#1
So, I'm not a complete guitar newb, and I relativley know my way around guitars, but something has been seriously bothering me lately-if magnetic pickups only pick up vibrating metal parts (i.e. strings) why in the world does everybody seem keen that a neck through would increase the sustain? Or that Direct Mounted PU's are more "woody" sounding?

This would make a ton of sense if there were hidden mic pickup's that were picking up the actual "sound" of the guitar, not emitting an electric field that would only pick up metallic vibrations. Unless the people who're telling me this are saying that by the time the vibrations travel through the body, diffuse once, travel back up to the bridge/neck, diffusing a second time, and with about 1/20th of the original force hit the metal bits to vibrate the strings who are already lost most of their original force makes a hearable difference in sound.

And if that's the case, why care about the sort of wood you're using if there's no actual metal dust in the wood to "show up" in the sound of the guitar (unless once again, the density of the wood changes the 20th something decimal of a tiny fraction of the force returning to the bridge/nut).

That was a mouthful, but I think everyone understands what my question is-so, any takers?
Last edited by STorpedo at Sep 30, 2008,
#2
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#3
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#5
Quote by STorpedo
so be it *edit*

rofl.

I've actually seen this question pop up several times, but have yet to see anyone give a convinving answer one way or the other. Although there was an article posted not too long ago about some experiments that directly contradicted the idea that neck thru's get more sustain than bolt on's. In actuallity on a good quality guitar the difference is so minute it's neglible.

My stance on this whole thing is that even though I don't know the science behind it, if it sounds good/different to my ear, that's enough for me.
#7
you want the bridge and nut to be on the same piece of wood, and not 2 different pieces of wood. Also the bolt-on heel gets in the way.
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#8
Quote by HighPotency
Neck thru uses one long piece of wood, so there is no joint between the body and the neck, increasing sustain.

I don't understand the rest.


lol, as my friend would say no sh!t sherlock. no offense.

I'm going to go look for that article bout now, if I find anything of use I'll post a link to the parties interested.
Oh and by the way, relating to T!ANs comment, thats exactly what Im worried about, manufacturers using this as a marketing ploy on unsuspecting guitarists, who are soooo accustomed to hearing that neck-thru is the sh!t that there's a placebo effect involved, where the brain thinks it's actually better sounding when it's not.
#9
Actually, I believe direct wood on wood (bolt-on) has more sustain. There have been many test done on this subject, and it's proven that you get more sustain from the bolt-ons. My only complain are the heels on them.
#10
Quote by caraluzzo
Actually, I believe direct wood on wood (bolt-on) has more sustain. There have been many test done on this subject, and it's proven that you get more sustain from the bolt-ons. My only complain are the heels on them.


well when you're right you're right, that is a huge difference, lol. I remember when I got my set neck schecter not long ago, (pardon the dramaticism) I was like "Holy Sh!t!!!!" there wasn't just no heel to speak of, it was more like an inversion of one
#11
allright, I found mostly rubbish on the internet, but I've done a quick test with my electric, knocking on wood in places with the strings muted and on relativley high volume.

now my PUs are direct mounted, and I've heard a very distinct wooden resonance when I knocked, I believe that the screws that hold the PU in place vibrate with the wood, and therefore interrupt the magnetic field of the former. This could be why people say their PUs are more wooden sounding when DM-ed.

EDIT: To add on to my conclusion so far, I think the very reason different woods are used is because of their permeability (ability to let certain or all frequencies resonate more or less than the input vibration) - (this is a discovery to me cause all I knew up till this point was (do your favourite neanderthal impression) mahogany-good, vietnamese shitake oak-bad!) So because an electric is dense and the PU's are part of that electric body they too feel the resonation/vibration and translate it to the amp. whereas in a hollow-body the resonation material is air so this is why it sounds different.
Last edited by STorpedo at Sep 30, 2008,
#12
Yeah i think technology is allowing heels to be shaved down to the point that they are almost nonexistant. I'm not sure if that effects sustain or resonance at all but it is cool. My Les Paul practically has a block of wood around the 17th fret.
#13
Well, this is how one person explained it to me, and it sounds pretty good. I could be wrong and he admitted he's no expert, but it made sense when he was told this.

When you pluck the string, the energy of the string vibration is transferred to the body of the guitar at two points; the nut, and the bridge. The body itself then resonates (vibrates) and reflects that energy back at the strings, which in turn helps keep the strings vibrating (sustain). Because a neck-through is one solid piece of wood, there's no interruption between nut and bridge, the entire piece resonates and in turn helps keep the strings vibrating longer (sustain). Maximum energy travels through the body from both nut and bridge. With a bolt-on, there's a break in the wood. Granted, they may be screwed together tight, but energy is lost in both the steel bolts connecting the body to the neck, and break itself from one piece of wood to another. One way to compensate is to have a deep neck pocket, facilitating more wood to wood contact. Set-necks fall in between bolt-ons and neck-throughs because the contact between both neck and body is more "solid." There may still be some negligible energy loss in the glue joint, but the surface area (again with a deep neck pocket) and use of glue instead of the bolts helps maintain energy transfer from the nut/neck to the body, and back to the strings.

That's the way it was explained to me anyway. Tone was explained simply by the fact that different woods resonate differently and thus reflect the energy back at the strings differently, giving them that signature wood tone.

Best sounding one I've heard anyway. Again, I (and he) could be wrong.
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Last edited by Hakael at Sep 30, 2008,
#14
^all good apart from the fact that it's a myth that thru-necks have more sustain.

I'd assume this myth came about because most cheap guitars with crap sustain are bolt on and that's purely down to cost.
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Quote by element4433
Yeah. people, like Lemoninfluence, are hypocrites and should have all their opinions invalidated from here on out.
#15
I also have to disagree on the set neck front. The way i see it is direct wood to wood contact > wood - glue - wood contact. A set neck is a way of eliminating the heel without having to have a long piece of wood to make up the neck and body.

However, in my opinion the difference between the different neck joints would be so small that there would be minimal change in sustain or tone. So small, that you could barely notice.
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#16
I'v tried neck-thru guitar, sure they sustain more than bolt-on but between it and set or set-thru I couldn't feel if it was more or less, just somehow differently, in a good way.
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#17
Having gaps or things like glue and bolts inbetween the two woods loses sustain. Try to imagine waves of vibrations going down from the neck to the bridge, when it goes from wood to glue then to wood, it looks some vibrations in the glue.

Hope this helps somewhat.
#18
Direct mounted pickups will give you better resonance and sustain. If that is what you're looking for it's the way to go. Here is my new guitar and the pickup in the neck is attached to the neck.

Also, they don't have any play in them like in a conventional guitar.

It's a different thing but has its own sound.

#19
Quote by .arkness:.
However, in my opinion the difference between the different neck joints would be so small that there would be minimal change in sustain or tone. So small, that you could barely notice.

+1
One of the most acknowledged luthiers in Germany writes this on his homepage:
"A neck is mounted either firm and tight, or it's not. Period. It doesn't matter whether it's been done with glue or screws."

And seeing as the guy's guitars are some of the best I've ever come across, I trust his opinion.
#20
Quote by TheQuailman
+1
One of the most acknowledged luthiers in Germany writes this on his homepage:
"A neck is mounted either firm and tight, or it's not. Period. It doesn't matter whether it's been done with glue or screws."

And seeing as the guy's guitars are some of the best I've ever come across, I trust his opinion.


Thats seems to be the general opinion, that theres either no difference or its so small there might as well be no difference.

Neck types only really matter more for the heel, and repair
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#21
This can't be true, since pickups can pick up the sound of your voice.

Anyone know how this acutally works?
#22
Quote by Horlicks
This can't be true, since pickups can pick up the sound of your voice.

Anyone know how this acutally works?


My pick-ups dont. Neither do the three other guitars I've tested. But, I've seen paul gilbert do it at the end of "Get Out Of My Yard".
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#23
Well here is another variable. The more mass a guitar has the more it will sustain on its own (unplugged, without the help of high output pickups)...or so I believe and read. LP's are pretty heavy and are known for their sustain so I would say that theory is correct.

Anyways, when you look at a bolt on, a set neck and a neck-through theres one big difference. Where the neck pocket is, the place where the neck joins in with the body, a bolt on has the most amount of wood there. A set neck second and a neck-through the least. Now you can develop your own theories or opinions about this but I know that a lot of players that use bolt on's prefer their neck pocket to not be shaved down or cut at an angle cause they say it cuts down on their sustain. Gotta be some truth to that. Thats the way I see it.

I still think that a properly made bolt on is just as good as any set neck or neck through and its not a 'cheap method' by any means its just a preference. Just gotta make sure the neck is in there nice and snug and not have gaps like on cheaper guitars. Also the tone is different of course for a bolt on and some prefer it. Its not all about holding a note for 3 min, getting a coffee, coming back and finishing off the solo

Besides, and I always use this argument, one of the most anal players about his tone and guitars Eric Johnson uses a bolt on so you make your own decisions.
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#24
Quote by DSOTM80
Anyways, when you look at a bolt on, a set neck and a neck-through theres one big difference. Where the neck pocket is, the place where the neck joins in with the body, a bolt on has the most amount of wood there. A set neck second and a neck-through the least. Now you can develop your own theories or opinions about this but I know that a lot of players that use bolt on's prefer their neck pocket to not be shaved down or cut at an angle cause they say it cuts down on their sustain. Gotta be some truth to that. Thats the way I see it.

no there doesn't.

just because a lot of people say something doesn't mean it'd true. like when people say learning theory causes you to play like a robot with no emotion.
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Quote by element4433
Yeah. people, like Lemoninfluence, are hypocrites and should have all their opinions invalidated from here on out.
#25
Quote by Lemoninfluence
^all good apart from the fact that it's a myth that thru-necks have more sustain.

I'd assume this myth came about because most cheap guitars with crap sustain are bolt on and that's purely down to cost.


+1

the type of wood and hardware etc. will affect how the strings vibrate, which is then picked up by the pickups. at least that's how i understand it.
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#26
the more ridgid a guitar is the more sustain it will have..whats more of a solid structure>>>bolt on??..or neck through???....susatin is lost though dampening..its the same physics as the shocks (dampers for you across the pond) on a car///....you can add to the susatin by increasing mass to the guitar...especialy at the peg head...i once had an old dean that i hated..it was dead!..i added almost 2 lbs of solid steel to the peg head...incredible difference!!!...they used to sell metal plates that fit on the back of popular guitars peg heads.....
#27
OK, looking at it a bit more scientifically...

A tight neck pocket will give you the same effect whether it's bolt-on, set or neck through. The more neck wood in constant contact with the body, the more sustain pretty much.

Bolt ons are know for their brighter sound, I have no idea how to explain this, and the only thing I can come up with is there is more wood around the neck joint and more of the neck is in contact with the body further up the fretboard (compared to a lot of set neck and thru-neck designs. the heel is closer to the 14th fret rather than the 17th-20th-not at all). This may be doing something to the particular resonance of the guitar, changing it's timbre, probably absorbing some low end, but I have no idea about that one.

Pickups work simply because there is changing magnetic flux surrounding the copper pickup wire. Basically if you move a metal object near a pickup, it affects the magnetic field, and as the field passes over/through the copper conductor, a current is generated, which is your sound. More wire = higher voltage, less resistance, ability to carry through cables and other things. Less wires = lower voltage, higher resistance, which in active pickups' case you need a preamp to carry it through cables without loss. Thicker strings = more material to affect magnetic fields and vice versa.

Pickups couldn't pick up your voice unless something metallic was moving relative to the copper. If you vibrated the pole pieces, that'd generate a signal as long as the wire wasn't moving. Your voice should, in theory, be able to vibrate the strings enough for a signal to be generated, so that's a possibilty.
#30
So of course Eric Johnson uses bolt on necks. . . he uses Fender Strats. . . how many Set/neck-thru Fender Strats have you seen? That supports nothing really, just that he may compromise for the tone of a Fender. . . Aside from that, I think it is all just a matter of preference anyways. I prefer Set and Neck-thru, just easier to get the old hands around I guess, but I may be going wayward towards bolt-on's, I guess I just don't like them because they feel cheap.

Also, I don't see many mahogany bodies with bolt on necks. . . I hate basswood and alder, I've ruined a few guitars because they were made of that weak crap. . .
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Last edited by notsee at Sep 30, 2008,
#31
Quote by SenorSmiley
I love it when the "scientists" come out to discuss tone.


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#34
There was a pretty recent study done on this subject actually...

They found that in order of most sustain to least it went: bolt on > set neck > neck thru.

But the differences were actually not even enough to be able to be heard by human ears, so I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's more bridge style/quality of wood/magnetic pull from pickups that effects sustain more than the neck/body joint.
#35
There are so many factors that play a role in how well the guitar will sustain. The density of the wood, the type of bridge, mass of the guitar, pickups used, amp used, quality of cables, bolt on vs. neck through vs. set neck, guitar shape, string guage, construction, construction quality....

I do believe if you have 2 guitars built exactly the same, just one being neck through, and the other bolt on, the neck through one would have a slightly better sustain. Connecting 2 pieces of wood that aren't running the entire length of the guitar cannot carry a vibration as a 100% direct "connection" (well, them being all one piece) between the neck and the body. That being said, the difference is probably negligable.

Still then, the difference between a floyd rose, and a hardtail is a greater influence.

2 different slabs of mahogany are going to be different, the xylem and phloem aren't going to be in the same pattern, the wood is just going to be slightly different. And different wood species are going to be hugely different.

Higher output pickups will send a larger signal to your amp, also picking up the string vibration longer, thus "sustaining" more. And then you have the string to pickup height comparison. If the pickups are too close then they will choke the strings, while if too far away will not have enough output.
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#36
Quote by notsee
So of course Eric Johnson uses bolt on necks. . . he uses Fender Strats. . . how many Set/neck-thru Fender Strats have you seen? That supports nothing really, just that he may compromise for the tone of a Fender. . . Aside from that, I think it is all just a matter of preference anyways. I prefer Set and Neck-thru, just easier to get the old hands around I guess, but I may be going wayward towards bolt-on's, I guess I just don't like them because they feel cheap.

Also, I don't see many mahogany bodies with bolt on necks. . . I hate basswood and alder, I've ruined a few guitars because they were made of that weak crap. . .


While basswood is a soft wood, I wouldn't call it weak and neither is alder. Maybe you need a guitar made out of titanium to handle your abuse but I really doubt you'd 'ruin' guitars made out of both those woods if you played them properly. If you abused them then thats your fault, not the wood.
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#37
Quote by Horlicks
This can't be true, since pickups can pick up the sound of your voice.

Anyone know how this acutally works?


Pickups can't necessarily pick up your voice. When you sing into the pickup, the aim is to make the strings vibrate with the sound of your voice, which then the pickups DO pick up. If you mute/hold the strings down when singing into the pickups, nothing will happen. but if you make sure you're not touching any of the strings, when you hit cirtain frequencies with your voice it'll cause some of the strings to start vibrating.
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Last edited by Hakael at Oct 1, 2008,
#38
Quote by DSOTM80
While basswood is a soft wood, I wouldn't call it weak and neither is alder. Maybe you need a guitar made out of titanium to handle your abuse but I really doubt you'd 'ruin' guitars made out of both those woods if you played them properly. If you abused them then thats your fault, not the wood.


It doesn't happen during home practice, always during shows. . . . though they do also tend to ding easily. Haha, my Ibanez RG-570 died when my strap lock system let go of it when I was swinging it over my shoulder. . . . Maybe I just have high standards for guitars. . . I realize the bass response is supposed to be better on basswood and alder, probably due to the level of density as opposed to mahogany. I can admit honestly I use and abuse, and for anything more than 200$ on a guitar, I expect it to take it.

As for the subject, I really believe that Neck-thru's and set neck's are definitely better than Bolt-on. Although with active pickup's it doesn't really matter what neck you have or what wood the guitar itself is made from. Active pickup's kinda cancel out anything else about the guitar.
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#39
^^ Well see you try and swing your guitar over your shoulder

..and true about actives more or less canceling out the character of a guitar, although I'm curious about the 18v mod and wanna try it out.
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