I get paid to resolve.

    Thank you so much for sharing so freely.

    It is therefore entirely logical to assume that you have a vested interest in the failure of equipment that you design and repair.

    When consumers need to replace the item, and the sooner they do, you then have another opportunity to create an extra additional sale.

    From your statement you appear to make it crystal clear that as these problems arise for consumers, you are actually paid to resolve their equipment failures.

    With all due respect possible.

    Given that a renowned German manufacturer recommends the points I have shared as assisting in avoiding potential unwanted issues and their equipment strongly features rotary controls.

    And given that I have fifty-seven years of experience following a program of proactive preventative maintenance, with an exceptionally large amount of equipment and instruments, but have yet to experience a failure.

    You could appear to have a clear financial interest in doing everything possible to dissuade people from following such routine preventative maintenance programs. As if they did actively engage in such activity, you would eventually see your workload and income diminish.

    Where computers are concerned, I build my own and service and repair them myself. Though they rarely require it ever because of extremely careful component selection. Avoiding all the cheap cost cutting components typical manufacturers utilise. Hence “mean time before failure”.

    I hoover out dust from the computer insides, clean the fans and use a brush to clean out the heat sinks and processor coolers etc. All these measures are simple to do, and part of a routine that keeps everything running reliably as they don’t ever get over heated, because of any lack of routine maintenance.

    I see the concept and advantages of routine maintenance on whatever device it can be performed as totally self-evident.

    And argument against it, as argument, for arguments sake alone though I am sure you mean well and are simply sharing your point of view .

    One thing is crystal clear, performed with care, none of these routines can ever do any harm, and as far I and others I respect have determined, they appear to do a great deal of good.

    Quote: “Sorry, but that's a failure in logic.

    No need to be sorry, thank you for your singular viewpoint.

    Happily, it’s not my personal logic that is being called into question but someone far more knowledgeable.

    However, when I started in the music business, we had a large repair department, and cleaning pots and turning them thereafter was a regular occurrence by the fifteen white coated bods, some of which worked for the BBC.

    Quote: “anecdotal evidence is just...well anectdotal. You may be a statistical outlier, but that's all.

    With respect, apart from the moderators, each and every singular contribution to this forum, including that of yourself could be considered anecdotal. It simply means the view of one person.

    But I am happy to be the outlier you describe. Risk averse, proactive in preventative maintenance to have successfully avoided issues, problems and faults that lamentably, has so deleteriously plagued very many others.

    What’s not to like?


    Whilst on the subject of statistics, the sheer amount of equipment involved in the described annual plan, took six weeks to execute this year.

    Therefore, although I am overjoyed to be considered an outlier. In statistical terms, the actual volume of equipment that attracted this preventative maintenance, is statistically wholly relevant, to the degree that many would consider it, not to be the exception you appear to describe.

    Quote: “I have experienced many pot failures”

    I’m genuinely sorry to read that, perhaps some preventative maintenance might assist you?

    Quote: “they fail for many different reasons.”

    Quite correct!

    Quote: “Giving a knob a twist is not a guarantee that a pot will not fail.”

    It didn’t occur to me for a moment that it would ever guarantee such a thing, and I certainly didn’t state that anywhere.

    I’m sorry if my communication skills were so poor that I led you to imagine something that I never wrote.

    Quote: “exercising the wiper across the track can be helpful in certain circumstances

    With respect, I think you are on the right track here.

    Because, boiling it down that’s really the point I was making.

    Thanks for underlining the potential usefulness of such an easy precaution to undertake.

    I’m one of those that would rather build a barrier at the top of a cliff than a hospital at the bottom of it. Its easy to do, so why not do it? For as you state, it can be helpful.

    Quote: “it is not a panacea

    As far as I am aware, no one ever suggested that it was.

    I certainly didn’t use the word, and as far as I am aware, and with due respect, you are the only person to have actually used it.

    Quote: “I've had many high use pots fail and high use is in fact a failure mode for many pots.

    For sure, along with a whole slew of potential causes that could arise.

    Again, with respect, my point was really to offer an alternative viewpoint to that which is commonly held and which you helpfully mention.

    Simply that with insufficient or irregular use, certain electronic components can develop unwanted issues, and potentiometers along with dried out capacitors, absolutely fall into this category.

    As a footnote.

    Having met and knowing Mattias Carstens personally, one of the two founders and the chairman of RME. I have found him to be both very likeable and completely transparent about causes of equipment failure.

    With respect, however many amplifiers one might have built or repaired. Statistically the hundreds of thousands of professional products RME have sold over the years, places him in an entirely different league in regard to and with the benefit of evidential statistical data, anticipating the potential causes of component failure.

    You may have noticed a similar level of knowledgeable experience emanating from the excellent Kemper Moderators. Where their personal conversance and acquaintance with products and components permit them the gift, of anticipating and predicting the underlying cause of a problem.

    When someone in such a position that they can statistically predict the cause of component failure with that overwhelming level of product sales. And give as a manufacturer, clear advice as how best to avoid unwanted issues with their products. As in the case of advising that rotary controls fail more often because of too little use, rather than over use, I personally am bound to take their helpful guidance on board and actively benefit from it.

    I simply shared here what I had learnt from Mattias in the hope that others here, all of which have products that feature rotary controls.

    Might be genuinely helped, heaven blessed with equipment that continues to perform with excellence.

    Just as they were originally designed and fabricated to.

    That’s the simple level of my logic.

    On the RME forum defective rotary knobs have come up from time to time.

    Mattias Carstens who is very knowledgeable and very honest about equipment problems, stated that whilst most people imagine problems with rotary knobs occur because of plenty of use, that normally is not the case.

    He said that most problems with rotary knobs actually occur because of insufficient use. Presumably oxidation on contacts weakening signal where over time they haven’t experienced enough use.

    So, any equipment I have that uses rotary controls (and gear that uses regular potentiometers) are sure to have a turn or two, whenever convenient, especially as most of my gear is in store.

    I consider the trouble it takes to do this to be standard operating procedure and regular preventative maintenance, with an annual plan.

    As I result I have yet to have ever needed to change a faulty potentiometer or had a problem with a rotary control.

    That’s over 57 years.

    Quote: “Confirmed by e mail by Gibson, in factory They put a wrong Classic in the 60's neck on my Standard! Crazy right?”

    In recent years Gibson have been incorporating a transponder or identifying chip which informs the specification and fabricating details of the singular example of the model in question. Transponders are often used in manufacturing to carry the specification details and position in the manufacturing process.

    For instance, if a customer had placed an order, but subsequently had a change of heart and wanted to change a specific detail. That might be possible if the product had not yet reached that point in the production process. Though I think in Gibson’s case its more about post sales warrantee identification.

    But historically, during particular eras Gibson would utilise its workforce by deciding to rationalise its production processes by making certain parts one week and other parts other weeks.

    Therefore, situations would arise where the workforce might spend a whole week simply manufacturing necks by hand. As many as they could during that week.

    With a large supply of differing necks ready, they would then follow the builds required to fulfils the outstanding orders.

    At a certain point they had necks left over with no orders for instruments to fit them to.

    So, they would fit the necks that were made, onto the bodies that incoming orders would require them to make.

    The result is that on occasions, an incorrectly specified neck would be fitted to a particular body which I will now demonstrate.

    For perhaps the worst example of what I am describing is that in the picture below where a neck manufactured for a different model, has obviously been “botched” to fit a Trini Lopez Electro Spanish 335 Thinline model which initially had a relatively low take up in sales .

    The first picture shows the instrument in the process of having its fingerboard completely removed. The second picture shows the neck to body joint with small filler pieces of wood utilised to make a readily available neck made for another model fit the model that was waiting to be made next.

    There are all sorts of anomalies I am aware of that arose from the Parsons St. factory at Kalamazoo, and indeed, the newer facilities in Nashville. And much worse mistakes than the deliberate fabrication of the Lopez model.

    But I am sure your more recent model suffers from no such similar issue or problem, so rest assured.

    By the way, I am a Gibson fan rather than a critic.

    And most great historic guitar manufacturers have horror stories and skeletons they would rather stay in the closet.

    I simply know about them because I am profoundly interested in both musical instruments and also in manufacturing plants.

    Some of my colleagues design the plants and engineer (and sometimes invent) the processes that enable the efficient fabrication of products.

    And some of us travel the world, visiting all the major plants in a particular field, observing and learning best industry practice. Especially when innovation arises.

    Many years ago, I attended a church that met in an assembly hall locally on a Sunday.

    During the week the hall was used for other purposes, sometimes a concert was held there, now and then.

    The hall held about 200 people at most, and one night a group called “Traffic” played there. There was also a bonus appearance.

    At the height of his acclaim, Eric Clapton turned up with his musician pals and simply jammed along with them the whole night. A legendary event locally.

    I think most people thought they had got their money’s worth from the price of the ticket.

    The point and its relevance to the theme of this thread is, Eric said that what you should do is to attain a killer clean sound first and foremost.

    When you have achieved that, (which isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do, as many a lacklustre clean guitar sound reveals, far too often to my mind).

    You then add distortion to an already superb sounding guitar tone. Eric achieved this with simply his guitar and amp alone and no distortion pedals whatever at all.

    I have an elderly American Big Muff pedal, which sounds great with the right guitar, but I never really use it at all much. I get distortion when I want it simply from the guitar and amplifier alone.

    Some guitars have higher output pickups and some amplifiers have lower headroom tubes, so break up early into mild distortion, and some guitars have linear pots that enable one to turn the volume down on the instrument for a clean sound and by turning the volume up a little, overdriving into distortion.

    But basically, I get distortion if needed, for acquiring the best possible clean sound from the equipment first and then adjusting it a little to add distortion.

    I have this theory that really great sound and tone comes primarily from the player themselves rather than the instrument and equipment. And that overuse of and too much processing and effects, more often than not, detract from the players contribution.

    Virtually all the greatest players I ever heard could be recognised when recorded, almost the instant one heard them.

    I have another theory, that the less processing and effects are used, or perhaps the moderately or occasionally they are used the more effective they are.

    We could by analogy liken this to the use of melismatic gymnastics by modern pop singers. It is now so widespread that every singer sounds very much like every other singer.

    The emotional power, meaning and strength of the words and memorability of the actual melody are almost entirely lost on the audience who are expected to be momentarily held and impressed by such excess.

    However, when every does it. All the time. It simply loses its power.

    If it were rarer. Occasional. The performance dependant upon other, more fundamental qualities and characteristics of musicianship, it would be far more special, effective and emotionally powerful.

    Over the years I have had opportunity to be involved on projects with artists whose music and approach to music I really didn’t like that much. One reason was they never had much embellishment to their music if anything at all.

    But I learnt that what they left out of their musical production actually made the artists performance, and the power of the words and music all the stronger and more effective for that. Less was more and the essential cardinal elements shone through.

    To me, there is too much over processing of sound in most modern recordings

    And too little of simply capturing great playing that reveals the touch and gift of the player itself.

    I had to laugh one day when Al Schmitt was congratulated on the great tremolo sound, he got on George Bensons, “Breezing” album.

    Al was completely unaware of it, he had miked Georges Twin Reverb amp set as it was, and neither of them had realised that the tremolo effect had been very subtly set “on”.

    I do appreciate that effects seem to be de rigour for certain genres of music.

    But the best performers to me at least, seem not to need them.

    And when they have them they didn't mean to. :)

    Quote: “I am seriously thinking about sanding the others down to a silky satin finish.”

    This brings up an interesting topic.

    Some years ago, when I purchased my first Music Man Bass, I had a few questions regarding how best to care for its fingerboard and neck as the fingerboard was bare wood and the neck finished with Tru-Oil.

    For sure I read the manufacturers instructions and followed them, but a relative is a violin maker, luthier and repairer who is extremely experienced and would get given priceless Amati, Stradivarius and Guarneri instruments to care for, primarily because his cardinal gift is that of being able to make the intrusion necessary for the repair, completely invisible.

    So I asked him to comment about these bare neck finishes which were new to me.

    If in doubt, ask an expert!

    He told me that this was a very interesting topic and a hot subject for discussion amongst the world’s top violin family, professionals.

    That the Strad magazine, compulsive reading for such as them, had recently conducted a poll across violin family players of all the world’s top orchestras. Inquiring whether they preferred the necks of their instruments to be gloss finished as was tradition, or sanded down even to bare wood?

    The survey concluded that these top instrumentalists were virtually evenly divided amongst those that preferred a traditional finish and those preferring a sanded or bare wood finish to the back of the neck. So, it would appear that whichever way one prefers the back of a neck to be finished, their exists a solid body of professional opinion that would solidly endorse either approach.

    Where pricelessly expensive, irreplaceable vintage instruments are concerned, retaining the original finish may be an important factor in preserving the instrument for posterity and retaining its inherent value.

    In addition, experienced players used to such a finish, have had no difficulty in performing brilliantly on the instruments concerned for hundreds of years without questioning the issue. Therefore, it would appear that the questions arising about this matter is a recent construct, perhaps borne out of social media activity amongst enthusiasts.

    Traditional finishes afford the advantage of protecting the wood and are easy to keep clean.

    Some players complain that such finishes increase the negative effect of perspiration, and that makes it more difficult to play.

    To this, I think its important to add that not everyone as equal when it comes to matters of personal perspiration. For some, it is a far greater negative issue than for others.

    On the other hand, other players proclaim that a sanded or bare wood finish, gives improved grist to their fingering grip and hand positioning on the neck.

    The claimed improvement in grip, is stated to reduce the unwanted effect of perspiration and increase the confidence of players in their sureness of touch and intonation.

    What is my view?

    I tend towards adapting myself to the instrument, rather then demand the instrument be exactly complying with my precise, ideal requirements.

    This is perhaps a consequence of the exposure and use of an extraordinary large number of different instruments, over a very long period of time.

    On the whole I prefer instruments with a traditional finish.

    My reasons are that as a collector, the overwhelming majority of them are stock, original, in mint condition and with quite a few with their original strings fitted.

    In practise, I do not find a finished neck sticky or slow. The reason for this is that the backs of the necks are repeatedly treated with cabana wax, the hardest known wax, and very highly polished indeed.

    As a consequence, they are extremely slick and sleek and very fast to play. Particularly so because before every instrument is put away the neck is polished in this manner, the fingerboard and frets cleaned along with the strings to preserve them.

    So, every time the case is opened it is like playing the instrument from brand new, only far better because there are no music shop sweaty fingerprints anywhere on the back of the neck to make it sticky.

    I suppose I should admit that I simply don’t perspire very much so don’t have the issues that some might. This is a highly personal matter.

    As for my instruments that feature bare wood or Tru-Oil finishes.

    Broadly, I adhere to manufacturers recommendations in caring for them.

    Where bare fingerboards are concerned there is the difficulty, perhaps inevitability as some might see it, of keeping them clean, as they can dirty up quickly.

    To that end, washing one’s hands before playing can go a long way towards preventing the fingers natural acids, enzymes and oils from being emitted into the wood in the first place, on the basis that prevention is better than cure.

    Having a towel handy whilst one performs can be an additional asset in that respect. To that end I also polish the bare wood fingerboards with cabana wax as it provides a barrier to the ingress of those potentially damaging elements some would deem to be unavoidable and inevitable.

    Thus, I have proven them to be neither unavoidable and inevitable at all.

    Re-applying Tru-Oil to the neck and lightly sanding, although periodically recommended by the manufacturers has never proven necessary.

    Simply because of the routine disciplines applied before putting the instruments away that ensure they are well maintained and in pristine working order, ready for when they are needed.

    For this I have to thank guitarist Bert Weedon who taught me at a young age to clean under my strings after every time I played to preserve them and bassist Bill Kidle who taught me to love and care for instruments and to keep them in good condition.

    So, to conclude.

    I feel the real issue is not whether a neck features and traditional or sanded finish per say.

    Rather, the real issue is whether a routine discipline is involved. Encompassing personal hygiene and routine cleaning and maintenance of the instrument.

    If that is the case, then in my experience would suggest that for me at least, it makes no material difference to the actual playability of the instrument, provided one employs a professional approach to what I regard as necessary disciplines.

    Although it hearkens to an era long past, we could by analogy like these to recording studio protocols where tape heads would be routinely cleaned, and azimuths set by engineers prior to a recording session.

    The salient point being, whether one prefers a traditional or sanded or bare wood finish. There are perceived advantages and disadvantages in either case, and quite regardless of that choice some level of discipline and routine maintenance will be necessary to obtain optimal performance from the instrument in both instances.