Can you hear the difference between different tone woods?

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by abracadabra, Feb 8, 2013.

Can you hear the difference between solidbody guitar woods?

  1. [B]Yes,[/B] I can hear the difference between different body/neck woods

    53 vote(s)
    44.2%
  2. [B]No[/B] I cannot hear the difference although I accept maybe some people can.

    30 vote(s)
    25.0%
  3. [B]No[/B] I cannot hear the difference and I think the whole thing is ridiculous.

    37 vote(s)
    30.8%
  1. Phoenix0508

    Phoenix0508 New Member!

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2013
    Location:
    Kansas
    nope. only affects tone acoustically. UNLESS the guitar has some seriously MICROPHONIC pickups. That's the only way it affects "tone"
     
  2. Phoenix0508

    Phoenix0508 New Member!

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2013
    Location:
    Kansas
    because wood is not magnetic. simple really...
     
  3. Phoenix0508

    Phoenix0508 New Member!

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2013
    Location:
    Kansas
    different guitar = different pickup. no two are alike. only lace sensors are going to give you the closest sound from one pup to another.
     
  4. Phoenix0508

    Phoenix0508 New Member!

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2013
    Location:
    Kansas
    I read the info on how the test was done and....FAIL.
    The tester did not use the exact same pickups. After listening the pickups on the swamp ash guitar sounded different from the other because they are DIFFERENT PICKUPS. doesn't matter if they're the same brand and style, different pickups, wires/wire length, solder joints... that test was flawed. All it proved was the pickups sounded different in two different guitars. The tonal difference from one set to the other is consistent from one guitar to the other.
     
  5. Phoenix0508

    Phoenix0508 New Member!

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2013
    Location:
    Kansas
    Rob Chapman did this with his buddy at Anderton's in the UK. They compared 3 or 4 different strats (low to high end) and could really only tell the difference by feel.
     
  6. Phat-O-Caster

    Phat-O-Caster Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    59
    Messages:
    1,034
    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2013
  7. 335eye

    335eye Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,583
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale
    Not sure the myth was busted there. I hold no opinion, but that sounded like crap. Sounded like a cheap brick guitar with some tone from the neck. The guy sure tried hard to get some tone out of his fingers, but didn't sound like my strat. Could just be a bad recording I guess.
     
  8. AmericanSun

    AmericanSun Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    668
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    Location:
    TX
    It has nothing to do with magnetism. Has everything to do with the vibrational feedback loop created by the entire guitar. Strings send waves through the wood which then augments the strings vibration in return. Different wood attenuates different frequencies differently. Same with saddle, nuts, springs, blocks, etc.

    Whether or not the difference through the amp is desirable or highly noticeable is subjective.
     
  9. gmaslin

    gmaslin Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Location:
    New York
    AmericanSun
    +1
    It's an entire interrelationship of all the componenets. At volumes or in environments where the guitar is not effected by sound waves or where the string tension is insufficient to put the structure into a resonant motion, you won't hear any difference but everything changes when things start moving. There is math to prove this all out but the rights to its ownership are currently in litigation. Trust me when I say it makes a difference and in some cases, it is plainly audible by anyone who can hear their own name spoken and it is repeatable.
     
  10. echoes71

    echoes71 Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    2,958
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2013
    Location:
    USA
    you needed a 4th choice:

    Yes, I hear voices.
     
  11. rickthescot

    rickthescot Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    60
    Messages:
    60
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Hill Country Texas
    I have seen abd heard Jeff Baxter play a lucite body guitar that sounded awesome. Also heard Les Paul say people listen with their eyes. Not sure if the wood makes a difference but I do have a swamp ash tele and a maple top strat, which sounds alot like my bass wood strat (????).
     
  12. Virgman

    Virgman Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    845
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2012
    Location:
    Joisey
    I can hear the difference between different guitars.
     
  13. Rufuskyote

    Rufuskyote Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    195
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta
    BS

    The only way to verify for those that claim they can hear the difference in electric guitars is to actually conduct a blind listening test.

    Anything else is pure, unadulterated Bull$&@*

    Can you guess which way I vote?
     
  14. Green Craig

    Green Craig Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    2,146
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Location:
    Michigan
    Yep, in a controlled recording setup with guitars identical in every way feasible barring body woods, and with a controlled listening setup (i.e. my Shure headphones), I can tell a difference. That is, if each sample is played immediately back-to-back.

    So, yes, in those very precise circumstances, I can physically differentiate between two woods. In the real world? On a stage, in a guitar shop, at a buddy's house, or sittin' round the campfire...there are many more variables that account for different "tones" than the wood that is used in a guitar. So, "technically," yes I can hear a difference; from any practical standpoint, no, my ears are not trained enough to tell a difference. I've known dudes who claimed to be able to, and these dudes could guess how long you've been playing guitar with a shocking amount of success, so I have few doubts that others can as well. Not that it makes a lick of difference in the real world.
     
  15. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too.

    Messages:
    26,948
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Location:
    Initech, Inc.
    That makes a lot of sense if you think about it; the neck is underneath ~70% of the swept area of the string and so one would think it would have more effect.

    This being said, I definitely think that different woods affect the sound. Depending on how the body and neck vibrate, certain frequencies are going to be attenuated and others sustained depending on how the wood interacts with the strings. Even if you are amplified, there is a slightly different set of vibrations being picked up. Is it a big difference? Maybe, maybe not. I can definitely hear the difference between my Strat, Tele, and Squier 51 when unplugged even though they have the same brand strings of the same gauge and are the same scale length.
     
  16. UmpaHimself

    UmpaHimself Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,063
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2009
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I know for a fact I changed the body on my deluxe players from ash to alder and it made worlds of difference. I will say that I think it's more specific to the difference between one body or neck from another as opposed to tone woods. For instance, I think its possible for two maple necks to sound different, and I think it's just as possible for a maple and a rosewood neck sound very similar. I say this because that specific ash body was really garbage. My current strat and tele are both ash and sound great but that body was a dud for sure. I could have changed it to anything and it would have sounded better.
     
  17. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Most Honored Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,303
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Location:
    in New Orleans' past
    I don't like the choices.

    It isn't nonsense. But being able to distinguish some bodies of a certain species some times is not even remotely like creating a recipe and getting roughly the same flavor out of every mahogany or maple body you try. There's a giant reservoir of bodies that sound like they do in defiance of all the "stereotypes" about how this species or that sounds.

    The O.P. apparently doesn't understand what this is about; the results are guaranteed to deceive, to be frank, and with all due respect. :neutral:
     
  18. tubetone1956

    tubetone1956 Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    650
    Joined:
    May 1, 2009
    Location:
    north carolina
    Remember the old E.F. Hutton television commercials? "When E.F. Hutton talks, everybody listens."
    The same should apply to Boris.

    Good stuff Boris, Thanks!
     
  19. Swampash

    Swampash Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    2,509
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Location:
    Here
    I once swapped an alder body for an ash body - same neck, hardware, and electronics - and I thought I could hear what I think of as ash character in the tone afterwards. Bright high end, scooped mids, that sort of thing.

    My rational brain also reminds me that I didn't do a blind test; the bodies had different finish; one was a 2-piece body, the other 3-piece.
     
  20. Wordgrubber

    Wordgrubber Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Australia
    In fact, any test to do a true comparison would need the same everything except for the wood.

    To do a true blind test, play the guitar with an alder body. Then take off that body and replace it with ash. Or basswood, plastic, ceramic or whatever and play it in the same room with the same amp at the same settings using the same pickups, strings, bridge, tuners, neck and pick.

    Any other test introduces multiple variables: identical pickups will not be sonically and electrically perfect replicas of each other. Ditto with necks, bridges, and so on.

    FWIW, I think tonewoods make a slight but discernible difference.