Poll: Alder or Mahogany?
Poll Options
View poll results: Alder or Mahogany?
Alder (SAY WHY)
24 41%
Mahogany (SAY WHY)
34 59%
Voters: 58.
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#1
Okay, here's the deal.
I'm building an Explorer from Warmoth, and for the body, I'm considering alder or mahogany.

I've heard alder sounds nice, and I know it's very light, but none of my guitars are alder, so I couldn't tell you. All I have are maple (HEAVY, cannot use for an Explorer), agathis (sounds bad), and mahogany.

Between the two, alder, and mahogany, there's only a $10 price difference, so there's no issue there.
Weight, on the other hand, is an entirely different issue. Weight is important to me. I want a light guitar, because my BC Rich is maple, and weighs 15 pounds. Really heavy to wear. But I don't want to compromise weight for **** tone.

So here's the deal UG, I want you yo vote, and tell me why.

EDIT:

If it helps, here's some information about the guitar, and what it will be used for.

Explorer shape
Bolt on maple neck w/ ebony fretboard and wizard contour
Original Floyd Rose Tremolo
EMG-81/60
Will be used for rock and metal, and run through a Fender M-80 amp with an MXR M-86 Distortion.
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Justice4AllOne pretty much mentioned all of my ideas so yeah...pointless pun post.

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I was thinking that too, Justice usually seems like a pretty knowledgeable guy.
Last edited by Justice4AllOne at Jan 11, 2009,
#2
I voted for mahogany because I generally like the tone of mahogany just a little bit more than alder. I have guitars made out of both, so it's a tough decision.
#4
It won't make much difference in tone.

Anyone who says otherwise is just... well, wrong.

The wood your guitar is made of will never have enough influence on the tone to make it better for one style of music or another, it is almost all in the pickups and amp.

I'm guessing you want this for metal? Alder will be perfectly fine, and much lighter than mahogany. As long as you put the right pickups in and have the right amp.
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#5
Quote by Øttər
It won't make much difference in tone.

Anyone who says otherwise is just... well, wrong.

The wood your guitar is made of will never have enough influence on the tone to make it better for one style of music or another, it is almost all in the pickups and amp.

I'm guessing you want this for metal? Alder will be perfectly fine, and much lighter than mahogany. As long as you put the right pickups in and have the right amp.


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#6
Quote by Øttər
It won't make much difference in tone.

Anyone who says otherwise is just... well, wrong.

The wood your guitar is made of will never have enough influence on the tone to make it better for one style of music or another, it is almost all in the pickups and amp.


WRONG.

It's not just the wood type, it's how big the pours are, how the wood breathes, how thin/thick the wood is, etc.
#7
alder for me cuse i just prefer the tone
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#8
If it helps, here's some information about the guitar, and what it will be used for.

Explorer shape
Bolt on maple neck w/ ebony fretboard and wizard contour
Original Floyd Rose Tremolo
EMG-81/60
Will be used for rock and metal, and run through a Fender M-80 amp with an MXR M-86 Distortion.
7-String Legion
Quote by TheJem
Justice4AllOne pretty much mentioned all of my ideas so yeah...pointless pun post.

Quote by MightySumo
Thanks fer settin me straight on that Justice

Quote by oneblackened
I was thinking that too, Justice usually seems like a pretty knowledgeable guy.
Last edited by Justice4AllOne at Jan 11, 2009,
#9
Quote by Justice4AllOne
If it helps, here's some information about the guitar, and what it will be used for.

Explorer shape
Bolt on maple neck w/ ebony fretboard
Original Floyd Rose Tremolo
EMG-81/60
Will be used for rock and metal, and run through a Fender M-80 amp with an MXR M-86 Distortion.


Your going to use 2 EMG's that are usually meant for cleans?
#10
hminh87, excuse you for what? Yyou think I'm wrong. Nope.

Go ahead and build two ideantical guitars, one of alder and one of mahogay.

Throw some humbucker designed for metal in them and play them through a good amp and see if they're any good for metal. They will be.

TSelman, I never once mentioned wood type, so I'm not wrong.

All I ever said is that wood you're guitar is made of doesn't affect the tone very much. Which is right. Yes, all those things come into play, but they still don't matter all that much.

In an accoustic, wood selection matter a lot. In an electric, not much. Maybe in a semi hollow that was used only for cleans, but the moment you add any distortion into the sound it really doesn't matter.
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#11
Quote by TSelman
Your going to use 2 EMG's that are usually meant for cleans?

EMG-81 is a lead pickup, meant for distortion.
I have one in my BC Rich, and it's clean is really thin. It needs backed up with heavy chorus and reverb.

The EMG-60, on the other hand, will be used for my cleans.
Because it's ambient, and tbh, I like the sound.
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Quote by TheJem
Justice4AllOne pretty much mentioned all of my ideas so yeah...pointless pun post.

Quote by MightySumo
Thanks fer settin me straight on that Justice

Quote by oneblackened
I was thinking that too, Justice usually seems like a pretty knowledgeable guy.
#12
I used to have 2 Carvin Ultra V's with the same bridge and pickups. The only difference is that one was made of maple and the other of mahogany. There was a pretty noticable difference in sound to me.

The pickups and amp would definitely make more of a difference, but there was a definite difference large enough for me to care about wood choice.
#13
That is very interesting.

Would they both be capable of a particular genre of music though?
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#14
Quote by Justice4AllOne
EMG-81 is a lead pickup, meant for distortion.
I have one in my BC Rich, and it's clean is really thin. It needs backed up with heavy chorus and reverb.

The EMG-60, on the other hand, will be used for my cleans.
Because it's ambient, and tbh, I like the sound.


I'm just used to using 85 for distortions and an 81 for clean.
#15
Sure, anything is capable of each genre, but I would have taken the mahogany one any day. The maple had this slight lingering twang to it that I could never get used to.
#16
Well, they're both good, but in different ways.

Alder is a light, and very balanced wood. Meaning that it gives you a very clean palette to work with in sound, as it doesn't lean toward any particular direction. It also allows for a lot of clarity in the notes, which is why its commonly used by guitarists who do a lot of soloing (not that there aren't plenty of exceptions).

But if you like the traditional Explorer sound, then mahogany would be your best bet. It has a lower, rounder, darker, warmer tone to the sound. And it is noticeably heavier.
#17
Maple is an incredibly bright wood, too.

Well thanks Vlasco, I will reconsider my opinions on wood choice in the future.
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#18
Quote by Øttər
It won't make much difference in tone.

Anyone who says otherwise is just... well, wrong.

The wood your guitar is made of will never have enough influence on the tone to make it better for one style of music or another, it is almost all in the pickups and amp.

I'm guessing you want this for metal? Alder will be perfectly fine, and much lighter than mahogany. As long as you put the right pickups in and have the right amp.
Sure, the wood won't make a guitar play a different genre, but you can definitely tell a difference. In my opinion, neither choice is "better," but they are simply different "flavors" of tone.
#19
Well lets start at the tone:

Alder: neutral on the tone, probably the most basic of all woods.

Mahogany: Warm tone, fine grain, good sustain. Goes great with a maple top.

I voted mahogany, but i don't know if u plan on sticking a maple top on the body(Still an adequate either way)
#20
MRavioli, there's no way I'm putting a maple top on an Explorer.
That would be heavy. Noticeably lighter than my hard-maple BC Rich, but still, too heavy.
7-String Legion
Quote by TheJem
Justice4AllOne pretty much mentioned all of my ideas so yeah...pointless pun post.

Quote by MightySumo
Thanks fer settin me straight on that Justice

Quote by oneblackened
I was thinking that too, Justice usually seems like a pretty knowledgeable guy.
#21
Quote by Vlasco
Sure, anything is capable of each genre, but I would have taken the mahogany one any day. The maple had this slight lingering twang to it that I could never get used to.


He's talking about alder, not maple.
#22
Quote by Delanoir
He's talking about alder, not maple.
He is talking about his two Carvins: one of mahogany, one of maple.

#23
Quote by Midnight Murk
He is talking about his two Carvins: one of mahogany, one of maple.



He meant me.

And IIRC, I started this topic about alder and mahogany, not Vlasco's Carvins.
7-String Legion
Quote by TheJem
Justice4AllOne pretty much mentioned all of my ideas so yeah...pointless pun post.

Quote by MightySumo
Thanks fer settin me straight on that Justice

Quote by oneblackened
I was thinking that too, Justice usually seems like a pretty knowledgeable guy.
#24
It did start as alder VS mahogany.

I tried to point out that there won't be much difference between woods, and Vlasco gave me evidence to prove otherwise.

A perfectly logical thread derailment.

As for your situation, I would say go with alder because it can do basically any genre, as it is a neutral wood, and it is much lighter than mahogany.
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#25
Midnight is right, though.

It isn't a question of genres, just a matter or a slight difference in tonal "flavor".

And there's no reason to be talking about guitars made of maple, since that's not a part of the equation here, really.
Last edited by Delanoir at Jan 11, 2009,
#26
^ As I said, Vlasco was just making a counter point to my point, and he used examples. Forget about the damn maple.
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#27
Quote by Øttər
^ As I said, Vlasco was just making a counter point to my point, and he used examples. Forget about the damn maple.

this.

and I like alder, it will make little difference, unless you're going to have bare wood showing in your finish, in which case, mahogany.
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#28
Yes, mahogany is beautiful.

Unless you want to do something other than red, brown, or purple...

In which case you need a lighter wood, like swamp ash, alder, maple, etc.
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#29
As far as looks go, I find both alder and mahogany to look great with natural finishes. I tung-oiled my alder Carvin, and my SG has the "Heritage Cherry" finish with very nice grain.
#30
Quote by Øttər
Yes, mahogany is beautiful.

Unless you want to do something other than red, brown, or purple...

In which case you need a lighter wood, like swamp ash, alder, maple, etc.


Considering the options in paintjobs, the coloring options really shouldn't be much of a factor.

And I see what you meant able the counterpoint example, just tired o people confusing different woodtypes in threads like these.
#31
^ I was referring to traslucent finishes.

For example, you can't make mahogany trans blue. It ends up purple...
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#32
I've played alot of alder necks and in the middle of fixing my 40 something year old les paul, which was in a basement flood and other types of hell, I love how it feels much more than any other neck I've played, and I haven't even played it yet.

Just my opinion, could also be my guitar
#33
The KH signatures have alder. I know he's one of your idols, and frankly I like alder personally, so I'm saying alder.
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#34
Quote by Øttər
^ I was referring to traslucent finishes.

For example, you can't make mahogany trans blue. It ends up purple...



My Carvin is trans blue, but it sometimes will have a tiny glimmer of green to it at certain angle/light conditions.

But TS, try going to a shop and trying out a Gibson explorer to see how it sounds and how much it ways as they are made of mahogany.
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#36
Quote by Øttər
hminh87, excuse you for what? Yyou think I'm wrong. Nope.

Go ahead and build two ideantical guitars, one of alder and one of mahogay.

Throw some humbucker designed for metal in them and play them through a good amp and see if they're any good for metal. They will be.

TSelman, I never once mentioned wood type, so I'm not wrong.

All I ever said is that wood you're guitar is made of doesn't affect the tone very much. Which is right. Yes, all those things come into play, but they still don't matter all that much.

In an accoustic, wood selection matter a lot. In an electric, not much. Maybe in a semi hollow that was used only for cleans, but the moment you add any distortion into the sound it really doesn't matter.


i actually agree with Øttər simply cause ive tried different guitars made out of different woods where one consisted of Koa and the other Basswood........with the right hummbuckers and amp yeah theres no difference. the only difference i saw was in the clean tone and how deep and bright the sound was...not to mention the sustains difference too.... so if its for clean tone in my opinion id choose mohogany to answer this poll
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#37
i voted alder just because i like the tone and loudness i get from it, i think mahogony just absourbs all the sound, i played some mahongy guitars and i was not impressed. i was more impressed with a guitar that was made out of agathies with a maple top than with the mahogony guitars.
#38
To make a guess, I'd definately say he is a metallica fan. As soon as you get an upgrade on the amps you're going to want a mahogany body for the dark metallica clean tone, and their rhythm tone.

Kirk typically uses alder or basswood in his guitars but he doesn't lead the band nor play as much as Hetfield.

Depending on how different the woods are will yield a more distinctive change in tone. Outside of strats and single coils, with humbuckers there are a few very noticeable tones you can get from adjusting woods. Fretboard material, ebony has a nice airyness to it, more thump, and more overall darkness. Neck Materials such as maple tend to make the guitar very bright, if the guitar is mahogany this can help even out the darkness a little. Solid mahogany guitars w/ ebony fretboards have a very noticeable dark with a sparkly top end without an excessive upper mids, which i find annoying in alder guitars w/ maple necks.

I remember reading something from oni or sherman guitars about the percentages the woods make on the guitars. The neck had the biggest influence on tone, then the fretboard, then body. Keep that in mind.
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#39
Generally alder wood is cheaper, used for lower end guitars most of the time. other than that, there is something to mahogany tone that can be breath taking, the warmth and the density of the tone is just amazing. for metal and jazz and blues, i would say mahogany is the best choice. although my guitar is a basswood guitar, i still can see how mahogany is really amazing. but basswood have the advantage of being more vibrant and those guitars tend to be more versatile.
there you go, hope i could help
#40
Mahogany, it's heavier (which I like), more sustain, warmer more well rounded sound. Just beautiful IMO.
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