Strat body question- One vs. two vs three piece bodies?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by sweetpea, Jul 20, 2006.


  1. sweetpea

    sweetpea Supporting Member

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    I know this might be subjective, but I was wondering what the overall consenses is with multi vs a single blank of say alder in a strat body. I have seen alot of 62 reissue strats with three piece alder bodies. If the wood is good tonally, is it a wash in terms of resonance. Of would you rather have a single or two piece?

    Thanks.
     
  2. mrfjones

    mrfjones Member

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    generally the more pieces and glue the less resonant the body but there are some really good three and four piece bodies out there.

    I would rather have a single or two piece body as apposed to more. but if it is done well I wouldn't mind more pieces. It is really subjective for me. If the body sounds good I will use it
     
  3. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    I have all three types. Personally I can't tell any difference between 1 piece and two piece bodies on Strats.
    On the other hand I have a three piece '52 Tele which is extremely resonant but the neck is attached to the one piece centre section (as is the bridge, natch).

    I have a four piece Strat body from Fender, Japan (actually not really; it was one of those transitional pieces that Fender/USA ordered from the guys who built Ibanez) that is all Maple. It is my "darkest" Strat but otherwise is a different story......

    Best, Pete.
     
  4. ronin32

    ronin32 Member

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    I think that is a huge factor on the resonance of multi part bodies.
     
  5. Gi-gi-giggity

    Gi-gi-giggity Member

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    My buddy has a '75 Strat that's 4 pieces that smokes. I don't think most people can tell a difference all things being equal. If there was to be an issue I could possibly see it from a cosmetic perspective, but what guitar maker would dare put 4 slabs of wood together and not make it match/look good?

    Splitting hairs IMO.....
     
  6. TwoGeez

    TwoGeez Member

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    Tonally, there's really no difference between one piece, two piece, etc. Practically all (and probably all) of the old Strat bodies, vintage 50s and 60s, were two and three piece bodies (and pretty narly pieces of wood at that). This suprises a lot of people at first because they think a one piece body is naturally superior. It's not. The fact is most mills don't make blanks big enough for one piece bodies. For my latest project I tried to get one from Tommy at USA Custom and Warmoth, neither of them had them in stock and said they were pretty rare. The best I could do was an off center cut body from Tommy. When given a choice I prefer three piece over two. I like to have the bridge, neck, and all other components all bolted to one piece, which is why I was interested in the one piece body. I was surprised how rare they are.
     
  7. Bloozcat

    Bloozcat Member

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    I think about the most you can say about multi-piece bodies is that there is the potential for problems due to the dissimilar woods and the glue in the joints. As anyone who has ever built many Strats or Tele's knows, the best planned bodies can turn out to be bricks. Despite our efforts to ensure that we get a great body by specifying one or two pieces of alder or ash and specific weight requirements, it's still a crap shoot. Sometimes the sow's ear becomes the silk purse and vice versa. It's just the sometimes unpredictable nature of wood.
     
  8. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    I asked the same question about a year ago, some interesting answers from some of the luthiers that visit this forum (including one luthier that built a 2-piece and 3-piece body, everything else being identical, at the same time) here:
    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=89772


    Personally, I think it comes down to this:

    Good wood used by excellent luthiers sounds better than bad wood used by less-proficient luthiers.
    :)

    And one of the skills offered by an excellent luthier is consistently choosing the right wood (regardless of the number of pieces in a body) to achieve the desired final voicing of the guitar when matched with all of the other components. A conversation with someone like Bill Chapin about the care he spends in choosing the right woods for a guitar can leave your head spinning as to how much he obsesses about things like this.

    For instance, a recent post by Vince Cunetto mentions weighing, grading and tone matching pieces of wood that were to be glued up for multi-piece body blanks:
    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?p=1437475#post1437475

    In other words, with great luthiers and body suppliers, they are accomodating the anticipated effects/results of using multi-piece bodies before they are even glued up.

    You DO get what you pay for, and it has a lot more to do with the skill of the builder/supplier than simply how many pieces of wood are in a body.

    And that skill (and why you pay for it) ultimately comes down to consistency. There's a reason you often have to run the racks of production guitars to find the few that sound great. In comparison, any single guitar built by an accomplished luthier will likely sound great, regardless of which one you'd choose from a rack of them.

    And it's reasons like this (e.g. consistently delivering great sounding and playing guitars) that distinguish and build a great luthier's reputation.

    Just my opinion, YMMV.
     
  9. gkelm

    gkelm Supporting Member

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    Yes, but we all know that vintage strat tone was determined more by the pickguard material. ;)
     
  10. Bloozcat

    Bloozcat Member

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    There's no doubt that there's a skill to choosing the right wood for it's inherent tonal and resonant qualities. There are ways that even someone less experienced can learn. Unfortunately, for those of us who are doing guitars in one's and two's, we have to rely on someone else's expertise in choosing the good wood. That's one of the reasons why I like USACG so much. Tommy has the ear for tone woods, and it shows in his bodies.
     
  11. leofenderbender

    leofenderbender Supporting Member

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    Every piece of wood has a sympathetic vibration frequency - the frequency at which it vibrates. That frequency differs from other pieces of wood largely depending upon the size & density.

    Gluing pieces of wood together makes the size of the piece the same - differences in density of the pieces glued together may cancel out certain frequencies and make it less resonant.
     
  12. TwoGeez

    TwoGeez Member

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    Actually, the possibility also exists that gluing two pieces of wood together of disimilar densities could make the instrument more resonant. Because each piece theoretically has different acoustic resonance (sympathetic vibaration), you may gain a greater frequency spectrum and thus have a better sounding instrument overall.
     
  13. leofenderbender

    leofenderbender Supporting Member

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    True enough... part of the reason why we both used the word "may" as a qualifier.
     
  14. chunkwedge

    chunkwedge Member

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    I have a one piece body custom strat, a 2 piece eric johnson strat and a 3 piece Thin Skin strat. The Thin Skin model is the most resonant, then the EJ, then the custom 1 piece guitar. Of course i am not trying to suggest that the more pieces, the more resonant and alive the guitar is but rather that it probably doesn't matter and we should just take each guitar on its tonal merits. It is what it is regardless of the number of pieces.
     
  15. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    I've played dogs & gems with multi or one piece body Strats so, IMO, its just not how many peices of wood the body is made of that, in and of itself, is the most important thing. While I think a special Strat boils down to a "sum of the parts" thing, based on a few personal experiments, I think the neck wood is actually more important than the body wood. However, having said that, I believe the neck and body wood have to communicate with each other in just the right way (or compliment each other) to create that special sounding Strat.
     
  16. Glowing Tubes

    Glowing Tubes Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a Jeff Senn Strat on order and wanted a light body, we discussed the pro's and con's of having a one piece vs two or three, bottom line, one piece does not guarentee a more resonant guitar, in fact it reduces the option of picking out a better sounding piece of wood for your guitar because there are so few blanks that size.
    I dont care if its two or three, as long as it sounds good. (which it will:D )

    RC
     
  17. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

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    Gibson. I've seen some multi-piece Gibson bodies that matched poorly enough to throw off the aesthetics. Especially their lower priced "faded" line.
    But I agree it's usually a mostly cosmetic issue as applied to quality woods. Which is why Fender still uses veneers on their lower cost guitars. Actually, I've played quite a few veneered guitars that sound just great as well so I'm not convinced that's a problem either. Fender did away with the veneers on it's American guitars due to market pressure: ie, the idea it was being used to hide multi-piece bodies. Which it was, but purely for cosmetic reasons, not because the wood was crappy. I've even played bottom dollar Chinese made guitars with three piece bodies that sounded quite nice with good pickups. As always, it comes down to your playing and your ears.
     
  18. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    Not a strat, but my LP copy is what I call a real "puzzle" (as in tons of pieces). When you count the fretboard it's composed of 9 pieces of wood. Fretboard, 3 piece neck (headstock, neck, heel), 3 piece mahogany back and 2 piece flamed maple top (no veneers). Sounds good to me, but is a bit weighty (9.9 lbs/4.5 kg). So in that sense I wouldn't be worried about the number of pieces. Tons of high end basses are also in the "puzzle" area with multiple layer laminates etc.
     
  19. michaelprice83

    michaelprice83 Member

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    Neck is much more important. Also, the most "lively" body I ever played, the one I could "feel" the notes the most, was also the muddiest sounding strat I ever played. Just food for thought.....
     
  20. sweetpea

    sweetpea Supporting Member

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    Well, it sounds like a crapshoot. As long as the wood is good, a one , two or three piece body can all sound great. I may be trying to purchase a reissue strat with a three piece body. The seller states the guitar is very resonant and sounds great.
     

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