Do tonewoods really matter in building a guitar?

rockon1

Platinum Supporting Member
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13,693
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.
I never said the material didnt matter. I said " The properties of the material being used will matter, specifically the density" There is no such thing as "tonewood" -that I did say.
 

Rossi163

Silver Supporting Member
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I never said the material didnt matter. I said " The properties of the material being used will matter, specifically the density" There is no such thing as "tonewood" -that I did say.
Yeah, but that is the part that I have to disagree with. There most definitely is such a thing as "tonewood". Certifiably. Demonstrably. Empirically.
 

Rossi163

Silver Supporting Member
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2,724
There are many timbers suitable (or not) for building guitars that may have similar densities to Brazilian rosewood that do not sound nearly as good. Period. Physics matter but they do not explain everything. Ask any seasoned and knowledgeable vintage guitar dealer if they think Brazilian is superior as a tonewood to other similar materials.
 

Hasbeen

Silver Supporting Member
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191
Yes, a lot. If you can’t hear (and feel btw) the difference, move on and save money on your future purchases.
 

rockon1

Platinum Supporting Member
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13,693
Yeah, but that is the part that I have to disagree with. There most definitely is such a thing as "tonewood". Certifiably. Demonstrably. Empirically.


I think that there are samples of types of wood that work better than other samples - for a given outcome and perhaps you might call it tonewood. Thats a fairly liberal statement from my perspective. Mostly I think its "hogwash" and I am specifically talking about electric guitars here though Bob Taylor made a pretty good sounding acoustic out of a pallet. No matter, we just disagree.
 
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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.

If the greatest most influential guitar players or makers came into this forum and repeated the essence of what you'd stated Rossi, it would change nothing. The obsession with looks, playability and ' specs' would re-surface after about two/three days of absence of new thread titles containing the words 'ngd' ' pickups' or ' specs'. It is, rather bizarrely, ' what it is'.
 
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RRfireblade

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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....


I'll take that bet any day.

Wanna make a wager that pro musicians could not consistently identify each of those 10 guitars by their species of wood? (All other factors 100% identical)

I'll take that bet every day. :)
 

Chad

Member
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853
I think that there are samples of types of wood that work better than other samples - for a given outcome and perhaps you might call it tonewood. Thats a fairly liberal statement from my perspective. Mostly I think its "hogwash" and I am specifically talking about electric guitars here though Bob Taylor made a pretty good sounding acoustic out of a pallet. No matter, we just disagree.

Yep. There is only wood. Wood may have certain tonal qualities, but it's still just wood. Calling it "tonewood" just seems dumb.
 
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What tree does tonewood grow on?

This is an interesting question, interesting as I believe it is a genuine question ( so many questions here are very definitely not).
To those that know, tonewood simply means good wood, good wood for tone.
To those that don't know, I can see the confusion.
I can see further confusion when it is suggested that wood varies within a species.
So, the guys that do this for a living will listen to a piece of alder and literally throw it away, or use it for firewood if it is awful enough.
So is alder a tonewood?
- maybe.
 

Rossi163

Silver Supporting Member
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2,724
Wanna make a wager that pro musicians could not consistently identify each of those 10 guitars by their species of wood? (All other factors 100% identical)

I'll take that bet every day. :)
That wasn't the wager. The wager is would pro musicians pick the guitars made from good wood or concrete and plywood.
 

Steadfastly

Member
Messages
4,993
The only ways to prove either way, is to put them in an anechoic chamber and see which one responds the way you want it to best.

The other is a blind test.

I find people that want to prove that wood really matters in an electric guitar are those that build them and sell them and have something to gain. I do, though, believe that different wood does matter in an electric guitar. a very little bit.
 

RRfireblade

Member
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4,835
That wasn't the wager. The wager is would pro musicians pick the guitars made from good wood or concrete and plywood.

Either the wood matters or doesn't, either different species of woods, like you said, have signatures tones or they don't. Otherwise they are not tonewood, they are just wood. If it doesn't matter what kind of wood it is, then it doesn't matter what the material is at all. You can't have it both ways.

:)

Seems like you just disproved your own point. LOL
 

Rossi163

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,724
Yep. There is only wood. Wood may have certain tonal qualities, but it's still just wood. Calling it "tonewood" just seems dumb.
They say that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I would add that an opinion is only worth as much as the amount of first hand knowledge and experience is involved in forming that opinion.
 

PB26

Member
Messages
435
I think wood makes a big difference. I have a Schecter with a mahogany body, maple top, maple neck and rosewood board, and it has a nice full and thick tone with an EMG 81. The Ibanez RGIT20FE, which has an EMG 81, swamp ash body, maple neck through and ebony board, still sounded good, but very, very different from the Schecter -- much brighter, honkier and it had way less low end. Were the two EMGs different enough to produce the tone disparity? Highly doubt it. It's the wood.
 

jvin248

Member
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6,922
.

Great .. you can separate woods by sound alone.

Can you save the fragile rain forests by playing "just a little bit better" to compensate? And tell the guitar factories to quit importing lumber and build their Made In America guitars with Grown In America woods that replenish faster and support American lumber jobs?

To get the straight grain, no knot, perfect wood for rosewood fretboards requires rosewood trees that started growing in the rain forests about the time Columbus begged for cash from European royalty. The same time frame for one and two piece Mahogany bodies. Notice how few famous Les Paul bodies are riddled with knots? That is because those boards came from trees as large as those pictured below.

This log has no knots. The lumber for the annual guitar production of 2.5 million units comes from this kind of activity. Know any famous guitar players in the middle of defining their 'signature guitars'? Convince them to use more local and fast growing woods. Convince them to tell their fans that their tone comes from their fingers and practice, not the wood they caused to be hacked down.

iu

iu


.
 

Rossi163

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,724
N
Either the wood matters or doesn't, either different species of woods, like you said, have signatures tones or they don't. Otherwise they are not tonewood, they are just wood. If it doesn't matter what kind of wood it is, then it doesn't matter what the material is at all. You can't have it both ways.

:)

Seems like you just disproved your own point. LOL
Uh, no. None of what you said applies to what I am saying. Brazilian rosewood has a definitive and recognizable tonality that distinguishes it from other suitable materials. Maybe you are unable to distinguish the difference between a guitar made from Brazilian versus plywood, but many of us certainly can.
 
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1,214
More confusion.
Pterocarpus indicus is something that is not used for guitars commercially, as far as I'm aware ( i could be wrong here, easily).
It is a very interesting tonewood indeed, very musical on all fronts, very consistent ( I haven't seen a bad piece yet sound-wise), and again, it is not used for guitars.
So is it a tonewood ? ( for you and everyone else) - No.
 




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