Mahogany or maple top sustain question.

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by edcat, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. edcat

    edcat Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2005
    Got my eyes on a Godin LG but am debating on solid mahogany or one with a maple top. I don't care about looks or a brighter tone which maple tops provide. I am concerned with sustain. Do maple tops sustain longer?
  2. Last

    Last Member

    Mar 14, 2009
    St. Louis, MO. USA
    In my opinion the construction of the guitar as well as how the hardware is fitted & made makes more difference in sustain than the actual wood.

    To me the wood flavors the tone.

    I'm sure others will feel differently though.
  3. XKnight

    XKnight Member

    Apr 8, 2007
    Republic of Texas
    I would think a solid piece of Mahogany will sustain better than 2 -3 pieces of different wood glued together. The best sustaining guitar I own is a solid Korina PRS. I'd like to hear what the Luthiers have to say on this subject.
  4. tnvol

    tnvol Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    San Antonio
    Me too. The best sustaining guitar I have has a one piece korina body as well.
  5. The Kid

    The Kid Member

    Nov 26, 2008
  6. rburkard

    rburkard Gold Supporting Member

    May 30, 2007
    Milwaukee, WI
    On traditional mahogany/maple combinations, maple tops usually have more sustain while mahogany tops or solid mahogany bodies are less constrained and the sound cuts better through a band mix.
  7. Will Chen

    Will Chen Member

    May 1, 2008
    Allen, TX
    Just to throw a wrinkle in the puzzle...

    Sustain and resonance are mutually exclusive. In order for a string to sustain longer, it needs to retain as much energy as possible meaning a guitar with the least possible transference of energy from the vibrating string to the bridge, then body will sustain the longest. One of the longest clean sustaining notes I've heard on a guitar was a gag guitar made of MDF, which is a largely acoustically dead material highly resistant to resonance.

    Conversely, a highly "resonant" guitar would be the result of a great amount of transfer of energy from the string to the body. I placed the word resonant in parenthesis as solid body guitars were built to reduce the resonant quality of the semi and full body guitars in order to perform at higher volume amplified without feedback (a symptom of a resonant bodied guitar played amplified at high volume). I won't go so far to say the type of wood has no effect on sustain (clearly wood which rejects the transfer of energy from strings would aid in increasing sustain), but I wouldn't be concerned with any specific type of wood offering an appreciable difference in sustain.

    As such, I would agree with the above posting that the hardware and construction, specifically the bridge, will have the most impact on sustain in a traditional electric guitar design.
  8. Julia343

    Julia343 Member

    Oct 31, 2007
    1) Neck through w/ hardtail, bone nut.
    2) Neck through w/ stop tail, bone nut.
    3) Set neck w/ hardtail....
    4) Set neck w/ stoptail....
    5) Bolt on w/ hardtail ...
    6) Bolt on w/ stoptail...

    followed by the above types with tremolos.

    Multiple piece bodies can sustain well but it depends upon where the joints are and their quality. Density of the wood makes a difference, and thus every instrument is slightly different. Quality glue joints on the neck are critical for a set neck.

    any system is only as good as its weakest link. Some bolt-on necked axes sustain better than set necks. Quartersawn rock maple necks seem to be the best at not absorbing sound.

    and then all of the above is thrown out the window with my ESP Alexi that has the neck through and FR and sustains better than my Gibson SG (stoptail) and Schecter C-1 (hardtail).
  9. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Middle Massachusetts
    The guitar I have that 'sustains until boredom' has a 3-piece maple neck and a 4-piece cross-banded body. It's probably stiffer than MDF. It's VERY quiet acoustically. Les Paul was right - a resonant body steals energy from the strings. Of course, if you turn your amp up, it will put it back. :)

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