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Mixed Tonewood Questions

exodus

Member
Messages
1,826
Curious to hear TGP opinions regarding some guitar tonewood questions, as I've been thinking of building something a bit different...

1. Does the maple top on a Les Paul (mahogany body) actually alter the tone? Or is it just a cosmetic issue of using figured maple?

2. Put cosmetics aside for the moment. If you think an LP's maple top has an influence on tone, do you think there would be a different tone if the maple was glued to the back of the guitar, instead of the front?

3. If you made a Stratocaster body (alder) at the same thickness of a Les Paul body, do you think it would alter the tone? If so, how?

4. Per the last question, if you made an SG body the same thickness of a Les Paul Body, do you think it would sound like a Les Paul? (I assume it would solve neck sink issues).

You can see some of the common threads in my questions: how much does guitar body wood (or combination of wood) and guitar body thickness alter tone. Thoughts appreciated.
 

theon

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
909
1. A Les Paul Custom has a mahogany top with an ebony fingerboard.
They are,in general, more mellow than a maple topped Les Paul Standard with rosewood fingerboard. Even with the lower oil content of an ebony board as opposed to the higher oil content of a rosewood board Standard.
I don't believe the maple is just cosmetic. It serves a tonal purpose.
But what do i know?
 

Dave Weir

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,244
I think maple on the back would have less effect. I think having the bridge anchored in the maple is the important thing. Having the neck joint at least partly maple probably has some effect. The thickness in itself doesn't matter much but the weight does contribute. The more you make one like the other, the more it will sound like it.
 
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Duffy Pratt

Member
Messages
2,896
I've played PRS custom models (maple top) and standard (no maple top). Different guitars sound different from each other, but there's no general difference between the maple and non maple. More telling, PRS never claims anywhere that there is a tonal advantage to the more expensive maple top. So, if there is a generalizable difference, it's one that gets overwhelmed by other differences between individual guitars.
 

cap10kirk

Member
Messages
8,120
The maple cap itself on a Les Paul does make a little difference. A Les Paul Standard sounds a little different from a Les Paul Special, or a Les Paul Custom. As for the question about making an SG body thicker, I don't really feel it will make a difference tonally. I personally feel the majority of difference in tone between an SG and a LP Standard is due to the maple cap. I've played SG's and LP Specials back to back, and to my ears, they sounded about the same. The slight difference I heard could be contributed to every guitar being just a little different, I've played seemingly identical guitars back to back that sounded different. I guess the body thickness could cause a slight difference, but I'm not convinced.
 

sleep

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,947
1. A Les Paul Custom has a mahogany top with an ebony fingerboard.
They are,in general, more mellow than a maple topped Les Paul Standard with rosewood fingerboard. Even with the lower oil content of an ebony board as opposed to the higher oil content of a rosewood board Standard.
I don't believe the maple is just cosmetic. It serves a tonal purpose.
But what do i know?
Only the R7 LP Customs are mahogany. All the other LP customs have a maple top just like a Standard does and have for years.

From Gibson's website "Today’s Les Paul Custom is based on the model from the mid-1950s, but with several modern appointments. The body is crafted with a hand-carved maple top, which is fitted to a body made from a solid piece of mahogany... "
 

muzishun

Member
Messages
6,180
1. A Les Paul Custom has a mahogany top with an ebony fingerboard.
They are,in general, more mellow than a maple topped Les Paul Standard with rosewood fingerboard. Even with the lower oil content of an ebony board as opposed to the higher oil content of a rosewood board Standard.
I don't believe the maple is just cosmetic. It serves a tonal purpose.
But what do i know?
Except the few that I have played, which were quite bright.
 

exodus

Member
Messages
1,826
As the OP, let me clarify a bit. (Sorry, I think my original post was pretty open ended).

If I built the guitar pictured below (strat with 3 PAF style pickups) what, if anything, do you think would have do be done to the body (obviously keeping the strat shape) to get closest to the "classic" LP tone? Adding a maple top? Making the body thicker? Hardtail? Not gonna happen?


 

Michael Paul

Member
Messages
4
There are a lot of variables that make a Strat and a Les Paul sound uniquely different from one another. It's the age old quest. But lets be honest. Not gonna happen. Making the body thicker is just gong to make the neck joint even more uncomfortable. I have an all maple Ibanez Ex series. It sounds nothing like a Paul. In fact none of my Strat style guitars sound like a Paul but for the exception of one. My Schecter C1+.

There are Two Electric guitars. The Stratocaster and the Les Paul. Everything else is a variation based on one, the other, or a combination of the two.
 

rsm

Member
Messages
14,088
Well all right.

Let's resolve this once and for all this time. o_O




Do you believe in magic? :cool:

wood does not matter in solid body electric guitars. I have and dig guitars that have zero wood.
 

K-Line

Vendor
Messages
8,087
Everything will change the sound, but will it be audible is the questions. I am in the camp that a Custom vs a Standard will both sound like a Les Paul. The maple cap vs the all mahog will sound a bit different. But also two maple caps LPs will sound a bit different as well.
 

Ron Kirn

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,789
Easy solution... go to any quality guitar shop with a good guitarist... pick several LP's in different configurations.. have him play 'em while your back is turned... identify the woods in each.... :p

Ron Kirn
 

sleep

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,947
As the OP, let me clarify a bit. (Sorry, I think my original post was pretty open ended).

If I built the guitar pictured below (strat with 3 PAF style pickups) what, if anything, do you think would have do be done to the body (obviously keeping the strat shape) to get closest to the "classic" LP tone? Adding a maple top? Making the body thicker? Hardtail? Not gonna happen?


'Cliifs of Dover' was played on an ES-335... not a strat, as many people have assumed. The solo in 'Stairway to Heaven' is a tele, not a Les Paul as commonly thought. IIRC there was a 'best les paul sound' shootout type thread where the winner was a PRS (I don't think that there was a PRS in the mix was disclosed).

I think that with the guitar above and the right amp you'd be able to get close enough to the 'classic' Les Paul tone that most people- even gearheads- wouldn't know what you were playing without seeing it.
 

Gevalt

Member
Messages
1,931
'Cliifs of Dover' was played on an ES-335... not a strat, as many people have assumed. The solo in 'Stairway to Heaven' is a tele, not a Les Paul as commonly thought.
The solo for "Another Brick In The Wall" was a Les Paul Goldtop w/P90's plugged straight into the board.
 

swiveltung

Member
Messages
14,500
As the OP, let me clarify a bit. (Sorry, I think my original post was pretty open ended).

If I built the guitar pictured below (strat with 3 PAF style pickups) what, if anything, do you think would have do be done to the body (obviously keeping the strat shape) to get closest to the "classic" LP tone? Adding a maple top? Making the body thicker? Hardtail? Not gonna happen?


mahogany.... body and neck. Mahogany is warm and middy. I had a mahogany LP type until recently. At one point I put 3 Strat pickups in it with a 5 way rotary switch. It still sounded a lot like an LP. Before I sold it, it had 3 Humbucking pickups in it.
 

Bgillon

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
74
I'll bite. There are decades of statements from builders and players that the maple cap makes a bit of a difference. Wood does make a difference, but not all maple is the same; not all mahogany is the same -- there are differences even between identical wood types.
For me -- I primarily notice a difference when maple woods dominate a build. IMHO too much maple can begin to sound brittle. Neck through is also a big tone / feel change for me.
Now for an expert's different opinion -- at least one well-respected builder believes that the wood in the neck is the primary determinant of tone. This builder tries to use three different wood types in equal proportions in his necks / fretboards.
 




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