As a member of the rosewood family, cocobolo has a warm tone with an open clear yet presence. Listen to the sound of two Les Pauls with the same pickups in this video. Poplar is used on many inexpensive guitars, often as ‘body wings’ for neck-thru Vs and the like, but there are also much finer, higher-quality, higher-priced examples. It is not the only factor, there is also the touch of the player, quality of strings, amp settings, pickup quality and so on. Warm but not muddy with great sustain. Also, there is no reason even a shred-style guitar can’t be acoustically resonant and harmonically rich. The sound is caused by the vibration of strings through the magnetic field emanating from a guitar’s pickups. This African wood also goes by the name limba and is available in two versions: white and black. This is because the tree grows rather fast, the grain doesn’t look particularly interesting or pretty (and therefor not considered to be a shame if finished in an opaque color; the extreme softness of the wood makes a hard finish a necessity, too) it doesn’t have the growl of mahogany, it doesn’t have the tightness or bite of maple, it doesn’t have the sweetness of alder or the chunky quality of ash. If that is all you have to comment on then don’t bother, some of us appreciate the article for what it is. I had this idea of a sliding pickup, that you could slide from bridge to neck, that could be cool. I can be brief on this wood. As you said, with electrics there are so many parts to mold the tone to each guitarists individual preference. The reason wood affects the tone of the guitar is because the wood responds to the vibration of the strings. Dana O. take 10 identical guitars with the same wood and same pickups, do a blindfold test, I can tell you which guitar sounds better. The tone is similar to korina and mahogany but with more upper mids and highs. The tone of this wood is extremely dependant on the thickness of the billet. And you are sure to find a different grade wood on a $3,000 custom shop than you are on a $300 stock. Rosewood is most often used as fingerboards because of its durable nature and sweet, warm tone. What is “hardwood” used in budjet guitars. Sign In. My grandson and I went to GuitarCenter today and did a little test. The purple is its natural color but it will change to a brownish hue over time under the influence of air and light. The body is arguably the most important wood used in an electric guitar, but the guitar’s neck also plays a role. Sorry. For pure tonal reasons, the cap isn’t necessary: after all, a flattop mahogany guitar also has plenty of bite. Ignorance is bliss my man. That’s how I know the materials don’t make a difference. Nice try though. Generally, the highs are slightly attenuated with lows that aren’t that pronounced and a midrange that might use an extra kick because the mids aren’t that abundantly available. you might be suprised at the results. While its very true that the air and wood molecules will vibrate differently, your pickups are not really going to capture and amplify any of that; it’s only of the metal strings. I could make the mahogany sound like the Maple, or make the maple deeper and more resonant and the mahogany bright and treble dominated just by doing that – with no change to the wood used in the body. That is the nature of the beast. Does the type of wood on a solid body electric guitar affect its tone or sound? “They simply absorb certain frequencies, which in turn affects the string vibration in a subtle way. Young’s modulus of elasticity describes stress (density) over strain (the material moving and responding to stress) or more simply put—stiffness in an object. You’re right that 2 guitars is not a large enough sample size at all. Its color and grain pattern is a love or hate affair. But somebody who is being paid to write should be able to write with correct spelling and grammar. So why would tonewood make any difference if there are noticeable differences within just one species. You may be able to tell the difference between your two guitars, but I would bet I could play you a dozen mahogany guitars and maple ones in a blind test and you would not know which was which, because I would pick the maples that sounded full, and the mahogany’s that were bright. Wood has very minimal effect on the tone of an electric guitar. The tone is very mid heavy. Various woods have distinct sound qualities, especially when used for the top of an acoustic guitar, which is the most important wooden tonal element of the instrument. Is the tone of an electric guitar affected by what type of wood is used? Rosewood is on occasion also being used for neck blanks. I had this idea of buying a small guitar wireless system (Such as Line 6 G30), take out the guts and just put them inside of the guitar, so it wouldn’t hang there outside of your guitar… ♦ Best wires you could get for the guts. “A high-cut piece of hard ash might be closer to the sound you’re looking for than a lower cut of swamp ash.” What is the sound am I looking for? In this paper two differing wood types are studied, ash and alder, and a method are investigated to determine their tonal spectrums. Not much mention of wood there, but in reality, that is only part of the story. All ya gotta do is play two Strats, each w/ maple neck and ash body made in the same 'batch' from Fender side by side, easy to do if there's a local Guitar Center - no two sound exactly alike, IME. I wrote to the mythbusters, unlikely that they will test it, but it’s worth a try… It’s probably most worth buying unfinished bodies and necks, Just pick the cheapest/lightest one. Shut up and go play your guitars!!!!!! The wood type and its vibration characteristics change the "color" of the signal and give different tones. It’s undeniable that acoustic guitars are dependent on tonewood for their sound, but much more goes into it with regards to electrics. Brightness, attack, bite paired with a slick, speedy feel. And the wood of the neck and body is an ingredient in that recipe. You just proved the point the tonewood is BS. Rosewood is very dense and rings beautifully when tapped – I suspect that it would sound different to a lump of knotty pine – but by the time you put it through a set of Blackouts and turn the amp up to 11… ‘Hardwood’ is a botanical term (contrast with ‘softwood’) most deciduous trees and tropical trees are ‘hardwoods’, while conifers (pines, spruce etc) are softwood. As a builder (construction) I agree with the definitions of “hardwood, heartwood, and softwood” that you’ve used. This coarse-grained wood can be used for bodies, necks and fretboards and feels incredibly fast because your fingers have less drag. For years I have challenged folks to do double-blind tests of identical guitars (shape, paint, etc) varying only the wood say of the body, neck, or fingerboard. This wood is hard, heavy and dense. No body wants to test it cause if the test does debunk the myth, they will have to face the reality that they have all along deluded themselves and hence, wasted so much money on exotic tonewoods. This classic, brownish wood has being used for instruments for years. Koa is a wood that grows in Hawaii. ESPs are actually incredibly good. Ash can come from various sources. Where does cherry fall into your list? were the braces carved to be a close as identical as possible? Tonewood is a dense specialty wood coveted for it's tonal resonance and ability to reverberate. overall tone of an electric guitar. With electric guitars I completely agree. Yes they are, they connect with the wood through the bridge and the nut. That said, I assume tone-wise, the difference between an expensive guitar (with exotic wood) and a cheap electric (of plywood), but both have the same pickups, hardware, etc., is nearly non existent. Instead, it has all of that, although to a lesser degree. The biggest downside is perhaps the weight. Does an electric guitar's tonewood affect the tone? If you'd like to learn more about all things guitar, check out Fender Play. Welcome back to Fundamentals of Guitar Anatomy, my multi-part series examining the ins and outs of your electric guitar.In the last lecture, we talked about body styles, and that knowledge will help you to grasp this one, as we’re going to be talking about the different types of wood used for guitars and their effect. This fast growing wood produces relatively soft timber with long grains. The fact that it is about guitar is completely irrelevant. And if you're not a member yet, click here for a free trial. I think Agathis has slowly started to replace basswood in cheap guitars, while nyatoh is being used to replace mahogany. Build a few guitars then you will realize just how stupid a statement that is. That makes it a perfect template for your own sound. This hard, dense, oily wood can come with a very tight or coarse grain, and can be very evenly colored or very striped. Compared to bubinga, walnut has a bit more presence and bite and a little less projection. You could say the same of any instrument when amplified. Its a defect in the wood due to ‘frostbite’, for the lack of a better term. I was even surprised how huge. Rosewood makes for a very heavy and overly bright-sounding guitar—and an expensive one, too—that is typically more of interest for looks and novelty factor than for tone. Same pickups, same scale length. The 50 year old seasoned wood made for one loud guitar. With acoustics, however, I have found different wood combinations to provide a great deal of tonal versatility. Do notes last long enough for the timber to affect the timbre? And don’t forget feel. The tone of this wood is extremely dependant on the thickness of the billet. Then build your own guitar with the best features you could get. The difference may not be huge, but there is still going to be a difference. Neck's wood has a strong influence in the guitar tone. If it was only changing pickups and hardware….. oh what a beautiful world it would be!! It should always be remembered that no two pieces are the same, there are the general tonal characteristics to these woods. This is a dense, hard wood that’s being used on necks, fingerboards, tops and occasionally bodies and comes in three major figure patterns: flamed (stripes across the grain), quilt (cloud like shapes across the grain) and no pattern at all called plain. A thicker piece, like a Les Paul Junior, has a thicker, chunkier, meatier tone with softer highs and more push in the lower mids. I don’t need to build anything, I need to play them. Hardware, strings etc, all very finite. rest of the world that actually plays guitar: very minimally, being good at guitar instead of being online talking about it affects tone much more. A plexiglas/acrylic type of guitar looks very cool but sounds bad. Either you love it instantly or you won’t like it at all. I really REALLY want to know the truth. Umm yeah so even while they are made from the same type of wood they sound different. Not everything is a conspiracy. It’s like an exaggeration of a rosewood fingerboard. It sounded like mud…. I've been playing guitars for roughly 2 years now (mostly on guitars my dad used to own when he was my age but didn't want to sell because they didn't hold their worth (ie not an overpriced Gib LP)). But it doesn’t. The last paragraph said it all. It’s a debate that has waged on among beginner and advanced players alike for a long time, and it’s something that Reddit user NissanGT77 asked. Tonally korina is very similar to mahogany, with a bit more upper mids and presence. BACK TO INDEX . The body is arguably the most important wood used in an electric guitar, but the guitar’s neck also plays a role. Anybody ever done double blind testing to prove this theory? It looked amazing!!! Maple is far and away the most common type of electric guitar neck wood, and for good reason. With a tone similar to bubinga, the feel is less ‘glassy’, more like rosewood. Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoi2sDiBa0Ebpai8seeAy7N2r0REs0m. Incomplete Vague just an opinion nothing more so many variables with tone woods its a waste. Manufacturers and guitar players suggest that using a particular shape, or a specific wood material - be it alder, poplar, ash, basswood etc - will produce significant and specific tone variations. A big part of your tone comes down to how you play — how you fret chords and how you strum or pick. But since it’s so rare and expensive, you’d be hard pressed to find a solid rosewood guitar. Having a thick maple cap on mahogany is a way of getting a thicker body yet retaining clarity, attack and a bit compression. Mahogany is a tonewood that produces a punchy growl with excellent sustain, generally favoured for punchy rock music. to me the sound difference is huge. Birdseye is considered a figure pattern but actually, it is not. But seeing “whether” spelled “wether” tells me the writer cannot be bothered with a spell checker. Even resting your axe against your body will affect the sound,if however ,you have electronically distorted everything beyond any tonal recognition thru use of distortion, or any other direct change to the original resonance, that will absolutely affect whether ANYONE ,can hear the natural tonal characteristics of whatever instrument you choose. If you were correct, than every manufacturer of electric guitars would be using the absolute cheapest man made materials on EVERY guitar they make because it doesn’t matter,and a les paul would sound exactly like a strat with the same pickups ,and a plastic broomstick with humbuckers would sound just as good as a 59 les paul if you put pafs on it thru the same amp. Ya I know those 1500’s luthiers really knew how to get the most out of their ELECTRIC guitars. Rosewood can also be used as a body wood, though. So… if there is no difference to tone NO MATTER the material of the body and all that matters is the scale the pu and the strings, then a tin made guitar will sound exactly the same as a concrete body or a mahogany body guitar!!! The looks are always stunning. This goes for all woods, but in my experience this is even stronger the case with ash than other types. Gear, Equipment, Recording & Off Topic Gear, Equipment, and Recording discussed here. Logic goes: Acoustically – Yes, everything on the guitar affects the tone, because the tone comes from strings resonating the wood, and the vibrating wood (The whole guitar actually) is causing the amplified sound. Props to Mr. Catherwood. Finally someone admits this. Also, is it just me or is anyone else having a Spinal Tap moment? Not sure about sustain, but it’s said that it’s dependant on the materials of bridge and nut, and the magnetic field strength of the pickups. In a blind test you would swear they were significantly different, and might easily ascribe it (wrongly) to being different woods. all of them giving diff tones… I had a piece or heartwood/Hardwood mix for a body. I built an ash guitar recently for a customer based on his ’58 Tele in swamp ash, and it had nothing like the acoustic properties of the original, even with identical hardware and construction. Some of the largest producers of rosewood are India and Madagascar. But even luthiers are devided on what the difference is, in general terms. So what do you make of that. Rosewood is incredibly heavy! Agreed, body wood does not contribute to tone. And for those who care about grammar, why not become professors of tone and open up a school for guitar players who need to brush up on their ABC’s LOL Orpheo nice work with the article very informative . These necks have a classy, speedy feel to them with an amazing tone. Check this, please: http://youtu.be/ryzie8mham8. ♦ A hell lot of Elixir polyweb strings… Oh how I wish they made those for 7 string guitars…. For years, boutique luthiers and guitar purists have claimed the quality of wood used to construct solid body electric guitars has impacted tone. Maple is far and away the most common type of electric guitar neck wood… There is variance within a species of wood but certain species of wood, especially the heartwood, have certain characteristics. Plus most people adjust the sound though electronics which standardizes the tone. Maple brings in a nice amount of high-end with a good bass boost too, however when strings are … I agree with the comment that the debate about tone woods is a bit like a religious war with one definite reservation - to me the religiosity is almost exclusively one sided: to non-believers it's "I don't believe that the type of wood can possibly affect an electric guitar's tone, so it doesn't, period". Ask Question Asked 5 years, 8 months ago. But when it comes to the Electric guitar signal to the amp, the wood is bypased. Tonally and structurally they are the same, black korina comes from the edge of the tree where white korina comes from the core. Korina makes for a great substitution of mahogany, not to mention its great looks. How do Gibson SGs, LPs, Flying Vs, and Explorers sound different if not for the woods? shredder axes) get their tonality through hardware and electronics but are not harmonically rich instruments by nature. What is wrong with you people? I have played probably hundreds at this point in my music career, be it at music shops, a friends, my own, etc, Hardware of course will always play a role in tone and in the end, every aspect of the guitar is essentially a tonal factor. Ill issue a challenge anyone who disagrees with me and agrees with paulius,if you dedicate to continuing to improve from wherever you are at tonally ,musically, whatever floats your boat,revisit this discussion in a year and see where you stand, On a right or wrong basis I will wager ANY amount with ANYONE who wants to lose, that I can prove absolutely,without any room for doubt or disagreement, that what I have stated concerning woods effects on sound is correct. Originally Posted by smooth55 View Post Honestly, I think the real reason that there aren't more non-wood guitars out there has more to do with the Why does wood affect electric guitar tone? Swamp ash, on the other hand, is much lighter, with less compression in the tone. Fender PlayCYBER WEEK SALE: Save 50% on a Monthly Plan.UNLOCK THIS OFFER. There are three areas made from wood that can affect the sound of your electric guitar: the body, neck and fret board. *grammar …and until I see a group of people pick different tone woods out in a “blind” hearing test, i will always thing this argument is ridiculous. This is by no means a complete picture, only a global overview. Sorry but not all guitar players are so stuck up on grammer…. Compared to Pau ferro, walnut has less push in the mids. This list is by no means complete, nor do I intend it to be. There are some other woods, though, that have been finding their way into the market. The sound comes from the direct vibration of the strings, picked up by magnetic pickups. As a neck you get the tone of maple but with howl. Many players ask: shouldn’t a solidbody electric guitar be immune to the acoustical properties of its materials? Guitarists are familiar with the various tonewoods and shapes that are used on electric guitars. Entire books can be written about woods, this is just supposed to be an overview. Unless you checked sonically and measured every sound from the lowest to highest and directly compared them, you can not make that statement, if you had checked,you would see a measureable difference ,and anyone with a discerning ear would be able to hear it, all else being equal,(obviously if you crank everything to 11enty eleven and at 150 db where there is no possibility of actually making music instead of noise,whats left or your hearing isn’t likely to hear anything but volume.The changes will be made at specific vibrational frequency’s ,and change specific characteristics,IE sustain, tone attack, etc whatever your term, dependent on what you change ,how its connected ,what its connected to. The grammar in this article, which is not a piece of guitar playing but a piece of writing, is bad. The coloring doesn’t take away anything of the tonal qualities we came to know and love. There are generally only two different electric guitar neck woods. Do you really think the last 500 years of guitar making with exotic wood was bullshit?? Rickenbacker uses this wood for their fingerboards. Of course, you can use electronics and amplification to dial it all back in or enhance the sound, but as with so much in engineering, the final result depends on a sound base to work from. The heavier the guitar the more upper range energy it will absorb while sustaining the lower range energy creating a … According to many musicians, in order to have the best sound possible, an acoustic guitar has to be made from the "right" type of wood. Finally, a confirmation of what I have long believed in! It's about the wood or, more accurately, which tonewood is used to make the guitar actually and if that wood actually affects the guitars sound. Body wood contributes to the acoustic tone, especially in an acoustic guitar. Wood is the majority of tone on a electric guitar or any guitar!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our interactive gear guide, FindYour.Fender.com, matches you with the perfect model by learning about your sound & style. Looking for a beginner guitar? I’ll do the blind test on my guitars and will pass. And please, please, have your article reviewed by a professional writer. Walnut’s rich … Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. All the same materials. However, if you toss any guitar in the mix, control the strings, pickup placement and playing, and still get indistinguishable tones, that pretty much says that wood type along with all the other free variables (like body shape, body finish) does not affect the tone, as long as the electronics and strings are identical. Yeah, and not all of us care about grammer or what you think either. The more I read this article, especially with the reply of John Catherwood considered, the more I suspect this article was copied from somewhere else and then edited by Orpheo. This red wood is in my opinion highly underrated. Wood is the key to tone. Otherwise, I’ll go with walnut as I can get some great walnut from the same supplier. Koa loves to be matched with a walnut back for added power, more tightness in the lows and extra scream, or with korina or mahogany for more sweetness and growl. And obviously have NEVER tried this guitar testing….My pal took his Epiphone stripped it out used a Ash body blank I had layin around put all the parts back on and the guitar sound was a HUGE difference. This wood is most often used for fretboards on more luxurious guitars and as laminate tops and backs for the most expensive guitars, electric and acoustic alike. At the end of the day, electric guitar tone is a magic brew made up of a lot of factors. Basswood is a wood that’s being used predominantly on ‘metal’ guitars. Grammer errors? Due to its price tag and hard nature, ebony is most often used for fretboards, though some luthiers are known for using ebony as the sides and sometimes even the top or back of an acoustic guitar, and on occasion you can even find ebony necks. People just attempt to justify their decision to sink down big bucks on boutique guitars, when the tone is actually not any different. The wood species contributes less than scale length and the electronics. You have hard ash, which has a lot of bite, almost like maple, but with more (and chunkier) lows. Some guitars of the ’80s were fully maple, and for the styles they were used for were extremely good. Grammar might not be relevant in the field of guitar playing, but it is absolutely relevant in the field of professional writing. A thicker piece, like a Les Paul Junior, has a thicker, chunkier, meatier tone with softer highs and more push in the lower mids. Moisture content also determines the tone colour changes. Try to make a blind test and I am not certain, but pretty sure you will screw up badly. Or they haven’t been playing the right guitars. George, while I agree that there is an effect on tone from woods, the electronics are a majority of the tone, its an electric guitar, as for the picking out different guitars from a line-up like you said, I would certainly like to see that. Copyright © 2020 Seymour Duncan. Admits what? ELI5: How does wood affect the tone of an electric guitar? For a list of what pickups work well with particular wood types, read this article or go directly to Tone Wizard for a personalized recommendation. This article talks about the need to wait for the note to bloom for a fraction of a second. Maple is "brighter"; mahogany is "darker". Good job. Having been the favoured tone wood of the Gibson family of guitars for years, it produces a warm, mellow tone with excellent low frequencies, pronounced lower-mids, and a smooth but subdued higher end. A thinner piece, like an SG, has a warm growly tone with lots of bite and presence. Same model, same hardware, same everything… except for the wood. I have a guitar that I use to try out different strings and pins – it is astonishing how much the tone can be changed, and how much I can hate the sound of that guitar with the wrong combinations, and love it with the strings and pins that suit it best to my ears. I have a great opportunity to get some incredible cherry, but won’t waste my money if is not well suited for an electric guitar. Been playing for 50 years. So who decides? I am surprised no one made a real test yet. The most accurate answer would start by saying that the difference is most noticeable when the guitar is plugged into the amp directly, without sound effects of any kind. In my experience of experimenting with builds/transfers of components between custom guitars, body & neck wood absolutely contributes to electric guitar “tone” (frequency curve), as well as – perhaps even more so – to attack, decay, and sustain. Can I tell you what kills the tone and gives all the guitars an average tone of similarity??? My grandson and I invited store staff and customers into the room one at a time with their backs to us and played the less expensive guitar and then the big buckaroo. Generally, heavier woods like mahogany resonate differently than a medium-bodied wood like alder and a lighter wood like basswood. Wood does not resonate when it weights a ton either, density prohibits such behavior. And yes tones can easily be adjusted to sound like different woods, but then you are just overriding the natural tone already presented. Agathis is a general moniker? The wood does not need to resonate for the string to induce a current in the pickup, but the idea that wood type directly affects sound quality has been applied to the electric guitar in publications and media (Sweetwater 2013; Wormoth Custom Guitars & Bass Parts). Acoustically – Yes, everything on the guitar affects the tone, because the tone comes from strings resonating the wood, and the vibrating wood (The whole guitar actually) is causing the amplified sound. I am of course a beginner and I am having trouble understanding the science of how the wood of a guitar's body affects the tone. Intuitively, it would seem strange if it didn’t; but, there are many factors that are going to affect the sound produced from a guitar; isolating them is as difficult as creating a study that will convince anyone of an idea they already are clinging to. I have used it as a body wood, and despite the great sounds I get, I cannot recommend it because of the weight. When used on necks, it imparts a warmer tone than ebony or maple. I don’t know… I think I disagree… Once I tested 5 G&L ASAT guitars, same model, and same construction and each of them hade its own sound… I think in whole process of construct a guitar, the major variant is the wood, since it’s kinda “organic”…. Considered by some to be the holy grail of neck woods, Pau ferro feels slick, speedy, fast. Toss in some effects, tube distortion, and game over. Analysis of the data shows that in an electric guitar the body wood type does not contribute significantly to the sound of the amplified instrument. Walnut is a great choice as a laminate top on korina or as a core for Koa. Is it better or worse than basswood used in cheapies also. That said, the effect of all of this is not as large as people tend to make it out to be. When the thing capturing the sound is directly under the thing generating the sound and, it makes no sense for the wood, which vibrates in a secondary fashion, to have any effect on a tone that has already left the guitar. Not only does tonewood affect the tone of a guitar, each individual piece of wood affects the tone. This is correct. Electric guitar neck woods. I would be hard pressed to attribute a specific tone or feel or characteristic to rosewood in these contexts but I feel that the warmth I have with a rosewood neck or board is noticeable when the rosewood is in the body, too. While they both sound very similar, I can absolutely hear and favor the mahogany bodied. Announcing the Eric Steckel Signature “Candy” Humbucker Set. Sorry. Walnut is also beautiful – why not go for a cherry and walnut mix – very tasty – see my acoustics at http://www.catherwoodguitars.com, Idk if this is true with electrics I would belive it when I see a video where someone is blind folded and plays each, don’t feel the wood just play and see if they know what’s what and if it really is a tonal difference. The short answer is yes, different wood species have distinguishable sound characteristics, influencing the tone of an electric guitar. The difference between a billet cut from the top or the bottom of the tree makes a huge difference in tone. Agathis is a general moniker, not a specific species. I would defy anyone to reliably identify bodywood used in any guitar design in a blind test. That’s another figure pattern of maple. Those who don’t believe wood affects a guitar’s tone point to the physics of how an electric guitar works. You’ll be well on your way to finding the right guitar for you. A large aspect here is also the quality of that wood. Viewed 5k times 11. So I put EMG’s on it to save the sound… Then it was fair. Used for hundreds of years for fingerboards, bridges and other parts, this extremely hard, durable wood is noted for its dark color. Forgot your password? And they are not all shredder axes. CYBER WEEK SALE: Save 50% on a Monthly Plan. Just to confuse things some “hardwoods (like Balsa and Obeche) are very soft, while some “softwoods” like Pitch pine are quite hard. A non subjective test must be made to make sure. All rights reserved. with all due respect, i disagree….i made two Les paul Jr’s one with Mahogany body one with maple body, both have maple necks and rosewood fingerboards. The tone is similar to maple but with more chunky mids. (La Trobe Poplar sounds a lot like alder, but looks usually a lot less appealing (and some players report a little more upper midrange compared to alder). Beauty is in the ears of the beholder. Most of us aren’t wood experts, so what exactly do different woods have to do with the sound of an acoustic guitar? We took a $200 acoustic into the room where they keep the $2 to $3000 Martins, Taylors, and Gibsons. So if the guitar tone and sound is all you’re concerned about, then it might not be worth spending the extra cash for features that don’t contribute to the tone. Dense and fairly heavy, with sonic characteristics similar to those of mahogany, walnut is occasionally used in electric-guitar bodies. Just knocking on different types of wood can demonstrate that....or strum a guitar, especially an electric not plugged in and hold it against the wall. To what degree each factor alters the tone varies. As a luthier, I tend to agree with those who say that the species of body wood has little effect on the tone (especially in electric guitars – pickups, scale length and hardware have more influence, while shape and the topwood, and how it is braced are the vital drivers in acoustics.) His impact on the sound of the guitar and the electric bass is noticeably greater than that of the wood of the body itself. Stop buying stuff blind online, go to a sawmill or timber importers with a tuning frork and spend a few hours comparing blanks. One pickup if you want sustain, more pickups if you want more tones. I own both a full maple acoustic and a mahogany body, maple top acoustic. A high-cut piece of hard ash might be closer to the sound you’re looking for than a lower cut of swamp ash. This wood originated in Brazil (amongst other countries) but due to over harvesting, this wood is nearly extinct in its native region. I disagree on your point that an electric guitars wood doesn’t have an effect on sound resonance. It should serve as a general guide to some of the most frequently used woods. importance of the wood in an electric guitar must also be evaluated. The short answer is that nearly all the parts of an electric guitar affect the tone in some way. Those who don’t believe wood affects a guitar’s tone point to the physics of how an electric guitar works. However, its no less music or art,or genius, if you can express whatever you intend with a broomstick,but your options are likely limited. Acoustically – Yes, out of pickups – not at all. ( now you will have some debating on if the wall is sheet rock or wood, lol) I have never built a guitar but I believe nature is the teacher on this one. The amount of peer-reviewed research on this subject currently is lacking; an article published by a university in Australia claims that a researcher has proven that wood does not affect a guitar's sound, but no data has been published together with this assertion. right! You left out ‘birds eye maple’ dude. Anyone who doesn’t believe that wood dictates the resonance and length of time (sustain) that the strings vibrate on an electric guitar is either tone deaf or completely ignorant. Previously, the reason behind the different tones that different woods create has been explained. There are subtlety’s to every guitar, a musician can hear them, in many cases anyone can hear them. A classic! It doesn’t add anything to your tone but it doesn’t take away anything. Hardwood is a general term for any piece of timber thats cut from the middle of the tree. I think your sample size is too small – are the two guitars identical in all other respects – necks the same, same type of neck joint, same tuners, same nut, same saddle, same bridge material, same bridge pins, tops the same, size the same, same strings? An acoustic guitar requires vibration and echo to produce sound. Are you an idiot or just plain stupid? Walnut can be found in relative abundance in more temperate climates. http://www.truetemperament.com ♦ A built in wireless system. Sometimes you get a piece of poplar though that seems to defy every ‘rule in the book.’ These pieces will just knock you off your feet due to the sheer beauty of things. It depends on what you call important. YES!!!!! same bracing pattern? I am also a luthier (and enthusiastic Seymour Duncan user). Minor grammar errors in an article like this don’t bother me. I. Maple. Its just more subtle. It’s really more about the sum of many components/materials in the guitar adding up to the end differences, more than any singular thing (though if I had to pick just one item, I’d say a dramatic pickup change would produce the most instantly noticeable differences). With that said though, most people believe that wood does still have some impact. Copyright ©2020. Then how could the wood not play a role in your guitar’s tone? Amps, pedals, whatever. That doesn’t mean to say that you should only use the “big brand” tonewoods. That he has an opinion??? I can’t stand the grammatical errors. Be the first to know about new products, featured content, exclusive offers and giveaways. If it were relevant, then the only writing that ever needed to use correct grammar would be writing about grammar. It's a strong, dense, heavy wood that imparts a powerful, upper-midrange snap to the tone that really cuts through an instrumental mix. Wood type only affects the tone and sound of acoustic instruments. As a fretboard you get the bite of maple and the rumble of rosewood, with a unique, speedy feel. As a neck, korina is much like mahogany too. I believe that 75% of all guitars are made with a combination of the woods I described above. 70% of the strings’ vibrations travel along the neck. John I tend to disagree with people that talk like you. Cherry is lovely and I use it for bodies and necks – makes excellent acoustics and I see no reason not to use it in electrics – it is a lot like maple to work and in strength and flex, (although it smells nicer – but the dust can be an irritant – use a mask) although that can vary with the tree – some cherry is hard, some are soft. There are generally only two different electric guitar neck woods. Reclaimed Mahog. “Wood is the majority of tone on a electric guitar or any guitar!!!!!!!!!!!!! ♦ Great pickups for your taste. No. All that nonsense about this wood sounds warm while that one has more bite, etc., etc., are all bullshit blown by self-aggrandizing amateurs. The woods used to build guitars—acoustic guitars in particular—are called tonewoods, and they have enormous effects on the sound and price of an instrument. “Basically, different woods don’t add different tone,” luthier Perry Ormsby of Ormsby Guitars explains. I agree with the majority of what you are saying here. Nice! I am not a luthier, just a guitar lover and a history student who tries to help others with my experiences. In my experience, what Orpheo has said is pretty accurate, and as he mentions are general rules for species. I have played six near identical factory made guitars in a row, and found tonal differences – two were lovely, four were poor. Why not just use the other kind of wood if that’s what you intend to do? Could be how each was setup (string height and intonation) because as you said they were all the same guitar and most likely the same type of wood. As you stated same construction but different tones. on tgp: yes, only the most expensive, rarist finger board wood will give you good tone. Guitar: How much does wood effect tone? Who decides what sounds better? For most players it’s just too heavy. In short, it’s a muddy situation, as there are vociferous defenders of each side of the issue. So make a guitar body out of crap and play it so we can all listen how it sounds… If you really can’t hear any difference, change instrument… Learn the flute. Strings suspended by a piece of metal and plastic/bone/etc don’t touch wood. Softer woods will have a darker tone with less bite. Johann, better start fixing your own grammar before trying to fix other people’s mistakes. Of course it does, The strings are mechanically attached to the wood on the guitar by the frets ,nut bridge and hardware,when the wood resonates (vibrates )it absolutely has to have an effect on string vibration, it is an absolute certainty.And your statement that the tone doesn’t change when you mechanically attach the guitar to another structure is ,again,absolutely wrong.ANYTHING you do to change the overall vibrational frequency of a guitar ,or any musical instrument that isn’t an entirely electronically generated tone (some keyboards,synths etc)will affect the tonal characteristics. Acoustic a definite yes. Individual vibro-acoustic characteristics are mainly due to different densities of wood types. I own 2 guitars that have rosewood as a body wood: one has a rosewood top, the other a rosewood back. No doubt the pickups and electronics you use will have a bigger effect on your tone than the wood, because its an *electric* guitar. I wouldn’t call that a confirmation. I would say the wood species contributes some characteristics to the electric clean sound. The highs just sing. you probably would not understand the difference unless you tried building a few with a few woods… you could not be further off. Remember me Not recommended on shared computers. I pick out my Gibson’s by choosing the one that sounds the best. Hard ash is generally speaking on the heavier side. There a many different grades of Maple, Mahogany, etc etc. I suspect deep inside people at least admit that wood matters little, but they let the myth lives on cause hey…you need something to justify the purchase of that expensive Hawaiaan Koa or Honduran Mahogany guitar. To consider the matter, let’s pan out for a moment and look at how tonewood affects acoustic instruments. Apples and oranges my friend. Also, I noticed quite a lot of grammatical error. Basically, the tone of the electric guitar is dependant on the pickups, pickup position, the bridge and the nut, the material that strums, strumming technique, The wiring, the main output wire, and the amp, the cabinet, and the room. Despite what /u/swordfingers has stated modern electric guitars do have cavities- if there are tone blocks added, for instance, and so this does have an impact of the sound. The answer is that it does. you all are crazy!!! The woods used to build guitars—acoustic guitars in particular—are called tonewoods, and they have enormous effects on … Electric, still a yes but depending you’re a clean guy. The highs are kind and singing, the lows are firm but not pronounced. Maple. The Stevie Ray Vaughan signature strat has a Pau ferro finger board and Reb Beach of Whitesnake and Winger has sworn by Pau ferro necks for 20 years already! Even so, a It isn’t in my head nor is it imaginary if luthiers have discussed this at length since the inception of electric instruments. It won’t be fat or juicy, but it does have a lot of bite, scream and presence. The different tones themselves were not fully explored and in this article I will give a global overview of the different tone woods, the sound they produce and in some cases their purpose. No, the wood doesn’t affect the tone in the slightest. But when it comes to the Electric guitar signal to the amp, the wood is bypased. I always hear folks talk about sustain, sustain, sustain, and they are usually the ones playing 32nd notes at 150bpm. Acoustics, in my opinion, are a whole other ball game. Electrified a tonally dead guitar will still work but will tend to be ‘hard playing’ or just sound flatter and less complex. The big question is whether the species of wood makes a noticeable difference in the electric tone of a solid body electric guitar. Generally speaking bubinga has a slightly lighter color than rosewood. It grew originally in South America, but due to over harvesting mahogany is now being grown in Asia, Africa, and there are even experiments conducted with growing mahogany in the more temperate climates of Europe and North America. The mids are quite pushed though, and will give your tone a howling, singing quality to it. Personally, I have found the type of guitar wood used to produce a great difference in tone. Active 1 year, 11 months ago. Your guitar's intonation also contributes to the tone, and don’t forget the amp, which converts the signal from the pickups into an audible sound. So if you buy a maple, what kind of sound are you going to get from it. The tone is bright with an incredible push in the upper mids. Such a nice figure… The tone was the worst!!!! I have strangers come in and they can tell the difference….sorry, it’s true. A great deal, actually. When someone says, “this guitar sounds better” I focus on the word “better’. - … The sound is caused by the vibration of strings through the magnetic field emanating from a guitar’s pickups. If the guitar is tonally dead unamplified, its electrified tone will mirror that inadequacy. Some electrics (modern designs like Ibanez and ESP i.e. Try a quality hand made electric guitar and plug into a clean Jazz amp like a ploytone, you’ll hear all the tonal differences in the wood. You can make to identical bodies from on plank and they can sound different. For that matter I am sure I could change the way your guitars sounded simply by changing bridgepins (use brass or aluminium or horn or rosewood or ebony or boxwood or ox bone or camel bone or tusq or plastic) change the strings (silk and steels, flatwounds, bell bronze, 80/20, different manufacturers, different gauges). The question is simple, does wood make a difference in the tone of an electric guitar? Then, put a couple seymour duncan to a broom and the result will be the same as if you have a Gibson LP…. In fact, most guitarists would agree that it is an important one. HOME > Neck influence in guitar tone THE NECK INFLUENCE IN GUITAR TONE. I am really waiting till someone makes a real lab test, comparing tones blindly with sound software or something… I really want this myth to be confirmed or denied, because I really want to know for sure. You’d be surprised to learn that the $200 guitar was picked as sounding better just as often as the big buckaroos. It tends to be warm and full, but usually with a firmer low end, and more overall tightness. If the body material did a difference, the tone of the guitar would significantly change if you pressed the guitar against a wall, or put the guitar on the floor, because that’s like an extention of the body. Wood. You cannot properly evaluate the tone of production guitars, they are too inconsistent in supplies and craftsmanship. Don’t expect a smooth jazzy tone of honky, smokin blues sound, but if bite is what you need, maple is your best friend. The strings might not directly touch the wood, but the energy from a strummed string is transferred from the bridge and nut into the body and neck, creating frequencies that move through that wood. Electric guitar neck woods. I don’t know what tone you want, i am just saying there is a difference. Orpheo, dont let any of those bitches bother you, I thought it was a decent article, and its hard to be very specific with something like tone woods, but Im sure theres plenty of beginner or intermediate players who would enjoy this article and could stand to learn a lot from it. We have been told that some woods sound some ways, but then we listen to them expecting the difference. Having a korina body and korina top will give you a great, fat tone with more bite than one would expect from a mahogany body. The wood is about as hard as maple but has a bit more oil in it than maple, making the tone a bit warmer. light lacquer on necks & body’s little yellow stain on maple body, identical build, pickups and hardware…. This is by no means a complete picture nor should this be regarded as such. I would almost describe it as maple with softer highs and more gentle mids. !” It’s a bias or a placebo. The genus is part of the ancient Araucariaceae family of conifers, a group once widespread during the Jurassic period, but now largely restricted to the Southern Hemisphere except for a number of extant Malesian Agathis.[1]. Here is a definition from Wikipedia: The genus Agathis, commonly known as kauri or dammar, is a relatively small genus of 21 species of evergreen tree. You make one statement on all electrics being the same then make a statement outlining every other variable that effects sound. It doesnt change the tone per se, it makes it more stabke, though. Alder is a tree that grows in medium, temperate climates with a lot of moisture. So if the guitar tone and sound is all you’re concerned about, then it might not be worth spending the extra cash for features that don’t contribute to the tone. Your statement is vague with no clear direction. No one has been willing to pay for the test, so it remains a theory. The wood from the centre of a tree is called “heartwood” while the outer layers are called “sapwood”. Electric guitars have been made out of plastics, stone, plywood etc and that didn’t stop them from sounding great. Heavy grain filler, thick clear coats and especially poly finish. So what’s the difference? A thinner piece, like an SG, has a warm growly tone with lots of bite and presence. Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoi2sDiBa0Ebpai8s. It has some bite, some growl, some sweetness, but not much. Wood types don’t matter? Simply your wrong, period. And remember all earls like genitals are different, some people have well trained and sensitive ears (Eric Johnson, etc) and some people can’t tell analog from digital and all its annoying qualities it delivers to those of us who hear the difference. Santa Barbara, California. All Rights Reserved. This playlist contains the series on Electric Guitar Tone Wood . Wether it’s a wild, wavy pattern or a neat, almost spreadsheet like grain, cocobolo will always turn heads. Also the shape of the guitar or if it’s solid or hallow shouldn’t be a tone factor… Realy?! Walnut. I suppose only real thing with using denser woods for example, will be better sustain…. trust me, those same difference you hear with an accoustic are technically there on an electric, they don’t just dissapers. What kind of tone would a guitar made out of morning wood produce? This is a tropical wood like rosewood, but has a tighter grain and a brighter tone. It’s more like a “That is where my logic goes, but a real test should be made to make sure”. That shows disdain for the reader and contempt for his own writing. I don’t think that a maple body only has highs and upper mids because it also has a decent amount of lows too. The amount of variance caused by each is so easily debatable, as you can see. pickups and hardware are for fine tuning. As a top you get the bite of a maple cap but with completely unique looks. Try that on an acoustic and you’ll have some weird sounding stuff. It might be so small a contribution that some people may not hear it. Baked maple is heat treated maple. You just said they sound different with that little piece. It may or may not be that the wood colors the vibration of the strings, but the effect is so small it’s insignificant. Sign Up The reason wood affects the tone of the guitar is because the wood responds to the vibration of the strings. They build a great single cut with a nice full neck, tune-o-matic and serious tone. However the density and resonance of the individual bit of wood used can make a little difference to the individual guitar, no matter what species is used (and wood of a particular species is likely to have a particular density and resonance), so perhaps some generalisations may have a little truth to them. The push that Pau ferro gives your tone is amazing. I haven’t played enough guitars to actually tell for sure. Put a set of lipsticks in a strat and they won’t have the same spank and boing as in a dano; put a set of strat p’ups in a dano and they won’t have the same fluidity of sound as a strat. You can talk to a thousand guitarists and everyone of them will have a slightly adjusted opinion. Maple: Many an electric guitar is capped with a maple top and neck. The short answer is that nearly all the parts of an electric guitar affect the tone in some way. It’s not as soft as mahogany or as hard as maple, which culminates to a tone without a major boost in the tonal spectrum. You can’t argue with a fact like that, it just makes you look dumb. It means different things to different people. ♦ True temperament frets (True overtones increase sustain instead of strings canceling each other out). Just because you cannot discern a difference, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. wood is the element of chaos. My guess is: ♦ Locking tuners ♦ A good bridge (Tune-o-matics are crap, because the strings lay on small blades and they snap a lot, also small surface area is bad for sustain) ♦ A metal nut, best if it also locks. Maybe guitarists are not hung up on grammar. As a builder of small volume/one off guitars, you use the general rule in the design process, then select the individual blank that taps in a nice resonant way. They do not pick up wood vibration, the vibration of the wood is not amplified. This is because the wood itself is mimicking the string’s vibration at two separate points: Sapwood tends to have a more porous structure – it is softer, and tends to shrink or swell more easily with changes in moisture – so luthiers avoid it and use ‘heartwood’ whenever possible. However, air molecules and the molecules of the different woods are all going to vibrate differently, due to the differences in woodgrain spacing and the little air pockets in all the different woods and the density of the different woods. I believe it is all just a matter of the musicians opinion and preferences. These are the same folks who most likely cannot hear the difference between an Epiphone or Gibson Les Paul or a Squier or Fender USA Tele. Of what? they sound different to everyone who plays them…. It’s a general rule of thumb that the more dense the wood, the brighter the tone. One is an original 59. Were the tops from the same tree? You will get an opener sound with lots of highs and upper mids that cut through the mix like a hot knife through butter. Ebony is most closely associated with black, but brown, yellow, red and even purple hues and stripes aren’t uncommon for ebony. It can have sap pockets – again that varies with the tree – which can result in weak lines along the grain – watch out for red, grainy lines that under a magnifier show crystal structures of dry resin. If you use epoxy for grain filling you just killed your guitar tone. In my experience many factors contribute to how a guitar sounds: wood, strings, body dimensions, neck dimensions, and on and on. One can argue true artistry is the successful pleasurable combination of these subtleties that create true genius and unique music. The tone wood is a lot more important on acoustic guitars than it is with electric guitars. If not, you cannot compare them and say it is the wood in the back that made a difference.
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