#1
A friend is working on a Build-Your-Own custom guitar project, he needs a good tonewood.

Genre: Metal/Fusion
Tuning: Either E or D standard.
Requirement: Good sustain, HEAPS OF CLARITY for playing 7th and 9th and #11th and other complex chords. They should ring out crystal clear and sweet.

Present consideration: Swamp ash, a little unsure though. Any other recommendations?

Neck: strat style Bolt-on, MOST PROBABLY maple with rosewood/maple fretboard, yet to decide that.

And Genre specs: Think of Cynic/Atheist. Prog/Jazz/Thrash, maybe?
Scale length: 25.5". Won't be going lower than D standard.

Pickups: Probably the Bare Knuckle Coldsweats from his older guitar.



EDIT: Don't darker woods become muddy?
And yeah, CLARITY is the most important factor. Sustain is important, but secondary.

Cheers!
Last edited by catscratchfever at Aug 14, 2010,
#2
Alder. Though I think that tonal characteristics have a lot more to do with pickups than tonewood.

I know that this is a common argument, but I personally don't think the wood you choose to use matters that much. I mean, even within a certain species, differences between two pieces of wood can be as different as night and day. Just because you use a certain kind of wood doesn't mean that you're going to get a certain set of results.
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#3
Need WAY more info.
What kind of metal? Doom, sludge, thrash, etc?
What kind of fusion? Jazz-rock, jazz-prog, etc etc.
Scale length?
Pickups?
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#4
What style of guitar is your friend building? Is this a Strat-type, or is it something more ambitious like a neck-through design?

Denser woods will give you more sustain and clarity, but you pay for it in weight. Strats are pretty clear and they generally have Alder bodies. You could go with Mahogany or Walnut for a darker, heavier tone and gobs of sustain, but you'll pay for it in weight.

The neck wood is also going to be a factor. Most parts-built Strats and such are fitted with Maple necks, which means that if you go with a very heavy or dense body wood, the guitar may end up sounding shrill. The type of pickups employed will also make a huge difference.

More information is needed.
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#5
Neck: strat style Bolt-on, MOST PROBABLY maple with rosewood/maple fretboard, yet to decide that.

And Genre specs: Think of Cynic/Atheist. Prog/Jazz/Thrash, maybe?
Scale length: 25.5". Won't be going lower than D standard.

Pickups: Probably the Bare Knuckle Coldsweats from his older guitar.

Keep it coming.

EDIT: Don't darker woods become muddy?
And yeah, CLARITY is the most important factor. Sustain is important, but secondary.
Last edited by catscratchfever at Aug 14, 2010,
#6
In that case I think swamp ash would actually be a brilliant choice. It's very middle-of-the-road, so it creates thickness as well as clarity, and it should suit those pickups just fine.
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#7
Swamp Ash will get you what you want, and if you want the same qualities plus killer looks (and have the cash), consider a Koa body. The few Koa guitars I've played had tremendous tone and clarity. It's heavier than Swamp Ash or Alder, but not as heavy as Maple or Mahogany.

Darker tones from heavier woods don't necessarily mean that they will be muddy. Muddiness tends to be more a result of pickups, amplifiers and choice of speakers.

Good luck with the guitar build. Tell your friend to take his time and do it right. It pays off in the long run.
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#8
Have you thought about going for a completely rosewood neck? They feel great and have a very articulate/clear sound.
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#10
Swamp ash seems a good bet, but even though ill get flamed, basswood seems like an alright bet because its rather neutral you should be able to get a lot of sustain while retaining clarity
#11
'Tonewood' is a term for acoustic and full hollowbody guitars. With semi-hollow and solid body guitars, the term 'tonewood' becomes irrelevant.

Since the guitar is a bolt-on, the neck and fretboard woods matter far more; following them, the bridge. The body wood comes in fourth in terms of how it effects tone - generally you'd just want something which sustains well. To that end, maple is your best bet, although it's very heavy; mahogany and rosewood are also great for sustain but are dark-toned. Limba and northern hard ash are just slightly dark and slightly bright respectively, sustain well and don't weigh too much.
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