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Alder Bodies: 1 piece vs 2 piece

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by dontstop611, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. dontstop611

    dontstop611 Member

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    I'm considering buying a high-end boutique strat. I have an swamp ash strat, which I love, but I want something more SRV like... alder.

    I was speaking with a luthier. He said that a one piece alder body is a bad idea because alder tends to warp. Can anyone one confirm this?

    I believe a piece body tend to sustain louder and longer... anyone agree? disagree?

    thanks
     
  2. klatuu

    klatuu Member

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    One piece alder bodies are certainly more rare......I have also heard that the one piece alder can warp over time. The opposing grain of the jointed 2 piece add stability......or so it's said. Not trying to hijack the thread, but the big question then, is where to put the joint? I've seen center joints and I've seen off center joints. Some more obvious than others......

    This sunburst body has an off center joint that's really obvious....boooo :FM

    [​IMG]

    The fiesta red one has the same joint hidden by the opaque paint......but not really......the nitro has sunk into the wood and the joint is clearly visible to the naked eye. The surf green body has the joint in the same place as well, but the nitro hasn't sunk into the grain yet, as I just repainted it two years ago.

    [​IMG]

    3 alder bodies with the "off center" joint, and I've seen alder center joints and one piece alder, though rare. Most ash bodies I've seen are one piece or center jointed. For that matter I've seen 3 piece bodies as well. I'm sure there's a reason for the off center joint...I just don't know what it is.

    Edit: I know why the joint is offset; had to think about it a sec.......saves money. If you use wood that's 10" or 12" wide you can get 2 bodies from 3 plank widths. 2 wide pieces and 2 narrow pieces. Using the center joint it would take 4 plank widths.
     
  3. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    I think it depends heavily on where your luthier gets his alder. About "paint grade" or lightweight alder, some differential movement is certainly possible.

    Here's a maple cap 2 piece alder, doing good - the seam does not show in the nitro yet:


    [​IMG]


    Here's a USACG Tele body, one of three similar figured one piece alders I have from Tommy. No issues:

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    Here's another figured alder body. Now, these are not light, at least 4 pounds 6 ounces in the form of a Tele body:

    [​IMG]

    This is another I might worry about - the grain does some strange things but it looks great at about 1 year:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And if you want to believe I paid a massive premium for these, that's up to you. Maybe I should have paid more - don't tell Tommy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2009
  5. rhinocaster

    rhinocaster Supporting Member

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    I certainly like the idea of 1 piece bodies from a "Less is more" point of view, but since almost every Fender ever made is a multi piece body, I have to say that I wouldn't worry about a glue joint or two.
     
  6. K-Line

    K-Line Gold Supporting Member

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    Only thing to consider is weight. Usually the wider boards come from lower in the tree where it is typically heavier. i use what looks good and shy away from 1 piece if I can get a nice two piece for a burst. Hell a nice three piece is just fine! Most Fenders that are opaque have 3-4-5 pieces.
     
  7. Mark Ray

    Mark Ray We're Jammin' Gold Supporting Member

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    My Warmoth alder Strat is one piece. It's 7 years old now, with no problems. I have left it in the car trunk for days on end in it's case in all kinds of weather. Still looks/feels/plays perfectly. YMMV.

    Mark
     
  8. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    Too many other factors involved to categorically say that a one piece body "sustains louder and longer".

    Also, in neck swapping experiments I've done with a half dozen similar Strats, I came to the conclusion that the neck wood is tonally more important than the body wood...what I perceived as the best tone tended to follow a particular neck.

    So, when looking for a Strat I just run the racks, kick a bunch of tires and let my hands & ears decide which Strat is best keeping in mind that there are dogs & gems at ALL price points.
     
  9. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    :agree Don't worry about warping.....if the wood has been properly dried, by the time it is finally planed and cut into a guitar, it will be stable. Look at all those old one piece LP jr's and Melody Makers.

    I do prefer one piece for transparent finishes. It just looks better, is less common, and more valuable if/when you sell. That said, Fender has done some really good multi-piece matching that is almost imperceptable.
     
  10. Duc572

    Duc572 Member

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    the replies by Vaughn/fullerplast are right on imo, my experience/hobby in luthiery has led me to this very conclusion. I've made bodies out of single piece and multi piece construction and if the particular plank you're using is more resonant than another then it differs little if it's one or 3-4 pieces.

    Alot of cork sniffers will only be satisfied with a single piece body, even if it sounds dead compared to another slabbed up body.....and pay a premium for it to boot. Now a good sounding single piece body maybe worth the premium for someone for weight and or asthetic reasons.....this is ideal if $ isn't a priority.

    A well made neck and imo a beefy 1950's/60's era profile set in a nice tight pocket is the key starting point for string energy transfer and sustain.
     
  11. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    I had a partscaster Tele with a 4 piece alder body that rang like crazy. I sent it to a friend who was Tele-less and it quickly became his #1. It also has Fender O/V pups and a generic bridge with a WD neck.

    Nothing on that guitar is anywhere near cork sniffer material and it's a frikkin tone monster.

    Oh, it's a POS Chinese body with a neck pocket you could drive a Silverado through.

    Go figure....



    (don't be too hung up on how many pieces make a body)
     
  12. 84Bravo

    84Bravo Member

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    I have a friend who played a '56 Tele for years, one piece, and the body warped (cupped) so badly that if you set it on it's back on a flat table you could see daylight underneath. So, your luthier is speaking the truth. I'm not saying ALL one piece bodies warp, only that I've seen one. Many people who think they have one-piece bodies would be surprised to find an off-center seam if the body were stripped. As others above have mentioned, one or five piece, doesn't matter much if it sounds good. I did see a real five piece late fifties Tele once, somebody had stripped it, and there they were: five pieces glued together. Sounded great.
     
  13. james russell

    james russell Silver Supporting Member

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    I've been happy with some bodies that I made out of three pieces in which I have a wide center piece and two very narrow wings. I've currently got some Swamp Ash that is nicely light and 9.5 inches wide. With that as the center piece the two wings end up being only at the edges of the upper and lower bouts. That way the neck, bridge, and pickups are coupled to a very wide center piece with only small marginal wings at the bouts.

    James
     
  14. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    If you are worried about one piece bodies warping, then you should also be worried about two piece bodies warping.....the only difference is the radius of the cupping.
     
  15. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    My black guard partscaster is a 3 piece ash body from USACG. It is NOT for sale. I have other guitars that sound great and look much better but that one is the last to go.
     
  16. jaydawg76

    jaydawg76 Supporting Member

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    I personally don't find that a one piece is any more likely to be a winner than a multi piece. But like all things tone that's debatable.

    If you really want a one piece then go for it. Whats the worst that could happens? It develops a little cup. That won't make it play or sound worse. On the other hand if you're really concerned about warping then get a two piece with an off center seam in the lower bout. That's the most acoustically inactive area of the body.
     
  17. geetarman

    geetarman Member

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    I have a 1-piece koa bodied strat that was built for me 25 years ago and I've had zero problems with warping. As for sustain and tonal differences I don't believe it makes a damn bit of difference each piece of wood is different. It's far more apparent when dealing with multi piece necks IMO than bodies.
     
  18. shane88

    shane88 Member

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    I don't think the # of pieces is gonna affect the tone per se

    some of the best guitars i've played have 3+ piece bodies and my main guitars all have 3 piece bodies

    and i'm into ratocasters anyway so multi mismatched pieces will do me :)
     

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