Tone difference neck thru vs. set with BKP pickups

Discussion in 'Sevenstring Guitars' started by JediMasterThrash, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    20
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    With all the discussion of tonewoods for the guitar body and how they affect tone and match with different pickups (alder, basswood, ash, mahogony, etc), it seems that most of the high-end guitars are neck-thru designs where the maple neck wood is going to be under the strings/pickups anyway.

    How much does the bodywood even matter in that scenario? Am I better off getting a set neck to get the benefit of the bodywood tone?

    I'm working on a custom with alder body and maple neck (ebony fretboard), and want to pair it with BKP holy diver humbuckers. I've read a lot of reviews that alder + BKP is a good combination. But I'm worried that if it's neck-thru, I'll get something different.

    I have neck-thru and bolt-on guitars already. Pretty much every bolt-on I've played has horrible upper-fret access (Anything above the 19th), while the neck-thru's I can comfortably reach the 24 no problem. I haven't yet had a set-neck to know how well it compares between them.

    I have a maple neck-thru with mahogony body and it sounds like the mahagony tone anyway, so maybe it's a somewhat moot issue.

    I play clean, crunch/saturation, and high-gain. And I understand it's typical the guitar wood/pup/hw have less tone impact the higher gain you go.
     
  2. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    3,747
    Likes Received:
    1,221
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2015
    Location:
    QLD, Australia
    depends on the construction. Set necks can feel pretty much like neck troughs. ITs up to the builder to smooth the transition between.

    I dont have much experience with different woods guitars in roder to give you an answer. And the experience I ahve is between vastly different guitars (neck pocket, body shape, hardware, pickups, ect, ect) so theres also other factors that jsut doesnt make a good A/B compare in order to rule out that X element in the sound was due to Y wood.

    As always this is a can of worms so everyone would chime in differently. Some folks would swear by the wood in their tone, others would blame the pickups, others would say the the neck ads Blah and blah. At the end of the day all the tinny differences goes down the drain once the drummer starts playing. Dont worry too much about it. Woods and construction methods are not an EQ mixer for tone. As long as your guitar is acoustically resonant, you should be fine.

    IF you are making a custom order trough a luthier or something like that, ask him, if theres someone would would know, it is him as hes the only one who would have build X amount of the same shape/specs guitar but with different woods
     
  3. Sogradde

    Sogradde SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    577
    Likes Received:
    699
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    Location:
    Germany
    This is highly subjective but from my experience the impact on tone is like this:

    Cabinet > Amplifier >>> Pickups >>> Construction >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Wood

    Fight me.
     
    erdiablo666, xzacx, AxeHappy and 5 others like this.
  4. angl2k

    angl2k SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    368
    Likes Received:
    168
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2016
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Same for me except I have put a parametric EQ before the amp input to tweak :)

    Bolt-on fret access depends on the guitar design, I feel no difference between my Horizon neck through and my M-II bolt on, but on my Eclipse it's horrible :)
     
  5. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

    Messages:
    7,451
    Likes Received:
    1,153
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Location:
    Paris, France
    It depends on the individual guitar, so it is irrelevant.
     
  6. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    20
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'd probably agree with this too. I recently got new cabinets/speakers and was surprised at how much coloration different speakers can add. I find it rather annoying actually, after all the work I go through to get the right pickups and amp to generate my tone, to have it colored so much by the cab/spkr. I ended up going with avatars with CL80s because they are the least coloration (and also a mosvalve amp which is "flat" as well). I use an EQ between the pre-amp and amp to boost the upper mids if I need to cut better and lo-mids for power, don't need to deal with the permanent hi-mid spike on the V30s. (I find I'd rather cut less and be able to hear my tone vs. cut like crazy but have my tone sound like nails on a chalkboard or a chainsaw).

    I also have a BB+MB between the pickups and pre-amp. I can basically turn any pickup into any other pickup by adding compression or B/M/T contour before the amp. I primarily care about the harmonics, sustain, and clarity on the pickups and let the downchain EQ take care of the rest.

    I tend to think you can pretty much recreate (well get close anyway) any guitar or cab/spk sound with a pre- and post-eq. And even the EQ knobs on the amp itself. I tend to think that when people do cab/speaker A/B videos on youtube, they're keeping their signal chain constant, versus re-optimizing it for each speaker. I bet in the end many could end up sounding pretty similar with adjusts to the EQs in the chain.

    Having said that, I also find that when using digital modelers, the cabinet choice often has the biggest impact on tone. Besides my tube pre-amp and amp, I have a GNX4 and a yamaha THR (and gave my dad a fender mustang). The cab sims tend to be the part that makes or breaks a tone on those.

    But there is always something subtly "darker" and punchier about my mahagony neck-thru guitar vs. my basswood bolt-on. Gone through several pickups on each and always the same.
     
  7. RoboKopp

    RoboKopp SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Location:
    Minneapolis MN
    I had two Jackson Cows both with EMG 81's and two Jackson KBRR's also with EMG 81's for a number of years. Both Models were Mahogany neck Mahogany bodies with Ebony fret boards, but the KBRR's were neckthrough and the COWs were bolt on. The COWS seemed a little brighter and had more attack but the KBRR's sounded warmer and seemed to sustain a little more. In my experience there's not a huge difference in sound in terms of neck construction but there is a difference.
     
  8. trem licking

    trem licking SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    396
    Likes Received:
    69
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Location:
    MI
    absolutely buy guitars on comfort and aesthetics alone. tone starts at the pickups and is modified way more heavily at the effects/amp level. only precautions i have with guitar wood is if you like trems, i'd avoid basswood and even alder body wood. they are so close to the soft end of the hardwood scale that over time and trem use, the posts can lean and need repair. also, basswood chips and dents really easily, as many already know
     
    zappatton2 likes this.
  9. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire pickup hoarder

    Messages:
    10,525
    Likes Received:
    7,873
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Location:
    minnesotahhh
    ^basically this. Some people want to get all cork sniffy about wood types, but for me it doesn't really matter much. For me it can broken down into a guitar either sounding inherently bright, or sounding darker through a certain rig. That's about as involved as I get in the tonewood debate. How you set your amp eq, the amp's inherent sound and the kinds of speakers you use have way more impact soundwise ime.
    Changing pickups is something that shouldn't be done unless you're trying to rectify a specific issue with the sounds you're getting from the guitar. Oftentimes it devolves into a goldilocks situation where "pickup x is too dark, pickup y is too bright, pickup z is juuust right". I went through that with most of my guitars at some point, but it was most obvious with my dc600 (which leans towards being a relatively bright guitar). I had to swap out the lithiums, painkillers and a black winter set because all of them made the guitar sound too shrill on the high end, regardless of how I eq'd/changed my pot/capacitor values.
     
    xzacx and Smoked Porter like this.
  10. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    20
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Interesting comment. I has assumed Alder would be good because most of the high-end ESP custom/original/EII models use alder with their FR trem models. A few use mahagony.

    I definitely agree on the basswood, the posts are well tilted forward on my basswood FR. I had to manually route out the pickup holes because a true dimarzio was somehow larger than the fake duncan "Designed", and that wood was scary soft. I couldn't even chip it out, it had the consistency of a rice crispy bar, or stale oatmeal.

    And nearly every screw has stripped out at some point (From the 1/4" plug plate, the rear plates, the pickup rings, etc).
     
    gienek and trem licking like this.
  11. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

    Messages:
    1,560
    Likes Received:
    1,614
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    Location:
    Australia
    Pretty much this. You're talking like a <5% influence on tone when it comes to wood.
     
  12. trem licking

    trem licking SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    396
    Likes Received:
    69
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Location:
    MI
    I don't think alder is quite as susceptible to leaning/compressing stud insert routs, but it is only slightly harder than basswood if you look at the janka hardness scale. Even basswood CAN be fine as different pieces of wood vary in hardness a little bit. My point is both alder and basswood are not worth the risk of that happening if you have a floyd rose, because wood does not matter in tone generation and neither of those species of wood look good in its natural state, so they are only good for solid colors. if they have a fixed bridge they are fine, but they still chip the hell out of paint and dent/strip screws like you said
     
  13. Lemonbaby

    Lemonbaby SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    860
    Likes Received:
    531
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Location:
    Germany
    Finally another tonewood discussion... :coffee:
     
  14. Lorcan Ward

    Lorcan Ward 7slinger

    Messages:
    4,898
    Likes Received:
    1,321
    Joined:
    May 15, 2009
    Location:
    Ireland
    I find with pickups and amp EQ you can shape your tone in so many ways that wood choice isn't that necessary, some woods like swamp ash do colour the sound no matter what you do, the same way a pickup will always sound similar despite your guitar or signal chain but you can generally work around it.

    With construction I find nothing can mimic that quickness in the attack that a bolt-on has or the opposite way that fullness a set-neck has on every note. Changing pickups, pleas, amps, mics etc just can't make your set-neck have that directness a bolt-on has. I guess that comes down to what's happening before the pickup. Like the way how much a longer scale affects tone.
     
  15. Snarpaasi

    Snarpaasi SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    323
    Likes Received:
    72
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Location:
    Finland
    I love tonewood discussions and I'm biased to think that wood affects the tone. It's because I only play in my bedroom where acoustic tone often is present besides the amplified signal. Therefore I don't fully agree with guys saying that amp makes 99% of the tone, even if it was the biggest factor when an amp is fully cranked.

    About neck-through design, my experience is it might cause notes to lose some attack and dynamics -> being more compressed compared to bolt-ons. That was the initial reason why I had a GAS after having a neck-through for 10 years. Since then I've bought a few bolt-ons and they sound different.

    How much body wood affects in a NT construction, I have no idea. Probably a thick maple top over a thin body affects more though? I can only say my NT DC127 with mahogany wings maple top has a BKP Rebel Yell which is the way to go! I've tried Black Dog and A-Bomb before but neither one was as good.
     
  16. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,288
    Likes Received:
    286
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2015
    Location:
    Helsinki
    I agree with this. I feel neckthroughs have a different response vs bolt-ons. Bolt-ons seem somehow a bit more immediate and snappier. Set necks fall somewhere in between. I have a LP type guitar that has the set neck tenon extend all the way to the bridge (aka "set-thru"). The manufacturer later stopped making them like that because it was more work and nobody truly cared about the feature. It certainly sustains a bit better than my set neck guitars but that might be just the individual guitar.

    It's really hard to point to a single feature on any guitar and say that is what determines X in its sound as it all matters in the end from materials to construction to electronics.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.