How does the number of pieces of wood influence the sound of a guitar?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Krank, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. Krank

    Krank Member

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    I've wondered a bit about how it influences the sound when two kinds of wood are combined, like the mahogany/maple on Les Pauls.

    It seems to be generally agreed that a guitar should resonate. Wouldn't this resonating be hampered a bit by gluing two pieces of wood together, rather than having a solid body where the sound can go more unhindered along the natural structures of the wood? I gather this also goes for construction with several pieces of the same wood type. I have no idea how this really works, which is why I'm asking, please bear with me.

    Secondary question: I've come to realise that neck wood actually plays a rather large role in a guitar's tone. So far I've found that maple has a defined tone on the brighter side and with a bit of spank, while rosewood has a warm tone with a bit of sizzle. Ebony I'm not so sure about, but I like the hard yet smooth way it plays (I own guitars of each type - as well as a graphite guitar, but let's not go there).

    What are your thoughts?
     
  2. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    Just my thought.

    If gluing two pieces of wood degrades sound quality then the whole complete guitar that's made out of one piece of wood should sound superior. Not really.

    The glue is the key factor here that can make or break it. "Usually" the glue (hot hide glue for one) once dried would become very rigid and hard, it doesn't dampen the resonace of the wood at all.

    Some great sounding vintage guitars/basses that I had the fortune to lay my hands on were actually made out of 3 pieces of wood.s
     
  3. Mrgearguy

    Mrgearguy Member

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    I would suggest that everything is a factor, but it is impossible to catagorize any of these changes as "good" or "bad" on their own. Hey, look at a strat, it doesn't even have a glued neck joint, but that's part of its sound.

    As far as the glue being the deciding factor, how about using hyde glue to put together ten strips of wood, all of varying density?

    I think you've got to look at the entire picture, and even then know that it will be just another sound that can be usable to someone no matter what.
     
  4. the_Chris

    the_Chris It's All Been Done Before Gold Supporting Member

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    One would think that a one piece would be the way to go in all instances, but there were some artists (namely Eric Johnson) who would swear by having a two piece body.

    Some folks really like their Norlin era Gibsons with the pancake bodies, so I guess you can't say that multi piece bodies and necks necessarily have a negative impact on tone.
     
  5. Teleman

    Teleman Supporting Member

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    I once did some work on an early 90's Fender Tele that was made up of 5 pieces of wood. It was a greta sounding tele. All the pieces did not hamper its tone at all.
     
  6. Krank

    Krank Member

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    Thanks for your replies.

    If I may - how would you describe the tonal qualities of ebony as a fretboard?
     
  7. mge80

    mge80 Member

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    "Tonal qualities of ebony as a fretboard"?

    You have obviously already been on this forum too long.:Spank:phones
     
  8. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Jim, don't ebony and maple have similar tonal characteristics?


    Thanks
     
  9. whitehall

    whitehall Member

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    Makes no diff at all. It's all marketing. Not unlike the whole neck tenon thing. Mostly crap that gives forum kids something to argue about. And the poor. You can always bet that if you put some POS $100 guitar up for sale, some wanker will write in and ask about the tenon and number of body parts.....as if !!!!
     
  10. dougk

    dougk Silver Supporting Member

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    From a construction point of view I tend to like 2pc bodies. If you flip the grain ring directions the board will stay VERY stable. Plus its difficult to find alder that wide (imo). That being said, one of my favorite strats (my 74) is 3, possibly 4 pieces iirc.

    When I decided to build a batch of bodies for myself I usually get in about 40' of material (4 7-8" wide boards). I mark them, cut them into sections, weigh them and match them up before gluing. Seems to keep them pretty consistent and they sound fantastic. Note: this is just the thoughts of a hobbiest / professional woodworker (stupid day jobs... grr).
     
  11. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    When I realize the guitar I'm playing consists of 15 pieces, I get depressed and I play badly.

    :D
     
  12. Krank

    Krank Member

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    Hahaha... I was actually thinking something like that even as I posted. But not long ago I would have disregarded that the fretboard could make any difference in tone - now my recent experiences seem to indicate it. Whether it's really more about attack or some other quality of sound rather than 'tone', I can't say yet.
     
  13. mge80

    mge80 Member

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    I would like to know what "attack" sounds like. Yeah. That's what I want to know.
     
  14. mge80

    mge80 Member

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    Suit yourself. That's what this is all about anyway. Right?

    I guess I should be more clear. About everyone suiting themselves. What else matters in the end?

    Although hearing what "attack" sounds like does sound intriguing.
     
  15. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    Okay, every sound waveform is made up of four essential parts: attack, decay, sustain, release. Attack is the time required for a note to reach maximum volume from the time it becomes audible. As Jim Soloway explained, an ebony board produces the fastest attack, meaning the notes jump to maximum volume very quickly. Rosewood on the other hand has a longer attack than ebony, which allows notes to bloom more slowly.

    Fwiw, decay is the time required for a note to drop from maximum volume to the sustain level. Release is the duration that elapses when the sustain level drops from a consistent level to zero.
     
  16. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    The "sound" of the attack is one major factor that distinguishes different guitars.

    That's why I play strats/teles but no les paul.

    It's the "pop" when the pick or finger first touching the strings and the first immediate release afterwards. I'm sure you've heard it before.
     
  17. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

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    Ebony is bright and punchy fast attack, note is loud at the start, my Les Paul Custom has an Ebony fretboard, the guitar can get a great horn like sound, something most guitars can not get close to.

    Rosewood is more violin sounding, slow attack, really mellow sounding.


    Ebony really shines on an acoustic, makes the guitar very dynamic, and touch sensitive

    Ebony is debatible on a electric guitar, sounding like a horn is not something everyone wants from their guitar. Really prefer the rosewood necks with the nice violin like sound.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2008
  18. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    It sounds to me like you haven't been on this forum long enough.

    Jim Soloway is a respected guitar builder, a respected player, and expert on tone woods, and a great cat. A question was asked regarding tone differences between different woods; he responded factually.

    You, on the other hand, are posting smart assed, chiding comments.

    A little respect goes a long way on a forum. You would do well to try some.

    In my opinion, Dana O.
     
  19. dharmafool

    dharmafool Member

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    A gold-standard, physical science explanation. May we all take heed.
     
  20. El Kabong

    El Kabong Member

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    Actually, they talk about it. If they all like the same music, the guitar will sound great. If they have different taste- metal headz vs. Hawaiian shirt wearing blues jams wankers, the guitar will be a turd.
     

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