Why if you play several guitars with the EXACT same specs do some sound better?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by crasper, May 15, 2015.

  1. crasper

    crasper Member

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    Why is it that if you play several guitars with the EXACT same specs back to back, one or two will always sound a bit better than the others?
     
  2. donnievaz

    donnievaz Member

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    Because every piece of wood is different.

    :munch
     
  3. amstrtatnut

    amstrtatnut Member

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    Yes I guess it comes down to wood.
     
  4. groovington

    groovington Member

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    The sum of its parts are greater than the whole.
     
  5. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    That's why I'd never buy a guitar w/o playing it first, or an approval period.
     
  6. Rock Johnson

    Rock Johnson Member

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    If the specs are exactly the same, with 0 tolerance in any regard, they'd sound the same.

    The specs are never the same and there's always tolerance drift.
     
  7. crasper

    crasper Member

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    Agreed.

    I recently worked for a time at a high-end guitar store here in Colorado. The owner there, who plays more high-end guitars in the course of a year than most of us will in a lifetime, has a theory about this that resonates very strongly with me. The theory is that every neck and body, due to wood grain, density, dryness etc., has a particular frequency response, just like a microphone or speaker. When the neck and body come together, those two frequency responses combine to create a resultant tone which can be more or less musical and pleasing. This all makes sense to me though I will say that for me, these minute subtleties are less important the more gain and effects I use and they are also less important live then they are in the studio which can act kind of like a microscope on your tone.

    Im a pro player and not a collector so going by this theory, the thinking would be that if you play enough used high end guitars, you are likely to find a gem tonally for a good price, whereas if you buy online, custom order a guitar or swap necks you are basically rolling the dice tonally and you get what you get. Thoughts?
     
  8. crasper

    crasper Member

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    Sorry Rock, hadn't yet read your post when I replied. I meant that I agreed with the previous posters about the wood being the key. Even with the exact same specs, every tree and therefore every piece of wood is different and in my opinion that is the X-factor in the tone.
     
  9. rsm

    rsm Member

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  10. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    Your proposition is impossible. No two guitars CAN be made that are duplicates... the major "speed bumps" down that highway are the wood, an organic medium, that is independently unique when compared to any other, even from the same tree... and the pup... there is no way on God's Earth to wind two and have the copper lay exactly as any other pickup.

    There are a few thousand other consideration too, but those two, present enough of a hurdle, get beyond those and we'll shoot down the next..

    Ron Kirn
     
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  11. kimock

    kimock Member

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    You only need tiny variations in set-up details, nut height, action, intonation, etc to wind up with a totally different impression of an instrument imho, so that'd all be next on my list.
     
  12. Flugel

    Flugel Member

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    This.

    I am reading the book "Getting great guitar sounds" and it says that in the first pages.
     
  13. wbm68

    wbm68 Member

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    Because pickups have variances. "Hand wound" pickups vary quiet a bit more than machine wound - and yes, they are both technically machine wound.
    No piece of wood is exactly the same and if anything is touched by an actual person during manufacturing there are differences too, even if the same person would built two different guitars back to back.
    The more "hand made" the more variances.
     
  14. Ron

    Ron Supporting Member

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    Wood wood wood wood wood wood wood and wood. Makes a difference.
     
  15. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    As wood is replaced by more consistent material, and pups evolve away from winds of copper wire (see Fishman) we'll get there.
     
  16. aiq

    aiq Supporting Member

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    That's what she said.










    I am terribly sorry. I just needed to get a post in before the shutdown...cause you never know.
     
  17. groovington

    groovington Member

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    I agree with your guy's theory, which happens to exactly match what my guitar tech (whom I consider one of the best; and will never use a different guy), says about the marriage of a neck and body wood and how they combine just right to make the notes just jump right out of the unplugged guitar. As far as looking for high end guitars, just remember that you can find that same tonal marriage of neck and body in some cheap used guitars in the $300-600 range too, which I've been fairly lucky about. My first step when considering any guitar purchase is to just play electric guitars unplugged and hearing all the natural tonal and resonant qualities of the guitar. If the guitar has "it," and as long as there is no structural damage to be alarmed of anything, the pickups/electronics and setup can all be changed to get my desired feel and tone from the instrument. Although I notice that when the guitar has "it," I usually don't need to change a thing, although I have tinkered with pickups on some occasions, and surprisingly sometimes the cheap-o stock pickups end up sounding better than expensive boutique ones in these cheap guitars.
     
  18. jetydosa

    jetydosa Silver Supporting Member

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    Wood. No 2 pieces are the same.

    Another thing to consider...whats sounds "best" to you, may sound "meh" to someone else, and vice versa.
     
  19. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    And that is what makes it so great. Guitars are like people with their own personality. Unlike keyboards, or kazoos. Lol.
     
  20. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    While tone is subjective, there are many variables in a guitar that affect the final sound. And, every once in a while you'll run into one that's greater than the sum of its parts...the right parts just come together in one guitar. In my nearly 50 years in the game, I haven't played many...but they are out there. I currently have a dozen or so Strats and maybe one is what I'd call "special" or "GTTSOIP"...and it was made by Fender in Mexico ;). So, sometimes you just never know!
     

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