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Unread 08-03-2012, 08:58 PM   #1
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'Wood doesn't effect tone' science article...

http://www.guitarsite.com/news/music...d-myth-busted/

I wish to see the discussion this creates... though lets keep it civil.

edit: I should have arguably put science in quotations, too.


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Unread 08-03-2012, 09:10 PM   #2
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Hmm considering notes vibrate at very specific frequencies to create these notes, Im not shocked that an "A4" on a les paul has the same frequency as an "A4" on telecaster.




This is stupid and proves nothing. It does not discuss timbre, projection, or pitch. Nothing more then intellectual meanderings from a bored engineer.
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Unread 08-03-2012, 09:26 PM   #3
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Well, I'm going to be flamed here... but...

Magnetic Pickups detect vibration of strings. They can only detect them because they are made of metal. Is the body of the guitar made of metal? Is it magnetic in any way? No. So, therefore can the particular kind of wood directly impact the tone? No.

Now, there is a little fuzziness to that hypothesis. The pickups are mounted in the body, so can the vibration of the body due to strumming the strings cause the pickups to vibrate slightly? Perhaps. That would slightly affect the tone.

Can the wood impact how much sustain a note has? Perhaps. However, the effect would be small, I think. The string vibrating at certain frequencies while the body vibrates may cause the note to sustain longer. Once again, I think the effect would be small.

So, I'm of the opinion that there is a small effect but it is almost negligible. I think a lot of the opinions about tone in certain woods are more related to the feeling of the guitar resonating while playing.

Just my opinion.
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Unread 08-03-2012, 09:27 PM   #4
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In before lock
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Unread 08-03-2012, 09:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groverj3 View Post
Can the wood impact how much sustain a note has? Perhaps. However, the effect would be small, I think. The string vibrating at certain frequencies while the body vibrates may cause the note to sustain longer. Once again, I think the effect would be small.
Play an electric guitar acoustically, and then place the headstock on a wooden table or wooden wall or something large and wooden in your house, and you will notice the acoustic properties and the volume will change by a huge amount, not a subtle change, but probably like a 25-50% change in tone.
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Unread 08-03-2012, 09:49 PM   #6
 
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Ive had two of the same exact guitar and they sounded different from one another. If I can hear a difference between two cuts of the same species of wood then I can surely hear the difference between two completely different species. I know from experience that woods play a huge role in a guitars tone. If anyone believes different then they need to have their ears checked
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Unread 08-03-2012, 09:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groverj3 View Post
Well, I'm going to be flamed here... but...

Magnetic Pickups detect vibration of strings. They can only detect them because they are made of metal. Is the body of the guitar made of metal? Is it magnetic in any way? No. So, therefore can the particular kind of wood directly impact the tone? No.

Now, there is a little fuzziness to that hypothesis. The pickups are mounted in the body, so can the vibration of the body due to strumming the strings cause the pickups to vibrate slightly? Perhaps. That would slightly affect the tone.

Can the wood impact how much sustain a note has? Perhaps. However, the effect would be small, I think. The string vibrating at certain frequencies while the body vibrates may cause the note to sustain longer. Once again, I think the effect would be small.

So, I'm of the opinion that there is a small effect but it is almost negligible. I think a lot of the opinions about tone in certain woods are more related to the feeling of the guitar resonating while playing.

Just my opinion.
I actually agree pretty much. I really do feel wood has little to do with tone on an electric. I mean, a very small amount, yeah, 3-7% or so I'd give it vaguely. What you said moreorless clarifies my reasoning. I am by no means a luthier or knowledgeable person at science though, it's just what seems like common sense to me.

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Yeaaah, unfortunately I expect it to happen eventually. I'D LIKE TO SEE SOME DISCUSSION BEFORE YELLING BEGINS THOUGH.

Quote:
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Play an electric guitar acoustically, and then place the headstock on a wooden table or wooden wall or something large and wooden in your house, and you will notice the acoustic properties and the volume will change by a huge amount, not a subtle change, but probably like a 25-50% change in tone.
Eeeeh, this happens yeah, but I still question how much effect there'd be when plugged in. If I do such a thing and play a note while plugged in, even if I hear more resonance acoustically through what I'm touching, it won't effect how long the note sustains really on the electric output.

Obvious unplugged you could notice differences, because the wood and body is part of what is doing the mild amplification of the sound, but plugged in that wood isn't really where the sound is being picked up and amplified from....


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Unread 08-03-2012, 09:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiction View Post
Play an electric guitar acoustically, and then place the headstock on a wooden table or wooden wall or something large and wooden in your house, and you will notice the acoustic properties and the volume will change by a huge amount, not a subtle change, but probably like a 25-50% change in tone.
Err... So what?

If I put a magnetic pickup* in my $75 acoustic, then pop it in a $3000 dollar acoustic, it sounds the exact same. In fact, I did this at the Long & McQuade here in Toronto, AB'ing a $150 Epiphone with a similarly constructed $3000 Martin, both with the exact same strings on them, put through a Roland Acoustic Chorus and a few other amps.

Both had a plastic nut and saddle, which appeared to be of the same material material.

Basically zero difference between them.

In fact, it's gotten to the point where I take my pickup to jazz rehearsals rather than my jazz box. I just pop it in the soundhole of the guitar at my buddies place, which is indeed a cheap Yamaha, and it sounds great!


What difference does the wood in a solid body make?
I believe that the only part that really matters, is string construction, bridge construction and materials, as well as how tight everything is coupled together. The bridge style and materials can drastically change how the string vibrates, string construction is obvious.

*It's a handmade Kent Armstrong voiced for phosphor bronze with detachable soundhole mounts, originally purchased for an archtop guitar.

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Unread 08-03-2012, 09:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groverj3 View Post
Well, I'm going to be flamed here... but...

Magnetic Pickups detect vibration of strings. They can only detect them because they are made of metal. Is the body of the guitar made of metal? Is it magnetic in any way? No. So, therefore can the particular kind of wood directly impact the tone? No.

Now, there is a little fuzziness to that hypothesis. The pickups are mounted in the body, so can the vibration of the body due to strumming the strings cause the pickups to vibrate slightly? Perhaps. That would slightly affect the tone.

Can the wood impact how much sustain a note has? Perhaps. However, the effect would be small, I think. The string vibrating at certain frequencies while the body vibrates may cause the note to sustain longer. Once again, I think the effect would be small.

So, I'm of the opinion that there is a small effect but it is almost negligible. I think a lot of the opinions about tone in certain woods are more related to the feeling of the guitar resonating while playing.

Just my opinion.
You're missing out on the best part -
the strings are attached to the body wood.
Their vibration is dampened by the wood they're set in, both in the tuner end and at the bridge. That's what makes most of the difference, allegedly.

IMO, there's definitely an effect. Not because one can compare too identical guitars with different woods, but because the effect is predictable -
chances are my mahogany guitar would make me think it's darker than my alder one and not vice versa, even without knowing what the woods 'should' do.

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Unread 08-03-2012, 10:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leonardo7 View Post
I know from experience that woods play a huge role in a guitars tone. If anyone believes different then they need to have their ears checked
Yeah, but you weren't blinded to the guitars you're using. So you're highly biased (I mean that in a statistical way, not a jerky way). I'm definitely of the camp that it doesn't make any difference in electric guitars when amplified. It doesn't make any sense that it could have any bearing on the sound. The density of the wood and the quality of the anchor of the bridge and nut can affect sustain, as was said about putting the HS on a table, but there can be no affect on tone.
But, there is simply no way everyone is going to believe this. Same way that everyone thinks shaving a lot increases beard growth and wearing magnetic bracelets helps your balance.
For me, it just opens up a lot of possibilities for cool wood combinations because I go on looks and don't get hung up on tone. And then I worry about wood combos only for my acoustic instruments.
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Unread 08-03-2012, 10:06 PM   #11
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I personally dont think different woods sound different. I think the differences in sound would come down to the density and mass of the wood more than the type as well as construction(bolt on, set neck ect.). But when you break over the nut and bridge, in dont think the wood will effect things much.

I'm a FIRM believer that guitar players are a huge placebo group.

The fact remains that the guy did a small study using a scientific method, and to ignore facts that he came up with are ignorant.
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Unread 08-03-2012, 10:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trespass View Post
If I put a magnetic pickup in my $75 acoustic, then pop it in a $3000 dollar acoustic, it sounds the exact same.
Note, though I don't think body woods really effect an electric, this I would be willing to argue.


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Unread 08-03-2012, 10:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trespass View Post
Err... So what?
I commented before reading the rest of his post

And I have no knowledge about acoustics so i'm not going to comment on the rest of your post

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Unread 08-03-2012, 10:12 PM   #14
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I play several high end luthier made archtops with high end magnetic pickups (Armstrong, Bartolini etc.). I also work with a luthier who I speak to on pretty much a daily basis. I think about and experiment with this problem of wood not involved in magnetic sound production - a lot.

My solution was simple. I have an Audio Technica clip on lavalier mic that goes on the body of my archtop with goes to the board, and the mag goes to the amp chain.

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Unread 08-03-2012, 10:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I commented before reading the rest of his post

And I have no knowledge about acoustics so i'm not going to comment on the rest of your post
... I have acoustic guitars which are optimized in a scientifically sound way to produce volume and complex harmonic content.

I put a magnetic pickup on a $150 example, and a $3000 example. The wood content did not impact the magnetic tone at all.


Quote:
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Note, though I don't think body woods really effect an electric, this I would be willing to argue.
I'm not arguing that wood choices in acoustics effect tone. It's obvious that the top plate, as a vibrating membrane and sound producer, must have a species of wood soft enough to vibrate efficiently (hence spruce and cedar). The side and back plates must be hard woods to act as reflectors and project the sound out (hence mahogany, koa whatever) and not absorb the sound.

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Unread 08-03-2012, 10:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trespass View Post
... I have acoustic guitars which are optimized in a scientifically sound way to produce volume and complex harmonic content.

I put a magnetic pickup on a $150 example, and a $3000 example. The wood content did not impact the magnetic tone at all.
I see you didn't quote my post, but thinking about it, I guess I have never played an acoustic through an amp of any sort, so I actually can have no real opinion there. In trying to think of what my common sense would tell me, it would be somewhat noticeable, moreso than it'd ever be on an electric, but still in reality not too much.


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Unread 08-03-2012, 10:23 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trespass View Post
... I have acoustic guitars which are optimized in a scientifically sound way to produce volume and complex harmonic content.

I put a magnetic pickup on a $150 example, and a $3000 example. The wood content did not impact the magnetic tone at all.
By that I mean, I have nothing to add to your post regarding acoustics, I understand you put a magnetic pickup on a $150 example and a $3000 example, and no tone was changed. I was merely commenting in my original post that wood makes a difference acoustically.

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Unread 08-03-2012, 10:32 PM   #18
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Ehh, I dunno, a lot metal bands sound the same to me with their guitars (with a variance in wood types) into a OD808/TS9 + PV5150 combo to me.

Or famous guitarists playing other people's gear and still sound like themselves. I've seen Guthrie go thru a Line 6 DT combo and an Axe FX and he sounds like himself..

I certainly can't recognize whether Periphery used a Daemoness/Ibanez/Blackmachine/Jackson on their songs.. the timbre of the instruments in their tracks sound the same to me too..

Must be that my ears are bad but that's what I hear
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Unread 08-03-2012, 10:36 PM   #19
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockstarazuri View Post
Ehh, I dunno, a lot metal bands sound the same to me with their guitars (with a variance in wood types) into a OD808/TS9 + PV5150 combo to me.

Or famous guitarists playing other people's gear and still sound like themselves. I've seen Guthrie go thru a Line 6 DT combo and an Axe FX and he sounds like himself..

I certainly can't recognize whether Periphery used a Daemoness/Ibanez/Blackmachine/Jackson on their songs.. the timbre of the instruments in their tracks sound the same to me too..

Must be that my ears are bad but that's what I hear
Post EQ can make different woods sound very similar
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Unread 08-03-2012, 11:06 PM   #20
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Haha, I'm aware that post EQ is inevitable and necessary, but it defeats the whole 'tone woods' discussion IMO lol
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Unread 08-03-2012, 11:08 PM   #21
 
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I just know that wood does affect tone. Post EQ affects tone, and so does wood.
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Unread 08-03-2012, 11:32 PM   #22
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There is no doubt in my mind wood effects tone. Plug in your guitar and sing into the pickup, you will hear yourself in the amp. If my voice resonates on a string, I'm confident the wood does as well.
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Unread 08-03-2012, 11:33 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiction View Post
Play an electric guitar acoustically, and then place the headstock on a wooden table or wooden wall or something large and wooden in your house, and you will notice the acoustic properties and the volume will change by a huge amount, not a subtle change, but probably like a 25-50% change in tone.
This is the wood vibrating. Which the pickups do not "pick-up."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quitty View Post
You're missing out on the best part -
the strings are attached to the body wood.
Their vibration is dampened by the wood they're set in, both in the tuner end and at the bridge. That's what makes most of the difference, allegedly.

IMO, there's definitely an effect. Not because one can compare too identical guitars with different woods, but because the effect is predictable -
chances are my mahogany guitar would make me think it's darker than my alder one and not vice versa, even without knowing what the woods 'should' do.
True, I didn't think about that. However, pretty much all electrics have strings terminating in metal at the bridge. The nut is either going to be metal (floyd nut), graphite, bone, or something similar. I can see perhaps a difference in a metal nut vs other materials, but will this be picked up by the pickups? That's a good question. The timbre of the string ringing out is basically the overtones being produced. Would these be different enough that the difference from each other survive the process of being turned into an electrical signal by the pickups? I don't know, I'm a biologist, not a physicist. I think it's unlikely to have a large impact, but that's just my opinion. Not ruling it out though.

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Post EQ can make different woods sound very similar
Agreed, when you start adding effects into your signal I doubt ANYONE would be able to tell what you played through. Example: Go to Guitar Center, and plug a $200 Ibanez starter guitar into their massive pedal display and then switch to a JEM or Jackson Soloist, or really any other guitar. I guarantee you that you will sound pretty darn close as long as the wiring isn't f*cked up and the guitars are set up more or less the same in terms of pickup height, string height, etc.

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I just know that wood does affect tone. Post EQ affects tone, and so does wood.
I'm not saying it doesn't, just wondering how large the effect is. I'm going with 10% or less of your tone being determined by the wood as a complete guess.

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Unread 08-03-2012, 11:36 PM   #24
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Just because people have always thought something doesn't make it true. People used to think the world was flat. People used to think the Earth was 3000 years old (ok, some people still do... not going there in this thread). People used to think that dinosaurs didn't have feathers . People used to think that the expansion of the universe was slowing down.

^ Trying to be funny, not trying to be dick.

I do agree that wood probably affects tone, just not as much as some people do. But hey, I'm probably full of shit. This is just my opinion. Just keep on .
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Unread 08-04-2012, 12:11 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leonardo7 View Post
I just know that wood does affect tone. Post EQ affects tone, and so does wood.
Intuition does not equal reality.

A decent amount of old wives tales aren't actually true.

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