Does Wood impact Tone on a Solidbody Guitar

Street Avenger

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With regard to pickups; take a Gibson Les Paul and  Gibson ES-335 with the same pickups, same bridge, same core material, same neck material, same scale, same set-neck construction. One has a solid body, the other has a hollow body. They sound drastically different from each other. Obviously the pickup is "hearing" the difference in tone between the solid and the hollow. Obviously, the body is making a difference.
 

PhilHill

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It all boils down to the fact that the material that the body, or what passes for a body, is made out of affects the way the strings vibrate, and different materials cause different qualities in that vibration. Density and mass, structural rigidity, moisture content, a host of qualities determine whether the vibrations are reflected or absorbed, multiplied or reduced. And the acoustic qualities of the body consist of all those same factors and contribute to the creation of the vibration's qualities rather than being separate from them. In other words a Rickenbacker sounds different than Strat even if it's not plugged in.


. And no, strictly speaking a magnetic pickup is not the same as a microphone. Depending on what kind of mike it is.
 

Orpheo

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I've done so, so many tests with the same neck, same bridge, same pickups but swapping the bodies (and also same body but different necks). this guy can cram it. I will rely on my ears, thank you.
 

Cactus Jack

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Orpheo said:
I've done so, so many tests with the same neck, same bridge, same pickups but swapping the bodies (and also same body but different necks). this guy can cram it. I will rely on my ears, thank you.

Based on your tests is the difference in tone meaningful to the listener? If so does the difference remain intact when overdrive/distortion are introduced, or is it only noticeable when played clean?

My ear is terrible, I don't consider myself a musician, I've never gigged, I'm a self-taught living room hack and I personally can't hear a difference. 
 

aarontunes

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Cactus Jack said:
Based on your tests is the difference in tone meaningful to the listener? If so does the difference remain intact when overdrive/distortion are introduced, or is it only noticeable when played clean?

My ear is terrible, I don't consider myself a musician, I've never gigged, I'm a self-taught living room hack and I personally can't hear a difference.

I look at it this way: for me this is not a science project. (I'm sure it is for some, and if that's how they find joy in it, then I hope they pursue it.) For me, experimenting with guitar materials is all about creating the tools that best help me express my art, and you express your art. And that, my friends, is subjective.

To that end, your perception is your reality. If I can't hear a difference, then for me there isn't one, and it's not worth worrying about. If Eric Johnson can hear a difference then for him there is one. Whether or not it's important to him is up to him.

That's why when I do shootout videos I don't use spectral analyzers or any of the other things people criticize me for. I don't care about that. I'm not trying to prove I'm right or convert anyone to my way of thinking. All I care about is what I hear. All you care about is what you hear. We can each hear something different, and both be right.

As far as the clean vs distortion thing, I can personally pick out more subtle differences with distortion than with a clean tone. All the time I listen to clean clips and can't really hear a difference, then I kick in the distortion and I'm like "ah....I hear it now."
 

TBurst Std

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I think the main problem is we try to apply linear thought to things that are not linear in nature. 
For electric guitars, even before we get to pickups,electronics,etc ;all components contribute to how a string (single) attacks and decays. And keep in mind that from moment that string starts vibrating to the moment it stops, it is not linear. Now for the Guitar, multiply that times 6 as each string will have its own profile.

You get my point.  I can go much further
 

rgand

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To further underline personal differences, my ears generally pick up differences in clean tones first. Generally, but not always.
 

aarontunes

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Rgand said:
To further underline personal differences, my ears generally pick up differences in clean tones first. Generally, but not always.

Yep, different ears hear differently. Young ears. Old ears. Trained or untrained ears. Physiological differences.

Even the same pair of ears hears things differently at different points, through the processes of age, training, fresh or fatigued, etc.


When I first started learning to mix, I couldn't pick out 1hz to save my wife's life. After thousands of hours of sitting in a chair listening to mixes, now I can.
 

PhilHill

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I think the main problem is we try to apply linear thought to things that are not linear in nature.
For electric guitars, even before we get to pickups,electronics,etc ;all components contribute to how a string (single) attacks and decays. And keep in mind that from moment that string starts vibrating to the moment it stops, it is not linear. Now for the Guitar, multiply that times 6 as each string will have its own profile.

Excellent point. I think we can say, that the material a guitar is made of definitely affects tone. We can also say that it really doesn't mean a whole lot when compared to the mysteries of life on earth. If you've got a Travis Bean aluminum or an Ampeg lucite, enjoy it. I've heard plywood acoustics that sounded as good as Martins. I've heard MiJ Tele's that sounded just as good as American made ones. I figure that whatever it is, if it gives you the sound that you hear in your head, that's all that matters.
 

amigarobbo

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PhilHill said:
"Bozoesque", I love that.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

06191710.jpg
 

amigarobbo

Senior member
Messages
945
While I'm here:

scree231.png


That's a subjective opinion, yes Maple sounds "Brighter" than Mahogany, but in my subjective opinion it's nothing compared to turning the treble knob on my amplifier. So I'm right. And I can't be proved wrong.


Well, that's as far as I got.  :icon_thumright:
 

amigarobbo

Senior member
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945
An Acoustic guitar does not pump air of itself. The total amount of air in the guitar and the rest of the room remains constant. It's just bouncing around a bit differently.

His definition of Tony Wood Tonewood is so far away from a correct (ie mine) definition as to make the whole video pointless.

I define Tonewood that the material an electric guitar is made from affects the amplified tone of the instrument. Is it a small change compared to the difference between Single Coil/Humbuckers? Doesn't matter, if there's a change then the concept it correct.
 

rgand

Senior member
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5,934
The Aaron said:
Even the same pair of ears hears things differently at different points, through the processes of age, training, fresh or fatigued, etc.
Marital deafness.  :icon_biggrin:
 

guitarstv

Active member
Messages
69
You can get a great sound out of a shovel strung with guitar strings with a rudimentary nut, bridge, and pickup bodged in there.  This leads me to really question the importance of tone woods.  I mean, the hardware store doesn't even sell tone shovels (to the best of my knowledge).  :p
 

PhilHill

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1,654
guitarstv said:
You can get a great sound out of a shovel strung with guitar strings with a rudimentary nut, bridge, and pickup bodged in there.  This leads me to really question the importance of tone woods.  I mean, the hardware store doesn't even sell tone shovels (to the best of my knowledge).  :p

You are quite right. A guitar can be made out of anything, they've used wood, metal, plastic, cardboard, stone, fiberglass, ballistic Lexan, etc. It all depends on the sound one wants to achieve. I took contention with the video author's claim that the material has little to no effect on the tone, which is wrong. Just like choosing which pickup you want to get the sound your looking for, you have to choose the material for the body using the same criteria. Every material can give a different end result. However wood of a certain type or species is definitely not required just to construct a guitar. But Maple is definitely required to build a guitar that sounds like it's made out of Maple. :icon_thumright:
 

JohnnyHardtail

Senior member
Messages
356
The Aaron said:
To that end, your perception is your reality. If I can't hear a difference, then for me there isn't one, and it's not worth worrying about. If Eric Johnson can hear a difference then for him there is one. Whether or not it's important to him is up to him.

That's why when I do shootout videos I don't use spectral analyzers or any of the other things people criticize me for. I don't care about that. I'm not trying to prove I'm right or convert anyone to my way of thinking. All I care about is what I hear. All you care about is what you hear. We can each hear something different, and both be right.
"your perception is your reality".  Thanks for expressing this so clearly.  There will be different answers for different people. 
For example, if there is one type of guitar construction gives accentuated mids, some people will say its "brighter", and some people will say its "warmer".  I'm always amazed by that.  It totally depends on your perspective and what you are looking for.    The spectrum analyser is the only thing that is purely objective, but it doesn't account for people's perception and preferences.
 
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