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Two guitars with the same materials - sound different

sf audio

Member
Messages
535
I have an ibanez RG655 which is basswood, maple neck, rosewood fretboard. Just got a JS2400 which is the same woods in the same places...both are bolt on necks of course.

I have the moe joe pickup in the JS2400, and it was also in the RG at one time, and it was clear that each guitar sounded different with the same pickup.

I'd say the JS2400 has more pronounced and clear mids compared to the RG.

So what other factors contribute to the tone difference? The body on the RG is bigger, the JS is smaller. The RG has a pickguard, the JS does not.

Yeah, I guess no two guitars sound alike, but is it just a matter of a pieces of wood sounding different? Does a pickguard make that much of a difference?
 

Timtam

Member
Messages
2,498
There is a long list of proven sonic effecters in electric guitars (although not all widely known). The neck is on that list (composite, dimensioned structure of neck wood, fretboard wood, frets, headstock, truss rod). As is the bridge and some elements of the setup. Solid body wood isn't. Attempts to compare two guitars that supposedly "only" differ in one element rarely equate all other elements precisely.
citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.348.6822
www.gitec-forum-eng.de/2019/08/12/massive-upgrade-chapter-7-of-physics-of-the-electric-guitar-is-on-line/
 
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sf audio

Member
Messages
535
I was hoping for a simple answer :)

Would be fun to take the guitars in a lab and analyze all these various sonic effectors and see what's up. But since that's not happening I'll just go with how each guitar feels when I'm holding and playing it. They feel different so they sound different :)
 

sf audio

Member
Messages
535
Two major differences are fret size and the pickguard. Jumbo frets on the RG655 means more contact with the strings and maybe a different tonality there, as compared to the 6150 frets on the JS. The pickguard on the RG655 means less mass in the guitar body, maybe that affects the sound somewhat. Perhaps the very thin neck on the RG means a different sound than the fatter JS neck. We are talking very slight effects here. When you have been playing for a long time you start paying more attention to a guitars tone qualities and what affects what. I have a Gibson explorer with is a big slab of mahogany and the tunomatic bridge, and that's an entirely different sound.
 

Bonesaw

Member
Messages
56
I have a Les Paul Tribute Gold Top, 2012 model when they were still doing mahogany necks. I got a great deal on it, but I'm just not that into gold tops.

I decided I needed a Black Les Paul Studio, bc Jade Puget

I bought a Les Paul Studio husk on eBay. Specifically, a Studio Gothic. I built it up with components almost all identical to the Tribute.

The differences were that the Gothic had an ebony fretboard, Grovers, and less weight relief.

The Gothic sounded like the Tribute, only super muddy and muffled by comparison. Almost like if there was a big pillow over my speaker cabinet.

That's when I had my second realization that there's a lot more to it than just electronics. My take is that, while some more than others, pretty much all aspects of a guitar's construction affect the way it sounds, and not always predictably. At the time, I attributed such a drastic difference in sound to the differences mass and density of the bodies, but ultimately I think that trying to pinpoint a single attribute as the cause is just a waste of time and effort.

I ended up selling the Gothic model for pretty cheap to a guy who wanted it because his first guitar was a Les Paul Studio Gothic
 

sf audio

Member
Messages
535
Maybe its like grain in wood....you could take a million pieces of mahogany and each one has different grain and looks different. And sounds different. Maybe that's why when you get top quality guitars they often say "select" wood meaning they look at it and can tell it will sound good...:)
 

korus

Member
Messages
1,340
Tone is mechanical resonance.

If tone is different, mechanical resonance is different.
Different mechanical resonance of the same strings is caused by difference in:

- different metal hardware
- different pieces of wood

So, you have different metal hardware on BOTH ends of strings AND wood pieces have different cuts, different structure and different mass/density.

This means :
- same metal hardware on different wood will result in different tone
- same pieces of wood with different hardware will result in different tone

All the electric parts, signal chain and guitar setup can be equal with margin of 0.1%. It makes no difference.

Physics of electric guitar is simple, but the less customer knows, greater profit is created.

Yes, pickguard changes resonance of wood and metal. Whole guitar vibrates. We do not see these vibrations, and those who cannot think abstractly good enough believe it does not vibrate. The way cognitive ability defines our grasp of objective reaility is even simpler than physics of guitar.
 
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Messages
1,000
I was hoping for a simple answer :)

Would be fun to take the guitars in a lab and analyze all these various sonic effectors and see what's up. But since that's not happening I'll just go with how each guitar feels when I'm holding and playing it. They feel different so they sound different :)
the lab is your house and the most sensitive bit of testing kit is actually your ears. Experiments are so easy to perform as guitars like strats and teles have a neck pocket which is the same, just change necks and discover your core tone is in the body of your guitar, the neck too, but its a bit boring on strats and teles because it's hard rock maple..unexciting stuff tonally. The neck and body work like bourbon and coke, on their own they are just a bit boring, add them together and the magic can happen, or not.
The simple answer you are looking for is- drum roll...it all matters.
 

willyboy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,282
To answer one question - Every component on the guitar that affects the resonance (too many variables to list) will contribute to a particular guitar's tone - which is pretty much just about everything pressed, bolted, screwed, glued and sprayed on or to it.

There's no way to control all the variables to give specific values to every single component and to recreate that to make one guitar exactly the same as another in sound, resonance, sustain, feel, etc characteristics. And it's somewhat questionable being able to even determine what each part contributes without real evidence that is not anecdotal and rife with confirmation bias. People argue about this stuff ad nauseam on this forum which is highly entertaining at times.

All that said I personally celebrate the differences in my instruments and utilize them for their individual strengths and characteristics. As interesting as all those things can be I'd rather focus on playing than the minutiae.
 

bluesky636

Member
Messages
2,573
To answer one question - Every component on the guitar that affects the resonance (too many variables to list) will contribute to a particular guitar's tone - which is pretty much just about everything pressed, bolted, screwed, glued and sprayed on or to it.

There's no way to control all the variables to give specific values to every single component and to recreate that to make one guitar exactly the same as another in sound, resonance, sustain, feel, etc characteristics. And it's somewhat questionable being able to even determine what each part contributes without real evidence that is not anecdotal and rife with confirmation bias. People argue about this stuff ad nauseam on this forum which is highly entertaining at times.

All that said I personally celebrate the differences in my instruments and utilize them for their individual strengths and characteristics. As interesting as all those things can be I'd rather focus on playing than the minutiae.
:aok

It never ceases to amaze me that so many people are so surprised that seemingly "identical" guitars can sound so different from each other.

A guitar is a system made up of many different parts. As Willyboy notes, the way those parts are manufactured, installed, and interact with each other can vary widely and affect tone in different ways.

Many people have collections of the same type guitar. Would you really want them to all sound the same? Seems like a boring proposition to me?
 

JWDubois

Member
Messages
7,908
I have a 2011 and an 2013 AmStd Strat. I bought the 2013 because I liked the 2011 so much. They are both alder body, maple fingerboard. Same hardware. They are set up identically and feel identical. But they have never sounded identical. The 2011 is dark and smooth, the 2013 is bright and snappy. They both sound good, but definitely different.
 

bluesky636

Member
Messages
2,573
I have a 2011 and an 2013 AmStd Strat. I bought the 2013 because I liked the 2011 so much. They are both alder body, maple fingerboard. Same hardware. They are set up identically and feel identical. But they have never sounded identical. The 2011 is dark and smooth, the 2013 is bright and snappy. They both sound good, but definitely different.
If they sounded identical, why bother having them both unless you play professionally and need a hot spare?
 

JWDubois

Member
Messages
7,908
If they sounded identical, why bother having them both unless you play professionally and need a hot spare?
Well, like I said, I liked the 2011 a lot. I'm a fret killer and I didn't want to wear it out. As it turns out, it's not a bad thing, they both have their charms, but that really wasn't my point. The point was that of two guitars with nominally identical wood and hardware, one is bright and one is dark.

I've rolled several pickups through both, but that stays constant.
 

J Factor

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,447
The JS models have a traditional square strat-style neck heel / body joint, whereas most of the RGs have the current All Access neck joint. I recall reading somewhere that Joe preferred the square heel for tonal reasons, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if that clear mechanical difference is a big part of what you're hearing.

Also, if it's just a bright/dark thing, the resistance of the pots in either guitar may be fairly different.
 

Alan Wolf

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
534
Two major differences are fret size and the pickguard. Jumbo frets on the RG655 means more contact with the strings and maybe a different tonality there, as compared to the 6150 frets on the JS.
I’ve never thought about fret size affecting sound. (On the other hand, I don’t have a huge variety of fret profiles on my guitars.) if the frets are properly crowned the contact areas shouldn’t vary that much. The mass of the frets I could see having an effect, as does the fret metal. I’m curious if this (fret size affecting tone or dynamics) is an accepted notion?
 

bluesky636

Member
Messages
2,573
I’ve never thought about fret size affecting sound. (On the other hand, I don’t have a huge variety of fret profiles on my guitars.) if the frets are properly crowned the contact areas shouldn’t vary that much. The mass of the frets I could see having an effect, as does the fret metal. I’m curious if this (fret size affecting tone or dynamics) is an accepted notion?
I don't accept it.
 

adamfox

Member
Messages
257
I can't believe how often this topic comes up. Just go into a guitar store, grab 2 of the same model guitars, and play them back to back through a good amp at a decent volume. Even if you set the pickup heights the same, the difference in tone cannot be chalked up to electronic part variation. Not meaning to call you out OP, its just mind blowing that this isn't accepted by all experienced guitarists at this point.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,730
One of the things I've picked up from hanging out with high end acoustic makers, both guitars and violins, is that one of the reasons the absolute top guys are so consistent is the ability to read the materials, to be able to pick the right stuff to start off with and to adjust the individual build based on how the materials respond. Many violin makers for example tune the top and back to tap tones of particular frequencies, meaning each of their violins is slightly different in top carve but they all sound exactly as the maker intended. With mass produced instruments, even the expensive handmade ones, that goes out of the window and everything is made to a pattern, and suddenly the differences start to creep in.

With electric instruments the wood bits are a smaller part of the picture but still, you can have considerable differences in properties in two seemingly identical neck blanks or bodies.
 




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