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A Modest Request


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I've been chewing on this for a while, and I think this is an appropriate forum for discussing it.

 

It is very frustrating to me when shopping for an instrument, to find a maker's website that actually has sound samples, to download the samples, and then to discover the recording is loaded with reverb.

 

Now, on the one hand, I agree that this makes the music very pretty. No argument there. However, I have some problems with the practice.

 

First, I've been attending IR Trad sessions and old timey jams for a couple of years, now, and at no time has anybody EVER remembered to bring along their reverb unit. So an instrument maker who, in trying to sell me his product, loads his samples with reverb is not showing me anything about his instrument that means anything to me in my real world playing experience.

 

Second, as anyone with any recording experience knows, reverb covers a multiude of sins. Last summer, while attending a local fiddle camp, I sat alone in the empty gymnasium on campus and played my tin whistle. Talk about reverb! I had only been playing the whistle a few months, but I can say, in all modesty, that I sounded FABULOUS! Such is the power of reverb. But we all know that, and we all know it's a big fib, so why post samples loaded with it?

 

Third, and this is closely related to the previous point, the customer is really smarter than that, Mr. Instrument Maker; you aren't helping yourself. Any musical instrument costing more than a couple hundred bucks, IHMO, is speaking to a musically educated audience. Why do those cheap chinese boxes keep getting sold? Because their customers don't know any better, and they're afraid to gamble on more than 100 to 150 dollars. But the customers for most of the brands that we discuss on this forum expect to pay many times that for quality instruments. Why? Because they do know better! They're educated, and they know what they will have to pay (if not now, someday) to get the sound they want. Now, when you don't know any better, reverb can make you think "Yeah, THAT'S the sound I want." But when you do know better, you already know what the reverb is doing and you cancel it out; "Yeah, but that's just the reverb."

 

Which brings me to my fourth point: the reverb may be hiding the positives of an instrument, too. To me, reverb is a muffler, a shield, like guaze draped over the camera lens; you get the basic picture, it's a very pretty picture, but you miss a lot of important details. For those of us who don't have the opportunity to sample a lot of instruments personally, downloading those mp3's and ram files is the best we can do. I just wish the folks in charge of the websites wouldn't muddy it up for us.

 

So here is my modest request (finally). Please, for all you hardworking instrument makers out there (and God bless you all, whatever your product), please, please, if you must post some reverb heavy sound samples because your loved ones or The Money or whoever insists, can you post some plain ones, too, so those of us tucked away in the corners of the world can make a more informed evaluation of your efforts? It's a request born out of love for what you are trying to accomplish. And I think you may be missing a greater opportunity to make your case with the ones who will actually be buying your instruments.

 

"But that's just my opinion; I could be wrong."

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"But that's just my opinion; I could be wrong."

No, you're quite right: It is your opinion! :D

 

So here is my modest request (finally). Please, for all you hardworking instrument makers out there ... please, if you must post some reverb heavy sound samples..., can you post some plain ones, too...?

I certainly agree with the request. My own take on such reverb is that it's an insult to the instrument and the player. It's like saying, "The real thing isn't good enough." (I could give similar examples from other contexts, but I don't want to divert this discussion.) That hardly seems to me to be a statement a vendor would want to be making about their product.

 

It's also deceptive, in that the advertisement includes something that isn't delivered with the product. (No, the blond isn't included with the car. B))

 

I do recognize that if the recordings are made in a studio which has deliberately sound-absorbing walls, they may lose some "natural" reverb, but using artificial reverb to "replace" it doesn't really give the same effect. It would be far better (IMO) to record in a natural setting. E.g., I'm told that the Folk Legacy "studio" is really their living room in front of an old stone fireplace. ;)

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Yes, Im with you on this subject.

 

Not to insult anyone who has used it, but... I've spent some considerable time at the C.net recorded tunes page. Im a beginner, and was looking for the right instrument for me. The recorded page is a great source for getting some idea of the voices of various concertinas. I must say, however, that whenever I came across a recording packed with reverb, I simply clicked the stop button before the tune even ended.

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As you know, there is a difference between electronically added reverb and a "vibrato" effect put in by the player. The former sounds more like an echo. The latter is distinctly different, but I don't want to start the whole "vibrato thread" thing again. Nevertheless, the so-called "vibrato" on a concertina is produced by the hands manipulating the bellows with a controlled quiver-like motion.

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