The Ecstatic Guitar Theorem


Finding the right guitar couldn’t be any more difficult in a world full of endless options. There are approximately 20 million guitars produced every year by companies like Martin, Gibson, Larrivee and Taylor to name a few. Some of these companies can produce between 3000-5000 guitars a day between their multiple factories. One of these typical guitars sells from $500 – $5000. This first tier in the guitar market is constantly being bombarded with factory guitars that truly sound dead and have no life to them. I have heard that there are a few “keepers” in this market but have not experienced it personally. In comparison I would say it’s like paying the cost of the lotto to hopefully win your balance back. These instruments are being sold as guitars yet they have very little in common with the masterpieces that they are representing. As a player you can ask for more out of your guitar. If everyone demanded improvements then the sellers would have to listen. The biggest complaint of course will not be the shape of the guitar but the tone.
In 2015 Symphontree Music composed a new criteria for physical tonal analysis known as the Critical Tone Analysis (CTA). The analysis addresses physically measurable quantities on the guitar. The problem with this type of analysis is that a measure of the guitar on this scale leaves one to assume a higher-rated guitar is a better match then a lower-rated one.

But, you do not need to be a player to feel this level of excitement or ecstasy . This then asserts that no skill or practice is needed to present “pleasing” notes on a complex guitar -like instrument. It is the interpreter of this energy and an accumulation of all the pure sounds that he has recognized and realized in his daily life that create the bias of what a player might find pleasing.

The ability to train one’s ear comes from years of practice as well as silence. I have witnessed clients with no ability to play reach a level of ecstasy with an instrument while playing in a completely dissonant manner (relative to what I may find pleasing to the ear). The guitar’s warm, organic-analogous energy spreads over and swells the body to the point where their bodies unite as one in a seemingly beautiful display of power translated into music. There is a creational power or godliness that stains the air with every pulse. The pleasures of tone have the power to merge and dissolve the stresses or constricted energy flow in the body creating a “Tantric” guitar experience. Something so pleasing that you will revisit it as much as possible over the course of your life and surrender to its will. In this sense the guitar has become much more than just another musical instrument. It has become an inspiration for life and a soul to your body of music.

Let’s investigate the guitar further in order to derive a better way to reveal an instrument’s compatibility and ability to draw ecstasy.

The CTA allows me to zone in on “physical” areas of the tone but has no representation on the metaphysical scale. A guitar may not “ring like a bell” but it makes you feel like a super-hero. Just because a guitar resonates like a harp and has a deep cello-like bass doesn’t mean it will be the right guitar for you. You may need a dry, rough tone that cuts like a knife. On the CTA they both would look like polar opposites. What I may love about a guitar may not suit your needs and may leave you wanting more. This cannot be measured via CTA or physical analysis.

Can it be measured at all?

If we can escape beyond the instrument’s physical shape and reconnect with it on a metaphysical scale then we are left with just pure energy. This energy should not subside in the chamber but should swell up and enrich you in a flourishing tonal sensation. The player and the energy should become one vibrating entity producing pure sound in an otherwise still room. There are moments when ecstasy is reached and the energy seems to flow and wheel out of the guitar like drops of water into a river. This is another source of power that the player can plug right into to draw inspiration and to sketch.

Part I: Conception

Let’s leave everything we do know about the guitar behind and assume there is no such thing as a guitar. Let us relax the idea of what a guitar is and what it does and bear no assumptions. Let’s question everything and travel back in time aboard the ship of our imagination.
Let us return back to a pre-guitar era and imagine ourselves as a musician in our community. A neighbour comes forward with an offering of a guitar-like instrument he made from a fallen apple tree in his garden. He then tells you that the apples from the tree fed his family for decades and it only seemed natural that it’s life continued as a musical tool in your hands. He tells you he designed it after the most magnificent being he had ever encountered, the creator of his blood line and nurturer of his health: his wife. Upon its conception this guitar was already special aside from its mark in our imaginary time-line. This instrument’s tone then would be compared to that of natural pure sounds that a musician may use everyday to create songs. Its shape, size and sounds will cater to such a profound musical awakening that it becomes the most powerful guitar ever crafted. Power being an output of its overall force over a distance in a given amount of time. The guitar was thus a consequence of the instrument’s shape which was inspired by the universal body shape that from birth has nurtured us. The mesmerizing curves of a woman can easily be compared to the lines on a guitar.
An essential point of view to consider is the guitar has become wildly popular primarily due to its shape. It is a universal shape that is easily related to. The divinity of the female silhouette is no secret. Subsequently there is no power on earth that can compare to the female body. Just the hint of the lines can lead a man into passion or pleasure which in turn makes him as vulnerable as the instrument. After all the guitar is a vulnerable instrument that literally “sticks its neck out there,” or for an even a better analogy, “puts it’s neck on the line.”
This instrument in our imaginary timeline is thus the only guitar ever crafted. Every guitar crafted after this moment then becomes a representation of someone else’s work or idea based on deviations from our original guitar design. Therefore the conception of the guitar has now naturally shifted focus to the physical form of a what is now called a guitar instead of the inspiration that developed it: love. The reason for building the next guitar will not be the same as the first. Conception thus is as important as the arrival of the instrument and is an important criteria to consider when choosing your next instrument.

Part 2: Honesty

We have changed the design of guitar, electrified it and altered the bodies to support finer arrangements of low frequencies yet the guitar has not deviated far from its original blueprint. If a small child was asked to draw a guitar they will more than likely put the sound hole in the middle, just below the neck (an obvious design flaw that will slowly cause the neck to collapse). We can alter the position of the sound hole and achieve pleasing tones all over the body. The sound hole acts as a Helmholtz resonator and oscillates the air beneath it within the chamber according to this basic principle.

equationFrom this equation we can see;

The larger the area (A sound hole) the more high frequencies will be present since the air can move faster in/out.
The larger volumes (V) give us lower frequencies since more air must move out to relieve excess pressure.
A Longer Neck (L) will contribute to developing low frequencies

This principle is the key to all the tone that we love to hear. A foundation from which our acoustic knowledge is formed is crucial in understanding the work it performs for us.

You cannot hide anything on the guitar and your fingers will tell all. So the guitar is thus an honest instrument. As the user’s fingers travel up and down the neck the energy begins to flow into the resonator, similar to a cross wind blowing over an empty bottle. This chamber or womb is where the music is born and vitalized. Without its presence the motions of my fingers on the neck would produce less audible and pleasing energy. Within the chamber the energy is oscillated and realized with a larger array of frequencies. This energy’s arrangement then becomes its temporary consciousness which is fundamentally solid enough to nurture love. Within these boundaries of love there is enough energy to reach a tonal ecstasy. An honest guitar connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness. These attributes are crucial components to consider when looking for your next guitar.

Part 3: Gender

Nakedness in general puts everyone in their most vulnerable state. There is nothing left but what makes you yourself and nobody else. Often we view clothes and belongings as ways of uniquely expressing our individuality. The most original shapes and lines anyone will ever see are actually hidden below the garments and embellishments. Can a guitar be nude?

We are used to seeing guitars exactly how they are created by their creators when they are ready to be presented. The naked body of a guitar may help us understand its compatibility to the user as well. If a guitar becomes more masculine with its embellishments removed then that may interest you more than the feminine option. This may help us derive a gender for guitars which will encourage a better long-term relationship. This also may prove to be very important for singers and songwriters looking for a muse. What needs to be considered is the bias of my relative perspective to yours. So nakedness of the guitar should be represented from a skewed symmetrical relationship in which we both see the same rigid bodies but the possibility exists that we will derive the opposite conclusions. In addition, all of these planes of thought exist because I conceived the idea to formulate them, thus additional bias is presented within my representation. If nakedness is be accounted for than this needs to be addressed.

To help assert the gender of a guitar “nude” photos of the guitars will be displayed and explained in each guitars profile to assert gender

Part 4: Power

As discussed previously there is an unseen metaphysical power hidden in every guitar. We can identify this power with more certainty now that we have formulated criteria in which to describe the overall force of the guitar. Force on the guitar may be a summation of all the criteria used to describe the guitar stored as potential in the guitar.

In this case we are looking for a real number that corresponds to the tonal mass of the guitar described in our criteria. The CTA real numbers can be realized to help illustrate power. No guitars will be rated below 3 or above 5 on the CTA. Let these real numbers be known as x. As discussed before, a higher rated guitar may not be the more powerful one. Therefore deviations from a number n (n = 4) on the CTA may be the best way to summarize the force. Let all intervals be represented as a real number greater than one so 𝑑 = (𝑥 – 𝑛) +1 and 𝑑 ⦥ 1. Let T be the total points possible on our scale (largest deviation from n possible is 2 and there are 11 possible criteria so T = 22)

𝐏= ∑ F ∕ T ∑F= ∑𝑑 (A) / t
A = 1 , t = 1 sec (arbitrary time)
∑𝑑 = (𝑑1+𝑑2+𝑑3+𝑑4+𝑑5+𝑑6+𝑑7+𝑑8+𝑑9+𝑑10+𝑑11)
𝑑 = (𝑥 – 𝑛) +1 so 𝑑 ⦥ 1

For every real number described (x) under the CTA criteria a deviation (d) from n can be found. Let’s look at this guitar as an example.

Critical Tone Analysis

Guitars embody the voice of the forest translated through the skill determination and dedication of the luthier. The luthiers primary job is to give a voice back to the wood. Inside every grain and detail of the wood is a malleable material which has the power to alter the form and function of the instrument and the tone. When judging guitar construction, the tone becomes the ultimate material which guides all of our senses through the value of the art form.

Judging guitar tone is very complicated as well as subjective. What I may find pleasing in a guitar may or may not  influence your overall experience submerged in the overall quality of the sound. This valuable experience has the power to influence and create music.

Sound is a complicated material that is capable of shifting in and out of time and transforming any moment into a memory. A memory can be directly linked to the smells, sights and tastes involved in the experience of being submerged in it’s quality. Good sound may be described as sound that pleases the listener, regardless if this person understands the complexity of sound or quality of  which it’s timbre can be judged or categorized.

A guitar can have a combination of different elements that when mixed together form the overall quality of its tone. A guitar’s tone may be described better by closely looking at the components of the overall quality of the tone and sound material transduce’d by the instrument. Such components as bass, treble, projection, dynamic range, warmth,  harmonic series, sweetness, clarity and definition, decay time, evenness of response, note articulation and separation, volume, percussiveness, midrange, resonance, tonal bloom, note shape (round-flat),dryness of tone, tonal darkness or lightness and all the colours and textures between. Looking at these components enable a listener with a well trained ear the ability to describe the overall quality of tone.

Symphontree Music composed a new criteria for physical tonal analysis known as the Critical Tone Analysis (CTA). The analysis addresses physically measurable quantities on the guitar by looking closely at the overall components which define the quality of tone.  We can use these criteria to describe what quality of tone one can anticipate from a particular instrument. This analysis has been adapted from and is based around Ervin Somogyi’s work entitled “How To Critically Analyze Tone”. Symphontreee Music’s “The Critical Tone Analysis” is a direct result of Ervin’s incredible teachings and influence on luthiers and players worldwide. Without Ervin’s clear and concise language to direct the analysis of tone, Symphontree Music would not be ale to offer you such an in depth of analysis of the qualities of tone.

Criteria to Critically Analyze Guitar Tone

1. Chordal Response (how quickly the chord responds to your touch)
2. Individual note decay, as well as blended in a chord
3. Basic volume and presence
4. Individual note separation and focus
5. Systematic sustain (exact length of time it takes a chord to decay)
6. Response compliance (do you have to push the guitar or does it respond easily to your touch)
7. Balance and quality of tone (bass heavy, treble heavy or evenly balanced)
8. Even strength and balance of each string
9. Wolf tones (problematic loud or soft notes)
10. Tone projection (is the sound good up close or across the room)
11. A large dynamic range (quality of sound from playing very softly, softly, medium, harder, and/or really hard)
13. Tonal bloom (whether the sound comes out immediately at full volume or whether it integrates and gets louder before it begins to wane)
Quality of sound (Warm, sweet, tinny, rich, live, fundamental, shallow, breathy, open, held back, and/or has lots of overtones)

Ratings may be applied to the listed criteria above

3 Lowest possible rating
4 Average
5 Highest possible rating


by Mario Beauregard 

The Critical Tone Analysis

1. Chordal Response: fast, deep, reactive, thick swell, round, versatile chordal weight, fighter jet speed 5.0
2. Individual note decay as well as blended in a chord: 5.0
14 sec + ~ approx sec as note ~ 14 sec + with vibrato
3. Basic volume and presence: LOUD, soft, classical, orchestral, powerful, grand piano control, profound presence, interactive volume with a ton of headroom, roaring, thunderous, thundering 5.0
4. Individual note separation and focus: clear, thick, crisp, very good note separation 5.0
5.Systematic sustain: earth trembling sustain, rich defined overtone series, interactive sustain, delay, lingering sustain that is malleable 5.0
6. Quality of sound: lyrical tone with supernatural strength, exuberant, thick, atmospheric, vivacious, very dynamic, rich, rings like a bell, cuts like a knife, soft / classical-nylon, gritty, fundamental shovel, defined overtone series, very pleasing, shivering soundboard, incredible tap tone snap to whoof, luxuriant
7. Response compliance: fast, energetic, interactive response, perfect finger style balance, 5.0
8. Balance and quality of tone: balanced with a crisp acoustic note loaded in fundamental, very energetic, open, ppp to fff, an enthusiastic voice, vibrant, malleable tone, interactive, 5.0
9. Even strength and balance of each string: every string is evenly balanced and pronounced with a crisp acoustic focus, thick and heavy mids and trebles, trembling and enveloping bass loaded with fundamental, 5.0
10. Wolf tones : none to report
11. Tone projection: Vivacious interactive swell, LOUD to soft, volcanic, tsunami wave 5.0
12. A large dynamic range: smooth jazz to classical to avante garde to contemporory to flat pick to finger style to orchestral, solo, virtuoso, PROFESSIONAL dynamics, new sounds you have never heard, percussive snap to jazz chatting, musical weapon 5.0
13. Tonal bloom: energetic bloom or slower warm bloom, interactive tonal control with even compliance 5.0

The Listening Bar

The Listening Bar is a collection of musical happenings on different instruments. All material is unrehearsed and improvised purely by the dynamics of the guitar, overall playing experience and the mood it casts. Every guitar makes you play in a unique way and “The Listening Bar” aims to capture that experience and not just the tone.
All guitars are recorded using bare fingers with no pick. I use a Yeti Mic directly plugged into Garageband. These tracks are left unmastered before uploading. There may be mistakes in the recordings or environmental sounds like birds, bees, splashes and rain. It is my intention to give the forest a voice so the majority of tracks are recorded outside, all year long. Every attempt is made to exploit the guitars full timbre and bring the playing experience and true sound of the forest from here to you.

The Ecstatic Guitar Theorem

The following criteria will now be satisfied for all new inventory at Symphontree Music and will make up the Ecstatic Guitar Theorem.

Conception (state of mind of builder, season, astrological signs etc.)
Honesty (integrity of design; ie Mitchi Matsuda’s rosette designs, Laskin Armrest, lets create the most honest guitars possible)
Gender (nude guitar photos to help derive sex of the guitar and reveal compatibility)
Power (A real number derived from the CTA scale to show potential of a given instrument)

The primary focus of this criteria is to allow costumers everywhere to be better informed about the products they are considering to purchase. This new criteria aims to focus on delivering guitars capable of procuring tonal ecstasy. This results in an instrument that will inspire you as well as others for generations to come. That is the true power and gift of music.