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The importance of the body of a guitar

unix-guy

Legend!
That is amplifying an acoustic sound via transference to the body... An electric guitar doesn't generate much sound acoustically but rather magnetically.

I watched a video a while back where the guy recorded a Strat and then methodically removed parts of the body with a saw. Very little difference.

I'm not saying they don't matter, but I think far less than many think.
 

lauke-lux

Fractal Fanatic
I agree that the major sound quality and definition come from the PU and probably strings brand & gauge but still there is a notable difference when you play a SC strat with a maple, rosewood or ebony neck.
A stainless bridge will be clearer than a cast iron that will be clearer than zinc that will be clearer than brass.
Changes are subtle but imho more noticable when using single coils (less with P90's and less again with HB). Having tried most options over the years I am not to convince anymore that these subtleties exist.
I won't swear with any combination though as the amp settings will adjust to the colour we like.
 

favance

Power User
I've always found that if I play an electric guitar acoustically and it vibrates in my hand, it's generally going to sound better plugged in. There's just something about the wood/build in some guitars (even the same year/model) that can deem the guitar more of a player.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
The acoustic properties are THE most important part of an electric guitar. Putting a single coil pickup on a Les Paul sounds NOTHING like a strat and vice versa with a PAF.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Does a Tele sound like a hard tail Strat? No .Does an Eppiphone Les Paul sound like an original 59 if you put a PAF on it???
Absolutely not.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Also to hear the most difference you need to plug directly in to a single channel tube amp with the best quality lead you can get hold of. In this case the differences are loud and dramatic . The more components you put in the signal path lessen the effect and putting a DAC in there even more so.
 

sb-SG

Inspired
Interesting. Not the most convincing video tho.
The PU's all important but lot of people seem to hear something more . It can be quite subtle but response can seem quite different to me.
Why do I always prefer basswood / alder / ash vs mahogany? Could use a blind test on this. Somethings going on...
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
How can PU be important when they are so easily replaced. Your fundamental tone starts with the instrument and then you get PUs that are sutable for the gain levels that you use. They are important but they are more like the set of tyres you put on your Ferrari .
 

sb-SG

Inspired
How can PU be important when they are so easily replaced. Your fundamental tone starts with the instrument and then you get PUs that are sutable for the gain levels that you use. They are important but they are more like the set of tyres you put on your Ferrari .
I am not making any reference to ease (or cost) of replacement and and just acknowledging that a PU is an important part of resultant tone. I've swapped a few (awaiting a delivery right now in fact) but I don't treat them as a consumable - just a way of sculpting the tone.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
It all starts with the fundamental ability of the guitar to resonate properly. Pickups don't make a poor sustaining instrument suddenly sustain or get rid of dead spots. The bridge is super important in this respect. If any of you out there ever put a Kahler on a strat you would have heard an instant loss of interactivity with the body and 75% of the resonance go instantly.
 

sb-SG

Inspired
^ Sustainiac...?! ;)
But yes, very true - I had a Kahler on a Jap Strat - sounded closer to a banjo...
I am with you - wood does impart tone on most musical instruments and more so with good contact points (bridge & nut).
And a bolt on neck vs thru neck? I keep going for bolt on but far prefer the mechanics (or lack of them) of thru.
 

Lohengrin

Inspired
Whenever this kind of topics come up, I can't help but remember a couple of scientific works:

https://www.pnas.org/content/109/3/760
https://www.pnas.org/content/114/21/5395

If there is any group of people capable of beating us, guitarists, in the finicky, snobbery and pettifoggery race, they have to be classical violinists. The conclusion of those studies is that they are not even capable of telling apart a 300-yo legendary Stradivarious from a freshly made instrument in a blind test, even playing them with their own hands. As with everything scientific, there is much more to it if you dive into the discussion, but you get the idea...

When the topic of wood and body shape comes up, I wonder how many of the opinions are based on unbiased, blind experiences, under controlled listening conditions. IMHO, the -literally- thousands of variables in play makes it utterly difficult to get a clear idea of how a particular kind of wood influences the sound. There is an amplifier there (capable of hundreds of thousands of different knob configs), a cab, cones, a pick, a set of hands, pickups, rooms, environmental conditions... hell, even if you take a step to your side the sound of the room varies.

...And... PSYCHOACOUSTICS

I'm not saying there is no difference. Anyone with a basic understanding of physics knows there IS an influence. My point here is:

1) That I would like to see a much more scientific approach to the issue
2) That appreciable influence in the sound is almost negligible under most circunstances (probably anywhere except playing solo in a very controlled environment).
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Some people care more than others about tone and that's up to them but it doesn't mean the effect is less. Gear you play through and the player are a huge part of whether this comes to the fore or not. A really great player with a great amp is going to push right up to the potential of the rig and you WILL hear it.
 

Lohengrin

Inspired
Ever owned a guitar that just didn't sustain a note in certain areas of the neck? Very far from negligible.

Sure I had played some. My point is I wouldn't blame choice of woods or body shape there. Construction or neck joint issues would be my approach in that case. There would be a particular problem with that guitar. I was talking more about tony woods, sorry if I didn't make that clear.

Some people care more than others about tone and that's up to them but it doesn't mean the effect is less. Gear you play through and the player are a huge part of whether this comes to the fore or not. A really great player with a great amp is going to push right up to the potential of the rig and you WILL hear it.

Fair enough. But, can you really blindly tell apart, in whatever band setting, the tone woods of which a guitar is built?
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
It's about the resonant frequencies of the wood in the neck not gelling with the body. Dead spots and dissonance are usually nothing to do with construction quality .There is a thread recently about this problem with a Suhr, and I thing we can rule out any build issues or design flaws here.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Nobody in their right mind would say that putting areal PAF on a $99 beginner guitar would sound like a 59. If the acoustic properties made no difference this would be the case.
 

chucma

Fractal Fanatic
How very weird! My wife just got one of those gadgets he has (it looks identical but it plays the Happy Birthday tune) and before I saw this video we were doing the exact same thing on our cheap IKEA coffee table. It was probably even louder than this video shows. I'm very impressed with the gadget and now I want one too but unfortunately that is no way to test the "best wood" for your guitar. If it is, then I'm chopping up my IKEA coffee table and building a new guitar! :D
 

mr_fender

Axe-Master
Acoustic properties do matter for sure, but not as much as many people think they do. In my experience, the neck often plays a bigger part in the tonal response of an electric guitar than the body.

The strings are anchored to a larger, heavier chunk of wood on one end and a smaller, lighter chuck of wood on the other. The smaller, lighter part is going to respond more sympathetically to the strings' vibrations and ultimately have more impact on the vibration of those strings.
 
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