#1
Ok so. I got my eyes on two...technically acoustic guitars, but bc i'm set on having a cutaway they're both electroacoustic. Anyways.
One of them is all mahogany, 000 body size, solid top, the other is spruce and rosewood, Grand Auditorium, solid top as well. I know the basic differences between spruce and mahogany. I've listened to both and the differences are huge. The spruce one is brighter than my goddamn future and sounds more metallic, crisp and with stronger attack. The mahogany one sounds fine to me, and slight "blending" only pops up when strumming. Muddiness would be too much to say. I've heard muddy guitars before. It seems like a well made guitar all in all, so i would choose that one. But...
My questions are the following:
1. How versatile are the tonewoods?
2. Does mah really sound muddy or is that just the consequences of a poorly made instrument? (From what i've read, it's supposed to sound mellow, not dull and unclear)
3. As a general rule, do spruce tops give the guitar a better note separation? Some lean towards spruce, other towards mahogany.
4. Which one is more balanced sound-wise?
5. Gives they are both solid tops, which one of them tends to get better with age/withstand wear, intensive use/time?
6. The mah guitar has a satin finish, while the spruce one has a glossy finish. Does that affect the sound?
7. Some guitar care lifehacks as a bonus?
Last edited by lilitza at Dec 7, 2017,
#2
1) Spruce, as a topwood, is incredibly versatile.  It has the best strength to weight ratio of any traditional tonewood making it loud, bright, and responsive.  Mah tops are heavier which gives them a fuller, warmer tone but they are quieter and less responsive ultimately making them a tad less versatile than spruce. 

2) Mah will typically sound a bit more muddy than spruce but I wouldn't necessarily call it a muddy top wood.  If you are playing a spruce guitar next to a mah one and you think the mah sounds muddy by comparison that is normal.  If the mah guitar sounds muddy all on it's own with nothing to compair it to then that particular guitar might just be dud.  No 2 acoustics sound exactly alike so you could have 2 guitars side by side made from wood that came from the same tree built to the same spec and 1 will still be brighter and more clear than the other.

3)  Spruce typically gives better note separation to my ear.

4)  It depends on what you are looking for when you say balanced.   Mah have a flatter frequency response so some would say that makes it more balanced.  Others think the stronger top end from spruce is all part of having a balanced tone.

5)  Mah isn't affected by humidity is less prone to splitting and is resistant to bumps and dings.  If you keep your guitar in the proper climate and you are careful not to bang it around then spruce holds up to string tension and playing just as well as mah.

6) It's better to focus on what the finish actually is rather than how shiny it is.  Waterbase lacquer is different than nitro which is different than acrylic which is different than poly.  Typically poly sounds the least musical and can be dull but it is the most durable.
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#4
It depends a bit on the type of fingerstyle sound you are after.  A lot of guys that play folk like mah while blues and country guys tend to prefer spruce.  Cedar is actually the most popular choice for the fingerstyle players that I build for.
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#5
CorduroyEW So i guess mahogany really does fit me better then. I do like the brightness of spruce, but it tends to become too crisp for my taste, and also the bass dominates too much.
#6
lilitza Maybe...  There are different types of spruce and some are brighter than others.  Sitka probably isn't for you if you think spruce is a bit bright.  Lutz or Adirondack have a fuller midrange than sitka but they are pretty expensive.  Engelmann has a softer top end than sitka and it's clearer than cedar.  It provides more warmth than Sitka but slightly less than cedar.  Cedar can be too dark for some people and is the darkest sounding of the traditional top woods but you do actually get more bass from Sitka, Adirondack, or Lutz.  The drawback with Englmann and cedar is that they are both pretty soft (engelmann isn't as soft as cedar) and don't stand up to the test of time as well as the other types of spruce and mah.  I suspect you could be happy with Engelmann spruce, cedar, or mah.
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#7
CorduroyEW Thank you for this, i now finally understand all types of spruce properties. Shame that cedar doesn't last too long, i didn't know about that, it truly is a beautiful tonewood and has always been one of my favorites.
I actually heard a Fender Adirondack before and it sounded way more crisp than i think Adirondack should be. Fender PM-3, though. Now that is a gorgeous sound as to what concerns an all mahogany guitar. Even though in some lightning it looks like grandma's beaten bed from the time of the Soviet Union. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
#8
Quote by lilitza
CorduroyEW So i guess mahogany really does fit me better then. I do like the brightness of spruce, but it tends to become too crisp for my taste, and also the bass dominates too much.
Maybe, maybe not. Guitars which are either, mellow, dull, or laminated, tend to go through strings every couple of days..After their strings lose their resonance, the guitars projection and top end goes along with them.

Body size in a big arbiter of perceived high end. Jumbos tend to balance the stridency of spruce, with a full rich bottom end. In fact, Guild 12 strings, which were alleged to be the worlds best, were sitka topped, with maple B & S!.

All that notwithstanding, my vote goes for mahogany as a 2nd guitar in your collection, not a first.

A lot of finger style players opt for spruce topped, orchestra model guitars. The smaller bodies are very responsive, and more articulate than cedar or mahogany. Paying with flesh gives a lot of high end away from the jump. If you're committed to growing your own fingernails, using CyA to harden them, putting on fake fiberglass nails, or dicking around with metal finger picks, by all means, buy the "mellowest" .guitar you can find. Otherwise, go for the spruce.

Even my Taylor sitka and sapele 12 string mellows right out and purrs like a kitten, when I put down the pick.

That's my .05 cents, adjusting for inflation..

CODA: I should add that I'm fairly old, and have listened to a lot of loud music over the years, so that may be coloring my opinion, so to speak.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 7, 2017,
#9
CorduroyEW and Captaincranky have it well covered. Apart from the physical properties of the timber, it depends on construction. I'm a fingerpicker, and generally prefer spruce to mahogany and cedar for steel strings, but my mahogany-topped kona lap steel is ultra light weight (about 2 1/2 lbs) and sounds just fine to me, bright, loud, aggressive, fairly complex and good note separation. The only criticism I have is that it sounds too "cheerful" for my style of music.
#10
Tony Done Buddy, you get me. Spruce sounds awesome, but alas, i'm the type of person who sings herself to sleep with Into Dust by Mazzy Star.
Last edited by lilitza at Dec 7, 2017,
#12
I read an article once written by a luthier who said that the differences between the types of tonewoods is greatly overstated and in fact pretty subtle, subtle to the point that not many people would actually be able to tell which is which in a blind test. He went on to say that other guitar properties such as bracing, strings, etc. actually have a much greater impact on the guitars tone. I tend to agree with that but in my experience so far, my favorite guitars have all had a solid spruce top.
#14
Tony Done i knooow. The fact that i figured that out makes me proud of myself. That is probably the only song where i felt like spruce might be a better choice. That, and maybe Fast Car. But i didn't miss it enough to decide to buy a spruce-topped instrument. Sometimes it sounds fine, but most times it feels like the overtones and treble might grate my nerves.
#15
Quote by hotrodney71
I read an article once written by a luthier who said that the differences between the types of tonewoods is greatly overstated and in fact pretty subtle, subtle to the point that not many people would actually be able to tell which is which in a blind test. He went on to say that other guitar properties such as bracing, strings, etc. actually have a much greater impact on the guitars tone. I tend to agree with that but in my experience so far, my favorite guitars have all had a solid spruce top.

I would say that the top material on a guitar is about as important as the pickups in an electric guitar.
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#16
lilitza Well, now the I know you'ere female,. kthe mahogany top makes a lot more sense. A difference in the hearing frequency spectrum is part of Homo sapiens sexual dimorphism. Women have a much sharper high frequency hearing response than men. After men pass 18 or 19, they really can't hear above 15 Khz very well. It is believed that teenage and younger girls, can hear well up into frequencies that we consider ultrasonic.

Men have, as a rule better eyesight.

I used to sell stereo equipment, and my worse nightmare was when a husband and wife team came in to buy speakers The man would groove to tweeters that spit razor blades, while the missus curled up next to the woofers, holding her ears in pain.

In any event, I cooked up a seemingly sexist explanation for the sensory differentials. "Men have better eyesight so they can spot game, whereas women have better high end hearing so they can hear their babies crying". It really is a observation that good old Chuck Darwin would most likely make, if he were able to join this discussion. The HF loss in men reaching marriageable age, could also be to render us somewhat impervious to nagging. It's not that we don't listen, it's just that evolution has helped us to tune you out.

BTW, I've researched all the facts in paragraph one as being correct. (Over several decades). And reasonably speaking, the differences in hearing and vocalizations between the male and female of our species, can easily be explained and compared with,behaviours and traits in other mammalian species.

One oddity of humans though, is we're the only mammal that's never truly weaned: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactase_persistence
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 8, 2017,
#17
Captaincranky Evolution is quite the oppressive, sexist, gender role appropriating shitlord isn't it?
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Violets are blue
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#18
T00DEEPBLUE Well, you'll have a hard time convincing me that's a bad thing. For example. I've never felt the urge to suffer the pain of childbirth, or to date another man. Evolution has both tasked us with, and assigned us to, a purpose. With 7 billion of us on the planet, one could argue it has done its job all too well.

Keep in mind I view man as the most successful, ruthless, deadly, and greediest predator to ever walk the face of the earth, not with the arrogance and hubris of something that, "god created in his own image".

I think neither dogs or cats can tolerate chocolate or aspirin. But, they tolerate benzodiazapines very well. In fact, you can use them to treat litter box issues, and anxiety in kitty and Fido. It gives one pause to wonder if millenniums of inclusion of the two species into human society, has altered their brain chemistry and allowed them to be burdened with our neurosis. or they're more like us than we care to admit or imagine.

But that can't be true because, "god gave man dominion over the animals, didn't he? (Which sort of tacitly states we don't believe we're animals).

But, the fact still remains, a woman might prefer a more mellow guitar than a man, based purely on biological factors which affect that preference. .
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 8, 2017,
#19
Captaincranky I think we sort of strayed from the point, don't you think, guys?? ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ What exactly makes sense if i like mahogany better?
#20
lilitza I believe he was saying that you can hear top end better so spruce is more likely to sound harsh to you making mah a more appealing option.
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#22
Quote by lilitza
CorduroyEW case closed, then?
If the mahogany top guitar is bought and paid for, then yes.

If not, then topic will live on forever here at UG, being reanimated by new members throughout eternity
#24
lilitza Actually I lied. New members will be offering their thoughts on the best top for you, perhaps 10 years into the future. What decision you make, will have little to no effect on future posts to this thread, and many others..
#26
 
Quote by lilitza CorduroyEW case closed, then?

 

I think so.  If you want something durable with a less harsh top end mah is the best way to go.
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#27
Cranky, you still there? What type of string gauge would you recommend for a mahogany, 24 fret shredder guitar?
#28
lilitza Start with manufacturer recommendations.  Most modern guitars are built with the idea that you will be using lite strings but if you try  lights and find that and need more volume or clarity in the bass bump it up to 11's.  If 10's sound too punchy or they are uncomfortable go down to 9's.  
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#30
Quote by lilitza
Cranky, you still there? What type of string gauge would you recommend for a mahogany, 24 fret shredder guitar?
Well, .double ought niners if you're going to tune to E standard. However drop C# is an entirely different story. Is this a 6, 7, or 8 string we're talking about? It matters, ya know...
#31
Captaincranky 6. Always a 6 string. I'm not looking to shred. It's a good looking Ibanez from the S series and i like the sound and the fact that i can split the coils. Also fits with my tendencies to experiment with everything.
I want to know what strings/tuning would make it shine.
Last edited by lilitza at Dec 10, 2017,
#32
lilitza If we're talking about an honest to goodness solid body mahogany electric guitar, may I be so bold as to inquire, "why in god's name are you posting about this in the "acoustic and classical" sub-forum? I thought you were joking. If not, I always recommend 10 to 47's since they're more likely to stay in tune. BTW, if you're looking for a "mellow" sound, why on earth would you need coil split? Obviously, you have to re-EQ your amp, each time you pull the HB to SC switch.

The foregoing answer was given on the slight chance you're not simply busting my stones.

A far as a top woods on electrics go, (while continuing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you're not shining me on),. most Les Paul models are mahogany, while Telecasters are made of ash, with maple necks. Which of the two models is thought of as "twangier"?

This all comes as quite a shock to me, since I was just considering recommending that you give a nylon strung acoustic, some careful consideration.

Try checking in at your local music shop. They might still have a copy of, "Iron Maiden for Ukulele", laying around.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 10, 2017,
#33
Captaincranky the goddamned autocorrect deleted. I said it's an Ibanez. I'm asking anyway, bc i thought you'd give me a pretty smart answer and i'm too lazy to start a new thread. And what does mellow sound have to do with coil split, i'm not following?
Edit:
I know that the coil split option is basically meant to split a humbucker. The pickup selector goes 5 ways, which is why i like it.
Last edited by lilitza at Dec 10, 2017,
#34
lilitza I just had a major keyboard catastrophic error, and lost a half page of response. Could you possiblywait until tomorrow? I promise I'll do my best to answer your question.