Finish affects guitar tone?

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Murmel, Jun 11, 2010.

  1. Murmel

    Murmel Fapping to J-rock

    Messages:
    4,153
    Likes Received:
    307
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2010
    Location:
    Hotgirl-City, Sweden
    So I've seen posts here like; "Damn that glossy finish it doesn't make the guitar sing as it should.."

    There seems that people like the satin finish better. Is there are reason other than the astetics? (spelling) I know that gloss finish can often be very thick on cheaper guitars and I can see how that can make the wood resonate worse or something along those lines. And that it can, if done badly make the guitar look like plastic.

    I know that on acoustic guitars, the finish has a huge part in the guitar sound, but those are a whole different story.
     
  2. Deadseen

    Deadseen SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    232
    Likes Received:
    18
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2009
    Location:
    Stockholm
    I don't think you're going to notice much difference in a live situation.
     
  3. Murmel

    Murmel Fapping to J-rock

    Messages:
    4,153
    Likes Received:
    307
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2010
    Location:
    Hotgirl-City, Sweden
    Well, I mainly want to know for recording etc not just live because I'm not in a band :fawk:
     
  4. Mop

    Mop SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    54
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Location:
    Auckland NZ
    Yes finish affects the tone, whether it's "better" or "worse" is open to interpretation. I went for a nice thin open grained satin laquer on my new guitar because I think thinner is better and because it was cheaper, win/win for me.
     
  5. Banana Wedgie

    Banana Wedgie Bored 13 year old

    Messages:
    214
    Likes Received:
    30
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2010
    Location:
    Ferring, West Sussex
    Unanped, the JH200 in black and digital camo...

    The digital camo one has a really thick finish. It sounds dampened, more absorbing the sound. Which is why I went with it. Because it looks great!
     
  6. Dehumanize

    Dehumanize Banned

    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2010
    Location:
    Tennessee
    I wouldn't know if it sounds better, but I always want thin, transparent finishes because I want to see the woods of the guitar.
     
  7. Andii

    Andii MAMMALHAMMER

    Messages:
    1,535
    Likes Received:
    203
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Western NC in a secret lair high on the mountain
    I think the finish affects the tone more than the wood type, even above bridge type. People are always talking about tonal characteristics and I don't think most of it makes much difference, but finish is right after the pickups in the tonal difference made.

    I sanded off one of my guitars and it made a world of difference that could be heard unplugged and through the amp. High or low gain the instrument opened up a lot.

    Here is the strat I sanded down:
     
  8. Mop

    Mop SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    54
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Location:
    Auckland NZ
    Don't be silly, wood has way more tonal influence than the finish. Cheap strats do have a horrible thick plasticy finish though, good on you for taking it off
     
  9. Andii

    Andii MAMMALHAMMER

    Messages:
    1,535
    Likes Received:
    203
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Western NC in a secret lair high on the mountain
    If good wood is covered in a thick plastic feeling finish then it won't matter what it is made of in my experience. Alder basswood and mahogany all sound really close when they have enough clear coat to laminate the wall of china caked on them.

    Also that strat is an American Standard series.
     
  10. Werwolf999

    Werwolf999 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    418
    Likes Received:
    19
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    There was a post made recently by a fellow who refinished a Schecter of his. He noticed that the tone did in fact change once he stripped it.
     
  11. mark105

    mark105 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Ballinger TX
    It dosn't make alot of difference to my ears. This argument has gone on for ages: Nitro Laquer vs poly vs oil finish etc. I never could hear much difference , even less so with a lot of gain and/or active pick ups. But if you can hear it you should follow your own ears.
     
  12. cow 7 sig

    cow 7 sig AU director / RHLC ©

    Messages:
    1,980
    Likes Received:
    160
    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    Location:
    WA Australia
    in my experience bare wood makes a world of difference to tone.it opens up the guitars tone alot more than a paint job.
     
  13. Leuchty

    Leuchty Previously CYBERSYN

    Messages:
    6,692
    Likes Received:
    385
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Location:
    Sunny Coast, Australia
    Totally agree.
     
  14. Mop

    Mop SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    54
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Location:
    Auckland NZ
    We will agree to disagree on this one ;) Wood to me is if not the most important then one of the most important parts of how a guitar sounds. Finish is way down the list. Sure, ripping the paint of your gat makes a difference, but nowhere near as much change as bolting a decent mahogany body to that strat would.
     
  15. shogunate

    shogunate SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    20
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Location:
    denver, co
    We need some luthiers on this one... :lol:

    I like natural wood finishes, oiled or satin for pure aesthetics, but I do personally feel that heavily painted guitars do sound... a little more compressed, choked, but only when in comparison with the same exact guitar unfinished. There are certainly heavily painted guitars that will sound miles ahead of other natural ones.

    I also have read and heard multiple times that the neck joint is a critical point of sound transfer, so that's why some companies try to leave minimal finish at that point on the guitar, particularly neck throughs. Not sure how that would work with a bolt-on :shrug:

    Go to a local shop and just try out different styles, unplugged and amped, clean and under gain, come to your own conclusions and jump into the fray :lol:
     
  16. MetalGravy

    MetalGravy Making a meat suit

    Messages:
    1,206
    Likes Received:
    73
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Location:
    Urbandale, IA
    Scientific Fact: Purple guitars sound better.


    I know it sounds weird, but who am I to question science?:shrug:
     
    caughtinamosh likes this.
  17. synrgy

    synrgy Ya ya ya I am Lorde

    Messages:
    6,327
    Likes Received:
    1,138
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    My Dad (not a guitar guy, but has a PHD in musicology and definitely understands a lot more about EVERYTHING than I could ever hope to) has been making this argument to me for years.

    I don't think it holds much weight. I understand the principle in terms of physics, but I have yet to hear an instance where the difference is truly noticeable.

    It's virtually impossible to get a true test to prove this kind of theory, anyway, save doing legitimate before/after testing of THE SAME GUITAR with and without the finish. IE, not the same model, but the exact same individual instrument.
     
  18. YellowMustard

    YellowMustard SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Location:
    Killadelphia, PA
    Yes is most certainly does, in certain situations its alot more noticable.

    Take a modern guitar, like an Ibanez RG with a thick ass poly paint job, strip off the paint down to bare wood, then try and tell me you dont notice a big difference in the tone acoustically. Paint, especially polyurethane based paints hinder the body woods ability to resonate as well as it could. Think about it, how can a body wood resonate as well as it should with it basically having a giant hard plastic covering over the entire body?

    When were talking about a live situation, and when you have tons of gain thrown into your sound, you wont notice is much at all, but play that guitar unplugged or through a super clean channel of an amp like say a classic fender or a Roland Jazz Chorus and you'll notice a big difference.

    I've been hot rodding guitars for years and have stripped many a guitar bodies, and every single time i notice a difference in the tone. The guitar usually ends up having a more "woody"/ warm/ open tone to it than it did beforehand.

    The dude that builds Blackmachines knows what he's talking about. His theories are spot fucking on.

    If you ask me...Paint doesnt belong on guitars.
     
  19. 7 Strings of Hate

    7 Strings of Hate Mid-Level Asshole Contributor

    Messages:
    8,427
    Likes Received:
    1,098
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    St.Louis USA
    Good point
     
  20. synrgy

    synrgy Ya ya ya I am Lorde

    Messages:
    6,327
    Likes Received:
    1,138
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    Okay, 'acoustically' is one thing, but when we're talking about ELECTRIC guitars, what difference does that make? When I buy an electric guitar and put whatever pickups in it to capture a specific sound, I couldn't possibly care less what it sounds like unplugged, because that's not how I use it.

    What about *practical* difference? Seems the consensus here thus far is "When you're plugged in and using gain (translation: when you're playing your guitar the way you normally play it) it doesn't make a difference"?
     

Share This Page