Does Wood impact Tone on a Solidbody Guitar

PhilHill

Senior member
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1,654
Here we have another "Expert" declaring that wood type doesn't affect tone on a solidbody.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V76yWZ3-OuM[/youtube]


My first thought was "Whaa". He appears to confuse tone with projection, among other things, and I would love to meet him just so I could have him try something. I would say take the best sounding solidbody that he could find, remove the electronics and hardware, then install those things on a guitar made out of a piece of Lowes plywood then tell me that they sound the same. I've done it, it's been done by others. I know the result he'll get.

Thoughts?
 

Rick

Senior member
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4,510
Without looking at I can tell he hasn’t watched the Aaron’s shoot out on this topic.  While I couldn’t tell a difference in the alder and swamp ash with my eyes closed their was difference in the mahogany.
 

PhilHill

Senior member
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1,654
Quite so. Different materials produce different tone. I have watched people argue this for decades. Always the same claim that it's only the pickups that determine the sound. Yes,the strings vibrate, the pickups turn that vibration into an electrical signal which the amp converts into sound. But they always overlook the fact that whatever the strings are attached to affects the vibration of the strings, thereby determining the exact sound produced.
And if his claim that the thickness of the top and the size of the sound chamber are so necessary, then a 1950's D'Angelico archtop and a Gibson ES-335 would sound the same if they had the same pickup on them. Or basically all solidbody guitars would sound the same if you moved one pickup from guitar to guitar. 
 

bagman67

Senior member
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8,355
Yadda yadda yadda this comes up again and again, and the one thing that is less frequentl emphasized than I'd like is that even when there are audible differences, they are not necessarily representative of all specimens of a giving wood species - at best, one can speak in terms of tendencies, and yet there are so many of these absolutists on the Youtoobz yammering on. 


Furthermore, get off my lawn.


Carry on!
 

mayfly

Senior member
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8,304
You just gotta take it at the source.  That is, if the guy is a bozo*, then what he says is likely bozoesque.  :)








*I mean, look at his backdrop for his video!!
 

PhilHill

Senior member
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1,654
"Bozoesque", I love that.
I have seen other videos that this gentleman has made. In them he states that he has made at least fifty guitars, so now he's giving expert advice. My point is not to condemn him, but I constructed fifty guitars before I was thirty years old. I'm now sixty five and I don't consider myself anywhere near an expert. Still learning, and hopefully, will continue to learn. Lord save us from "Experts".
I started the thread to find out what evidence others have come up with for or against his statements. From which, hopefully, I and others can learn. I can see the difficulty though, the evidence given in the video is far to easy to refute. And his basic premise contradicts the very reason the solidbody guitar was created for. To allow high volume without feedback.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
 

Seamas

Senior member
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517
Anytime I hear these type of arguments that go to the extreme side of things: either that the choice of wood is the #1 factor or that it isn't a factor at all I find it easy to dismiss.

It seems certain to me that with a solidbody, the wood choice isn't nearly the factor that it would be on an acoustic, but there ARE acoustic properties of solidbody guitars and they do vary in regard to the choice in woods used.
 

PhilHill

Senior member
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1,654
Seamas said:
Anytime I hear these type of arguments that go to the extreme side of things: either that the choice of wood is the #1 factor or that it isn't a factor at all I find it easy to dismiss.

It seems certain to me that with a solidbody, the wood choice isn't nearly the factor that it would be on an acoustic, but there ARE acoustic properties of solidbody guitars and they do vary in regard to the choice in woods used.

You are probably as close to correct as possible, and that's pretty much what I've found over time. From what I've read Les Paul started out wanting the pure sound of the string alone. No other influences. But he soon found that removing the wood altogether results in a tinny high pitched sound that most folks find harsh.
 

BroccoliRob

Senior member
Messages
912
Ermmm, aaron already did a vid for the Big W that proved the diff is audible so this guy can cram it

pff, this new jerk is just making lowrent youtub clickbait trash while I'm over studying the blade (guitar). guess wich leads to better t0n3?
 

PhilHill

Senior member
Messages
1,654
BroccoliRob said:
Ermmm, aaron already did a vid for the Big W that proved the diff is audible so this guy can cram it

pff, this new jerk is just making lowrent youtub clickbait trash while I'm over studying the blade (guitar). guess wich leads to better t0n3?

Rocketh on Rocket Man! One day the World will know of your Tonal Splender. :party07: :headbanging: :headbang4:
 

aarontunes

Administrator
Staff member
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2,585
You could turn that video into a drinking game. Everybody takes a shot every time he says "air pump".


The one thing he did totally prove beyond any contestation is that an electric guitar is not an acoustic guitar. Cuz a electric guitar ain't got no air pump.
 

PhilHill

Senior member
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1,654
The Aaron said:
You could turn that video into a drinking game. Everybody takes a shot every time he says "air pump".


The one thing he did totally prove beyond any contestation is that an electric guitar is not an acoustic guitar. Cuz a electric guitar ain't got no air pump.

LOL Quite so. The theory seems to prove little beyond poor research.

"Cuz a electric guitar ain't got no air pump."
  Well there was that whole Peter Frampton thing, but we won't go into that.  :turtle:
 

Street Avenger

Senior member
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2,247
The Aaron's videos proved to me that on electric guitars, body wood makes a subtle and noticeable difference, neck wood makes even less (yet still noticeable) difference, fingerboard material makes NO difference, and SS fret material makes no substantial difference. No need for any further discussion or "expert" opinions as far as I'm concerned.
 

gingataff

Active member
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72
Air pump

giphy.gif
 

guitarstv

Active member
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69
On the one hand, everything makes some small amount of difference.  On the other hand, the amp you use, the effects you play through, the pickups you select . . .I'd argue these make so much difference that stuff like body wood/fretboard wood/fret material are largely cosmetic differences on an electric guitar.

As far as wood goes, my experience is that the sound differences you hear aren't consistent from guitar to guitar anyway.  There might be tendencies for certain woods to sound a particular way on average, but we don't play the average of a specific IRS of wood.  We play a single individual chunk of lumber.  That can lead to unexpected sound differences.  Played acoustically, my brightest sounding solid body electric guitar is made of mahogany.  It's way acoustically brighter than a maple necked alder bodied strat I've got.  Just the way that chunk of mahogany ended up.
 

PhilHill

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1,654
guitarstv said:
On the one hand, everything makes some small amount of difference.  On the other hand, the amp you use, the effects you play through, the pickups you select . . .I'd argue these make so much difference that stuff like body wood/fretboard wood/fret material are largely cosmetic differences on an electric guitar.

As far as wood goes, my experience is that the sound differences you hear aren't consistent from guitar to guitar anyway.  There might be tendencies for certain woods to sound a particular way on average, but we don't play the average of a specific IRS of wood.  We play a single individual chunk of lumber.  That can lead to unexpected sound differences.  Played acoustically, my brightest sounding solid body electric guitar is made of mahogany.  It's way acoustically brighter than a maple necked alder bodied strat I've got.  Just the way that chunk of mahogany ended up.

I would counter with the idea that pickups are like microphones. If a person sings into a mike your hearing the person's voice. Yes, the type of mike and the position it's in can slightly alter that voice, but it's still the person's voice. The pickups don't create the sound of the strings vibrating, they transform the vibration into signal. The amp transforms it into sound, they both can color or alter that sound, but it's still the sound created by the strings vibrating on the wood. And the effects in the amp and on your signal chain are not part of the guitar, they are post guitar signal processing modifications. 
And yes, no two hunks of wood sound the same, not exactly. However that's true of all stringed instruments. You can take a large chunk of Sitka spruce, cut it so that you get two book-matched tops out it. Build an acoustic guitar using each top, and use backs and sides that are taken from the same large chunk of wood on each. And the two guitars may sound similar, or they may sound completely different. One consistent fact I've found is that you never know how the guitar will sound until your finished.
 

Cactus Jack

Senior member
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484
I personally enjoyed the video, and appreciated perspective. I liked the breakdown on acoustic vs solid and thought he did a great job talking about the mechanics of an acoustic.

I honestly don't know how important tone woods are, I've seen guys play MFD vs the big 3, and the difference was so subtle that with the slightest bit of distortion I couldn't tell a difference at all.

All I know is guitars are awesome and some woods look really cool. That's as deep as I can go on this topic.

 

PhilHill

Senior member
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1,654
Cactus Jack said:
I personally enjoyed the video, and appreciated perspective. I liked the breakdown on acoustic vs solid and thought he did a great job talking about the mechanics of an acoustic.

I honestly don't know how important tone woods are, I've seen guys play MFD vs the big 3, and the difference was so subtle that with the slightest bit of distortion I couldn't tell a difference at all.

All I know is guitars are awesome and some woods look really cool. That's as deep as I can go on this topic.

My main complaint with the video was that he wasn't describing how an acoustic creates the sound you hear. He was describing how it processes and projects the sound. But, in the long run exactly how a guitar creates sound is like, HARD man, it's a confusing and complicated exercise in physics that is something even Hawking would have been daunted by.
 

guitarstv

Active member
Messages
69
PhilHill said:
I would counter with the idea that pickups are like microphones. If a person sings into a mike your hearing the person's voice. Yes, the type of mike and the position it's in can slightly alter that voice, but it's still the person's voice. The pickups don't create the sound of the strings vibrating, they transform the vibration into signal. The amp transforms it into sound, they both can color or alter that sound, but it's still the sound created by the strings vibrating on the wood. And the effects in the amp and on your signal chain are not part of the guitar, they are post guitar signal processing modifications.

I can kinda buy the voice/mic analogy most of the way.

An electric guitar pickup (unless it's a piezo, or is extremely microphonic) only picks up the vibration of the strings.  Not the acoustic sound of the instrument.  The pickups don't create the sound of the strings vibrating - absolutely true.  But the acoustic sound of an electric guitar is sound lost from the vibration of those strings (it's energy converted into sound . . . and thus stolen from the vibration of strings).

Because of this, an electric guitar will not usually behave like a voice into a microphone.  Magnetic pickups don't pick up the sound of the body of the guitar - just the energy of the vibrating strings.


PhilHill said:
One consistent fact I've found is that you never know how the guitar will sound until your finished.

Agreed.

But I'd also add, that if your guitar sounds too dark/bright . . . you can change the pickups/electronics and go a long way towards fixing that.  For example, single coils with 500k volume/tone pots will always be hella bright - no matter how dark sounding you think the guitar is.  While you can't polish a total turd . . . you can tremendously alter the voice of an instrument through pickup and electronics choice.
 
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