#1
Hey UG so I was just curious if the shape of the guitar affects the tone so much. Imagine that a Les Paul and a flying V were made of the same wood, same components, same pickups, same everything. The only difference is the body shape. Would they sound the same tonally or would they be different? and how different would they be?
#2
Depends on the amount of wood versus the shape.

Typically a Les Paul sounds more full because its made of a lot of wood. A Flying V is made of a lot of wood as well, but most Les Paul's have an arched top.

A better example would be like a Les Paul versus and SG. An SG is like half the size of a Les Paul, so not as full of a tone.
#3
Quote by r0ckth3d34n
Depends on the amount of wood versus the shape.

Typically a Les Paul sounds more full because its made of a lot of wood. A Flying V is made of a lot of wood as well, but most Les Paul's have an arched top.

A better example would be like a Les Paul versus and SG. An SG is like half the size of a Les Paul, so not as full of a tone.


i agree with the first part; it's more "how much wood is in the design?" than "what shape?"

but about the SG not having as full of a tone, i disagree. an SG is lighter, so bassier. heavier guitars are brighter. so the SG could arguably have more of a full tone than a LP. it's all opinion, and a whole lot of pickups and electronics and amps too.

but i think the amount of wood (or body shape, in a larger vs smaller guitar) definitely has an affect on tone.
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#5
Some would say a flying V will resonate better or longer.
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#6
Yep. My Schecter (thickish with an arched top) sounds very different than an SG and somewhat similar to a Les Paul, even though they're all made of mahogany. Also - last time I checked, the Les Paul and the V pretty much DO have the same everything, unless you're talking about one of the les pauls with the maple tops (I'm not sure which models have and which don't).
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#7
I think shape definitely matters. The shape determines how much contact the neck has with the body. There's also a lot more body mass between the neck and bridge on a LP than on a Flying V. Those differences affect the way a guitar resonates.
#8
Quote by JELIFISH19
I think shape definitely matters. The shape determines how much contact the neck has with the body. There's also a lot more body mass between the neck and bridge on a LP than on a Flying V. Those differences affect the way a guitar resonates.



So would this apply to the Dean ML shape like Dimebags guitar.
#9
It definitely matters! I would imagine a Les Paul would have much more sustain compared to a Flying V because there's that huge gap of wood missing on the V, and that's less materal for the sound to reverberate through.
#10
A friend swears that his Gibson Explorer has more sustain because of the shape of the body. My SG (a limited edition Swamp Ash Special from 2006) sounds more aggressive and brighter than a Standard Les Paul.

Draw whatever conclusions you like from that.
#11
Hmm, now that I think about it, shape could affect how the sound waves actually travel through the body, with some frequencies getting accentuated and others suppressed. Like ripples on water.
#12
Quote by Zakkcd
Some would say a flying V will resonate better or longer.



My V does get a good amount of sustain. i was pretty ****ign surprised to be honest just because of how light it is.
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#13
so then it's more the amount of wood rather than the shape it is carved into?
#14
Quote by ghiyath
so then it's more the amount of wood rather than the shape it is carved into?


thats definitely what i think, but shape could matter too...

if you managed to make a flying V and a les paul out of the exact same amount of wood, would they sound the same? i'd love to know... would be so hard to test, though!
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#15
Quote by Slap-happy
A friend swears that his Gibson Explorer has more sustain because of the shape of the body. My SG (a limited edition Swamp Ash Special from 2006) sounds more aggressive and brighter than a Standard Les Paul.

Draw whatever conclusions you like from that.

The SG would be because its Swamp Ash, which is brighter than the Mahogany of the Les Paul..
#16
Quote by Poster_Nutbag
Hmm, now that I think about it, shape could affect how the sound waves actually travel through the body, with some frequencies getting accentuated and others suppressed. Like ripples on water.


I think this might be true, but it'll be hard to test. The differences might be so minute you might not be able to detect it at all.

Quote by LifeIsABullet16
thats definitely what i think, but shape could matter too...

if you managed to make a flying V and a les paul out of the exact same amount of wood, would they sound the same? i'd love to know... would be so hard to test, though!


OK, but even if you do manage to get all the specs identical, even 2 identical guitars made from wood from the same tree would still sound different due to where the wood came from.

I think it might be quite difficult to prove, unless you used material like carbon fiber. Even then, it difference would like be so minute it'll be hard to tell.
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#17
Quote by ragingkitty
I think this might be true, but it'll be hard to test. The differences might be so minute you might not be able to detect it at all.


OK, but even if you do manage to get all the specs identical, even 2 identical guitars made from wood from the same tree would still sound different due to where the wood came from.

I think it might be quite difficult to prove, unless you used material like carbon fiber. Even then, it difference would like be so minute it'll be hard to tell.


true, it would be so tough to tell. The reason I ask is because i plan on having Campbell American make me a 3 single coil guitar made from swamp ash and a maple neck and fretboard. I'm just wondering if the shape of the guitar will affect the tone (aside from sustain) but if the difference is really so small then I think i'll just go with the body shape that's more aesthetically appealing.

just for reference, I'm choosing between these 2 models

http://www.campbellamerican.com/models/precix

http://www.campbellamerican.com/models/transitone
Last edited by ghiyath at Dec 3, 2009,
#18
If you could put the headstock shape of the second on the first one I would like it a lot more.

There shouldn't be too much difference in terms of the wood making an impact on the sound.
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#19
Quote by BladeSlinger
If you could put the headstock shape of the second on the first one I would like it a lot more.

There shouldn't be too much difference in terms of the wood making an impact on the sound.


the thing is i already have a humbucker version of the Precix (first guitar) and I dont want another one. also i really dig the shape of the second one and have wanted one for a long time. That's why I wonder if the shape affects the tone. I'd be getting the guitar in swamp ash either way, its just that the Transitone is larger and has a funky shape.
#20
Yea, shouldn't make much difference.
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#21
It's basic physics. Tone, and especially response and sustain, is effected hugely by the total mass of the body and neck, the species of wood, the grade and desnity of the wood, the treatment of the wood and the construction of the guitar - shape has nothing to do with it outside of one small element. How much wood is aorund the neck join can effect sustain quite noticably, but that isn't as much of a factor as the simple mass of the body overall is. If you made an extra thick flying V, which has next to no wood around the neck join, it would still sustain more and sound fuller than a flat top Les Paul.

Considering we're talking about guitars that hypothetically are made of the same woods and everything, what it boils down to is very simply mass. More mass = fuller tone. Shape is irrevelant.

It's important that I keep saying the tone will be 'fuller'. Not lower, not darker, not brighter, not thicker. Fuller. Lower implies lots of bass. Brighter implies lots of treble. Thicker implies lots of mids. Darker implies comparatively low mids and lower treble.
More mass equals a fuller tone and that means more of everything. More bass response, more mid response, more treble response. If you got two SGs, one 1 3/4" thick and one 1 1/2" thick, both made from the same type of maple at the same grade, treated in the same way, with the same hardware, electrocnics, set up, same amp and speakers, everything the same, the thicker 1 3/4" SG body would not be brighter, or bassier, or anything - it would simply have more of everything, evenly.
The problem is, certain frequencies travel differently than others and our ears pick up on some more than others. Depending on the electronics, set up of the guitar, construction quality, cable quality, cable length, amp, speakers, the nature of the room and how far you are from the speakers, the tone will seem to change. Treble is lost very easily the more cable and such that the signal has to travel through. Bass can seemingly increase or decrease a lot depending on the size of the room and how much stable contact the speakers have with the floor. Middle frequencies will be effected greatly by your location in relation to the speakers.
As a general rule, bass runs off quicker than middle and treble frequencies over distance from the speakers, while treble runs off the most before the speakers (i.e. while the signal is going through your rig).

The body mass of the guitar is important because depending on all these factors, you may not want such a full signal and response from the guitar (less body and neck mass), or you may want more (more body and neck mass). If you're in a small room and your amp is directly on the floor, a guitar with more wood mass (and so, a fuller signal) could sound very ''booming'' as the bass frequencies will drown out everything else in a small location. A solution to this would be to turn your bass down, but removing frequencies also means removing response (this is why ''scooping'' your mids is an atrociously terrible idea). On the other hand you could be playing in a large room with your amp (or speaker cab) on a small table or some other platform off the ground - in this instance, bass frequencies aren't going to travel as easily and will drop off and be hard for anyone to hear at the back of the room - you could turn up your bass on your EQ, but then you run the risk of having a very unbalanced response. Using a guitar with more body and neck mass instead will help those lower frequencies come through clearer while bringing up the middle and treble frequencies too so nothing becomes unbalanced.

For this reason, regularly gigging musicians are going to see more benefit from using a guitar with high body and neck mass while beginners and ''bedroom heroes'' are more likely to benefit from a guitar with less mass. Neither option is outright better and shape means next to nothing.

Also bear in mind such things as weight-relieving, chambering, semi-hollow and hollow construction. Those would require a whole new thread to cover though.



One last thing worth mentioning though is when people talk about guitar body mass and shape, the most common comparison that comes up is SGs vs Les Pauls. This is completely broken for one very simple reason; Les Pauls (proper Les Pauls) are made of two opposing woods, dark-toned mahogany and the ultra-bright rock maple. SGs on the other hand are simply solid mahogany (at least, traditonal SGs are). As such, you really can't compare these two instruments. The closest they get are the specific Gibson Raw Power models (which are both entirely rock maple) or comparing a SG Special to a Les Paul Vintage Mahogany (which has no maple), or a very early LP Custom against a very early SG (from back when they were called Les Pauls). These specific comparisons are fair; however, a noraml SG vs a normal LP are not.
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#22
^ Thanks for the lecture, professor. Now I know I want the guitar with more mass. Thankfully, both of the guitars I'm considering are solid bodies without weight-relief so that's a non-issue to me.