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Old 08-01-2012, 01:01 AM   #1
gregs1020
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Interesting write up about tone woods, $10,000 guitar compared to $300 guitar...

careful folks, this could break hearts.

http://guitarsquid.com/posts/univer.../12171/?frame=1

"WOOD is the main material used in most electric guitars - the likes of alder, poplar or ash, but dearer models use rare ''tone woods'' such as koa, rosewood, lacewood or wenge. Makers claim exotic materials produce different sounds but, after weeks of studio-based research, La Trobe University science honours student Matthew Angove is unconvinced."

Guitar research sounds like a good gig.
The field I'm in is musical acoustics - the physics of musical instruments. I'm a guitar player and it turns out there's been very little research done in the field on the electric guitar I don't think many electric guitar players tend to be academics! A lot more classical musicians are academics, and I think they tend to look at their own instrument.
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What's the idea behind this study?
From a point of view of the physics of how the electric guitar works, you'd think there wouldn't be any difference with the sound produced by using different woods or shapes. But the companies that market guitars argue it does make a difference and they charge more for guitars made of rare woods.

Is it all about materials or is it the brand factor?
A few things can make one guitar better than another. For instance, you can get varying qualities of the hardware that holds the strings. The brand is important to some people, mostly because their idols may play certain brands. But aside from that, electric guitar companies tend to have come from acoustic guitar companies.

So what did you test?
The signal in electric guitars is generated by the string vibrating above a magnetic ''pickup''. To see how the wood or shape of the guitars might affect this signal I placed identical strings and pickups in each of the guitars and compared the signals.

Where did you get the guitars?
From a local music shop in Bendigo, J's Music City, which was happy enough to support my research. They were kind enough to lend me seven guitars and some pickups. I recorded every note individually on each guitar with the pickups placed in exactly the same spot, the same distance beneath the strings. Then I listened to recordings, but more importantly I looked at the harmonic content of each note.

What do you mean?
When you hear a note, we don't just hear one frequency. So when you hear a singer sing a C, or a violin play a C, or a flute play a C, even though they're the same note they sound different. That's what we call the different timbre in music - a different ''tone colour''. We get different tone colours from all the other, higher frequencies also there with that note. So I look at, first, fundamental frequency of the note, and also how loud all of the other frequencies are compared to it

What have you found?
I've only been looking at the results for two weeks and it really looks like all of them are pretty much identical. I was surprised at just how identical they were because the guitars were very different in shape. As I was listening to them, I showed other guitar players and they were surprised as well, they were convinced they all came from the same guitar I'm beginning to think we should be making guitars out of something more rigid than wood, such as carbon fibre.


Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/e...l#ixzz22GeK1jJM

i just thought it was interesting.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:05 AM   #2
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Blasphemy!!


But seriously, Im not surprised. I think higher quality woods definitely have a factor in resonating feel. And those Gibson Les Pauls DO sound better than my Epi paul loaded with Gibson pups. But, It may be my mind.

EDIT: I would like to see the guitars, pickups and amp he used. Id lol so hard if they were all EMGs through a spyder.

Last edited by nickdohle : 08-01-2012 at 01:08 AM.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:12 AM   #3
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The final sound of anything is what your brain has processed and interpreted it to be. More than just the sound goes into it. When you plug an LP in you expect a thicker tone than a Strat.

For me I've never really cared what a guitar was made of. This study really doesn't surprise me. I mean the expectation that the wood an electrical device is set in affects tone has always seemed a little silly to me.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:15 AM   #4
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Well then, does anyone want my MIM strat for a Custom 24 I've always wanted.
After all, the "tone color" is similar on both
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:19 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by JKHC
Well then, does anyone want my MIM strat for a Custom 24 I've always wanted.
After all, the "tone color" is similar on both


I think we got our first butt hurt customer.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:21 AM   #6
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Im gonna go ahead and sticky this thread. I have a feeling its gonna be awesome.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:28 AM   #7
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I never thought tonewoods in electrics were all that important, as long as the pickups worked with the wood. Acoustic instruments are another story.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:31 AM   #8
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in electric guitarsi thought the bridge and pickups played a more important role
i do think the wood affects the feel of the guitar more thought
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:41 AM   #9
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This ought to be fun to watch. I just see massive amounts of trolling inbound.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:45 AM   #10
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This is the guitar I learned to play on, the Ovation UKII. While it does have a mahogany neck, the body is an aluminum chassis filled with a urelite foam(plastic):
'
It sounds amazing, and I'm willing to bet that's because of the pickups and heavy-duty bridge.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:56 AM   #11
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I saw Chris Letchford of Scale The Summit say on Formspring that the woods in an electric guitar made little to no difference in sound, and I thought the claim was a little questionable. Interesting that there apparently hasn't been much research done until now.
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:08 AM   #12
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I'd be very surprised if someone hasn't researched this before that guy.
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:20 AM   #13
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But does he mean that a PRS 10 top wood sounds the same as basswood used in squiers? In that case it seems that PRS is trying to pull off (and succeeded in doing so) a marketing trick. But of course they are probably more reliable, not that it would be a complete waste of money.
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:27 AM   #14
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I think secretly we've all known this. But those who have spend big money for fancy wood like to delude themselves into thinking they haven't blown their cash away.
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Saale
I think secretly we've all known this. But those who have spend big money for fancy wood like to delude themselves into thinking they haven't blown their cash away.


It's a good thing I own a 500$ Mahogany made guitar
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:59 AM   #16
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Remember still, a better made guitar will still sustain for longer
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Old 08-01-2012, 03:42 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitar/bass95
But does he mean that a PRS 10 top wood sounds the same as basswood used in squiers? In that case it seems that PRS is trying to pull off (and succeeded in doing so) a marketing trick. But of course they are probably more reliable, not that it would be a complete waste of money.


There it is! It's the ultimate marketing trick, It's like in Space Jam when they drink tap water believing it to be magic water and as a result play like it was actually magic water. There is no tangible proof but people accept it as gospel, belief overpowers logic and scientific explanation.

That said there is also a certain prestige attached to a more expensive instrument, much like designer clothing or a nice car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Saale
I think secretly we've all known this. But those who have spend big money for fancy wood like to delude themselves into thinking they haven't blown their cash away.


Around here people always said (well since I've been here) a guitar only makes up ~10% of the tone (I've got no idea how they measure that though)while still believing a cheap guitar cannot sound good.

If you break down the cost of a 4 grand Gibson the hardware is probably less than 1000 but lets say it's 1000, meaning you are paying 3000 for some fairly small pieces of "high quality wood" to be made into a mass assembled product made mostly by automated machines.

For 3 grand you could buy 10 Chests of drawers made of Solid Mahogany, that's a lot of nice wood!

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Old 08-01-2012, 03:59 AM   #18
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It's kinda like the stock market. People place a value on something and thus that ascribed value becomes law. Tonewoods sound different to the player becaues he or she has gotten to see the nuances of a specific guitar. My Basswood Ibanez and my Mahogany Schecter sound and react to things differently....to me.
Pickup types usually have more bearing on the guitars base tone, then the EQing on the amp. Then we get into what kind of amp is being used. Then effects. It's too much work for something so very subjective. Of course the tone color sounds the same; they we're all guitars. from the definition given they'd have to be 4 different types of amplied electric instruments.
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Old 08-01-2012, 04:03 AM   #19
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luckly I only have a mahony ibanez from 550euro and a standard strat mim
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Old 08-01-2012, 04:07 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonny bb
it's kinda like the stock market too. People place a value on something and thus that ascribed value becomes law. Tonewoods sound different to the player becaues he or she has gotten to see the nuances of a specific guitar. My Basswood Ibanez ans Mahogany Schecter sound and react to things differently....to me.
Pickup types usually have more bearing on the guitars base tone then the EQing on the amp. Then we get into what kind of amp is being used. Then effects. It's too much work for something so very subjective. Of course the tone color sounds the same; they we're all guitars. from the definition given they'd have to be 4 different types of amplied electric instruments.


Did you mean that the pups have more bearing on the tone than the amp? I'd bet that a guitar with single coils and guitar with humbuckers would sound quite similiar through the same amp with the same settings, but if you have two identical guitars they will sound completely different through different amps. Sorry if I misunderstood

And I am not a guitar :/
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