#1
It seems that the tone wood debate is finally over. Wood does make a difference in tone in solid body electric guitars. Head to Boudreau Guitars to see his experiment (24 videos that follow the construction of 2 identical guitars made with different wood and then testing on a tube amp). Truly amazing work by that guy, huge respect:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSpgAiuDpSY
#2
Lots of people have "ended" the debate, and done a better job of the experiment than this. The debate continues and this thread is useless.

Individual pickups, individual strums, the slightest details of the setup and all going to have an effect that precludes a "scientific" test.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Dec 24, 2015,
#3
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Lots of people have "ended" the debate, and done a better job of the experiment than this. The debate continues and this thread is useless.

Individual pickups, individual strums, the slightest details of the setup and all going to have an effect that precludes a "scientific" test.


You didn't even check the videos, they are 24 of them. The guy uses the same pickups, same building specs, strings, same everything. The only difference is the wood. This is the most accurate experiment on the subject to date.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
and done a better job of the experiment than this.


Care to share those?
#4
It may be the most accurate work to date. But with a sample size of two instruments no conclusion can be drawn other than different blocks of wood resonante differently, and we still won't know why until someone with deep pockets repeats the experiment with dozens of guitars.
#5
Quote by jpnyc
It may be the most accurate work to date. But with a sample size of two instruments no conclusion can be drawn other than different blocks of wood resonante differently, and we still won't know why until someone with deep pockets repeats the experiment with dozens of guitars.


Yup. Hard to argue with that, hope it does happen at some point. However, this video kinda shows that wood does have an effect on tone, which is something a lot of people have denied.
#6
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#7
You can notice that he strums them differently (one closer to the bridge and the other closer to the neck). But in the end of the video he strums them similarly and they also sound very similar.

Compare the last two samples (0:44 vs 0:48). They sound almost exactly the same. Not saying there is absolutely no difference between them but they are indeed very close to each other. So much that I would say in this video the wood doesn't really matter. It was not what made the difference obvious - it was the way he strummed the guitars. And as I said, when he strummed them similarly, it sounded pretty much the same. So what's my conclusion (based on this video and the other videos I have seen)? Yeah, the wood may make a small difference but is it really significant? I don't think it is, somebody may disagree. What this video proved was that your touch affects the tone a lot. If you strum closer to the neck, it sounds pretty different from strumming closer to the bridge. It can make similar guitars sound like two very different guitars.


I still prefer the one by Paul Graham where he does the blind test where he doesn't tell "this is guitar A and this is guitar B". His "strumming robot" didn't really work that well, so I would recommend listening to the samples starting at 8:50, not the ones starting at 11:26. Again, there are huge differences between them, but you can't really find a consistent pattern like "guitar A sounds like this, guitar B sounds like this". I tried finding that and my answers were completely off.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vgwaiScrwA

This is how a blind test should be done. Don't tell which guitar is A and which guitar is B. Just post many samples of both guitars. If people can get most of them right, that means tonewood does make a difference. But if it's like 50% correct, that means the wood doesn't make a noticeable difference.

The guitars were of course built a lot better in the Boudreau test but the test itself was not done that well.


And yeah, this debate is way overdone. Just seeing the word "tonewood" somewhere starts to annoy me.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Dec 24, 2015,
#8
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE


Well if this topic doesn't interest you, maybe u can go back to MLP and your drawings...

The topic might be overdone but I see a good experiment with someone who has invested a lot of time and skill to bring us some results on the matter, some people might be interested.
Last edited by martinbg at Dec 24, 2015,
#9
Quote by MaggaraMarine
So what's my conclusion (based on this video and the other videos I have seen)? Yeah, the wood may make a small difference but is it really significant? I don't think it is, somebody may disagree...

And yeah, this debate is way overdone. Just seeing the word "tonewood" somewhere starts to annoy me.


I agree that the difference isn't huge. But when the guitars have distortion going on and are layered like it's done during production, this subtle difference will have a noticeable effect. I also don't think it's just the strumming, there's a noticeable difference between the tone of the two guitars. Keep in mind this was recorded very poorly.
Last edited by martinbg at Dec 24, 2015,
#10
Quote by martinbg
Well if this topic doesn't interest you, maybe u can go back to MLP and your drawings...



Seriously, I don't think this debate is controversial anymore. Its obvious that there is a tiny difference, but it isn't going to be very appreciable in a real-life environment where dozens of other factors overwhelm any difference the wood might be making so in reality it doesn't matter.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Dec 24, 2015,
#11
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE


Seriously, I don't think this debate is controversial anymore. Its obvious that there is a tiny difference, but it isn't going to be very appreciable in a real-life environment where dozens of other factors overwhelm any difference the wood might be making so in reality it doesn't matter.


Well it certainly isn't the main tone contributing factor, maybe it's the last but it still has an effect. I'm pretty sure the effect will be more noticeable if some tracks are layered. Anyway, I posted this because it was interesting to me and I thought it might be interesting to other people too, might not be the case, donno
#12
I dunno, the tonewood debate simply holds no water to me. I don't go to a store looking for what wood certain guitars are made out of, I just play until I find something I like. I've seen Youtubers from Rob Chapman to WarlockWyatt argue over it, and it's just annoying to me. There are simply too many other contributing factors to make the wood a legitimate effect on tone.
#13
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE


Seriously, I don't think this debate is controversial anymore. Its obvious that there is a tiny difference, but it isn't going to be very appreciable in a real-life environment where dozens of other factors overwhelm any difference the wood might be making so in reality it doesn't matter.


Yes. I wouldn't use it to choose a guitar, but if I was building a bitsa I would consider it - just in case.
#14
Here's why it doesn't make a lot of sense (for me) to get invested in "tonewood"

There is variation between two pieces of the same wood, and in many cases the variation can be as great as between two different types of wood. So even if you can label a specific wood with tonal qualities, the degree of those qualities will vary greatly from one slab of wood to another.

Then we get into the fact that what sounds "dark" and "defined" to one person sounds "boomy" and "muffled" to another, one persons tight midrange is another persons obnoxious high end, etc.
Point being that what we associate with certain woods may not even be a true evaluation for our personal tastes.

THEN there's the fact that the tonal contributions from a guitar are so minuscule that it almost certainly can be EQd out somewhere else in the signal chain. Of course, there are some guitars that just sound great through anything, and there are those on the opposite end of the spectrum, but how much of that is wood? I would argue that a good setup and a thoughtful adjustment of pickup height is a MUCH greater contributor to overall tone than wood choice.

Wood choice is important, for a number of reasons. I tend to go for woods that I like the looks of, and also I like certain woods because they are generally lighter than others. I think that tone should be the last thing on a list of "Why I Should Buy This Guitar" though.
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#15
Quote by jpnyc
It may be the most accurate work to date. But with a sample size of two instruments no conclusion can be drawn other than different blocks of wood resonante differently, and we still won't know why until someone with deep pockets repeats the experiment with dozens of guitars.



Different blocks of wood do resonate differently. However on a solid body electric guitar, this does not matter. There is no piezo pickup that picks up the vibration of the wood itself. The pickups pick up only the vibrations of the strings.
Wood cannot just magically cancel out frequencies and emphasize others, when its vibrations are not even picked up whatsoever.
I will give you this: the density of the wood affects the decay of the sound. Denser wood reflects the wave(energy from the string being moved as it travels down to the bridge and tuners, and then into the wood) more than less dense wood does.


I cannot post the equations supporting these statements because I am on my mobile device. However, I am now considering submitting an article on this topic with all of the supporting mathematic equations. Science is undebatable.

The experiment was not performed in a properly controlled environment. The amount of money required to properly do such an experiment would be rather high. However physics and sound reasoning suffice to answer the question as far as I, and really any unbiased person, are concerned.
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#16
How much the wood affects tone can be a matter of the type of bridge the guitar has. A guitar with a strat type of vibrato is isolated from the body to an extent by the springs on the trem system. I think that it effects the guitar but might account for 10% of the sound. I have changed the neck on a guitar and could hear a change. Everything else was the same.
That said expensive wood does not sound better etc. There are differences. I have heard some great sounding basswood guitars. A few guitars with higher end woods I have heard are not so great either.
#17
Enjoyed these videos mainly for the guitar building. Of course he left out the interesting parts while showing some boring stuff. I liked the sound of the mahogany better. Would have been interesting had he played with lots of gain to see if there's some noticeable difference. Perhaps it would have been more helpful had he used basswood instead of mahogany to make the contrast with maple more stark.

I came to this with the belief there is a tone difference simply by virtue of mass and density of different woods. How much it matters when playing with distortion... probably not a whole lot.

This test while purer isn't very practical in so far as the guitars weren't finished and he used only one set of hardware for both. The experiment remains to be made were two similar finished "street" guitars are tested that differ only in wood, say, two custom Agiles or Carvins with identical specs except for the wood.
Last edited by dthmtl3 at Dec 25, 2015,