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Old 11-07-2012, 10:55 AM   #1
scotland87
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How much does a guitars sound differ from the make/ model?

How much does a guitars sound differ from the make/ model? I have a Yamaha Pacifica 112v at the moment, but im thinking of upgrading to either a Fender Telecaster, Gibson SG, or even a Gibson Les Paul, but only since I look the look of them and the music i listen to tends to be played on those type of guitars. But what I want to know is; whats the difference? I understand that build quality is an issue, but other than that, is it simply cosmetic? I havent played many other guitars, but i will diffinately try out all three (and other guitars) before buying a new one!
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:00 AM   #2
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Look at the pickups and the amps used, too. There are many things that affect the sound.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:04 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Huge Guy
Look at the pickups and the amps used, too. There are many things that affect the sound.


Thats what i was thinking. A guitar could some great in the shop using there £££ amp, but terrible at home on a normal amp :-s
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:26 AM   #4
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Everything comes into play with guitars. Hell, you could have two guitars of the same exact make and model, that even just came out of the factory at the same time, and they will still sound different.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:26 AM   #5
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Honestly, A guitar's biggest thing is its feel and playability. But then again, every type and shape of guitar will sound just a little different, and pickups can make a decent change too.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:27 AM   #6
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When shopping for a guitar take your amp with you. That solves the problem of what the guitar sounds like.
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:20 PM   #7
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go play those guitars and you'll understand the difference.

looking at those 3 guitars is like looking at a Kia, a Mercedes, and a Land Rover and saying "well, they're all cars. How different could they be?". guitars differ tremendously from one another- you really need to go read some reviews and check out some youtube videos to figure out what might be best fr you.
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:23 PM   #8
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How much does a guitars sound differ from the make/ model?

Virtually everything makes a difference.
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:46 PM   #9
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There is no concrete answer but A lot of the stuff people generally say is:

For sound:

-Amp>>Pickups>>>>>Guitar
-Guitar only accounts for 5-10% of the tone
-Guitar matters most for tone

Important tangible differences between guitars:

-Neck profile
-Fretboard Radius
-Scale length
-Number of frets

The car analogy is used a lot here but it is stupid because cars DO have limitations, such as it can only go so fast regardless of who's driving it. There is no limitations on a guitar only the guitarist. That's why you see people playing very fast on a Hello Kity Squire and no one going fast in a Kia.

Last edited by MegadethFan18 : 11-07-2012 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 11-07-2012, 02:09 PM   #10
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Woods used makes a difference. A plywood guitar isn't going to sound as good as a solid wood body. Different types of wood sound different. The main difference between a cheap guitar and a good guitar is the quality of the matetrials and hardware used to build it. Also the quality of the build itself.
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Old 11-07-2012, 03:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MegadethFan18
Important tangible differences between guitars:

-Neck profile
-Fretboard Radius
-Scale length
-Number of frets

This. Although i think the type of pickups and their location is quite an important thing to consider too if you're going for a particular tone. the amp has to work with the signal you feed into it
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Old 11-07-2012, 03:12 PM   #12
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Wood, shape, neck construction, neck contour, fretboard material, fretboard construction (Scalloped or flat), electronics (even their configuration), scale length, fret heights, bridge construction, saddles, saddle material, nut configuration, nut material, some even say tuners make a difference, string gauge/material, the guitars action, and how often the guitar has been played. Theoretically guitars sound better the longer they are played, because the wood's fibers open to the resonant frequencies of the notes. I've also met some who believe that even the finish makes a difference.
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Old 11-07-2012, 04:58 PM   #13
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In terms of sound (i.e., not the fit/finish) and specifically referring to the guitar (i.e., not the amp or anything in the signal chain), these are the most important factors in a guitar's tone listed in order of importance:

Setup/tuning stability. If a guitar is not setup correctly or will not stay in tune, no amount of tone-affecting materials will make it sound good. See, every aspect of a guitar serves to support its fundamental tone. If its intonation is off or tuners will not hold their tuning, its fundamental tone will not be pleasing to the ear. If it's not set-up well, the player may end up fighting with the guitar instead of cooperating with it, which will not yield pleasing results either.

Scale length. Anyone who's put a PAF or a P-90 in a Fender-style guitar (25.5" scale length) knows that it still sounds like a Fender, albeit with a little more girth. Likewise, anyone who's played a single-coil guitar with a 24.75"-scale-length conversion neck knows that it sounds like a Gibson, albeit a little thinner. This can also be witnessed by playing a Gibson J45 and a Martin D-18 side-by side, because the primary difference between those two acoustics is the scale length and not subject to electronic reproduction.
25.5"-scale-length guitars have a bright and articulate tone, and 24.75"-scale-length guitar have a warmer tone.
Yes, I know that Gibsons use a wacky scale length of something like 24.6-something" and not actually 24.75", but I use the generally-accepted 24.75" measurement for the sake of this post.

Volume/tone pots. A guitar's tone can be dramatically affected by using bright pots—ones with high impedance (e.g., 500k, 1meg)—or warm pots—ones with low impedance (e.g., 125k, 250k). Generally speaking, guitars with a 25.5" scale length use 250k pots, and guitars with a 24.75" scale length use a 500k pot for the tone and often a 500k pot for the volume as well. Meanwhile, some lower-end guitars will use warm pots with shorter scale lengths or brighter pots with longer scale lengths to make their cheaper guitars sound crappier and their higher-end guitars more appealing. Switching out a guitar's pots is quick and inexpensive.

Pickups. Pickups' job is to reproduce the sound of a guitar while injecting their inherent character into the result. The five most popular pickups are Stratocaster pickups (single coil), Telecaster pickups (single coil), P-90s (Gibson's single coil), PAF-style humbuckers, and active humbuckers
Stratocaster-style pickups are thin and bright but sound very articulate. Typical Strat-style guitars have three pickups and five different pickup combinations.
Telecaster-style pickups are warmer-sounding but still quite articulate. The neck pickup has a metal cover over it that dampens high treble frequencies, and the bridge pickup is noticeably more powerful because of the assembly in which it is mounted.
P-90s are powerful, warm single coils that are typically found in 24.75"-scale-length guitars. They are much more articulate when used in 25.5"-scale-length guitars.
PAF-style humbuckers have a similar sound to P90s, but lack the 60-cycle hum that plagues single coils. Meanwhile, certain harmonic frequencies are dampened because of the subtle phase cancellation that occurs between the two coils in a humbucker.
Active humbuckers are humbuckers which use weak magnets and a 9-volt battery to provide power. These have a very powerful and focused sound and are typically used in music that requires large amounts of distortion.
A pickup change is much more costly than an electronic or tuner upgrade.

Wood. The wood used in a guitar makes a huge difference in its tone. When a string vibrates, its vibrations cause the wood to vibrate sympathetically. These sympathetic vibrations cause phase cancellation to occur both fundamentally and harmonically. It is the resulting sound that a pickup reproduces.
The most popular guitar body woods are alder, ash, mahogany, and korina (limba). Alder and ash are typically used in Fender-style guitars and have a more even frequency response compared to mahogany and limba, which are typically used in Gibson-style guitars and provide a deeper low-midrange and dampened upper-mids to the guitar. The difference between mahogany and limba is more noticeable than the difference between alder and ash (limba has a clarity that cannot be heard in mahogany guitars). Most mahogany guitars remedy the clarity issue by putting a cap of maple on top of the mahogany, which ultimately makes the guitar even brighter than an all-limba guitar.
As for neck woods, most Fender-style guitars have maple necks with either maple or rosewood fingerboards. Maple has a more "scooped" sound, which seems brighter, yet wider than rosewood, which is more "midrangey."
Most Gibson-style guitars have a neck made from the same wood-type as the body and a fingerboard made of either rosewood or ebony. Ebony is even brighter than maple, but it does well to make up for the warmth of the typical Gibson-style guitar and is often used for clarity in heavier music.
Gibson in particular is currently using cheap substitutes for rosewood and ebony in their newer guitars as a result of the recent raid of their factory and confiscation of their rosewood and ebony.

Bridge saddle materials. The materials used in a bridge saddle make a noticeable difference in a guitar's tone. There is little difference in tone between the different types of traditional materials used in guitars' nuts (and a guitar's nut only comes into play when playing open notes), but the bridge saddles are always affecting the tone in one way or another. Meanwhile, virtually the only way you'll get a chance to choose between different materials is if you're in the market for a Tele-style guitar, in which case bridge saddles are typically either brass or steel. Brass is warmer, and steel is brighter.

Other factors include nut material, string gauge/material, number of pieces in the guitar's body/neck, type/thickness/locations of finish, fret size/material, configuration of tuners (including headstock angle and whether string trees are used), size of body/headstock, electronics used, whether the strings terminate inside or outside the guitar's body (and the ferrule material), number of bridge saddles, age, set-neck vs. bolt-on vs. neck-thru construction, temperature, country of origin, gender of assembly line workers, how many sexual partners the player has had, color of the walls in the player's bedroom, and who the current federal chancellor of Switzerland is.

But when it comes down to it, what you really need is a new amp.
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Old 11-07-2012, 06:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catalyst106
Gibson in particular is currently using cheap substitutes for rosewood and ebony in their newer guitars as a result of the recent raid of their factory and confiscation of their rosewood and ebony.

Since when was baked maple cheap?
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Old 11-07-2012, 07:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by T00DEEPBLUE
Virtually everything makes a difference.


+1

that being said, some things make a massive difference, some make a subtle difference.

your pacifica is HSS, so that's good- you should already know how humbuckers and (strat-style) single coils sound. humbuckers in a gibson will sound a little warmer and fatter due to the mahogany bodies and neck, set neck joint and smaller scale length. But they'll sound broadly similar.

teles sound a bit different to strats, but they're in the same ballpark. strats are a bit sweeter-sounding and have a little natural reverb and compression from the trem's springs, while teles are punchier and have a harder, more solid edge to the sound (more attack) and have more twang.

then you have p90s which are often fitted to some gibson models- they're fat and warm like humbuckers, but have a little more top-end as they're single coils and tend to sound a bit rawer.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:31 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by T00DEEPBLUE
Since when was baked maple cheap?

Good call; baked maple is less expensive than rosewood, but I shouldn't have described it as "cheap." In fact, a few well-known guitar-builders offer baked maple fretboards as a selling-point or even an upgrade.
However, Gibson is currently using it as a substitute for rosewood when its tone is still closer to maple or ebony, and one should take that into account if his ears are inclined toward the tone of rosewood. Thanks for the correction, T00DEEPBLUE!


Actually, now that I think of it, I think the only truly cheap wood that Gibson is currently using is the obeche that they're putting on some models. Even the granadillo that they use for some models could be considered an upgrade if a given player happens to like the tone. The obeche, though, is super-soft and doesn't seem like it would hold up to much gigging or even time and the elements.
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Old 11-08-2012, 05:21 AM   #17
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Cheers guys! Some great replies in there. Some of the things I would like to improve on over my Pacifica would be; a more "chunkier / heavier" sound, I usually always play with the Humbucker pickup on (so something with humbuckers i guess. Also, the fretboard width is a little on the slim side on the Pacifica in my opinion.
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:19 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scotland87
Cheers guys! Some great replies in there. Some of the things I would like to improve on over my Pacifica would be; a more "chunkier / heavier" sound, I usually always play with the Humbucker pickup on (so something with humbuckers i guess. Also, the fretboard width is a little on the slim side on the Pacifica in my opinion.

You pretty much always play on the bridge pickup because that's the position that sounds the most tight and clear. It's the best position for metal/rock riffs because neck pickup sounds muddier. Some people like the neck pickup sound for solos because it has that kind of smooth and warm tone. But bridge pickup usually has the best clarity. But when you play some lower gain stuff, the neck pickup isn't that muddy any more and I think it's a good sound for blues and that kind of stuff. It's good for cleans too if you want a warmer sound. I pretty much like the single coil sound, it's great for cleans. So what my point was: If you had a HH guitar, you would still mostly play on your bridge pickup. I would want my guitar to have a neck/middle single coil. So if you are looking for a new guitar, maybe check out Ibanez RG series. I'm not sure about your style but I assume it's mostly metal because you mentioned "chunky and heavy sounds."

But yeah, go and try some guitars. That's the best way to find out the differences between different pickups. You might prefer the neck humbucker sound to single coil. Single coils aren't a must and some people don't like them. But IMO neck or middle single coil would be cool to have in my guitar.
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Old 11-08-2012, 01:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catalyst106
Actually, now that I think of it, I think the only truly cheap wood that Gibson is currently using is the obeche that they're putting on some models. Even the granadillo that they use for some models could be considered an upgrade if a given player happens to like the tone. The obeche, though, is super-soft and doesn't seem like it would hold up to much gigging or even time and the elements.

Grandillo is tonally similar to Ebony but it looks like figured rosewood. In fact it used to be considered a kind of ebony. It's used a lot in woodwind instruments.
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