#1
Hi folks,

My question is the electric guitar body wood effect the sound?

I believe the electric guitar sound is effected by the pickups and the amps and i think that the wood have nothing to do with the sound of the electric guitar.

I know that the guitars are made with different body wood (Basswood, Swamp Ash, Alder, Mahogany and Poplar) so what is the difference between them and which is better and why?

Thank you so much
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#2
Wood does have to do with the sound. I for one am no wood expert though so i can't answer which ones are better.
#3
from my experience having a swampash/alder body on a tele is good - helps bring out the tele sound

mahogony on metal/rock guitars helps bring out the deeper tones - richer tone

no expert - but thats what i go on when buying a new axe
#4
Some have brighter, thicker, sharper tonal qualities than others. However that being said, if you're playing in drop z and djenting 24/7 tone woods isn't a main factor as it's too distorted to tell the difference.
There are also different grades of timber, e.g. A, AA, AAA flame maple. That will sound better and will improve the build quality/playability.
Some are lighter, heavier. e.g. Ash is very light, mahogany is quite dense and heavy.
It really depends on the style you're playing and the amp you're running through, e.g. Fender deluxe or an ENGL half stack, crisp cleans or br00tz gain up to 11.
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#7
Quote by Eppicurt
Some have brighter, thicker, sharper tonal qualities than others. However that being said, if you're playing in drop z and djenting 24/7 tone woods isn't a main factor as it's too distorted to tell the difference.
There are also different grades of timber, e.g. A, AA, AAA flame maple. That will sound better and will improve the build quality/playability.
Some are lighter, heavier. e.g. Ash is very light, mahogany is quite dense and heavy.
It really depends on the style you're playing and the amp you're running through, e.g. Fender deluxe or an ENGL half stack, crisp cleans or br00tz gain up to 11.



The grading system on figured wood is purely visual. It has nothing to do with the sound of the axe. Everything else is true to a point. The more gain the less wood affects tone, and vice versa.
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#8
I was just using the flame maple as an example.
Body timbers of higher grades affect tonality.
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#9
the body wood affects the sound because it absorbs some of the energy of the string vibration, colouring the sound of the string by altering the way it vibrates (affecting particular harmonic content, articulation and such). different woods will colour the sound of the strings in different ways.

because it's altering the string vibration it is altering the electrical current generated by the pickups that is then converted into sound by the amplifier, because this current is induced by the magnetic fluctuations caused by the vibrating string.
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#10
Quote by Eppicurt
I was just using the flame maple as an example.
Body timbers of higher grades affect tonality.


Not on a level your average player is going to notice...and by average player I mean anybody that hasn't been a luthier for 10-20 years. Body blanks of such low quality they affect the tone will be thrown out at the factory. Chances are though if you have a production level guitar with a solid color finish...if you sand it down you'll prolly find half a dozen knots in the wood, and several different pieces all glued together.

Is there going to be a difference between a $1500 production guitar and a $5000+ custom shop guitar? yes. But leaving all other variables aside, if you did a blind listening you'd never be able to tell.
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#11
I don't think that's true, it really depends on the player.
Why do you have to be a luthier to notice the difference in tone woods? The more you play and the more variety of guitars you play the more experienced you become with the instruments.
And you can't vouch for "the average player" argument because you can't generalise guitarists or guitars for that matter.
Define a "production" level guitar, aren't all guitars "produced" somehow?
I don't understand where you're getting these statistics from.
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#12
Quote by Eppicurt
I don't think that's true, it really depends on the player.
Why do you have to be a luthier to notice the difference in tone woods? The more you play and the more variety of guitars you play the more experienced you become with the instruments.
And you can't vouch for "the average player" argument because you can't generalise guitarists or guitars for that matter.
Define a "production" level guitar, aren't all guitars "produced" somehow?
I don't understand where you're getting these statistics from.

i think by "production level" he meant something off a production line rather than an one off custom guitar built by a luthier.

but still, i'll agree with you, there are a few too many generalisations in repairmanjack's argument...
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#13
What I'm saying is if you take an american deluxe strat, made out of swamp ash. And also take a custom shop strat made of swamp ash. Same pups, strings, frets, neck wood/finish, amp, effects, picks...and have the same person strike an open G chord while you listen with your back turned and no knowledge of which one is which...you wouldn't be able to tell.

By production level guitars I mean anything mass produced. If you don't have to fill out a few pages of paperwork on the specs you want, and send it in to the custom shop thru the dealer it's a production level instrument.
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#14
It's still pretty general though, what price range?
I hardly think anything reasonably priced ($300+) would have half a dozen knots in it.
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#15
Quote by repairmanjack
What I'm saying is if you take an american deluxe strat, made out of swamp ash. And also take a custom shop strat made of swamp ash. Same pups, strings, frets, neck wood/finish, amp, effects, picks...and have the same person strike an open G chord while you listen with your back turned and no knowledge of which one is which...you wouldn't be able to tell.

Well...duh? They're made out of the same timber.
If you want noticeable difference you'll need to a different sort of timber
I'm not saying OMGZ like, huge difference in sound in higher grade timbers, I'm saying it affects it enough to justify spending more money getting a higher quality timber in a guitar for the sound/build.
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#16
Yes, wood effects tone.

But the amount it effects it changes depending on your rig, what pickups you are using, how much gain you are using and what pedals you are using.

If you have a guitar with active pickups, running through an effects processor with reverb, chorus, delay, flange, and tremolo and you're sending it into a high gain amp, then the wood doesn't matter nearly as much (some would say at that point it wouldn't even matter) as if you ran a guitar with a single low output pickup directly through a class A tube amp (quite literally the simplest circuit you can play guitar with).
Actually, I go by Dave, but there are already too many Daves on this forum.


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#17
Quote by kangaxxter
Yes, wood effects tone.

But the amount it effects it changes depending on your rig, what pickups you are using, how much gain you are using and what pedals you are using.

If you have a guitar with active pickups, running through an effects processor with reverb, chorus, delay, flange, and tremolo and you're sending it into a high gain amp, then the wood doesn't matter nearly as much (some would say at that point it wouldn't even matter) as if you ran a guitar with a single low output pickup directly through a class A tube amp (quite literally the simplest circuit you can play guitar with).

basically this.

the wood is the basic foundation of your tone, but the more you start to process the signal the less relevant to the overall sound it becomes.
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#19
You aren't spending money necessarily for higher quality wood. It's mostly for better craftsmanship. When things are put together more precisely you get a better instrument. You may get wood of slightly higher quality as you work up the price chart, but the difference isn't that noticeable. Even higher end instruments have knots in the wood with solid finishes. It doesn't affect tone or structure, it's just an eye sore. EVH's original frankenstrat was built from discarded flawed wood because it was cheaper, and I can't name anybody who is more of a stickler about tone than Eddie.
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#20
Quote by BryanAdams
My question is the electric guitar body wood effect the sound?

that's not really a question.

does the electric guitar body wood effect the sound?

or

how does the electric guitar body wood effect the sound?

or

something else?

because the body wood effects the sound almost as much as the neck wood does.

imo
#21
My question is the wood is kind of a reddish brown, or sometimes a lighter tan.
#22
reddish brown sounds like mahogany, no?


also to answer your question OP, no the wood probably doesnt affect the sound that much. moslty because like someone said, most of us play through high gain with effects.

people like to justify spending big money on a guitar cus "better wood thats one piece"....im willing to bet if i wired a plywood guitar like a gibson lp they would sound almost the same....its an ELECTRIC guitar....now with acoustics is something different
#23
Plywood is what you want to look for in a guitar just nothing but quality
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#24
http://www.jemsite.com/jem/wood.htm

internet has all answers my friend

and don't listen to what davem says, in my experience the wood has an ENORMOUS impact on sound. it's not your pickups resonating, it's the wood, pickups react differently on different woods for example very trebly pickups should be put into mahogany body or wood with a darker tone cause if you put it in alder or maple it will have too much highs.

i have 2 mahogany guitars and one with a maple top. the ESP clearly has better wood and resonates better than my mahogany ibanez but has the same dark sound to it and is sometimes muddy cause it's lacking mids, my ibanez with mahogany/maple top has a lot more mid and high and sounds way more balanced. and that's not due to pickups.

and not only the kind of wood is important, but allso the quality, for example my ibanez with mahogany body will not resonate as well as a PRS and a PRS's wood grain will be 1000 times more beautiful that that ibby's. allso the sound of a better wood can have a little extra complexity and depth.

all those who say wood doesn't matter haven't developed an ear for texture. but there is a hug difference. and there is no best wood, there's only cheap woods to be avoided. apart from that it's a matter of taste and style.
Last edited by AEnesidem at Jul 26, 2011,
#25
Quote by davem27
people like to justify spending big money on a guitar cus "better wood thats one piece"....im willing to bet if i wired a plywood guitar like a gibson lp they would sound almost the same....its an ELECTRIC guitar....now with acoustics is something different

seems to me like you're trying to justify spending money upgrading a plywood guitar with pickups that cost more than the guitar itself, when you could've just got a better guitar in the first place, if anything.

what an electric guitar does is takes an acoustic sound and converts it into an electrical signal via the magnetic fluctuations produced by the physical vibrations of magnetic strings. the pickups can't pick up anything that isn't present in the acoustic sound.
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#26
Quote by davem27
also to answer your question OP, no the wood probably doesnt affect the sound that much. moslty because like someone said, most of us play through high gain with effects.

people like to justify spending big money on a guitar cus "better wood thats one piece"....im willing to bet if i wired a plywood guitar like a gibson lp they would sound almost the same....its an ELECTRIC guitar....now with acoustics is something different

I don't agree. For starters, I prefer pure gain(no effects) and cleans, and I think many people are like me as well.

And I've compared enough guitars and sometimes even swapped pickups around. I have noticed obvious differences in guitars with different wood types. For instance, I've noticed first hand that mahogany is much darker sounding than alder. And you can even hear a difference with different cuts of the same wood type.

But you can go ahead and try to build up a plywood masterpiece.