Acoustic Guitar Anatomy

Even in the 21st century some still make guitars out of wood, claiming wood gives the best sound. Unfortunately, there is nothing the general consumer can do except to obey and try to find the least bad option at the least bad price.

Acoustic Guitar Anatomy
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Even in the 21st century some still make guitars out of wood, claiming wood gives the best sound. Unfortunately, there is nothing the general consumer can do except to obey and try to find the least bad option at the least bad price. The wood goes by a few important parameters: hardness, density, even spread of wood fibers, size of wood pores. Hardness and Density: Hardness is the most important parameter and shows how hard the wood is. A measure for hardness of wood is accepted to be the Janka test which is well described in Wikipedia. The density of the wood is directly connected with the hardness measured by the Janka test but is a different parameter because hardness of wood may also mean how hard a different "rope" of wood with, theoretically, 0 diameter and infinite length is whereas the density would mean how many of these ropes there are per cubic meter. In other words, if there are 100 sticks of copper, each of them with 1cm diameter and 1m length and 100 sticks of iron with the same size, when each of these two sets of metal are put together, the density of the two sets is the same: each contains 100 sticks with exactly the same size, but the hardness is better with the iron set because of the strength property of the iron. However, if a set of 2 sticks of metal are compared with a set of 100 sticks of copper and if these two sets are compressed to form the same shape of, say, two cylinders with equal sizes, then the strength (the hardness in more global sense) of the copper set is higher because of the higher density of the copper cylinder. However, if the Janka test is applied, this will not be shown and the result of the Janka test would be to show the hardness of the material copper versus the hardness of the material iron rather than evaluating the two cylinders. Thus Janka test would mainly measure the hardness of a given type of wood, rather than the strength. However, the strength and hardness are related with the density of the wood fiber making the difference. Hence Janka test is good enough for most applications. For others, the best way to go is to apply the knowledge and experience from metallurgy into wood assessment and the various tests they perform to evaluate a given type of metal or alloy: these are tests of bending, shearing and twisting, stretching and so on and so forth. These would mainly be important for guitar neck manufacturing. Pores: The imperfections of the silicon or silicon oxide materials are an imperative limitation in the semiconductor industry. So are pores in wood. Not exactly for guitar manufacturing, though. Pores are holes or bubbles inside the wood. Guitar manufacturers claim pores prevent attenuation, absorption and filtering of the bass frequencies. Pores must not be mistaken with wood knots. Knots are highly undesirable in most any wood application and must not exist in wood material used for guitars at all. Even spread of wood fibers and pores: Unlike metal, wood is not made out of the same atomic combinations evenly spread all over the place, giving one monolithic chunk of material (chunk of junk) but, rather, wood is made out of different parts, fibers, which go from a place to a place with others going from another place to another place all of them connected to one another by a gluing force of "connecting" wood or by tangling or, kinda, pressing these wood fibers together. Hence the wooden needles which go into carpenters skin and hands. Hence the chisel work along the fibers in one direction only. Guitars can be made out of solid wood or ply wood. Solid wood guitars would have thin veneers of real wood bend and cut in the desired shape why the plywood guitars would have veneers of plywood which are made out of pressed saw dust with, in some cases, epoxy resin or synthetic glue added to the saw dust. The quality of the plywood guitars depends on the wood from which the saw dust has come as well as the technology of pressing and manufacturing which would result in different density and size of pores. As a gross generalization, plywood guitars cannot perform as well as their full wood counterparts. Some claim otherwise on sound of tones and resistance to dryness. As far as the parameters of wood and their reflection on sound goes, the harder the wood the better the high frequencies. The bigger the pores and the more the pores the better the low frequencies with a tiny negative reflection on the high frequencies. The higher the density the better the high frequencies. Thus, there are two basic types of wood used: low frequency wood which gives a better low frequency performance and high frequency wood which gives a better high frequency performance. Some guitar manufacturers prefer to use one single type of wood which gives the best performance for the two sets of frequencies others simply prefer to use different types of wood. The single type wood method would give a better performance but these types of wood are, usually, extremely expensive and exotic, in some cases, outlawed for harvesting in some countries. Combination of low frequency and high frequency woods would be the most used method for manufacturing of inexpensive guitars. Usually, the manufacturers would put the low frequency wood as the tone wood of the body (the one which goes at the back) because, to get a good base notes out of a guitar is much more difficult, hence the most important reflector is made out of low frequency wood. The manufacturers would put the high frequency wood as a top wood on the front side of the body where the hole is. The sides of the body would be made out of the low frequency wood to boost the bass performance. The neck would usually be made out of hard wood to avoid breaking, although, these days, the manufacturers would put a truss rod on every acoustic guitar, thus some fluctuation of this rule can be used in order to improve the sound performance although the neck, the head and the finger board are not supposed to affect the quality of the sound. Generally, they would put inexpensive wood for neck wood on truss powered guitars. There is no way around and the fingerboard must be made of hard wood to assure mechanical stability. Some, usually the manufacturers of the least expensive guitars, would not put fingerboards at all but would bang the frets into the neck directly. Not a big deal but the fingerboard can be changed once in a while and is less expensive than the whole neck. Then, when the neck is made out of inexpensive wood, how expensive would the neck be? Shouldn't. Then why would one want to rebuild an inexpensive guitar, why wouldn't one get a new one once every a lot of years. The head must be strong enough to bear the pressure of the strings. The best, the head must be a continuation of the neck, made out of the same piece of wood. I've never seen assembleable heads although I wouldn't be surprised to see. Better be metal. The design of the head is rather important for the strength thereof. The strongest heads would be these where the axle of each of the tuning machines goes through a hole in the head perpendicular to the head plate. Other heads have two cutouts for the axles to go through parallel to the head plate. These aren't strong enough. Some would prefer these because the string goes down and cannot easily jump out of the groove of the nut. This can be compensated with making the head go back as compared to the neck and placing the thinnest string the most to the top of the head thus to the back. Some use string lockers at the nut, mainly for electrical guitars. Haven't seen lockers on acoustic yet. Also, each string must be wound over the axle in such a way as to make the string go as low as possible and as straight into the grove of the nut as possible. I.E. the 3D navigation of the string must go straight into the grove from as low point as possible. And must be approved by NASA and the US Air Force. The machines are not so important but people have made a science out of them. This is because the machines may not hold the tuning very well for a long while. Mainly important for concert performers. There are two types of tuning machines: open and closed. Closed machines look like Lamborghini's transmission. They have a cover over. Preferred option these days because they are dust and dirt proof as well as stronger because of the mechanical protection provided by the cover. The open machines have one great advantage, though: The screw which keeps the gear to the axle can easily be tightened up whenever one wants as opposed to having to unscrew the 4 or 8 or more screws of the cover with a special tiny watchmaker's precision screw driver to gain access to the axle gear screw which must be tightened as much as possible to keep the string in tune yet the axle has to be able to rotate in order to allow for a possibility for to perform a tuning technique on each string. Funny, eh! As far as the material goes, a good consideration is to use material only from the best age of the wood. Planks can be cut in parallel to the imaginary axle of the stem. The deeper to the center they are cut from, the older the wood. Different age of wood has different qualities. Careful selection may gain some results in the sound of the guitar. Unlikely to have ever been carried out nor any research to have been done. Wood aging plays a significant role in sound. This is also known as wood opening. One needs to wait for the wood to age to open to provide a better sound. This aging factor makes a selection very difficult because no one knows how a given type of wood would sound like in 10 years in order to be able to select now. As a gross generalization, the unscientific scientific approach says: if the wood sounds good now, the wood would sound more good in a 10 years even better in 100 and 1000. The idea of the guitar body is to provide sound reflection, called resonation, by internal sound concentration. The guitar body is a passive object, I.E. the guitar body does not amplify the sound but rather concentrates and focuses the sound in order to project the result through the guitar hole in a direction towards the audience. Thus the guitar body would conform to the general scientific principles and parameters such as frequency response and volume. A very important consideration in sound concentration, is the fact the hard materials REFLECT sound and the soft materials ABSORB sound. There is no way to avoid this basic rule of physics. Thus, regardless of what the sound buffs say, the harder the wood, the greater the density and the tinier the pores, the stronger the sound. Also, the greater the thickness, the stronger the sound. Hence, high thickness hard wood guitars would be preferable. Marble guitars would be the best, as well as metal guitars, but marble guitars are not manufactured due to the high cost and the difficult manufacturing process as well as the weight of the final product. Obviously, diamond guitars would be the best because diamond is the hardest material but there is no such a huge diamond to be able to cut the necessary shape unless the diamond is synthetic, even though may not be possible. Another consideration is the assembly of the different plates of the body: the tone wood, the top wood and the side wood. The best, the body would be monolithic, drilled into with machines. Manufacturers do not make this also because the manual precision drilling is difficult and take a long while and is very imperfect yet resulting in a bad tone and machines either do not exist or no one wants to use them mainly because of the price and the low speed of manufacturing. Monolithic body would have different age of the same wood all over the place as well as different seasons. Even distribution with differently aged parts of the tree is an important consideration as well unless the planks are cut vertically and not horizontally. Then some may argue the orientation of the cut is also of importance. More complicated, within every age part of the wood, sub parts which grew in the spring would have different parameters than these which grew in the summer mainly as far as the pores are concerned. An important consideration is the selection or the quality of the selected piece of wood out of a given type. There are very many parameters which affect the actual tree of a given type: environment, climate, minerals, water, etcetera. Hence, just to say a guitar is made out of a given type of wood doesn't say much. The important thing is the quality of this wood. Hence the guitars manufactured in China are low quality regardless of what they are made out of because the Chinese manufacturers would select the lousiest wood possible out of a given type to try to save every penny for materials. And because the consumers in the US and Canada are either stupid or do not have information, the consumers go by features rather than by how stuff is made. Hence they purchase lousy products just because the features are better. As a consequence, a Chinese guitar made out of the best wood or sets of wood may be even worse than a paper guitar someone made in the basement. Another example would be: a Chinese V8 car would definitely be worse than a Japanese V6. The features and parameters may be better BUT what's the point of having a car at all which would break one hour after purchase, even, on occasion, before the few seconds to reach 100km have elapsed. As a gross generalization, the quality of the used wood cannot be generalized upon very much. Thus, the principle "Each plank is different" applies to an extent. Scientific research can be carried out and would give some results, though measurement of the parameters of each individual piece, being a plank or a veneer or the neck half cylinder may give better results. Yet, one must remember, these parameters will change in the future. Thus, the engineering, the design of the guitar may prove to be more important than the material. Here is a quick reference of the types of woods used for guitar manufacturing:
  • Mahogany: hard, high density, large pores. Ideal for a single wood design. Combines the requirements for high and low frequencies. Extremely expensive. Dubbed "Black Gold" same as oil.
  • Ebony: harder, high density, some size pores, not as big as mahogany, and oilier before dry. Oily pores filter sound. Even more expensive.
  • Rosewood: hard, high density, some size pores, oilier before dry. Expensive, yet not as expensive as mahogany and ebony.
  • Swamp Ash: hard and soft layers with large pores.
  • Maple: hard. Inexpensive. Preferable for inexpensive models.
  • Walnut: hard with large pores. May filter some frequencies. Inexpensive.
  • Spruce: soft but high density. High frequency wood. Inexpensive.
  • Others: Alder, Koa, Basswood, Korina, Lacewood, Wenge, Pao Ferro, etcetera. There are other hard woods even harder than ebony but these are impossibly expensive or protected by law. The hardest wood in the world is the bull oak which grows in Australia and is protected for conservation purposes as well as for conservation of some endangered birds which prefer to nest on this tree. Most likely, the most expensive guitar as far as the material goes is the guitar fully made of ebony. These guitars are extremely expensive and often offered as a custom option by some of the large manufacturers. Just the material for the neck of the guitar may reach price of more than $200. Thus the price of the materials of an ebony guitar may as well be in excess of $300. When you add manufacturing and distribution cost, the price may exceed $500. When you put the standard 10 fold for a hefty profit, these guitars would exceed $5000. Some sell for much more because of fashion, name, model, signature by a famous guitar player such as Eric Clapton for example and so on, so I would not be surprised to see ebony guitars sold for $6000 to $10000 even more. When made in limited quantities and are to be sold to famous rock stars only, these may exceed $20000. Generally, a good idea is to use full mahogany guitars. Some put spruce as a top wood while everything else is mahogany except the rosewood fingerboard. The addition of the spruce top reduces the price. The manufacturers may claim they would mix mahogany and spruce to get all frequencies. Some may claim they would use rosewood fingerboards because rosewood is hard. For those around the spruce: there are three types of spruce used for top wood mainly: Sitka, Engelmann and Adirondack. Sitka is the most used and the least expensive. Adirondack is the most expensive of the three. Here is an excellent article on the spruce tops. And here is an interesting article for all woods used in a guitar. Here are some design consideration: Material wise: The whole guitar better be made out of full wood and not out of plywood. The body must be as large as possible to produce a good sound reflection yet possible to be played on. Thus a body with straight shoulders would give more sound as well as a body with oval tone wood. A cut out on the body under the neck improves the playing ability with only negligible decrease in volume of the sound. This is more expensive to manufacture hence the manufacturers stay away from this option. Cut out option is available in only the more expensive models. The material must be as thick as possible although excessive thickness may affect the low frequencies, most likely, negligibly. Yet the thick material may add extra weight which is not desirable although bearable. As far as the principle of sound concentration is concerned a spherical body would give the best results but these would be very difficult to play on. The neck must be made out of hard wood. Still, truss rod is necessary for aging bending prevention and not for tenability. Tiny tuning of the action ( distance between the strings and the fingerboard ) may be possible but is highly undesirable because this loads the neck and acts on the gluing point between the neck and the body. Bad news is most of the manufacturers still glue the neck to the body as opposed to the better way of screwing. Also, neck bending affects the intonation: the tuning of every fret. The head must be very strong and strongly supported onto the neck. Thus to use a single piece of wood for the neck and the head is advisable. Ideally, the truss rod would go all the way through the head and even the body but the manufacturers do not consider this to be necessary because the bending of the head is a slow process and does not affect the performance because the effect of bending can be compensated with tuning. For a good strength, the truss rod must be positioned tightly into the neck hole and not to be able to move inside. Most likely, no manufacturer would use such a design because they do not care and rely on the bolt strength and because they want to introduce some kinda tuneability of the neck angle by variation of the bolt tightness. The fingerboard must be made out of the hardest wood possible. Some consider the neck and the fingerboard to have an effect on the sound. May be negligible. Usually, rosewood has been decided to be used with ebony for the more expensive models. After all, the frets bear the wear and to change the fret board is not so expensive. Some inexpensive models do not have fret boards and the frets are banged into the neck directly. Cannot be changed nor readjusted. I am a great fan of a full mahogany guitar would be nice, even the fingerboard. The bridge must be made out of hard wood, ebony is preferable, rose wood and mahogany are often used. Ideally, the bridge must be screwed into the top but most of the guitar manufacturers rely on glue. The saddle and the nut are usually made out of synthetic plastic with bone nuts and saddles for the expensive models. Ivory is no longer allowed to be used. If there was a way to ensure ivory was derived from naturally dead elephants, then there would not be a problem to use these. However, to ensure fair trade is almost if not impossible thus ivory better be disallowed. Mechanical: The guitar manufacturers are afraid from machine and wood screws like a vampire from silver bullet. They believe the screws and nuts would loosen up and vibrate. How stupid of them. The guitar would rather disintegrate than the screws and bolts and nuts loosen up. I do not know what screws, nuts and bolts there were during Stradivarius era but these components are extremely reliable now and, probably, much more reliable than any wood and glue in the whole guitar. A metal frame (titanium alloys or dural) for the body was going to be nice but the manufacturers do not want to use this idea. They are afraid from metal too like a vampire from a metal crucifix too. A suspended to the bottom of the body, metal string attachment and a movable wooden (or metal) saddle is a better option but only a few manufacturers do so. Movable bridges allow for a better intonation as well as action adjustments. Manufacturers may be afraid again from vibrations. With the strength of the tuned strings upon the saddle? Fully adjustable bridges, similar to the ones of the electric guitars are not available with the acoustic guitars. Unknown why. Generally, there aren't very many choices with the acoustic guitars except for the materials, the availability of truss rod and fingerboard and the width of the neck. There are a few sizes of frets with the electric guitars. The thicker the frets and the more oval (jumbo frets) the easier for solos and the more difficult for chords and vice versa. Acoustic guitars would not offer much of a choice in fret sizes. The position of the frets on the fingerboard defines the intonation of the guitar: how accurate the corresponding tone to every position is. There is a very accurate theoretical physics formula which tells how long a give string with a given diameter and a given tension should be to produce a given tone. Thus the theoretical position of every fret is 100% defined. However, the action of the guitar (the height of the string above the fret) requires extra tension to be applied at the string thus a fret compensation which depends on the action which is adjustable as well as the size and type of the string as well as the length of the neck. Since strings are chosen by the customer as well as the action can be slightly tuned by the truss bolts, the manufacturer has no way to compensate for the applied tension due to action and string type. As far as the action is concerned, the manufacturers would usually specify something like: 2mm height of the thick string and 3mm height of the thin string at 12th fret with 1mm of the thick string at the 1st fret. No manufacturer I know of specifies the strings. Manufacturers use the desire of the customer for a choice to avoid the guarantee of the accuracy of the guitar. Old trick. I've used this trick as well for instrumentation. A real manufacturer should say something like: the intonation of this guitar is 100% guaranteed with this action and this set of strings. Keep waiting... The length of the neck is another important consideration. The longer the neck the more frets but the more the string tension because the longer the string the lower the sound at a given tension thus tension must be increased. The increased tension, however, can be compensated with thinner strings which would require a lower tension to play a given tone at a given length. The thinner the string the higher the tone. Thus, looks like, the longer the neck the better. Not exactly. The longer the neck the more difficult to play. Thus, regardless of the neck length and the position of the bridge and the design of the shoulders and the body: the closer the 1st fret to the body of the player (not necessarily to the guitar player) the better. Thus people with long hands as for example John McEnroe can choose long necks if they so desire. As far as the design is concerned, one must look at this shopping guide: 1. Materials 2. Truss Rod 3. Size of Neck: Classical guitars have wider necks which can go as wide as 5" or 12 to 13cm but the acoustic guitars have narrow neck similar to the electric guitars and there isn't much of a choice. Length of the neck allows for more fret positions but requires more tension to be applied at every string which may not be a problem with thin strings now available. 4. Action: the distance between the strings and the neck. This is probably the most important parameter which, at the 12th fret, should be approximately 3mm for the thin strings and 2mm for the thick. More than this becomes difficult to play and even this is a lot. The playability depends on the strings as well as on the length of the neck: longer and thicker strings require more tension hence more strength to press but allow for a lower action without fret buzz which, to some extent, compensates for the required extra strength. Light strings as well as nylon strings require low strength. 5. Intonation: although to provide the non adjustable acoustic guitar with a perfect intonation is a must for the manufacturer, most do not. 6. Are the strings parallel to the long sides of the neck or there is more room at the end and is there more distance between the first string and the side of the neck at any fret than between the 6th string and the opposite side of the neck at the same fret. I.E. are the strings in the middle of the neck? 7. Is there enough room from each end strings (1st and 6th) to the side of the neck or the string would roll out easily. 8. Is the spacing between the strings even? 9. Are the cuts on the nut and the saddle even? 10. Most importantly: Are the holes for the strings at the bridge evenly spaced? 11. Are there any scratches on the neck, body under the strings or the pick protector on the body? Has the guitar been played or the guitar is brand new, manufacturer sealed? Has the guitar been tuned by the shop or the tuning is original by the manufacturer? Are there any scratches or dents on the body or throughout the whole guitar, has the guitar been "on the wall"? Are there any scratches, shiny parts on the frets? 12. Is there any fret buzz? Be aware, this may be because of the strings. 13. Where is the guitar made? If in China, be aware: there is most likely poor design, manufacturing, materials. 14. Are the machines covered? Are they loose? If yes, can they be easily tightened up? 15. Are the knobs on the machines and the axels casted out of the same metal or the knobs are somehow attached? If attached, what are they made out of? Metal (OK) or plastic (bad)? 16. Are the strap hooks stable? 17. Are the body plates unglued? Is the neck unglued from the body plate? The sales representatives may try to pull the "truss rod tuning method" on the customers. Be aware: this type of tuning is undesirable and may be damaging in a long or not so long terms. Make sure the factory adjusted truss rod provides perfect action and intonation. Price: This is the most difficult topic as far as the choice is concerned. As a conclusion: Good materials are good to have but these do not make a SIGNIFICANT difference as far as the sound goes. A simple $40 Chinese pine guitar and a mahogany / spruce $120 Epiphone sound the same as a $3000 Martin. The same difference. And the Martin body is bigger. I am not talking of a Martin Backpacker. But WE ALL PAY FOR THE MATERIALS, DO WE NOT. I could not care less whether a Texan red neck working for Fender in the Great State of Arizona can feed them children. We all have children, do we not? Shall I mention the douchebags of Gibson in the center of Country Music, the fabulous state of Tennessee? Look at the design: wideness of neck, length of neck, action, fret size, intonation, truss rod availability, adjustability, straightness of the neck, strength And remember: when I make mistakes, this is not the guitar to blame, this is the guitar player! Enough typing for now, though. By Steven Stanley Bayes Steven-Stanley-Bayes.com
  • 29 comments sorted by best / new / date

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      shreddymcshred
      "Good materials are good to have but these do not make a SIGNIFICANT difference as far as the sound goes. A simple $40 Chinese pine guitar and a mahogany / spruce $120 Epiphone sound the same as a $3000 Martin." lol wut
      sonofgkex
      If he actually thinks this then he's retarded. I'm a guy with a $3000 Martin. You can tell when you are playing crap guitars. They don't sound the same, trust me. His check list is generally good tho. He sounds bitter toward those who can afford nice guitars. This is nothing new.
      jerryo
      who the **** is this guy?!?! I can't afford a 9,000 dollar martin but if I had the expendable funds I would have one! There's no ****ing comparison dude!! You can wank on your 40$ guitar made of whatever and I'll continue saving for the really good sounding guitar that sounds like a great acoustic should!!!
      Steven Bayes
      Keep saving but, better use the money wisely... because there ain't gonna be no significant difference, like all acoustic and tones are!
      Dimarzio45
      Clearly the guitarists have spoken. That's why these companies are still going; they have a reputation. I hope you don't say the same about electric guitars...
      Steven Bayes
      I think, other than the mechanical stability, the materials do not make enormously huge difference with electrical guitars too. However, I AGREE with this : because the electric guitars do NOT have a sound concentrator ( resonator ) the sound would depend on the wood less insignificantly. Also, there is no such a strong feedback from the "resonator" to the strings. When a string is played, the sound from the guitar body ( concentrator, resonator ) reflects back on the string, creating a feedback ( positive, generating, rather than stabilising ), in other words, the string gets engaged by the sound made by the same string when previously engaged by the player. Now, everything depends on the musicians : some would be happy with stronger string body resonance, others may be less happy.
      Steven Bayes
      Obviously, the sound of the electric guitar depends mostly on the hum buckers, coils, electrical signal amplification, effects, etcetera.
      Dimarzio45
      AT LEAST agree with me on the idea that a Jumbo body sounds different than a cutaway. Other than volume differences...
      Steven Bayes
      I agree with you. The volume is one side but the stronger volume of inaudible with cutaway harmonics is true. Another portion may be the shape as well as the non linearity rule, i. e. not all harmonics may be made equally stronger with changes in shape and size.
      shreddymcshred
      Also, it would be nice to have sources for your scientific info because you have a lot of "facts" and opinions here and sometimes it's hard to tell which is which.
      Dimarzio45
      You're extremely misguided on the perception of guitarists. You seem to lump everyone together as if all guitarists think, feel, play, and know the same thing. This is how it truly is: 1. YOUR favorite rock star played a guitar and misguided YOU. 2. YOU think all guitarists want to show themselves off 3. YOU think guitarists buy guitars to get women. 4. YOU were told by NY Philharmony or similar personality that differences were small and you took that for face value. If you crawl out of the hole you live in and actually talk to people about the concept of prices and manufacturing, most actually DO understand what is going on. Do you see what I'm getting at here? Get over yourself. Maybe you have just a terrible ear. I hear the differences and many other guitarists do too. A deep understanding of how guitars are produced, sold and priced doesn't mean a damn thing when it comes to tonal differences. That was my original point: TONAL DIFFERENCES. Not pricing. You're clearly stuck up your own ass since you seem to completely stray from the topic just to hear yourself rant a little more about the industry and how unfair it is. We ALL know that.
      Steven Bayes
      But you do not seem to know what you are taliking: 1. I do NOT play the guitar a favourite rock star has played. I choose the guitar I want regardless of who played what. 2. All or most guitarists want to show themselves off. 3. ALL guitarists get guitars to get women. 4. An NY Ph musician would never say there is a lack of significant tonal difference because they are afraid they may be fired. I not only TALK to people and not only LISTEN. I think what they say, whether what they say is true and, if a lie, why do they lie if there may be a logical reason because, on occasion, there isn't. I ANALYSE. I also test and hear. What I do NOT do is to do a bit more engineering tests because I do not want to. This is why I leave the tests to YOU. I also do NOT bark. I leave barking to you too. I also do NOT have obsessions and dellusions. Not on guitars. But YOU are the one who does, unless you test and post results. You are the one who blames. You prove you blames. I don't need to prove nothing because I just say what the things are. Those who blame one in lieing must prove one has been lieing and not the other way around. If you know how unfair the industry is, how come you don't know there isn't any SIGNIFICANT TONAL QUALITY DIFFERENCE between expensive and inexpensive guitars or amongst all guitars. If I don't hear, then you must be hearing voices or tonal differences!
      Dimarzio45
      I agree that they are d-bags for charging what they do. I also agree they are simple products in terms of manufacturing. However, you are downright wrong when it comes to different types of wood being insignificant for producing different tonal qualities. You can't just say "wood is defined as non sound absorbing material' therefore, it makes no difference what wood it is." Yes, the rule of physics makes it SEEM that simple. But not for tonal qualities. Density of the wood creates these differences. How bout this: Since building a guitar is such an elementary concept, please build one out of cardboard, balsa wood or, hell, chip board. Do that and post some sound bytes.
      Dimarzio45
      "I could not care less whether a Texan red neck working for Fender in the Great State of Arizona can feed them children. We all have children, do we not?" - Heh, NO. The author isn't going to make many friends around here calling Gibson Douchebags either. lol It's not a bad article though. There's a lot on the list that I go through when I'm considering a new addition to my collection. However, I DO have to say, especially when it comes to acoustics, you get what you pay for. You can get luckIER with electrics. But, acoustics are a bit tougher to find cheap AND good quality.
      Steven Bayes
      Trying to reply to all so far : I am not interested in making friends neither with Fender nor with Gibson, nor with Martin. These are enemies and not friends, mainly considering their prices and values. I will say again : there isn't significant difference in sound as far as the materials go. One can play a guitar made out of 2 by 4's, there would not be difference. Again : a $3000 Martin sounds just the same as a $40 guitar. This comes from a basic rule of physics : any non sound absorbing material can concentrate the sound. Wood is a non absorbing material and reflects the sound. The variations among different types of wood is INSIGNIFICANT. One can make a guitar even out of cardboard and this guitar would sound just as good as a $3000 Martin. May as well sound even better. Appologies : not only Gibson but EVERYONE who spends $300 on materials and sells a guitar for $3000 is a douchebag. Martin doesn't spend even $300, most likely. What does this make Martin? Douche septic holes? GUITARS ARE ELEMENTARY AND SIMPLE PRODUCTS. ANYONE CAN MAKE THEM IN THEIR BACKYARDS AND GARAGES. EVEN STRADIVARIUS 300 YEARS AGO. PEOPLE WERE MAKING SIMILAR INSTRUMENTS THOUSANDS, EVEN MILIONS OF YEARS AGO. I WOULDN'T BE SUPRISED IF THE DINOSAURS WERE MAKING GUITARS TOO. MAY PROVE TO BE EVEN BETTER THAN MARTIN, GIBSON AND FENDER. The problem is y'all look at guitars as fetishes. Guitars are simpler to make than even changing a car battery.
      theSman727
      you are magnificently stupid. go to guitar center, play a cheap ass guitar, then play a martin. martin handmakes all there guitars with minimal machinery. there is almost no automated machinery in the entire factory.
      Steven Bayes
      I already did. I've already posted a lot of comments and comments of comments in another place in Ultimate Guitar, the article called " Holding the Pick ". I would like to suggest a very simple, non scientific experiment : Find a guitar NON enthusiast who has a perfect musical hearing, for example, a piano player ( as long as we don't find a drummer for the experiment ). Blind fold the person. Play a few guitar without telling which is which. Ask for the opinion as well as ask, although not very possible to answer, what the difference among the different guitars is : huge, medium, not a bit, a bit. This simple experiment can shine a bit more light and I can be a bit more enlightened.
      Steven Bayes
      Please, note : I went to a guitar shop yesterday and played a Fender acoustic priced at $400 to $500. I didn't read the number but I did not find any different sound qualities then in any other guitar.
      Dimarzio45
      The only thing I WILL say that meets half way with you is that there clearly is a monopoly on guitars just as there is with gas/oil.
      Steven Bayes
      A bit different, though. Gas is made out of petrol which comes from the Near East and is not available in the necessary quantities in any other country except Russia and some of the former Soviet Union republics whereas guitars are made out of variety of wood which is either available in many countries and places or is available in the country manufacturer. Exception are some exotic woods for high profile guitars. Thus, there is no reason why one should sit down, drink a beer and while drinking, press a button of the computer controlled, fully automatic wood cutting and processing machine and have a few tens of guitars before drinking the whole beer AND put such a huge price while using largely available wood.
      Steven Bayes
      3. Your favourite rock star played this guitar and them companies are using this for advertisement and to attract you. I did the same trick selling an antique vehicle shown in a Tom Cruize car movie. 4. Yall wanna show yourselves off. 5. Yall wanna get girls with yalls guitar ownership. I SEEM TO AGREE WITH THIS POINT, THOUGH. If, married, however, the effect is totally difficult. Remember, most of yalls wives also have guns! 6. A top professional musician from NY Philharmony told you there is a significant sound difference and you believe so. The musician told you so because the job of the musician was to hear well and even the tiny difference either truly sounds significant to the musician or the musician tries to keep the reputation. 7. Lack of information makes people get the most expensive believing the more expensive the better. Not true in most applications. Usually, the more expensive the more thirsty the heatseekers are. 8. Yall dont understand the concept of unfair prices and live in an idolized world. 9.
      Steven Bayes
      In regards to the wife joke : the person who commented has been in bed for a long while with the wife and a guitar.
      Steven Bayes
      In addition to the article, here is an addendum explaining better what pores of wood are. Mentioned was the wood is made out of fibers. The thinner these fibers and the more compressed, the higher the density and the higher the smoothness. If one saws a piece of wood perpendicular to the fibers and looks at the cuts, one may visualize the fibers like when one looks at a multi wire cable. Each hole or fiber in this cut is called a pore. The even spread of the pores, along with size and compression, contributes to the density and strength but, also, the tinier the pores and the more compressed and the more evenly spread, the drier the wood because there aint no room for the water. However, there aint no oxygen too. Some people say the size and the even spread of pores affect the sound and the bigger the pores and the larger the size, the more base and the less treble.
      Steven Bayes
      If I were to do a few hours of work and if I were to purchase some basic tools which, I agree, are very inexpensive, I would build a guitar even from mud or clay. You are right to say wood is different and reflects the tonal quality. However, I do NOT agree the difference is significant or big enough to say "Playing this guitar out of this wood is a totally different story. Like driving a Lamborghini as opposed to KIA." This is because the power and the a Lamborghini is 5 to 10 fold bigger than this of KIA. With guitars, the tonal quality difference is neither this much significant nor significant nor big at all but, I've never disagreed, there a tiny one. Although cardboard is not a very good noise reflector and is rather a noise absorber and suppressor, even a cardboard guitar would work and give some sound. As far as the sound qualities go, there are two important parameters to consider : volume and frequency spectrum ( overtones ) of each note. You can do yourself a simple, although not accurate experiment : get an inexpensive guitar ( pine ) and an expensive one ( ebony or as close as you can ). Get a Fourier Spectrum Analysis software. These are supposed to be available on the web for free. Place a microphone with somewhat good quality ( 20Hz to 20KHz ) at a few distances near the hole. Measure a few notes ( base, middle, treble ) at each distance. Measure the same notes the same distances the same way with the other guitar. Compare the two spectrums of the two guitars of each note. If you see more than 25% difference for more than 66% of the frequencies of overtones and the main tone of more than 50% tested notes in a given range ( base, middle, treble ), I would agree with you ALTHOUGH THIS TEST IS INACCURATE. For accurate testing, high quality microphones and humbuckers and equipment as well as sound proof studio may be necessary. The fetishism and idolisation of wood for guitars comes from many factors : 1. Violins have a tiny sound resonator and thus a higher dependency on material. Guitars have huge resonators as opposed to the violins hence they are not so much dependent on the material. People have been talking a lot of violins and they have decided to transfer the same criteria on guitars. 2. The manufacturers want to take y'all's money. In order to do so, they use marketing tricks ( which I have also used for other products ) to dilute y'all's opinion and make you give a huge profit margin which is not linearly spread with the price. This is : if a guitar costs $20 to manufacture and transport, the manufacturers and the shops may as well sell this guitar for $40 thus making $20. If the guitar costs $500 to make, mainly because of materials, the manufacturers and shops would sell for $5000 thus making $4500 profit. In order to make y'all give them so much, they lie to you on tonal qualities and other parameters. The shops usually make a tiny profit with most going to the manufacturers. In other words THE PRICES ARE UNFAIR and, in order to make you spend this money on unfair prices, they lie to you. IF Y'ALL WANNA FIND OUT WHAT THE FAIR PRICE OF A GIVEN GUITAR IS, you must look at the price of the material, labour, machinery, building, price of land, transportation, distribution, etcetera. For example, a board foot ( 1" by 3' by 1' )of ebony costs $75. You need, say, 4 BF for the neck, and say 2 BF for the body. Say even more. 8 BF for the whole guitar. Thus, you have $600 of wood. The machines are for multi use in high volumes and are inexpensive. May add pennies on a guitar. There is no too much labour involved because of the high level of automation and the simplicity of the object. You need less than an hour of simple, non qualified labour to make a guitar. Even a monkey or a donkey can do the job under preset instructions. Say, you pay $50 an hour to an employee and the employee takes an hour to make a guitar. Say, you put another $50 ( usually, a few dollars only ) for assets and energy ( building, electricity, water, gas to heat ) and remember, you manufacture and sell high volume or high enough volume, you aint making one guitar only out of the whole company. So, your ebony guitar costs $700 to make. Then you ship the guitar. Even expensive shippers, such as FedEx, would take $20 for a long shipment. To ship inexpensively is much less. Say $50 to ship. The shop shouldnt cost much because they sell a lot of guitars a day and not only one. Say the expenses of the shop are $100. Your guitar can be sold for $850 without a profit. Say you give them 25% of profit, which is much too much but throw them dogs a bone. Your ebony guitar can be sold for ~ $1000 with a good profit. INSTEAD, SOMETHING WHICH IS WORTH $1000 IS SOLD BY THEM BLOOD THIRSTIES FOR $5000 OR, EVEN, $6000. Thus THEY STEAL OR CHEAT YOU WITH $4000 OR $5000. How are you now? Are you happy to have been robbed $4000 or $5000. YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN THE GUITAR AND A TOP QUALITY SECOND HAND CAR FOR THIS PRICE. SO, THEY STOLE YOUR CAR. Shall I give more examples? 3. Your favourite rock star played this guitar and them companies are us