Is it true that black guitars are made using inferior wood than "bursts"?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by jimmyohio75, Dec 26, 2009.


  1. jimmyohio75

    jimmyohio75 Member

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    I was checking out some Les Paul's today at GC. This particular model was the Traditional Pro. I have been looking at this model for some time. They had three colors in stock. They had heritage cherry sunburst, vintage burst and ebony (black). I was curious why the ebony model was $100 cheaper than the other two. The GC sales dude explained that Gibson uses a lower grade wood for the ebony model because the guitar is fully painted and the wood grain is not visible like on the other two. He went on to say that he would not buy the ebony because the wood could be real "bad" but there's no way to know because it's not "visible" under the paint. The first thing that I thought is that this is some type of marketing gimmick devised by the sales guy to try and sell me the higher priced guitar. Can anyone confirm that Gibson indeed uses an "inferior" grade of wood for the ebony models and would this affect tone? Thanks.
     
  2. c_mac

    c_mac Supporting Member

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    It isn't an inferior grade, it is inferior grain. Lots of times if wood doesn't have a nice grain pattern it will be finished in a solid color.
     
  3. jimmyohio75

    jimmyohio75 Member

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    So the actual wood itself is no worse, it just doesn't look as pretty?
     
  4. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

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    Also, some guys think that ugly wood is better sounding. Fact is, if you buy a black guitar, it's probably butt-ugly underneath. So what. Black is cool!
     
  5. natevi

    natevi Member

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    Don't forget it cost more to put 3 colors on than just 1 quick one. And Gibson is probley doing that considering all there problems...
     
  6. Malinoski

    Malinoski everything wrong possible

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    Pretty costs more in all aspects of life.
     
  7. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    If you have a piece of wood with gorgeous flame, you set it aside as premium, paint it in burst, natural, or translucent to show the figure, and price it accordingly. With all the more plentiful and cheaper non-figured wood, there's nothing special to show so you're more likely to select those to fill opaque color orders.

    You see the grain in one finish, so it matters. You don't see it in the other, so it doesn't matter. Not much more to it than that.
     
  8. lamenlovinit

    lamenlovinit Member

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    Using the word "worse" is the problem. "Uglier" wood is in fact a lower grade. Because grading is done only on appearance! So yes the wood is a lower grade, but that means nothing to tone, weight, how well it was cured, how stable it will be, etc.

    When you see AAAA or AAA, it only tells you how pretty the wood is. amount of knots, straightness of grain, pattern, etc.

    And Frankly, back in the 50's and early 60's Fender did use the pretty wood in bursts and the uglier in solid colors. But they would also overspray a sunburst fiesta red if they needed a red guitar quickly and didn't have any primed bodies ready. But remember the "Target Bursts" with the strong yellow middle? That came about after Fender stopped worrying about using pretty wood on bursts. The yellow covered up "bad" wood.

    You can find lots of very badly matched bodies visible under sunbursts today from Fender. Gibson seems to care a little more.
     
  9. OM Flyer

    OM Flyer Member

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    FWIW, most manufacturers do this - Fender even charges more for their bursts and natural finishes on some models.
     
  10. lamenlovinit

    lamenlovinit Member

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    That's because of the labor (spraying 3 colors), not the wood grade. There are tons of horribly mismatched Fender bursts. More than with G&L and others. I say that with love. I have 3 fenders, and have owned many in the past.:p
     
  11. usc96

    usc96 Member

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    That part of the wood is just a cap anyway.
     
  12. jeffwith1f

    jeffwith1f Member

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    ugly wood does not equal bad sounding.
     
  13. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    There is a body of thought that says black guitars sound better, too.
    I'm pretty sure I read that on the web.:aok
     
  14. Giraffecaster

    Giraffecaster Member

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    I don't necessarily agree it's the cost of labor doing a burst that they charge +$150 for the translucent finishes.

    I think a lot of it is what's already been touched on - the clarity of the wood in addition to the number of pieces. I'd imagine a lot of solid color low end fenders are 4+ pieces these days.
     
  15. Help!I'maRock!

    Help!I'maRock! Member

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    Rickenbacker is actually a great example of this. the best looking wood gets only clear gloss. anything that doesn't cut the mustard gets a burst. and any wood not good enough for a burst becomes a solid color.

    this is why you should pick a guitar for how it plays, not how pretty it looks. how many bursts have you played that looked great, but felt like crap? how many solid ones have you played that were dreamboats? and how many people write off clear gloss guitars for looking more like furniture than musical instruments?

    its all subjective. the only thing that matters is if you pick up a guitar and it says, "take me home." then that's the one for you.
     
  16. Deathmonkey

    Deathmonkey Member

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    I order all my Carvins with plain maple caps. Personally, I think they sound better. Or at least they suit my personality better. :D Before there was all this wood grading stuff, Gibson just used maple, and if you got a cool grain pattern, great. If not, no one cared. There are players that swear by the older plain tops, and that has carried over to the peeps who prefer the opaque finishes for that reason as well.

    I'd agree with the caveat that in certain vintages, the opaque finishes cover 3 and 4 piece bodies, MDF (Sonex anyone?), scrap wood/"butcher block" bodies, and other construction nightmares. But as far as current production Gibbys, it's all cosmetic, so go with your ears.
     
  17. Steedee

    Steedee Member

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    Nothing more pretty than black gloss, gold Hardware, matching pups, and vintage binding.
     
  18. Jahn

    Jahn Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver Gold Supporting Member

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  19. shane88

    shane88 Member

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    if it's any comfort they say straight grained wood is less likely to warp > not that there's much chance of any top doing this :p but i'd rather see an interesting piece of timber than something with perfecto figuring ..... but black is the nu black
     
  20. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Dude is bullshittin'`you, they charge more because they think they can and any explanation is pure BS.
     

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