I'm thinking that a noticable portion of "the sound" is due to the string/nut/setup.
I've got the action set on mine at .038 at the first fret, and just under 7/64" at the 12th with . 11 high E string and .049 low E. I've been adjusting the action lower in small stages so as not to go too far because I noticed I liked the sound of the guitar right away, and it did change a bit each time I adjusted the nut and bridge.
This setup is hell on the finger-tips... so I was thinking to lower it a bit more, when I remebered something I'd read, and found again, from the gratfuljams board, attributed to G. Brawer: that "Jerry's setup included 7/64" at the 12th fret, .03" relief, and .03" at the first fret."
So I'm wondering, do any of you have your action set this high? Have you tried lower action with the same guitar?
My action is pretty high.Havent been to the guitar chiropractor in a few years.
I was just reading an interview this morning in Guitar Player and Jerry said he liked his action high...but not high enough that the git goes "out of tune".
Did you make the brass-y thing that goes around the pups on your fabulous Jerry Caster ?
I've never really given much thought to how the action can change the tone, but I do know that when I got my new (if a '78 is new) MC400 a couple of months back, the action was much higher than on my old Tele. I had changed the action on the Tele a few times with no real noticable effect on the tone.
What I've noticed is not so much a change in tone (other than it being a completely different guitar), but rather a change in the way I approach playing. I'm now much more attentive to the nuances of each note and much more deliberate in how I approach each one, paying more attention to how each is articulated. I think I recall in a GP interview - might be the same one TJ is talking about - that this was the thrust of why JG liked the higher action. Something along the lines of "I need to mean each note I play" or some such. A lot to be said for it.
Gone are the days of lazy slides into bouts of trying to be a shred-head.
Yeah, you've got a point there, that's definately part of it. Without some sort of a/b experiment using mechanical "devices" you can't seperate technique (which changes with setup) and the acoustic nature of the instrument... And I do like the way it makes me play more deliberatley, and helps keep me out of mindless/habitual licks... It does allow more dynamic picking without any string buzz...
It's brought to mind, many times, something I heard JG say in an interview in the 70's, that he intended to go some period, like a year, without playing anything faster than 1/4 notes. I don't think he did, but I appreciate the sentiment.