Electric Guitar Wood Myth Busted?

After two months of testing, a La Trobe University researcher finds that electric guitar sound is unaffected by the body of the instrument.

Matthew Angove, a La Trobe University Bachelor of Science honours student, conducted the research by trying out electrics of various shapes and builds.

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Being in the field of musical acoustics, Matthew found it unsatisfactory that very little research is done in the field of electric guitar. Compared to classical guitar musicians who tend to tinker with their instruments, it seems that most of the electric guitar research is done by manufacturers.

Guitarists are familiar with the various tonewoods and shapes that are used on electric guitars. Manufacturers and guitar players suggest that using a particular shape, or a specific wood material - be it alder, poplar, ash, basswood etc - will produce significant and specific tone variations.

Matthew was quoted saying: "I’m a player myself and I grew up believing the hype around different sounds and tones that can be created by using different woods such as mahogany or maple. I’m now testing that assumption."

According to Matthew, the idea behind the research is that the "common" knowledge being spread by companies that market guitars go against the physics of how the electric guitar works. He wanted to find out why manufacturers and sellers are charging more for guitars made of "rare" woods. He wants to determine if material used and body shape affects the electric guitar's amplified tone and he wants to find out why and how it affects it.

The test was straightforward, Angove placed identical strings and pickups in guitars of varying shapes and sizes and he then compared the resulting audio signals. A local music shop called J's Music City lent him several guitars and a number of pickups. He recorded every note individually on each guitar with the pickups carefully placed in exactly the same spot with the same distance beneath the strings. Matthew then listened to the recordings and looked at the harmonic content of each note, comparing each guitar shape and material against each other.

Quoting Mr. Angove's verdict: "I've only been looking at the results for two weeks and it really looks like all of them are pretty much identical. I was surprised at just how identical they were because the guitars were very different in shape. As I was listening to them, I showed other guitar players and they were surprised as well, they were convinced they all came from the same guitar … I'm beginning to think we should be making guitars out of something more rigid than wood, such as carbon fibre."

This research validates the opinion that the string setup, pickup type and pickup placement is what causes the various tonal differences that we hear between electric guitar models and brands. This reminds me of a video by Scott Grove that claims the same thing: the pickups, string vibrations and your guitar's bridge and saddles are the parts that really matter.

Check out Scott Grove's video: "Does Wood Type, Finish, Mass Matter On Electric Guitar", right here:

The research is still not complete, but the data, according to Mr. Angove, is pointing to the idea that there is simply no significant difference. The research is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and more data will be available by then.

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Guitar wood myth

Hi From New Zealand
We are using the oldest wood for sure! 35000 years old and designed our own low impedance pickups + overdrive a worlds first!
After years of research Im happy to see you stand up for all the bull about wood!
I must admit that a mahogany body gives a bit longer sustain than a bass wood that most Asian makers are using, including a $4000 Ibanez Jam and so on.
What matters is pickups pickups and pickups!! and most are also the same and al the hype on Vintage and Wood stocks and Blues specials is also hype ! We just replaced today! in brand new Fender $1200 made in Japan the pickups and you see the same cheap pickups and switches as in the $200 Squire guitars.
We can buy the complete pick guard for $15 in China.
We can prove you right and thanks for pointing this out!!
When we put our pickups on a $100 guitar or a $ 10.000 guitar the sound is the same
See the Beer crate test! with 2 of our pickups.
on: http://youtu.be/31x_xZI66RM
and on : http://youtu.be/oH6ufnEDFUY

See the pickups page http://www.langcaster.com/Pickups/ and the all a bout our pickups Anthology so you know we are serious , see http://www.langcaster.com/Pickups/about-pickups.htm
Hope this helps and you may use any video and info on my webste if you like.
Love to here from you
Kind regards and thanks for your article
Joh Lang.

Ps maybe one day you do the same on pickups as that is also hype in s a big way! some stand out like Kinman and EMG but most pickups made in china and Korea cost you $10 for a set of humbuckers .

Electric Guitar Wood

Hello !
The wood that guitars (including electric guitars) are made of is vital to the resulting sound. So does the shape, wood density and type of construction.
Beside my classical training, I have been playing, studying, building and customizing guitars for more than 20 years, and I can easily tell the difference between guitars made from different kinds of wood. It's a question of resonance, string elasticity (that defines the notes' attack and vibration), sustain, harmonics, overall timbre and much more. The researchers' idea of 'turning around what 200 years of guitar building teached the world luthiers' is either a little misinformed, because they probably measured quasi-invariable parameters (not the ones that are really different), or simply ego-busting in their behalf.
Anyway, no professional luthier, and what's more significant, no experienced musician and/or guitar player will agree with this, and for very solid reasons.
If these researchers would consider spending their lives loving guitars, only then they'll have a complete picture. No man-made device can equal the human hearing, and, I remind you, a musically trained ear is an absolute reference - a God given soundfork.
Yours truly, Chris

Well, what can we say?

Except that there are many, many players and electric guitar lovers out there who will probably have a difficult time grappling with this current and perhaps ultimate hypothesis of these experiments, for the reason that many have invested thousands upon thousands of $'s or any other respected currency for guitars they believed to be of exceptional wood material quality. I've always believed that the real true sound of an electric guitar is the electronics ( i.e. pickups, control pots, selector switches ect...) coupled with decent tuning machines, and of course most importantly, the individual hands whom plays the guitar. The guitar plectrum (pick) also is a crucial factor, in my opinion, and the materials, shape, thickness, and even right down to the plectrum's color, can make a world of difference to a guitar tone on electric and acoustic guitars. And don't forget strings and string quality. But when speaking about guitar wood materials, why do players and collectors spend thousands more for old catalouge guitars that are made of plywood, and masonite (i.e. Silvertone, Danelectro, Kay, ect..) rather than shelling out thousands less for guitars made of AAA grade woods that one would find on premier models such as Gibson, Fender, and Paul Reed Smith? Because not only are those old catalouge guitars collector's items themselves by name, but they were constructed with arguably exceptional and innovative electronics that produced sounds like none other.

Not Enough Variables to Test Properly

Yes, a tend to agree that the body wood(s) probably don't add that much to the tone, but more for sustain; the same thing goes for the shape. However, his testing only swapped out the pickups. There are so many variables to change to really do a proper test. There is the neck, the nut (for open strings), bridge materials (plus, size, shape, and style), even string gauges for that matter. On top of pickups tested, there is electronic components used, cable, amp, speakers, etc.. We ALL have to consider that stuff. Then not too mention personal taste. How do you quantify that?

I think some people are getting confused with acoustic vs. electric guitars in the previous comments. Far as I know electric guitars have not been around for 200 yrs. I think you have somewhat less control on tone with an acoustic guitar. When you build an acoustic, you follow certain principals, what has been done before, but half of it is a guessing game. You never know how it's going to turn out until you string it up and hear it. Both electric & acoustic guitars, we've all tried out 10 exact models, then there is this one that stands out to you. The one that sounds "better" to your ears. I believe with electric guitars you have way more ability to "tweak" tones from them.

Maybe the guy is right. But for me there needs to be and all-inclusive testing of all the different variables before the a conclusion can me made. The thing is, it's very extensive and very time consuming...Who's going to do all that?

Actually, the fewer

Actually, the fewer variables, the more conclusive the result. If we're testing the effects of wood on tone, ideally, there should be only 1 independent variable (wood type) and 1 dependent variable (tone/timbre, possibly from a spectrogram).

The other variables should be controlled and made constant. For example, body shape and make, strings, pickups & their positions, etc. should all be identical for all samples. Since there's a limit to how much we can control, we then do control experiments by testing guitars that are as identical as possible and measure the differences in tone. Later, when we compare guitars that are identical except for wood type, if the differences in tone are not significantly greater than in our control experiments, we know conclusively that wood type does not significantly affect tone, and vice versa.

However, if you toss any guitar in the mix, control the strings, pickup placement and playing, and still get indistinguishable tones, that pretty much says that wood type along with all the other free variables (like body shape, body finish) does not affect the tone, as long as the electronics and strings are identical.

Personally, I do believe the mechanical aspects do affect tone, but the effects diminish the further the part is away from the string's contact points. So the bridge, pick and frets which are in direct contact with the strings have the greatest effect (other than the strings themselves) on tone, but more so the sustain. Any vibration that goes to the body has to pass through the bridge or fret first, anyways.

The electronic side is already discussed by others.

Agreed!

We are basically in agreement.

guitars

I must admit I'm not sure if I agree but I'd be terested to hear examples

Amen. Fancy wood looks pretty, but tone?

Eddie Van Halen was notorious for picking up cheap guitars and upgrading the pickups, electronics and other stuff. No way is my ear better than Eddie's. I've built a nice hollow body telecaster clone from parts I picked up on eBay. The key to getting it to sound the way I wanted it to sound was a good pair of matched pickups. I have a friend who makes some great sounding cigar box guitars. I can understand the asthetics of a quality guitar, and there is a lot to be said for precision manufacturing to aid in playablity. The reason I forked out a lot of money on my main axe is it feels right in my hands. It uses high quality parts. The exotic wood look pretty, but the wood probably contributes to the wieght more than the tone.

I do wonder about how wood contributes to sustain. I would think a lighter weight wood would be more flexable, which I'd think would tend to reduce sustain. I could be wrong. Carbon fiber might achieve the sustain without the expense of a dense hard wood. Harvesting slow growth trees is not sustainable, but I wonder about the environmental cost of manufacturing carbon fiber.

...and how good are your ears?

First off, rare woods cost more, because they are rare, but granted, they don't necessarily sound better.
Secondly, yes the electronics do contribute a significant part of the tone, because that's how the tone is produced - by the magnetic reaction between the string and the pickup, which then passes to the electronics in the amp, and not the wood directly acting on the air like an acoustic. So of course the wood has only a minor effect after the signal has passed through valves, coils, pickups, transformers and what not.
Thirdly, "looking" at the harmonic content is pointless, it tells you nothing. Your ears are the only credible judge, and at low gains electric guitars have very little harmonic content which is why they sound a bit "dead" next to an acoustic guitar's complex signature, and probably why many of them sound the same to start with.
However, having said that, when you crank the gain up on say a 5150, there's a hell of a lot of harmonic content generated and even minor differences like the tonal quality of the wood does start to come through, and if you can't hear the difference, then fine, buy a cheap guitar if you must, but it's not the wood that makes guitars expensive - it's the craftmanship.
A machine can make a guitar far more accurately than a man can, but it can't spot, or cope with imperfections, so the love and passion a quality craftsman puts into an instrument is tangible, but man hours cost much, much more than machine hours, and that's what you actually pay for.
Thing is, given a couple of minutes to think about it, most experienced guitarists would already come to these conclusions, so this experiment seems to have been commissioned by the Ministry of the Bleedin' Obvious...

Two almost identical guitars

I have two guitars which are the same company and model type. They are virtually identical - shape, pickups, neck, etc. - yet they sound different. One is made of ash and has a deeper, thicker sound. One is basswood, and the sound is brighter. Explain?

Because you want them to.

Because you want them to. Funny that your explanation of their tonal qualities is the opposite of how luthiers describe the woods' tones...

You're forgetting that wood

You're forgetting that wood is not altogether consistent and can sometimes produce tonal properties that are associated with it. Sometimes Mahogany can end up sounding bright instead of warm for example. His comment about the Ash and Basswood could be valid based on that.

*aren't

*aren't

"ALMOST"

Your whole (sort of) train of thought fell apart with "ALMOST" identical.

Physics

It comes down to how the Physics of an electric guitar is heard. The pick up is how the signal is transferred which are electromagnets. Its effectively a bar magnet wound with copper wire. The magnet slightly magnetizes a part of the conducting string (guitar string) and as the string vibrates it creates a magnetic field that opposes the established equilibrium. "Mother nature" tries to counter this and produces an electric current in the copper wire to create a magnetic field to counter the magnetic field created by the vibrating string. This current is sent to your amplifier and converted back into sound. All of the sound is effectively created by the electronics. How would the casing of these electronics affect the sound?

The strings are attached to

The strings are attached to the structure, which absorbs part of the energy of the string... so yes, the material affects the sound. Different materials absorb energy at diferent rates.

As Paul Smith likes to say,

As Paul Smith likes to say, "Every affects everything!" Scale length, design, wood density, hardware, pickups, and build quality all factor into the equation. While it is true that the sound produced by an electric guitar is the result of ferromagnetic strings passing through a magnetic field, the signal that is produced in the magnetic field is a collection of frequency components that mirror string vibrations (fundamental and harmonic components); therefore, anything that affects string vibration affects the tone of an electric guitar.

Our friend in the video conveniently forgot to discuss the transfer function-related aspects of an electric guitar (i.e., it's response curve). Different guitar designs have different response curves. While it is true that a large part of the response curve of any given electric is bounded by the frequency response and operational characteristics of its pickups (a.k.a. magnetic transducers), a Strat with a rosewood fingerboard does in fact have a different response curve than a Strat with a maple board. The difference can be felt and heard. The difference is due to the fact that a maple fingerboard attenuates high frequencies less than a rosewood board. As the alternating current signal that is produced by a guitar is a reflection of the frequencies at which the strings are vibrating and their associated amplitudes, anything that affects the amplitude of a frequency component affects the tone of an instrument when plugged into an amplification device.

Q.E.D.

response curves

So do you have any response curves for a guitar with a maple fret board and the same guitar with a rosewood fretboard. Show us the data or least name your source for this information.

OP didn't give any hard data

OP didn't give any hard data or credible sources. Why should this guy provide them?

This is pretty much BS.

This is pretty much BS. Simply try this, get two different guitars with different shapes play something on both UNPLUGGED. And what do you hear? They sound different. Your ears can tell. Then plug your guitars in. Assuming they have the same pickups, they will still sound different. The pickups are essentially capturing the vibrations of the strings and turning them into signals sent to the amplifier. If the guitars sound different unplugged, what makes you think they'd sound the same when they're plugged?

I can't believe this university is letting their student do such a pointless research. They probably gave him a budget too, what a waste of money. People hear differences, you don't need a signal analyzer to compare the notes that you play on a guitar. Your ears can tell and they sound different.

I'm with you. One hundred

I'm with you. One hundred and ninety pounds of pudding proof blubber mass is not supposed to resonate. Just the differences in semi-hollow guitars and solid body guitars in enough to say that mass does make a difference. Leo Fender is rolling in his grave.

Scott Grove

Scott is a wacko.
If you disagree on any of his thoughts and say so, even in a pleasant way, he will delete you from his YT channel and have nothing to do with you.
A guy who seems to be a cool "Guitar Dog" is a closed-minded person.
Does wood make a difference in an Electric Guitar? Yes...it affects the Tone and Feel.

So what did you post on his

So what did you post on his YouTube channel to get deleted?

Scott Grove

Scott Grove here. Actually, I'm pretty much Einstein brilliant on this subject. People such as Bethoven, Van Gogh etc. were all considered mad until they were finially found brilliant. The same will happen with me. The OP is 100% on the correct track. Those posting comments are simply rejects from useless guitar forums who are regurgitating misinformation handed to them by Guitar Center employees. Yes, I block people who waste my time or question my truths. I have no time for such nonsense. I'm here to educate, not to be scrutinized by 12 year old gamers and skaters. I have much to contribute to the world and it will all be recognized in good time.
Carry on.

Curious

Hello Scott, Although you make a point that people will mess with you just to get a rise. But to shut people down and not create a thoughtful discussion on a topic that you bring up is not genius. It exhibits a closed minded approach to things. When someone thinks that they are right and there can be no other options, there is no genius in that. it's similar to a teacher saying "because I said so" and gives no rational behind their thought process. You give some great insight on purchasing guitars and can be humorous at times, but (imho)your arrogance and thinking that your opinion (opinion is key word here) is paramount just turns people off. I used to watch your videos years ago, but no longer do because you don't share in a discussion that could end up enlightening your viewers as well as (maybe) yourself. Peace, Paul

Paul is right somehow

Dear Scott, I am very curious about your research results and much inclined to agree with your position. I am a pragmatic person who always seeks proof on lots of BS being told by some luthiers, and on chat and forums. Since data about how woods affects tone on SOLID body guitars are very rare, I really would like to see the procedures and results of your testing, hoping that you achieve a concrete final conclusion. Until then, I am still "accepting" that wood would have some influence on sustain and tone (less on this one), but it should affect so little in the whole instrument that it is indistinctable by human ears.
However, I must agree with Paul here. Just as an advice, take care about your attittude because it can mine your thoughts and logic thinking, making it harder to have solid conclusions.
Good luck.

Teuffel Birdfish.

Tone wood A/B
Scientific analysis of Alder and Maple tone bars on Teufell Birdfish.

This experiment can be replicated yourself at home using the following free trial software.

http://www.faberacoustical.com/products/signalscope_pro/

Sound files from Teufell.

http://www.teuffel.com/english/sales/soundcheck.htm

Summary.

A/B of Teufell Birdfish.
Birdfish-Alder-HB3_Bridge-01
From Warmouth.
Alder (Alnus rubra):

Alder is used extensively for bodies because of its lighter weight (about four pounds for a Strat® body) and its full sound. Its closed grain makes this wood easy to finish. Alder's natural color is a light tan with little or no distinct grain lines. It looks good with a sunburst or a solid color finish. Because of its fine characteristics and lower price, Alder is our most popular wood and it grows all around us here in Washington State. The tone is reputed to be most balanced with equal doses of lows, mids and highs. Alder has been the mainstay for Fender bodies for many years and its characteristic tone has been a part of some of the most enduring pieces of modern day contemporary music.

Birdfish-Maple-HB3-Bridge
From Warmouth
Maple
(Acer saccharum-Hard Maple):

We offer two types of Maple: Eastern Hard Maple (hard rock maple) and Western Soft Maple (big leaf maple).

Hard Maple is a very hard, heavy and dense wood. This is the same wood that we use on our necks. The grain is closed and very easy to finish. The tone is very bright with long sustain and a lot of bite. This wood cannot be dyed. It looks great with clear or transparent color finishes.
Soft Maple
(Acer macrophyllum):

Western Maple grows all around us here in Washington state. It is usually much lighter weight than Hard Maple but it features the same white color. It has bright tone with good bite and attack, but is not brittle like the harder woods can be. Our flame (fiddle-back) and quilted bodies are Western Maple. This type of maple works great with dye finishes.
http://www.warmoth.com/bass/Options/WoodDescriptions.aspx

YOU TUBE VIDEO

See full Blog here.
http://letthemconfectsweeterlies.blogspot.se/2012/11/tone-woods-and-soli...

Although i can't tell if the

Although i can't tell if the finds are right or wrong i have been wondering how the player reacts to wood itself. Basically i think that at some level if the player knows that he is playing a full mahogany body neck combo his playing would reflect the expected qualities (mids,gnarl,etc.). I dont think that this information lies in some sonic spectrum analysis.

Well, this is my experience:

Well, this is my experience: I had two Gibson les paul BFGs at one stage (I recently sold one) I had no idea what wood meant to tone. One was a mahogany body, maple top, maple neck, ebony fingerboard. The other was mahogany body, maple top, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard. They both had identical pickups, hardware, setup and tunings for consistency. The one with the maple neck and ebony board was ALWAYS brighter sounding to where it was annoying. I looked online to try and find out why and found it was due to maple and ebony having brighter tone...

Sounds like fact vs opinion here

They guy has results based evidence and some of the opinion in the replies is pure speculation and somewhat defensive...

Where is the proof that woods makes any difference to an electric guitar?

""" They guy has results

"""
They guy has results based evidence
"""

With the "right" setup I can easily provide "results based evidence" that red and orange are the same color. You have to know what you are measuring and how to interpret the result to come with any meaningfull "result based evidence".

"""
and some of the opinion in the replies is pure speculation and somewhat defensive...

Where is the proof that woods makes any difference to an electric guitar?
"""

Unless you are color-blind you don't ask where are the proofs that red and orange are "different colors" (are they, really ? According to which metric ?).

Ok, deal -- please produce

Ok, deal -- please produce your results based evidence that red and orange are the same color. Unlike guitar tone, the color spectrum IS part of established science, but if you want to refute it with your "right" setup, we're all ready to watch/listen. Since you said it would be easy, I'm really excited to see -- to see you refute hundreds of years of established science, to see you take on Newton...go!

Bummer

I'm sad -- 3 months and still no proof that red and orange are the same color...I thought he said it would be easy to prove :(

Did you take a science class in high school or college?

If you measure to a low enough number of sig fig's they could be shown to be the same wavelength based on "evidence".. much of what passes for research is extremely subjective. Scientists are people too.

Have you taken a logic class yet?

I guess if you watered down the concepts of "results" and "evidence" enough you could do that...but we are trying to argue about something substantive here...

You see, the believers don't

You see, the believers don't have to have evidence -- they're allowed to rest on thousands of other believers who are, themselves, standing on more believers...and how dare you bring up stuff like "science" and "facts"?!?! In other threads I saw people voicing personal attacks on the guy who did the research, questioning the quality of the university -- and none of them had even fully read the article SUMMARIZING the PRELIMINARY COMMENTS about the research (which hadn't been finished or published yet). I found a company showcasing two different wood versions of one of their production models, including nearly note-for-note identical audio samples -- great reference. With desktop tools I was able to overlay the two pretty easily and demonstrate visually what I could tell aurally -- imperceptible differences, and none that you could trace to qualities in the wood the way believers like to believe. But then *I* started getting the personal attacks on my intelligence, knowledge of guitars, ability, etc. Like you, I dared to ask for proof...

Electric guitar marketing is

Electric guitar marketing is a religion. Just like religion, it is based on faith. Like religion, it hates science. Those who've wasted squillions of dollars on the hype are eaten alive with cognitive dissonance to the point of hating anyone who should challenge their views. Like a church, the companies that sell this theology want to reinforce it in the young and gullible, before they reach and age to utilize logic. Like religion, it reinforces insecurity in beginners by constantly berating them with ideas that their ears aren't good enough yet to accept the difference. Like religion, it protects itself because a lot of money stands to be lost if it's parishioners were to wake up to the truth.

Science as a religion...

Funny how some peoples don't understand science and have religious faith in whatever is labelled as "scientific".

Let's be serious : all we have so far is a student posting about a unfinished study and stating that he failed to measure any difference depending on the guitar's material. Please re-read carefully : "failed to measure any difference" doesn't mean that there's no difference, just that, if they do exist, the guy failed to measure them, which is the only point that has really been proved so far.

On the other hand we have the empirical evidence: thousands of guitar players that moved a guitar pickup from one guitar to another and found out that it didn't sound the same. For quite a few of those we can attribute (at least part of) the difference to other factors like strings, scale length, hardware etc, but we really have cases where the guitars were close enough (same scale length, same hardware, even in some cases the very same wiring harness getting transplanted with the pickups).

Sorry but when my fridge is obviously freezing cold and the thermometer says it's not, I trust what I see and do not take what the thermometer says as "scientific evidence" - I only take it as a strong indication that my thermometer might be broken.

Oh and BTW it's almost one year later and we're still waiting for the finished "research" to be published - if it is then please people post the link so we can comment on more than a short one-year-old news article.

NB : Yes of course, there's _also_ a lot of marketing bullshit, and being AAAAAAA flamed doesn't by itself make a maple top sound any better (or worse) than a plain one - it only costs more. As far as I'm concerned I don't own any "squillions dollar" guitar because you don't need to spend big bucks to find a good sounding / good playing guitar, and once you have it swapping hardware, electronic and of course pickups will make most of the difference (as well as strings and a correct setup obviously). This still doesn't mean the guitar's material doesn't make any difference.

And until we have the published "study" paper, this will be my last comment here, please dear "science" zealots keep on putting your own religious faith wherever you want.

Tonewoods and metal parts

Tonewoods is crucial for acoustic instruments. But for an electric guitar, tone is a result of electro- magnetic field created by string vibration that is captured by the pickup. So there is little (or none) influence from the wood. Wood vibration can´t be directly captured by pickups. One may argue that wood vibration can reverberate back to the strings. But if that really affetcs tone in a significant way, there seems to be no evidence.
Other subject is bridges and stop tail. From my experience they can really influence the tone since they play some efective role in string vibration. I one of my Gibson Les Pauls, a very dark sounding 1981 Custom (from the Norlin period), I swapped the stock stop tail for an locking alloy one and the results was a far live and brighter tone and some extra sustain - I was even rather disapointed because it sounded very much like my 58 VOS. Taking this example one may assume the if guitars may sound diferently (considering that same pu´s are installed) these parts do play an critical role. I also wonder if the wood mass stability in a solid body which is different from a semi solid archtop´s may influence the stability of those metal parts in a guitar, thus influencing tone. Everything influences everything but some in a more critical way - or like Orwell once wrote they "all equal but some are more equal than others" .
Rod

I just like my electrics to

I just like my electrics to sound and feel good acoustically... makes it more fun for me. My 73 fender mustang sounds fantastic unplugged, and plugged in, it's loads of fun to play. My 98 fender stratocaster sounds dead as a door nail unplugged and plugged in, even though the strat sounds better, I always find myself reaching for another guitar after only a few minutes.

Agree

I have not done any Fourier analysis on guitars but I have been saying similar things based on theory. I have published many controversial articles in Ultimate Guitar which you all are very welcome to read.

There is a feedback of the resonated tone back on the string, hopefully, in resonance which may improve or not the tone, mainly how long the tone sounds but this is not supposed to be significant.

However, I think, an improved test environment would be to use a pick actuator ( a device which will always engage the string with the same tension and pattern ), the best, with programmable tension application and method of string engagement. This way the tone would not depend on the player and not only the frequency spectrum would be available but also the amplitude of the produced tones and, most importantly, would be human independent.

High quality frequency analyser and a high quality setup in an environment without any electro magnetic noise nor mains noise in the equipment / setup and without any switching noise resulting into the audio spectrum would be nice.

I have been incredibly happy someone did something scientific and engineering in this field. I have been calling for such for years. ( NOTE : I JUST SAY SO TO REPLY BETTER AND NOT TO TAKE CREDIT OR BECOME FAMOUS. )

Steven Stanley Bayes

oil can

those oil can strats sound just like a strat though

I don't like them too much though as they don't razor check well

wood

Research different hardware materials (bridge, stopbar etc) and what wood is best sturdy for anchoring them down, plus nut material, (bone, brass, shitty plasic) then research picups and decide on what sort of sound (and tone) you are after (though different amps will make a massive difference) also tone pots, volume knobs, wire marerials, tone caps etc. then you will see the light.

correction

Sorry i meant to say volume pots not knobs

It's not quite science...

Is electric guitar wood over-hyped? No doubt. Do body materials affect the sound? In my experience --I've owned dozens of electrics and played thousands -- yes, they do. I owned (and sold) a poplar-bodied Washburn Steve Stephens because it was designed to play high gain with tight definition; changes of pickups did nothing to alter the basic sound. Mahogany-bodied guitars sound more resonant to me on the low frequencies. Maybe this is my imagination, sure. Maybe the differences are very, very subtle. But I do notice them. Wood is hardly the only factor. But in my experience it is a factor.

Scientific proof would be a marketer's dream

If a simple double blind test could show that the material used for a solid body guitar made a significant difference in its sound, the marketing departments of guitar manufacturers would be sure to use that result as a selling point. I have seen no such evidence presented in any advertising. Since a double blind test would be fairly easy to do, its likely the expected results will be disappointing for marketing and thus there is no interest for manufacturers to finance such tests.

The way I found myself to this website is because I recently purchased a used Squier Standard Telecaster and found that it was about two pounds heavier than my basswood body Squier 51. I also found that I didn't have to put toothpicks in the standard's body's screw-holes when re-attaching the pickguard - which I always have to do with the 51. The wood the standard's body is made out of is much heavier and harder than the 51's body. I googled "Squier Standard Telecaster wood" and found that it's made of agathis and, according to many if not most online forums, a cheap, poor sounding, light, and soft wood. I expect the wood a Squier is made out of to be inexpensive. I guess poor sounding is debatable but in 40 years of playing solid body guitars I haven't developed the ability to determine by the guitars sound what kind of wood it is made from (I can do pretty well discerning between round-wound and flat-wound string sound or between single coil and humbucker pickup sound though). I had to laugh at the claims that agathis is light and soft. I looked up the characteristics of agathis and found that its considered as an alternative to mahogany and has similar weight and hardness to mahogany. So, there's apparently a lot of misinformation (disinformation?) being circulated about solid body guitar body wood. Thank you for attempting to establish some scientific information on this subject.

Regarding Jimmy Page: He played a Danelectro whose body is not even made out of wood. Before I saw him playing one I always thought of Danelectros as cheap junk.

Hey Chris BC You cannot hear

Hey Chris BC

You cannot hear what kind of Wood a guitar is made of. Put your money where your mouth is. I Will bet $1000 against your Ear. I Will play 5 different guitars, i Will choose the pickups, and settings on the amplifier. If you get Them, I Will pay u. If u dont, I'll pay me. If Any of you woodbelivers Will take this bet, im in. If not- i guess tonewood doesnt matter.

A lot of it depends on the

A lot of it depends on the pickups used. Super high gain pickups will sound pretty much the same in any wood, but vintage and medium gain allow the wood tone through. The shape won't make a lot of difference, but the mass and resonance will.

Many renowned guitarists claim to be able to hear the difference in different woods

REALLY???

Sorry, but with very little empirical evidence, the author is totally unconvincing. My own 50+ years of experience with the electric guitar (as player, consultant, teacher etc) lead me to believe that this fellow has wasted time and money pursuing a flawed argument.

How many guitars tested? Which pickups used? How were the results recorded? Was this DI or amped? Was spectral analysis used? What was the control group?

So many questions. So few answers.

First, sorry for bad

First, sorry for bad english, im Serbian. When i was a kid, i had some russian copy of fender jaguar, heavy as a train, active pups that worked also normal without battery.. well, i played with it like with toy, dismantle it, wire it diferent ways... and used her pups on acoustic guitar. I learned that when i put pup anywere on acoustic guitar body,sides, back, front.. it produces some sound, weak, but nice, and diferent, depending on place where i put pup.even with a nylon strings guitar.. That means somethin, ok? For me, wood is not question.

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