Does it really make a lot of difference?

RhodesRhodes Posts: 1,584Member
Does it really make a lot of difference? I can understand that the quality of the electronics will mak a difference to the quality of the sound, or how long the components last and so on, but not the effect of the wood.

As I understand it (well, in fact, I don't have a clue, but we'll keep quiet about that for now ) the strings are pinged, that sends little waves in the direction of the pick-ups and the sounds are amplified and modified and the genius that is ChilliJam or whatever is produced.

Do the pick-ups also transmit vibrations from the body or something? If I were to change the lovely basswood body on my guitar for solid mahogany or particleboard, would it sound any different?

This is a genuine question!

Comments

  • Options
    It does make a difference, but how much is open to debate.

    My RG is a single piece of basswood. Basswood is a light wood, and as a result (in combination with the bolt-on neck and longish scale length) the guitar has a fairly bright, clear sound.

    An LP is typically made from 2 pieces of mahogany (maybe plus a fancy top). Coupled with the short scale and the set neck, it gives a mellower, warmer sound than the RG, but could be said to lack some brightness and definition.

    Then compare the Parker P-38 I had. Three piece alder body, same scale as the RG, bolt-on neck. It definitely sounded different; twangier, kind of a hollow mid-range, but a bit more bass than the RG.

    My Talman - one piece composite body - it's wood fibres and an epoxy resin. Slightly richer sound than the RG (same scale length and a bolt-on), not quite so much sustain.

    The wood does make a difference, but the scale length and neck joint are probably much more important. The mahogany RGs sound pretty similar to the basswood ones.

    There is an argument that a single-piece body gives better sustain, because the glue between the pieces of a multi-section guitar doesn't transmit the vibrations as well as solid wood does. Until recently, even the top Strats had bodies made from up to 7 pieces of alder, with a thin veneer over the top and back to give the impression that it was a single piece. The Japanese strats, by comparison, were a single piece of basswood or alder, and were widely regarded as having a much better tone.

    The body wood has an influence because it is part of the coupling for the string. The string has to be held firmly at each end, preferably by something as rigid as possible. Any flexibility will alter the frequency response, and therefore affect the sound of the guitar.
  • Options
    :digs out old musty advice cap from where it was thrown during move:

    To put it really simply, the quality of the wood on a guitar is vital.

    People make a huge deal out of p/ups, strings, tuning pegs etc, and often upgrade these on cheaper guitars, when the quality of the wood is not worth all the effort.

    You've probably heard people going on about the neck on a guitar being key to it's playability and sound. Well this depends a lot on the wood used, after all, the guitar essentially is just strings elaborately wound round a bit of wood.

    Diferent woods have different effects on the sound because of several reasons. The density of the wood has an effect on the sustain of the note and how much the guitar stays in tune, the consistency of the grain (ie how many noughts, cracks etc there are occuring naturally within the wood) can also make a huge difference to the quality of the sound and the tone, and some woods are generally more consistant than others.

    There is, however, not nearly as much of a difference as there is when looking at different type of woods on electric guitars as there is in acoustics. This is a totally different ball game, as the sound is acually being amplified thru the wood, so it is key to the whole sound of the guitar.

    But once you get to the point where a decent bit of wood is being used, it often comes down to taste, or the styke of music that's going to be played on it. A Nu-Metal chugger won't find the wood to be as important as a blues or jazz twanger fo instance.

    I'll leave it as simple as that, and anyone with more detailed knowledge can add to it. \:\)

    [ 14 November 2002: Message edited by: Uncle Chappie ]
  • Options
     Quote:
    As I understand it (well, in fact, I don't have a clue, but we'll keep quiet about that for now ) the strings are pinged, that sends little waves in the direction of the pick-ups and the sounds are amplified and modified


    As far as i am aware a pick up works in the following manner..
    Pickups consist of a set of magnets with wire wraped around them. This creates a magnetic field. If a wire is moved throught this field an electrical current is produced and this is sent to the amplifier. Tonal shaping comes from a number of elements such as the make up and strength of the magnets, the size, type an quantity of windings of the wire on the pickup, and the size of the string of the guitar as well as the manner in which it is moved. Additionally there are usually volume and tone conrols on the gutar that the signal is routed through.
    If there are any innacuracies ehre I apologies and I'm sure someone will be along shortly to correct me.
  • Options
     Quote:
    Originally posted by Russell:


    As far as i am aware a pick up works in the following manner..
    Pickups consist of a set of magnets with wire wraped around them. This creates a magnetic field. If a wire is moved throught this field an electrical current is produced and this is sent to the amplifier.


    Yup. The string moving through the magnetic field induces a current in the coils. That's when the really complex stuff starts happening, because that current interacts with the inductive, resistive and capacitative components of the guitar electronics.

    And then it hits your first FX pedal, and the fun really begins.
  • Options
    the wood does make a difference as it and the bridge of your guitar affect the vibrations of the strings, for example a tune-o-matic strung thru bridge transmits more vibration throught to the body than a floating bridge like a floyd, the body wood also affects the vibrations being absorbed and will affect the tone

    theres also a big arguement about whether a bolt on,set or thru body neck makes a difference (bolt on means the neck is bolted on (almost all cheaper guitars are bolt on), set neck means the neck is a little longer and is glued in to the body and a neck thru means the neck, pickups and bridge are all attached to the same bit of wood and 'wings' are attached to either side to create the wanted shape, still waiting for a 1 piece guitar though)

    it is normally ok if the wood isnt the perfect sound as it can be much easyer shaped by using different pickups and most active ups (emgs or similar) negate almost all the sound that different bodys make

    hope this has cleared up something (not sure what)

    David
  • Paladin2019Paladin2019 Posts: 1,607Member
    Am I imagining this, or does body wood have more of an effect on single-coil based guitars than those with hummers? My LP definately sounds 'woodier' to me in coil tap mode.
  • Options
    i think it should, because humbuckers are hotter and louder so wood wont affect them as much, i cant explain the physics behind it or anything but singles arent as loud/hot as humbuckers so wood affects them more

    David
  • the best way to show you thhe difference in body woods is with semi acoustic, or guitars with sound chambers. Like with the resonence of a room the T60 (time it takes for the sound to depreciate 60dB) can change the tonality of the guitar, for instence a solid body electric has a very low T60, and the wood, depending on its hardness can effect this with the slight vibrations (sound waves). A semi acoustic, acoustic or chambered guitar has a higher T60 because it has room for the wound to bounce around, and it is not absorbed by the wood as quickly.

    If for instence the body is maple there will be a low T60 nice lite wood (I think), and a mahogany or oak (rare) it will have a higher T60 because of it's density.

    BB
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