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Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by vejichan, Jan 23, 2021.
I mean he's describing a telecaster or a strat but yeah.
I have 2 Mayones Regiuses, both basically the same specs, only 1 is Swamp Ash, and 1 is Mahogany. The Swamp Ash is way tighter in the low end (especially in low tuned guitars) and the Mahogany sounds like a Gibson to me; nice and fat, but not easy to control the low end; so I feel that one sounds a bit more muddy in a live situation. My guitars are tuned in B standard, I guess you'll hear the difference a bit less in drop D, but there sure is a difference. Alder and Swamp Ash differ a bit less, they are both more bright; so I would really try to do a test if you wanna go for that.
Wood can make a difference in the amplified tone but it's not as consistent as one may think. I experimented that first hand when I once brought this KEXMG Kelly to a friend's place to compare it to his Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy. Both had the same EMG 81/85 pickups in the same positions. Both had 10-46 strings tuned to D. We A/B-ed them with an EVH OD plugged into a Blackstar HT5R.
We expected the Paul to sound much warmer, darker and bassier because of its all mahogany construction, shorter scale length and TOM bridge compared to the Jackson's thru-body maple neck, basswood wings and Floyd Rose Special, but it didn't. Like my buddy accurately said the tone from the Kelly just matched its looks. It simply had more low end and less of a "hard-rockish" kind of midrange. We had to manipulate the EQ on both the OD and amp to such extremes to get the Paul to sound somewhat close to the Kelly. We really couldn't believe what was happening haha. I stopped making sweeping statements about woods that day, e.g. wood doesn't impact amplified tone and/or ash always sounds brighter than mahogany and/or maple bodies sound so bright you can actually prevent the sun from setting. And I also stopped believing that EMGs make all guitars sound the same.
Dont matter unless it's an acoustic.
This has been put to bed countless times with countless tests.
Wood absolutely matters, there are differences, but for your average player, it's not critical, and a lot of people who can't hear or feel the difference will be blindly dismissive of the subject entirely. With that being said, if you're trying to find your sound, pickups, bridges, and even some strings will have a much more apparent effect on your tone, and I would focus on those first.
this and its so complicated that its just best to try them out in person and pick the one that feels best. 2 of the same guitar can be very different... especially if its ash as it can vary a ton visually and in terms of resonance/haptic feedback. Depending on what you play and through what its signal goes through you may not be able to tell any difference sonicly.
Speaking subjectivity, i don't like the sound or the feel or the look of ash. I go for alder because it is very balanced and doesn't color the sound of pickups and it sounds good to my ear for metal and most importantly it is fairly light weight so no shoulder fatigue when playing.
I do disagree with the common statement here "wood doesn't matter or if it does it's the last thing that matters". If you ask me wood is the next thing after scale and neck joint construction on a guitar that does matter sound-wise. Simply because everything else is more or less something you can modify. So essentially how I read this common statement is.. "the guitar doesn't matter as all you put after the cable shapes 99% of your tone" and again - you can change way easily the things you plug to but not fundamental things on a guitar. With that said clearly there are wood types that are brighter and such that are warmer. The magic of wood, though in my opinion, is when it has a specific and recognizable tone shape say like a bolt on swamp ash guitar that will have that specific twang I just love. Electric guitar is an acoustic instrument in my book and if I don't like what it sounds like playing it unplugged chances are I want like it plugged as well.
All in all I think the question being asked is a perfectly fine question and doesn't deserve such arrogance. So to answer it I will go ash as I love it's twang. It certainly is the more unbalanced and therefore more recognizable of the two body woods. If you are looking for a more even tone than alder could be more to your liking. I'd say try them unplugged and see which one wins your guts playing it. It is also true, though, that wood pieces defer and especially on cheaper guitars the sheer quality of the wood piece could be more definitive to the tone than what the wood type is so I'd try all guitars they have in the store unplugged if I can.
I guess this is where I have a problem with this question. I don't want to be accusatory to OP because we all want to learn and this is a good place to start. But there are SO many things that matter way more than tone wood to achieve what you want soundwise. It just seems like if you are at the point of nitpicking about the tonewood to achieve your "sound" then you should actually already be sophisticated enough about all the aspects of tone chasing to answer your own question if that makes sense. It seems unlikely that someone would ask a newbie question and yet have exhausted all the tone chasing methods that matter more.
Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen mostly play (played RIP) basswood body guitars. When I get better than them and my Ash, Alder and Mahogany guitars are what's still holding me back....I'll look into wood options
Only plywood sounds good for drop d chugs, my man! Go for plywood!