The type of wood of an acoustic instrument has a huge influence on tone, but what about electric guitars? Hollow guitars have a more acoustic-sounding tone. The wood the guitar is made from affects the way the sound resonates that is detected by your pickups. It’s quite light in colour so compliments a lot of guitar colours, however, it can show wear a bit more easily than other wood types. Solid body guitars produce a longer sustain and usually have less feedback issues than hollow or semi-hollow guitars. Poplar is another relatively inexpensive tonewood. Therefore it’s commonly found in cheaper guitars. As we know mahogany is a hard wood, much harder than Cedar or Spruce. Everything including the pickups, size, and weight of the guitar, wood, construction and overall setup of the guitar can potentially affect the tone of the guitar. No, the wood doesn’t affect the tone in the slightest. We’ve met mahogany before when we discussed electric guitars earlier. In the following article we’re going to explore the world of acoustic guitar tonewoods, and explain how different characteristics of timber such as density, moisture, strength and flexibility influence how an acoustic guitar sounds. You might see a reasonably cheap guitar consisting of a Spruce top paired with mahogany back and sides. You should be changing your strings after every 100 hours of playing in most instances. I love how you have made this very understandable and very simple to use. We all know an electric guitar's tone comes from various areas: the timbers used, construction method, quality of construction, hardware, pickups and amplifier. An additional benefit of Spruce is that it combines well with other types of wood giving producers more flexibility. I would have liked to seen more done on that tonewood experiment, also. Cedar is a very dense wood. eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'prosoundhq_com-medrectangle-4','ezslot_5',152,'0','0']));Okay, so now you know how electric guitars produce their sound, where does the wood come into play? Neck pickup: used for rhythm guitar because it’s fuller and smoother. Spruce is most commonly used as a top material for solid top guitars. Thanks for visiting! In this guitar tonewoods guide we’re going to take a look at some of the tonewoods available, their characteristics and what affect they have on tone. Just make sure to look after it! Maple is another hard wood. The material the strings are made out of also affects the tone. Because of its great tone and relative abundance compared to rosewood, mahogany is often used in inexpensive guitars. As such, I am glad to have come across this guide, because this will help me know what to consider when buying him the guitar and to know which is best to buy for him. I want the effect to … It’s frequently found on the back and sides of guitars thanks to it’s aforementioned aesthetics. It’s very dense which contributes to better resonance and natural sustain. In an electric guitar, 1 is negligible and 2 is not present at all. Wood is not completely uniform, it has grains and gaps which affects the vibrations produced by the strings. Think Squier and Epiphone guitars. Mahogany is heavier than other woods. This very versatile wood is also popular on guitar necks, as well as the body and fret board. With acoustic guitars the vibrations produce sound when they are transmitted to the saddle, then the soundboard and body and then the sound comes through the sound hole. Required fields are marked *. They were so microphonic that they would even pick up the sounds coming from underthe pick guard, so when an electric guitar's body had a wood that vibrated more when strings were played, this did in fact affect the tone. It’s completely subjective with an electric guitar and you may be adamant that you hear a difference between a cheaper material like basswood and something more expensive such as mahogany. The additional weight of the unit will not tip the neck up. The answer is that it does. So there you go! Different wood combinations can create different tones. Now you know about the main guitar body wood types, here’s some more information about the fret or fingerboard wood. This is probably the most common fret board wood choice. It’s a very dense and heavy type of wood so produces a characteristically bright tone that favours higher frequencies. In fact, it’s a pretty intense debate. Alder is still quite a lightweight wood. You’ll find Ash being used in mid-range guitars, owing to it’s cost. Fender used poplar in the 90’s but now favors Alder in many of their guitars. But what else can affect tone? Although, I do not have the interest of buying a guitar for myself soon or later because I am yet to learn how to play it but I have actually promised my brother on getting him a guitar for his next birthday. There’s no question, the choice of tonewoods used in acoustic guitar construction plays a major role with regard to tone, but when it comes to electric guitars, it becomes far less clear. Head over to our post on 7 tips to make your amp sound better for some more information. It’s not so clear cut when talking about electric guitars. Before we go into the different types of wood, and how they affect guitar tone, it’s good to get an idea of exactly how guitars produce their sound. Put simply that means the tone will even out if you play harder and bring out more of the subtleties when playing softly. A Laminate Koa guitar will set you back around $350 with a solid top creeping up beyond $800 and solid wood comfortably into the thousands of dollars. Solid mahogany or mahogany top guitars are good for folk music because they’re not as bright as Spruce. You’d be unlikely to find a solid wood guitar made from Spruce. Head over to our post on the 4 ways your strings impact your tone for more information. Again it’s not very dense so it doesn’t provide the best resonance. They then send a signal to the amplifier which produces the sound via the speaker. You might also see a solid Spruce top combined with Rosewood back and sides on a much more expensive guitar. Here’s the difference: As I mentioned before, the actual sound your electric guitar produces comes from the vibration of the strings. Here are some of the most important factors to consider. You can find a solid top maple guitar from around $350 upwards, so you tend to find them in the mid-price range. You don’t get the punch of the solid top with laminate guitars. Bolt-on necks are usually the cheapest option and produce a twangier tone. Electric guitar wood can affect tone, but not much at all. The heavy and solid nature of mahogany makes it a great choice as a neck wood as it’s very resistant to wear and warping over time. The first, and most significant question is whether tonewood actually matters? The big problem with solid wood guitars is that they’re susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature, which can cause damage. I am bringing this one back by popular demand. Intuitively, it would seem strange if it didn’t; but, there are many factors that are going to affect the sound produced from a guitar; isolating them is as difficult as creating a study that will convince anyone of an idea they already are clinging to. Set necks are a bit more expensive and produce a fuller sound. The density gives good resonance but it’s not a bright. An acoustic guitar is hollow bodied and, played in it’s natural form, doesn’t rely on pickups to produce sound. It balances this well providing some warmth so that the tone doesn’t feel too thin. So does tonewood really matter? Tonewoods on the back and sides of a guitar can act as an equalizer, boosting or scooping certain frequencies, or like a reverb unit that adds depth and sustain to the overall sound of the instrument. On the other hand, humbuckers produce a thicker and fuller sounding tone that’s generally deeper and smoother. In fact I can't feel it against my body; 2. As mentioned above many Fender guitars use Alder, from the lower end player series right through to the American made guitars. I created this website to share everything I've learnt over the past 15 years of playing guitar. Koa is exceptionally common for recording because of the tighter tone control. Laminate guitars can be good for beginners due to their low price, however I’d advise getting a solid top if you can stretch the budget a little. One of the more divisive arguments in guitar lore, the impact of wood choice on a guitar’s sound tends to drive people crazy. Let's discuss tonewoods. There are several factors which affect your strings: gauge, material and age. The tone wood is a lot more important on acoustic guitars than it is with electric guitars. The gauge refers to the thickness of your strings. It’s also harder, more dense and heavier than Alder. It’s very heavy and dense so is known for producing a bright tone with a lot of clarity. A thinner piece, like an SG, has a warm growly tone with lots of bite and presence. Then you have different varieties, a single coil sounds much different to a humbucker. Bear in mind that woods of the same species cut from different … Some people will swear that they can tell the difference between tonewoods in electric guitars, but it seems to be subjective based on each person’s ear. Rosewood necks are commonly seen, although not as often as rosewood fret boards. One thing Cedar does well is bring out softer play styles. With an electric guitar, though, the pickups and amps significantly affect the overall tone. $\begingroup$ In an acoustic guitar, violin, etc., the body does two main things: (1) it efficiently couples the instrument to the air, and (2) it has a Helmholtz resonance of the air "breathing" in and out through the hole(s). What’s the point in paying more for a guitar because it’s made from more expensive materials if it doesn’t matter? We’ll then move on to talk about tonewoods in acoustic guitars. Finally you have all laminate guitars. For the reasons mentioned above Koa isn’t cheap. Like I mentioned before, there are three main areas where wood will affect guitar tone, let’s start with the body wood. Broadly there are three types of construction that we need to be concerned with: At the very expensive end of acoustic guitars you’ll find solid wood. Single coils are found most famously on Fender Stratocasters and produce a twangier, brighter and more crisp sound. It responds to a lighter touch than many woods, but does not … All ya gotta do is play two Strats, each w/ maple neck and ash body made in the same 'batch' from Fender side by side, easy to do if there's a local Guitar Center - no two sound exactly alike, IME. Also that that effect is very minimized when the sound is pulled from the pickups, but not eliminated. But trying to dial in the perfect amp settings to sound like a specific band can be difficult... Hey, welcome Pro Sound HQ. The most obvious thing that affects tone in an electric guitar is the pickups. Clear sound with a balanced tone without excessive bass resonance. It produced good resonance and balances high ends well producing a reasonable bass. Neck-through electric guitars offer the best sustain and resonance, but they are the most expensive choice. When it comes to tonewoods used in the construction of guitars, there are many points that need to be considered. How to Sound Like Arctic Monkeys: Amp Settings Guide. The Gibson ES-355 is a popular choice in this category. There are actually two answers to that question. The short answer is that nearly all the parts of an electric guitar affect the tone in some way. Arguably it doesn’t in solid bodied electric guitars. You'll find amp controls guides, tips to improve your tone, and answers to loads of specific issues. It is usually the choice of body wood for guitarists looking or a lot of sustain, and a warm tone that has a lot of low-end frequency giving a thick sound. It’s also a very durable choice. Hence, with acoustic guitars, the wood is a lot more important as it is what actually amplifies the sound and picks it up. Mahogany is a common body wood for electric guitars as well as smaller acoustic guitars, especially those designed for finger picking. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page. They allow you to make alterations using the controls so you can change the volume, gain, bass, mids and treble which gives you the customisation options so you can get the tone you’re after. It can be used as a single piece or laminated (other tonewood layered on top of it). It’s not as bright as Spruce, producing a much more mellow tone. Wood type only affects the tone and sound of acoustic instruments. Not only does tonewood affect the tone of a guitar, each individual piece of wood affects the tone. The main woods used are basswood, poplar, alder, ash and mahogany: This wood is abundant and therefore cheaper to source. We’ll talk about neck wood and fretboard wood on other articles. Rosewood guitars are very beautiful to look at too. Still with me? We can swap out pickups, we can change an amplifier, or we can even add effects into the mix. We’ll talk about types of wood later, but the tonewood used for the solid top can greatly affect tone – and price! This is where the back, sides and top of the guitar are all made from the same solid wood. That’s why we’re seeing more fingerboards made from alternative woods where they once would have been made from Rosewood. Probably the best all round option is a solid topped guitar, but the choice of materials is something that each guitarist needs to decide on based on their preferences. Electric guitars are usually solid bodied, relying on pickups to produce the sound. It’s strong and dense so has great durability. The sound that’s being produced is directly affected by the design of the guitar, including the tonewood used. You’ll often find solid Cedar topped guitars combined with other woods on the back and sides. This is what causes it to have a more scooped sound with more emphasis on the treble. Generally, heavier woods like mahogany resonate differently than a medium-bodied wood like alder and a lighter wood like basswood. There are two mains types of ash wood: hard and soft (aka swamp ash). Rosewood also brings out something that’s difficult to label. Due to the density of the wood if you play hard it might sound like it’s distorting due to the lack of brightness. It’s commonly used to finish the top of electric guitars due to it’s good looks. The wood used to form the back and sides of an acoustic guitar sound chamber does a lot more than simply look good and create an enclosure. There are plenty of electric guitar body woods to choose from. You tend to find solid wood guitars made from mahogany, maple and rosewood. Wood vibration can´t be directly captured by pickups. There are so many factors affecting the tone produced by an electric guitar it’d be difficult to isolate whether or not tonewood actually makes a difference. There are a ton of pickups on the market all of which have a distinct tone. It’s quite commonly used in low to mid-range electric guitars. 1. It occurred to me that one of the most important questions someone looking to buy a guitar should have is about tonewood. In fact it’s classified as protected. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The next step down, which is where you’ll find most guitars that cost $275 upwards are solid topped guitars. It’s a well balanced wood that produces a warm and smooth tone. While there is some basis for the conclusion, what it really indicates is that the ambient sound of a solid body electric does sound different with different woods. On top of that we have to consider the bridge, the nut, whether the neck is bolted on or glued in and the selected pickup configuration. The middle option, is the semi-hollow body electric guitar. If you want to achieve the classic Arctic Monkey's tone, then you'll need to nail the amp settings. Basswood is usually exclusively used for the body of the guitar. It’s harder to work than basswood or poplar, which inevitably adds to the manufacturing cost. Similar to the way the strings excite the top of the guitar to produce sound, ToneWoodAmp excites the back of the instrument, producing sound waves of effects such as reverb, echo, delay, tremolo and more, which interact with the natural sound of the guitar itself. Most archtop guitars have spruce tops, so let’s consider what a spruce-topped archtop can sound like when combined with maple or mahogany. Different combinations can yield different results, and while pickups, hardware and other components can be changed in time, electric guitar tonewoods stay put once assembled. It can be plentiful and therefore reasonably cheap. I installed the magnetic X-brace into my 2017 Taylor GS Mini-e Koa (which does not have any factory bracing at all on the back), and it vastly improved the sound of the guitar -- in terms of resonance, sustain, and tone. It’s quite common to find Rosewood guitars with solid Spruce tops, although they tend to be eye wateringly expensive! But how exactly does this happen? Thanks for sharing this article, it has a lot of good stuffs to teach to people and this will help a lot of guitarist understand better how to make advantage use of their tonewoods. It’s also an attractive wood. These guitars range widely in price, but are pretty much based on the same design. Solid wood guitars often cost thousands of dollars owing to the involved manufacturing process and perceived tonal quality. So now you know a bit more about guitar wood and how it affects the tone, you’re probably wondering what wood is the best? If we’re talking about acoustic guitars then the answer is that it definitely matters. The age of your strings also impacts the tone. However, acoustic models gain most of their sound from the wood choice. I have found the gain and volume default settings on the high side. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24. I’ll share this to my cousins, this are guitar freaks. A big part of your tone comes down to how you play — how you fret chords and how you strum or pick. Each of these different types produces a different tone. Although it can be a bit thin sounding if you pair it with single coil pickups.
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