Quick Attack

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
bluesnik
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Quick Attack

Post by bluesnik » Mon May 13, 2019 11:53 am

When a guitar is reputed to have a "quick attack", what is being implied?
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James Lister
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by James Lister » Mon May 13, 2019 8:40 pm

A fast response - percussive. i.e. the output reaches a maximum level in a short time. In general you would also expect a fast decay.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by rojarosguitar » Mon May 13, 2019 9:06 pm

Something connected with what is called ‚admittance’ in acoustics...
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souldier
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by souldier » Mon May 13, 2019 9:52 pm

Quick attack meaning the notes respond and hit their peak quickly as opposed to having a "blooming" or gradual response. This can be desirable when playing fast/demanding pieces since you want each note to keep up and be distinct rather than all the notes crashing into each other. Over the years I've come to discover that I personally am drawn to guitars with a more blooming response as I find their tone more beautiful and musically pleasing. Most of the songs I play are more romantic and sentimental such as El Noi de la Mare, Dedicatoria and Torija, so it works for my taste in repertoire. I once had a guitar with a lightening fast response, but just felt it was a bit cold and impersonal, lacking the alluring tonality that I look for in a guitar.
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rojarosguitar
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by rojarosguitar » Tue May 14, 2019 12:56 pm

I'd guess the secret lies in the right balance of quickness and all the other attributes one could come up. But I don't think anybody is drawn to a guitar through an analysis of such acoustical attributes. It has to click somewhere else...
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...

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Mode
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by Mode » Thu May 16, 2019 12:22 am

rojarosguitar wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 12:56 pm
I'd guess the secret lies in the right balance of quickness and all the other attributes one could come up. But I don't think anybody is drawn to a guitar through an analysis of such acoustical attributes. It has to click somewhere else...
Why not? I really liked souldier's explanation. I also like the implication that there isn't a perfect guitar ( one more reason to own many ;) )

Tonit
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by Tonit » Thu May 16, 2019 12:28 am

bluesnik wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 11:53 am
When a guitar is reputed to have a "quick attack", what is being implied?
It implies...flamenco.
Just my personal opinion.

Matthew Masail
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by Matthew Masail » Thu May 16, 2019 12:38 am

I've only built one guitar so far, you can check out the "ultra light bridge" thread for some info, but already I've learned there is a difference between sustain coming from impedance at the bridge VS sustain from the structure of the top and body. I think at this point I would define "attack" by how quickly the energy is lost from the string to the soundboard, and thus how fast the note reached it's "full bloom" and this then effects how "fast" a guitar seems to want, or be able to play. What the soundboard does with that energy is IMO another question, as my guitar for example has a very fast response but still decent sustain, it sounds more like a piano than a flamenco guitar, I believe this has to do with the soundboard construction.

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Beowulf
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by Beowulf » Thu May 16, 2019 2:20 am

Here is an example from the other side: "...this guitar does not play intuitively because of its long attack time. Tones take milliseconds longer than expected to build volume but, the tones are full and "royal." This is the comment of guitarist Ricardo Cobo concerning a 1980 José Romanillos guitar described in Sheldon Urlik's book, "A Collection of Fine Spanish Guitars from Torres to the Present."
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Ken Whisler
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by Ken Whisler » Sat May 18, 2019 2:21 am

Tonit wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 12:28 am
It implies...flamenco.
Just my personal opinion.
Interesting. Some years back, I was showing one of my guitars to a friend of a friend who is a highly regarded flamenco guitarist. To my ears, and I am biased, it sounded amazing under his fingertips, but he politely handed it back to me and said, “Too ringy.”
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Tonit
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by Tonit » Sat May 18, 2019 6:04 am

Hi Ken Whisler,
Ken Whisler wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 2:21 am
Tonit wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 12:28 am
It implies...flamenco.
Just my personal opinion.
Interesting. Some years back, I was showing one of my guitars to a friend of a friend who is a highly regarded flamenco guitarist. To my ears, and I am biased, it sounded amazing under his fingertips, but he politely handed it back to me and said, “Too ringy.”
While I kind of understand your friend's response, it seems it matters less in Spain as to with which guitar you play flamenco. Cedar tops, higher bridges, maple necks... any guitar is a flamenco guitar if the player is playing flamenco.

For me, my ideal in terms of the dynamics at this moment would be, sharper and piercing "attack" decaying fast enough, then the tone becomes stable and ringer longer at sufficient volume would be ideal. This saves me frustrations when I need to go fff it can take as hard as I pluck with its ample headroom and without breaking, at the same time allowing me to go gentle and deep and sound full enough for whole note harmonies.

IMPO the sharp attack sounds harsh in a bedroom, but it moves the air in a pub or auditorium acoustics well enough and pleasant.

While I am explaining to you, I just noticed my ideal sounds like how a compressor works. I hate any compressor on acoustics but is a must for old school RnB compings like Paul Jackson Jr. or Ray Parker Jr. That's the "compressor" I like and am comparing to my ideal flamenco/classical guitar sound.

Being honest I do not know so much about flamenco guitar tones, but for classical, I need stronger bass of cedar most of the time but not always. The cedar guitar bass tends to be too loose and kind of airy blurry so I need it tighter and focused.

Cheers,
Last edited by Tonit on Sun May 19, 2019 12:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quick Attack

Post by Tonit » Sun May 19, 2019 12:46 am

Dupe

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dta721
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by dta721 » Mon May 20, 2019 1:21 pm

bluesnik wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 11:53 am
When a guitar is reputed to have a "quick attack", what is being implied?
I thought James gives the best description of "quick attack": A fast response - percussive. i.e. the output reaches a maximum level in a short time. In general you would also expect a fast decay.".

As for your 2nd part of the question "implied by a guitar", I'd say it pertains to the intrinsic property of a guitar, whether it can respond quick enough to provide a fast rise time relative to other guitars. Whether this part of your question is relevant or not, as there can be differences (say in miliseconds) but human ears may not be able to distinguish, I don't know, just raise the possibility.

As for the intertwining concept of full, round or thin, metallic sound of a guitar, I'd say it has a lot do with how a guitarist picks, plucks the strings, the angle of attack (pardon the pun :) ) ...etc. Here are some resources online about how the guitar sound is controlled or "manipulated" for the desirable (warm, round) or intended "quick attack" (flamenco) sound:

From Figure 3 of this article: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/45d1/7 ... f60481.pdf
When playing the guitar, the location along the string where the plucking is performed strongly affects the resulting timbre. If the plucking point is closer to the bridge, the sound is brighter, sharper, more percussive. If the plucking point is closer to the middle of the string or the soundhole, the resulting sound is warmer, mellower, duller, as expressed by expert performers/listeners."

Allen Matthews in his web site also describes :"“Attack” is the speed at which a note gets to full volume" and further explains how to produce a warmer tone using "attack" with stiff fingers or soft tip joints:
https://www.classicalguitarshed.com/war ... ng-attack/

Cheers,
Dave

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guitarrista
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by guitarrista » Mon May 20, 2019 8:11 pm

Ken Whisler wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 2:21 am
Tonit wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 12:28 am
It implies...flamenco.
Just my personal opinion.
Interesting. Some years back, I was showing one of my guitars to a friend of a friend who is a highly regarded flamenco guitarist. To my ears, and I am biased, it sounded amazing under his fingertips, but he politely handed it back to me and said, “Too ringy.”
I think he was commenting not on the attack, but on the decay. "Too ringy" I think means the notes take too long to decay - which is generally not a desirable characteristic in a flamenco guitar.

A sharp attack may also be followed by sharp decay, but not necessarily. Your instrument may still have had a sharp attack; however the decay was not to your friend's liking as it was too long.

Matthew Masail above said something very interesting which sounds right to me:
Matthew Masail wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 12:38 am
"I would define "attack" by how quickly the energy is lost from the string to the soundboard, and thus how fast the note reached it's "full bloom" and this then affects how "fast" a guitar seems to want, or be able to play. What the soundboard does with that energy is IMO another question.."
If we go with that, then "attack" is another name for what flamencos call "pulsacion"; usually they want fast pulsacion (= fast/sharp attack).
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Beowulf
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Re: Quick Attack

Post by Beowulf » Mon May 20, 2019 9:13 pm

It is also important to differentiate "quick attack" as the string response to the playing impulse from the resulting sound waveform coming off the soundboard. I added diamond string ties to my instrument as I wanted a faster/quicker string response to my strokes. This is not necessarily the same as the rise time of the sound waveform as it emanates from the guitar's soundboard.
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