#1
So this came from my chem book, and explains how wood and it's finish dramatically affects a violin. Yes, i know, most of the debate is about electric guitars, but, i do believe this does play some part in the debate, especially the how its finished part.


It's just kind of one of those food for thought things, think what you want, and also, NO FIGHTING. I don't want some serious name calling and **** going on in here. So there you go.
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#2
Violin's are acoustic instruments though, so I don't think you'll get any argument that tonewoods and finishes have an affect on them.
#3
hence the reason that the zakk wylde customs need EMG's. without actives, they sound like s*** cause theres so much paint.
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#4
Well, at first i thought that wood had no effect on it, Then i read this, did some research and saw what other people had to say about it, and i thought about this.

If a pickup, pickups about the guitar string as it vibrates, wont how it vibrates make a difference in how it sounds? I'm willing to bet both wood and the finish affects the vibration, which affects the sound.

That's just my two cents though.
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#5
Van Halen believes that the finish affects tone. There's a small bit about it in the last Guitar World with Eddie on it. The one about his new sig guitar.
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#7
I agree with metalwarrior40 and have posted such on numerous occasions. As a dedicated student of the sciences ( chemistry, biology, physics, calculus, and whatever else it is I'll end up studying before making it to med school ) I just cannot see how the material the strings is attached to will not affect it's oscillation. A string attached to a guitar made out of steel and a guitar made out of balsa wood are both going to move MUCH differently due the difference in steel and balsa's ability to transfer/absorb/dissipate/store energy. Since a pickup is just "watching" the string oscillate and since those oscillations would be so different depending on the materials energy handling capabilities, it's going to sound wildly different when it come out of your amp too.
#8
Quote by LP Addict
interesting, he must like the fact his guitars have like 20 coats of finish on them, his tone is obviously superb.



I can't tell if you're being extremely sarcastic or contemplatively reflective....
#9
i believe it is sarcasm
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#10
Quote by redwolf206
Van Halen believes that the finish affects tone. There's a small bit about it in the last Guitar World with Eddie on it. The one about his new sig guitar.


Yeah the wood hast to have something to do with it. I can't remember the exact woods but he wanted Alder but the first guitar was made out of ash. Eddie called him a day later and said, "This isn't Alder. What did you use? Ash?" It was like that but I don't know what the woods were.
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#11
Really, the question shouldn't be 'does it make a difference' because it obviously has to. What we should be looking at is 'how much of a difference does it make, and can the average human ear pick this out'. I emphasise average there, because i have no doubt that there are people with extraordinary hearing (the sonic equivalent of super-tasters) who can tell the difference between all kinds of subtle changes. But how well can the average ear pick up on these things?
#12
Well essentially a guitar produces sound by the way it vibrates. Different woods with different grains vibrate, well, differently. There is a reason why ALL good violins (being a violin player myself) have a tightly grained spruce top - because it is known to be a hard, dense, brittle wood. In fact, the more tightly grained and harder the spruce top, the better it sounds - in the violin world that is. That is another reason why the older the violin is, the better it sounds. Dryer, tighter wood.
Obviously a violin is different from a guitar, but the concept is the same. Sound is vibrations, and determining what matter the vibrations and handling of energies comes from determines the nature of the sound.
Last edited by GoldChocobo at Jan 30, 2009,
#13
Quote by Mad_BOB
Really, the question shouldn't be 'does it make a difference' because it obviously has to. What we should be looking at is 'how much of a difference does it make, and can the average human ear pick this out'. I emphasise average there, because i have no doubt that there are people with extraordinary hearing (the sonic equivalent of super-tasters) who can tell the difference between all kinds of subtle changes. But how well can the average ear pick up on these things?

thats kind of a good point, nearly all guitarists are on an endless quest for the perfect tone but unfortunately that goes largely unnoticed by 90% of listeners.
#14
Everyone knows finish affects the tone on violins. I highly doubt you could detect any difference on an instrument with a magnetic pickup considering how disconnected from the acoustic sound the tone is already.

Quote by redwolf206
Van Halen believes that the finish affects tone. There's a small bit about it in the last Guitar World with Eddie on it. The one about his new sig guitar.
Pah, he probably made himself think that to believe he's got golden ears. Considering the amount of distortion and alcohol (his guitar was made pre-rehab) he's probably talking from his ass.

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#15
Quote by Diamond Dave
thats kind of a good point, nearly all guitarists are on an endless quest for the perfect tone but unfortunately that goes largely unnoticed by 99% of listeners.



......fixed.............
#16
if wood doesnt affect tone noticeably, then WHY THE F*** cant i build a plywood guitar? cause it sounds like crap? wrong. but plywood does sound like crap, thus wood does affect tone.

if u were wrong about this, admit it, dont try to defend it. the second my build is done, ill prove it even. mahogany SG vs. ash custom. same pups, same everything. I was wrong and changed my mind.

EDIT: oh and another thing in defense of wood...if ther acousticly played sound of the instrument doesnt affect plugged in tone, then why bother with semi-hollows and hollowbody either? Using this theory, smi-hollow and full hollow shouldn't have an affect on tone, either, but they do.
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Last edited by AngusJimiKeith at Jan 30, 2009,
#17
^ btw plywood doesnt sound like crap, its just the crap guitars are generally made out of plywood.

If you have the time I suggest you read this thread on PG

http://projectguitar.ibforums.com/index.php?showtopic=39130&hl=


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#18
^substitute plywood with mdf

i suppose it really matters what kind of ply it is...but if anyone can find a good sounding MDF guitar, void my entire argument minus the smi-hollow and hollowbody part
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#19
MDF is pretty soft, you can rip bits off with our hands, that sounds like a pretty $hitty guitar building material to me lol I can imagine screws might be pulled out of bridges under string tension, probably not something you want happening while playing...


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#20
yup, friend of mine had an MDF guitar, asked for some new pups (duncans) and it still sounded crappy. he ended up ripping off everything and getting a new body...hell the hardware and neck were actually pretty nice!! (and no, the neck was not MDF!!!!)
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Quote by Øttər
Whenever I clean my guitars, my family wonders why it smells so good; I say that I exude a fresh citrus scent from hidden orifices.
They stopped asking
#21
I will say it has a small affect, I put my pickups out of my Hagstrom that got new pickups into my build. It sounds different but just barely.
#22
Well, my guitar ought to sound horrible then, lol. It's a plywood body and a lot of rattle can paint. We'll see how it sounds once the build is finished.

Oh yeah, and a metal pickguard.
#23
Quote by AngusJimiKeith
^substitute plywood with mdf

i suppose it really matters what kind of ply it is...but if anyone can find a good sounding MDF guitar, void my entire argument minus the smi-hollow and hollowbody part


Define good... it is all subjective, some like fender, some like gibson, some like marshal.

I started typing up an experiment to prove body wood relevance. I'll try to finish it up and post it. But basically it took a boards of different woods, putting a tuner on it, a string and a make shift bridge, and a pickup. The string would be tightened up to tension, and struck with a pick on a pendulum type devise, the pickup would be wired to either a computer device monitoring the out put voltages, or other devise that will do the same. Different string guages would be substituted, various tensions and various string lengths could be set up with the make shift bridge.

The theory on this would be is that you record the frequency that the string will vibrate at, and the voltages produced when compared between types of wood will be different if there is a tonal difference in the woods.

A similar set up could be used to quantify the acoustic difference of woods, by using a frequency generator attached to a vibrating device, like say a piezo buzzer attached to one side of the board, and then a piezo attached to the other side and plugged into a monitoring device of the voltages you could in theory determine relative frequency responses between woods.

I think these tests are rather unbiased to either side of this debate. I will just toss it out there right now though that I believe, and in my experience that body wood plays such a minor affect on tone that it is almost irrelevant. I think neck wood/construction plays a bigger role then the body. And body finish is absolutely irrelevant. Though I did read an interesting article about this giant vibrator that this guy built to vibrate guitars, in effect doing the same as what 40 years of playing would do. I think all this would be relevant to acoustic instruments but completely irrelevant for solid body.
#24
after doing my OWN research, its quite obvious that stradovari or however its spelled, those violins sounded so amazing because the thickest part of the violin (usually located to the left of the sound-post), was moved to right above the sound post.

doesnt really make this whole article false,
but explains alot more than "it was the finish, and soaking wood in salt water"
#25
Quote by Diamond Dave
thats kind of a good point, nearly all guitarists are on an endless quest for the perfect tone but unfortunately that goes largely unnoticed by 90% of listeners.

That's true, but for most guitarists, 90% of listeners will be less than 200 people.

And, when it comes down to it, when you are on the quest for perfect tone, it isn't for your audience so much as yourself. You, as a guitarist, are trying to find the sound that is most pleasing to your ear. And sometimes a guitarist will get lucky and it turns out that the general population likes said guitarist's sound, which in effect will make the guitarist rich, famous, and able to get the necessary guitars, amps, cables, etc. to have tone that is perfect to their own ears.

Oh, and about the plywood thing, it makes a difference in electrics, yes, but where you really get an idea for how much of an advantage real wood has over plywood is in acoustics. The average joe who doesn't know a thing about guitars will usually be able to tell that a solid top acoustic sounds much better than a laminate top acoustic.
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#26
Not to mention all the other things that influence tone.

It does make a difference, one must really ask how much in the bigger scheme of things.

First of all Good pickups (especially Dimarzio's) EQ the hell out of ur sound.

Secondly; It depends on the wood quality which is far more important then which wood.

If you have a mahogany V shaped body, but it's very moist and has a lot of air in the wood, then the tone is gonna be different then a dry good quality gibson shape body Mahogany. Maybe even up to a point that alder comes closer to 1 mahogany then 1 mahogany comes close to the other mahogany.

Another reason why people use certain woods is quality. Some woods can stand tension and stuff far better, plywood will be rot and bend within a few years.

Why hollow body guitars?

Because they resonate more because of the soundhole. This hasn't to do with which wood affects tone, but the quality and shape/mass/density of the body (wood).

Eric Johnson has a sweet tone, most will agree, and when he plays through a mahogany wood guitar or alder guitar, almost all people will still find his tone Amazing. (I've seen him play strats, sg's, hollowbodies etc. and his sound is still amazing on every guitar, just a lil different)


It does change I agree, but don't make a big deal out of it, unless it's a 100% acoustic guitar/instrument where wood plays 10 times a bigger role in sound.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Jan 31, 2009,
#27
Wood affects sound.
Still trying to figure out whether a complete rehaul of a plywood LP copy is worth it here...
#28
Quote by xxdarrenxx

Why hollow body guitars?

Because they resonate more because of the soundhole. This hasn't to do with which wood affects tone, but the quality and shape/mass/density of the body (wood).


Not to be picky but the resonating has to do with the thickness of the tops, wood type and brace type. The sound hole provides direction and helps EQ the sound. The top primarily doesn't resonate more because of the sound hole. Yes it will let the air pressure out, but for the amount we are talking about in an acoustic guitar i dont think it is material.
#29
I have that chem book!
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#30
Quote by PainIsPower
Define good... it is all subjective, some like fender, some like gibson, some like marshal.

I started typing up an experiment to prove body wood relevance. I'll try to finish it up and post it. But basically it took a boards of different woods, putting a tuner on it, a string and a make shift bridge, and a pickup. The string would be tightened up to tension, and struck with a pick on a pendulum type devise, the pickup would be wired to either a computer device monitoring the out put voltages, or other devise that will do the same. Different string guages would be substituted, various tensions and various string lengths could be set up with the make shift bridge.

The theory on this would be is that you record the frequency that the string will vibrate at, and the voltages produced when compared between types of wood will be different if there is a tonal difference in the woods.

A similar set up could be used to quantify the acoustic difference of woods, by using a frequency generator attached to a vibrating device, like say a piezo buzzer attached to one side of the board, and then a piezo attached to the other side and plugged into a monitoring device of the voltages you could in theory determine relative frequency responses between woods.

I think these tests are rather unbiased to either side of this debate. I will just toss it out there right now though that I believe, and in my experience that body wood plays such a minor affect on tone that it is almost irrelevant. I think neck wood/construction plays a bigger role then the body. And body finish is absolutely irrelevant. Though I did read an interesting article about this giant vibrator that this guy built to vibrate guitars, in effect doing the same as what 40 years of playing would do. I think all this would be relevant to acoustic instruments but completely irrelevant for solid body.



i want to see the results of this.

and no one's definition of "good" includes a guitar that you can literally rip apart by hand, without tools. MDF is just that bad...
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#31
If I ever win the lottery, I'm building guitars out of every body wood, neck wood, and finish there ****ing is just to prove the truth.

Dayum.

As the wise Kyle Harper once said, "there is no better or worse, only different".

Well he was wrong, because a kick in the nads and BJ are different, and one of them is a lot better than the other... But anyway....

I suppose there is no worse or better when it comes to tone, because it in the ears of the beholder.

I mean, metallica must think they sound good, they're still making "music". See? THe ear of the beholder.

The thing an intrument is made out of must have some effect... How come a Gibon Les Paul made out of mahogany doesn't sound the same as a Fender Stratocaster made out of ash if you put the same electronics in?

Perhaps it is merely the density of the wood that better accepts the transfer of vibration from strings to hardware to wood.

Or perhaps the wood absorbs certain frequencies better than others....

The point is, this article is pretty sketchy on its facts, and it lost me at the "he thinks he has found an answer".

Thinks? I thought I was travelling through times once. Turns out my view of the clock was obscured.

Anyway, until someone builds guitars that are exactly the same with the only difference being wood or a finish, we will not know.

This means the exact same pieces (no not brand and model, physcically the same pieces) or hardware must be used. The same screws. The same thickness of finish, down to the micrometer.

So if someone has built identical guitars with the only difference being either wood or finish, we just won't know.

Science can tell us what to expect, experience can tell us what to do, and stupidity can motivate us to prove someone wrong, but until a test is done, we won't know.

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Last edited by Albino_Rhino at Jan 31, 2009,
#32
^not to mention the same amp with the same exact settings, playing the exact same notes, at the exact same speed, recorded with the exact same equiptment.

okay, im starting a tone taskforce. whos in?
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Quote by Øttər
Whenever I clean my guitars, my family wonders why it smells so good; I say that I exude a fresh citrus scent from hidden orifices.
They stopped asking
#33
Me!!

Not to mention you would need to be at the exact same barometric pressue, in the exact same phase of the moon's cycle so as not to alter the gravitational pull on the strings, and you would need to have everything in your test room in the exact same location, and your lungs would have to moving the same amount of air and....

TONE NAZIS, ASSEMBLLLLLLLLE!
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#34
btw, we can avoid having the exact same finish. unfinished FTMFW!!!!

not to mention the same exact age strings, same time for amp warmup, same cables, etc....

INITIATE OPERATION: USE TONE TESTING AS AN EXCUSE TO BUILD A S***LOAD OF GUITARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Quote by Øttər
Whenever I clean my guitars, my family wonders why it smells so good; I say that I exude a fresh citrus scent from hidden orifices.
They stopped asking
#35
Its impossible to test accurately lol

You can build two identical guitars from the same block of wood and they will still be different, wood is not uniform.


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#36
Quote by Albino_Rhino
Me!!

Not to mention you would need to be at the exact same barometric pressue, in the exact same phase of the moon's cycle so as not to alter the gravitational pull on the strings, and you would need to have everything in your test room in the exact same location, and your lungs would have to moving the same amount of air and....

TONE NAZIS, ASSEMBLLLLLLLLE!


lol If you can hear the difference in tone due to the moons gravitational pull, you are a superhuman.
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