What Is Meant By 'Warmth'?


Active member
'Warmth' is a term that comes up all the time when discussing tones and I want to make sure I understand what it means. 

Going by context, I've understood it to mean the opposite of 'bright'.  To me, bright would be a sound with a lot of high frequencies.  So I understood warm to mean a sound where the high frequencies are rolled off.

I was playing with my Line6 Variax, today, to hear the differences between different guitar builds.  I used the Workbench editing software to switch between different guitar body types while keeping the same simulated Gibson humbucker in each.  I don't know that all the models are that accurate, but I figured the experiment would give me a basic approximation of what to expect from different woods and builds.

Based on my understanding, I would have expected the Mahogany guitars to sound darker or less trebly than the maple / alder guitars.  But that isn't what I heard.  In fact, the Strat simulation sounded lower or deeper than the mahogany LP Special simulation.  The mahogany sims seemed to have more 'grind' when distorted while the Fender sims seemed more pure and clean.  Both seemed to have about the same high frequency content.

So when we say 'warm', does that mean a sound with less highs?  Or are we talking about a different quality?
I've never liked the term "warm". I don't think it reflects the sound of a les paul at all. I think a term like "thick" is more applicable.
when I think warm, I think in terms of rich lower mids and slightly reduced highs.... given the regular "mid tone" scoop (or decrease) on the PAF style pickup, in comparison, when making that assessment
Warmth has nothing to do with the amount of highs.  When I think of warmth, I think of a fullbodied midrange vs. a scooped one.
When I think of "warm", I think of an organic, natural, smooth sounding tone.  Warmth can be described as a tone that has tastefully integrated low end and is not piercing or shrill.