Tonewood does not affect electric guitar tone?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by steelvalley, Jan 29, 2009.

  1. Reeltarded

    Reeltarded Member

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    I don't know much about dancing
    that's why I sing this song
    one of my legs is shorter than the other
    and both of my feets too long

    ;)
     
  2. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

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    fully agreed!
    dt / spltrcl
     
  3. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    To paraphrase-

    "we don't know much about guitars, but we know what we like."
    Pretty much sums up the body of 'fact' presented most of the time on tgp....sigh:argue:BEER
     
  4. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    Yeah, vigilante physics...shoot the spectrum analyzer if you don't like the spectrum.:barf

    There is nothing inherently wrong with the test. It's a pickup into a spectrum analyzer, done for two different bodies. Only one variable changed; the body. Unless you think the spectra were photoshopped, the results are what they are. The problem is that the results don't match expectations, at first glance.

    In many ways, however, they do. I can certainly hear acoustic differences between solid body guitars much more easily than when amplified. I'm surprised that my Trussarts sound very much like swamp ash teles when plugged in. I'm surprised that a Reverend Avenger composite "strat" sounds very much a swamp ash strat when plugged in. I'm surprised when Mayall's chop job sounds just like a full size strat. [​IMG]
    I'm surprised that my Korina Fano SP6 can sound just like a swamp ash tele and my swamp ash Tele-gib can sound just like a mahogany Les Paul. So there's no doubt in my mind that pickups play a dominant role in tone.

    But it's not an exclusive role. I also know that no two guitars sound exactly alike, even with the same pickups. I know that certain grail guitars for some reason sound much better overall than others of similar construction.

    So why don't the results agree with expectations? The premise is reasonable, the test setup itself...guitar into preamp into analyzer....pretty hard to screw up, yet the results show acoustic differences but little signal difference. :dunno

    My opinion is that the amount and type of data collected was insufficient and the spectral results that were collected not examined closely enough. Plucking one string at a time on a tele bridge does not engage the body wood sufficiently to show differences. It barely works the body at all and the plate itself probably masks whatever differences there may have been. What differences there are, are made to seem insignificant by the scaling of the spectrum. The ear can discern complex differences better than the eye can characterize them on a plot. So IMHO, that's why the conclusion for this experiment (which is basically supported by the particular results shown) is what it is. Good test premise, but incomplete testing since known observations cannot be accomodated by the test results. I give it an "A" for effort, but "C" for completeness.;)
     
  5. Joisey

    Joisey Member

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    I heard a pretty convincing telecaster with a body made of 3 pieces of square MDF glued together. Is MDF a tone wood?

    Linky
     
  6. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    Excellent! :BEER

    Clip

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    However the pup IS responding to whatever is driving the string into its characteristic vibrational pattern. You are saying that the pup mount/bridge is interfering with the engagement of the wood to the body BUT that is how Tele's work, so the comparison is perfectly valid in real life (such as we know it:cool:..note dark glasses). Otherwise, I tend to agree with you, and this is, indeed, a limited 'snapshot' view of guitar perfomance.

    And, until we all get into the same room with the same gear, I will never understand what other people hear, maybe not then, either. Only the most exacting clips begin to become reference points, imo. >> ref. the MDF clip
     
  8. JamonGrande

    JamonGrande Supporting Member

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    lots of great points made here. the study strikes me as a final project for an undergrad physics of sound course (not that I haven't done my own hastily thrown together papers...)

    Potentially big point to consider. For almost all readers here, we are comparing our highly informed experiences with various wood types with somewhat raw data (in the graphs) that do display a smaller correlation between the two bodies when compared to our "expert" ears.

    So perhaps a more significant question raised, based on the little bit of data presented and the posts here, is to what degree do expert ears pick up on the difference compared to that of a non-guitarist/musician. Is there some statistic threshold for noticable difference for an educated listener that is finer than that of a non-educated listener?

    A study of perceptual difference should include both the object and the observer.

    joe
     
  9. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    Exactly! That was to suggest that the use of a tele was not the best choice for this particular experiment. The characteristic tone of the bridge and pickup was too dominant to allow nuances of wood to be more obvious. :BEER
     
  10. jezzzz2003

    jezzzz2003 Member

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    Its a touchy subject really, I tried swapping two identical CS Strats necks over a few years ago because I liked the look of the body on the other and the V neck of the other, one had a C neck, both the same colour on ash bodies, Both were brand new Custom Shop Custom Classic Strats in honey blonde

    You wouldnt think that timbers would make a difference because the pickup is magnetic, it shouldnt pick up timber differences right?

    Well. . the V neck was harder for me to play but sounded supreme! I thought it was the body but it was actually the sound of the V neck that did it, the necks on swapping to the same bodies changed the tone dramatically, the C was much more 'Jimi' whilst the V neck was 'fuller' without as much harsh 'ping' and just sung. the sound was exactly the same as when the necks were on the other bodies,

    There you go, thats my experience, necks are where its at.
     
  11. uncle psychosis

    uncle psychosis Member

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    I'm currently writing up a phd in musical acoustics (my first degree is in physics) and I always take anything that musicians say to me with a huuuuuge pinch of salt. We listen to what they have to say---doing what I do is silly without input from musicians---but as with all of these things there are a lot of myths and snake oil out there.

    Guitars aren't my research interest, but brass instruments are and there are some related arguments out there---mainly as to whether it matters whether you make your trombone or horn from copper or brass or gold or whatever. Lots of people---well established, thorough, well respected, no hidden agenda kind of people---have done a lot of measurements (including double blind tests) to try and work out whether the material matters or not. Its still inconclusive!

    Wood maybe does make a difference to the sound of your electric guitar. There are several anecdotal stories in this thread alone---but do an alder guitar and an ash guitar sound more different from each other than two alder guitars do? Do the alder and ash guitars sound different because one of them was hand carved and one machined? Is one of them older than the other? Is one thicker? One painted? One varnished?

    There are so many variables---and no two pieces of wood are the same anyway---that I have to say that I really don't care what wood my guitar is made of (to be honest, I dont even know what my guitars are made from!). Pickups, effects, and amp are what I worry about. Your milage may vary but if someone says "I want a guitar that sounds twangy" I say "telecaster", not "maple body" :BEER

    PS a little while back I came across an article in J. Acoust. Soc. Am. about bass guitar bodies and their resonances. I *think* (but I may be wrong) that the conclusions were that body resonances were not a good thing; they take energy away from the string vibration and cause dead spots on the neck...I'll try and find it again.

    PPS before some smart ass says "you'd be happy with an MDF guitar then", my sentence should read "I don't really care what wood my guitar is made of so long as the construction and build are good quality and its not going to fall apart..." ;)
     
  12. uncle psychosis

    uncle psychosis Member

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    ...so what you're saying is that the bridge and pickup you have on your guitar is more important to the sound than the wood? Sounds a lot like you agree with that study, wherever its from :mob
     
  13. JamonGrande

    JamonGrande Supporting Member

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    Uncle Psych.,
    Yeah I totally agree with you on many points.

    There was some nasty discussion a year or two ago where folks were debating resonances and all. It's been said here by others, but my line of reasoning in that previous thread was that guitars that have lots of prized "character" owe more to the subtractive, filtering effects of its elements than some idealized, additive quality to parts. But it fell on deaf ears, as I suspect many folks on TGP believe that anything positive for tone must be "adding". (where's a good post-Marxist to chime in about the myth of additive properties and GAS?)

    joe
     
  14. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    Quote:

    For this testing setup all the components, other than the bodies, were kept were kept
    constant. This was done to minimize the variation to that of the bodies only to better evaluate
    their qualities.


    If the same neck was used with both bodies, then similar results would be expected. A more objective test requires using tone woods that are diametric opposites tonally, like a guitar with a mahogany body and neck, and one made of hard ash and maple.
     
  15. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

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    its used on a lot of guitars actually a good paint job or photo finish can cover it up well, particle board as well, just don't get it wet or ding it up will go to crap on you in a hurry, tremolos have a lot trouble staying in place as well.
     
  16. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    really? i have never, not once in my entire lifetime, seen a guitar with a body made from MDF. crappy plywood, yes, but not MDF. (particleboard top and bottom plates on danos don't count.)
     
  17. 2leod

    2leod Re-Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Cool! Time to practice my Jedi mind tricks!

    You don't need to change your strings...

    (waves hand at screen)

    It doesn't have any effect on tone...

    I played a home made acrylic guitar years ago, and it was a dog. I'm putting it down to the guitar itself and not the material 'cause acrylics are still being made - I read about a granite LP type axe that was built on the premise that denser (ie not wood) is better, but I think that idea has been pretty much put to bed.
     
  18. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    No, I said exactly what I meant to say.

    I also said exactly what I thought of the study.
     
  19. TubezAmpz

    TubezAmpz Member

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    in a house where I can actually turn my amp up a l
  20. Michael T

    Michael T Member

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    That is a terrible paper. C- at the VERY best.
     

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