Guitar material hardness Vs Tone

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by oxydon, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. oxydon

    oxydon Member

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    Most unexperienced luthiers will tell you (as i would have told you a few years ago) that the harder the guitar wood and the better the guitar would be, better sustain, brightness, edge, sparcle, .. "Tone".
    BUT, if this was true, harder materials than wood could have been used for guitar making (i mean widely used/standarised), materials such as iron, fiberglass, or even ceramics would have done better!
    What most players a looking for today is not an infinitely sustainig guitar, but a guitar that "breaths" and resonates in a musical way, an infinitely hard guitar doesn't resonate at all (only the strings will dictate the sound), but a guitar that resonates too much will kill parts of the sound and enhance others, and most important, it won't resonate very long, and the sound will not fade uniformly, ..
    I may seem to be giving answers instead of questions, but i am first of all seeking your oppinion about these self made conclusions (wich are not absolute godly truth btw), and i am also trying to establish some kind of cathegorisation according to sound types, something like saying "hard necks and bodies with a heavy truss-rod ..etc are best for heavy metal, and softer mahogany guitars (gibsons?) are better for the blues" (just an example of course).
    so ... ?
     
  2. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    I only use one rule, hard wood is brighter than soft wood, just as it "looks" like it would be. Mahogany and similar woods are good for midrange, add a maple top for a little brightness and sustain. Lots of combinations.
     
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    There's a flaw to every rule. Harder (really, denser) woods don't make for a brighter guitar every time. Examples would be walnut and rosewood - both of which are considerably darker sounding than less dense woods.
     
  4. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    I'll agree with that. No matter what I use I always in the end plug it in and stand there with that "deer in the headlights look" and wonder what I will hear. About 10 years ago I built 2 guitars at the same time, same style, same woods (different trees) same pickups,and I never got the two to sound the same, not that I wanted them to, but it was just curious to me.
     
  5. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    Well most light woods tend to have a thinner tone. So I try to steer clear of those.
     
  6. tmaker

    tmaker Member

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    Different woods in different places. For a hollow body you want a lighter wood for the top like spruce. Sides and back of mahogany, rosewood, or maple. For an electric the choice of top is more for cosmetics and the main body wood has more influence. Mahogany for nice warm tones, Ash, Alder for brighter tone. For necks Maple or any dense hardwood and rosewood or ebony for fingerboards. Also in the mix there is ample room for most any hardwood, and poplar too.
     
  7. curtis

    curtis Member

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    i think its a tricky one, for instance, who can hear what fingerboard type strat hendrix is playing on any album?
    not me.

    its kind of like the super high end speaker cables that cost hundreds per yard...there a so many other factors that make waaay more difference that it kind of almost becomes insignificant.
    I used to work at a audio factory (as an elec/ audo test engineer) that made the super high end rupert neve desks etc and we could see what did and didnt effect the audio quality etc. A decent lead is fine, no need to spend megabucks.

    I love maple fingerboards, but my 3 favourite guitars have rosewood necks and to be honest, i dont think it matters. Far more important to me is the thing set up right (ie strings sat properly in nut and bridge etc) and obviously amp and wotnot.

    where i come unstuck in this is a danelectro vs les paul. I think generally, less sustain = more character/ arguably tone and vice versa. dannys have a shoebox of a body with aluminium and or rosewood bridges and little sustain, but they sound so cool. A heavy les paul can often be pretty indestinct from the next....but it don't mean you still cant rock the f*ck out of it! I can see why people put alli hardware on a les paul - makes sense to me.
    cheers
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2008
  8. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    My pine tele would shoot holes through that theory in a big way.

    Oh, why did I ever sell her?
     

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