Do tonewoods really matter in building a guitar?

el chuco

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Check out the video below where the guitar body is made out of concrete. Maybe the electronics and amps are the most important... :huh
 

Capstan Philips

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Amps are underrated for sure. But as well as amps and eletronics, the components within the 'string path' make a big difference too - bridge design, bridge material, neck depth, neck material...

Besides, who ever argued that concrete wasn't a good tone material? Tone would be the least of your worries when you strapped on your new concrete-bodied Fender "Eastern Bloc Brutalist Series" Telecaster, only to watch your strap fray in two and your cold-to-the-touch Tele crash to the floor, shattering into 100 jagged (if surprisingly resonant) pieces...
 

gtrplr71

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3,642
Chip Todd used to be my neighbor and buddy. He is the designer of the T-60 peavy guitars. He had an all aluminum guitar he had built that was just 2 rails and a neck. It was resonant and had the sustain and warmth of a swamp ash strat. He built it to prove to Hartly Peavy that tone is sometimes in a design. I think the neck was a Travis Bean design.:hide
 
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If you read the threads in these forums, almost none of them focus on the way a guitar wood ( or even the guitar, period) sounds. The focus is on ' specs', and quite obviously, looks. ' playability' seems to be extremely important.
It's no co-incidence that manufacturers can provide these things with nothing more than good training and good contacts with hardware manufacturers.
Tonewood doesn't matter to the authors or the posters in those threads ( or to your midnight special internet guitar deals place, or even to most of fender/gibson guitars) . Not even the tiniest bit. these guitars discussed may as well be made of pressed/shaped steel.
The whole miserable drama is entirely avoidable as there doesn't need to be the discussion in the first place.
If it was meant to be that such a thing would matter to you, then it would, as you'd play two identical guitars/ same pickups made of different woods, or two guitars with the same pickups made of the same woods and hear the differences as easily as you read these words - no forum post necessary.
It's like asking " can a creature really live on the ocean floor 500 metres down?" - there's not just one animal there - it's teeming with life.
 

sahhas

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16,068
Les Paul started with a 4”x4” pine beam as the log for his 1st solid body, and it sounded fine to him, the problem was it didn’t look like a guitar so he put the wings on it.
As Ken Parker says, any material will have a resonant frequency when you tap/ bang on it... so yes I think you can use anything... tone wood is pretty much a madeup term for wood that most builders/ players prefer to use in guitar construction
 

RolandKorg

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4,040
This is the definition of "specious."

Does the wood (material) matter? The question is not 'can a concrete guitar sound like a (good) guitar.' It's 'does a concrete guitar sound different from a wood guitar?' And with more relevance, 'does Wood A sound different from Wood B?'

And then you get into the degrees of difference. Maybe Alder and Ash sound pretty similar, but Mahogany represents a significant change. And then, whether you have a preference and whether it's predictable and then whether the rest of the 'formula' either exacerbates or minimizes the differences.
 
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douglaswarren

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124
In my experience pickups make a huge difference, but, they also sound different in different guitars. And I’ve found great pickups sound great in cheap guitars, but sound amazing in more expensive guitars with better wood, better build, age, ect. Also, with acoustics, I’ve found wood type definitely makes differences in tone and the overall percussive sound. Plugged in, I think 98% of acoustics sound the same though hahaha
 
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gtrplr71

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Wasn't it Kramer in the late 80's that had strikers that were compressed particle board? They sounded ok to me.
 

rockon1

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The problem is with the word "tonewood" - there is no such thing. The properties of the material being used will matter, specifically the density- so the proper density of wood might be important to the desired outcome. The denser the materials the less string energy will be absorbed into the guitar as acoustic sound. Less dense materials will allow for more resonance and more acoustic output. What does that translate into as far as an electric guitar goes? More sustain, less sustain, timbre differences? etc. Bottom line possibly "tonematerial" would be a better way to put it and thats debatable too...
 

Rossi163

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The problem is with the word "tonewood" - there is no such thing. The properties of the material being used will matter, specifically the density- so the proper density of wood might be important to the desired outcome. The denser the materials the less string energy will be absorbed into the guitar as acoustic sound. Less dense materials will allow for more resonance and more acoustic output. What does that translate into as far as an electric guitar goes? More sustain, less sustain, timbre differences? etc. Bottom line possibly "tonematerial" would be a better way to put it and thats debatable too...
Sorry, but with all due respect that is hogwash. I have owned and built hundreds of guitars and the materials used have a major impact on the tone of a guitar. Especially the wood.
 

Rossi163

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Let's put it this way. I'll make 10 guitars using lightweight swamp ash, mahogany, hard rock maple and Brazilian rosewood, and someone else can make 10 from plywood and concrete, both sets using the same hardware and pickups. Wanna make a wager as to which ones would be selected as sounding better when judged by pro musicians (or by anyone, for that matter)?

I'll take that bet any day.
 




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