Do NOS parts make a difference?

I just read this article, you should too, read it and come back.

I feel there is something to sound created by parts made from different materials and techniques. I also feel in the world guitar audio, the word “tone” is used in so many different ways it’s essentially meaningless. Beyond “sounds good” the word tone can mean anything. Just knowing what something is influences your opinions, and subjective experience. I’d really like to submit this person to a blind A/B test and see if they can really tell the difference between wire with a different types of PVC coating.


Anyone that has read Freakonomics, or listened to their podcasts, will understand that the value of something is often effected by irrational behavior. The belief that something is better, is often determined by the cost not quality. There are many ways to convince people that something costs more, make it with hard to obtain parts for example. Read this Feakonomics study on the price wines.

Do these older parts sound better? They might, or they might not. Of course if you tell someone that they are listening to a 1965 Marhsall, they expect it to sound great. The real trick is to not tell them and let them make up their own minds. I encourage every musician out there to decide what sounds by ask themselves if they like it, regardless of whether it was played by Jim Hendrix, on a 1959 Fender Stratocaster through a 1965 Marhall JCM 45/100.

Building electronic stuff, many people have many ideas about the various sounds of caps and resistors. Joe Gore, performed a very ingenious test. Which showed that the audible difference between various caps is mostly inaudible. Read about here

SF Guitar works, a guitar shop in San Francisco that I highly recommend, did an informal guitar cable test. Read about it here. This is an illusion based industry that makes millions and employs thousands.

I applaud the idea of creating vintage gear from left over parts, or trying to recreate something that isn’t made anymore as closely as possible. There’s a lot to learn, homage is great. I also applaud the idea of making things, using old things as a springboard or evolution. This is what is great about DIY stomp boxes builders.

Getting lost in world of wire with different coatings and claiming to be able to hear the difference in sound, makes me very skeptical.

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