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Best guitar woods for tone??


mrjones200x

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Hey there,

 

Whats peoples thinking on the best types of woods for a solid body electric guitar? Can you put them into an order you like best at number one and so.

 

Including woods like;

 

1 Mahogany

2 Ash

3Bass

4 Alder

5 Ply

6 MDF lol

 

And so on.

 

Just wanted peoples opinions thanks.

 

Maybe also neck woods too and fingerboard too (if that makes a difference to tone?)

 

Thanks again

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In order of no preference(they all work)

 

Mahogany(body or back)

Maple(necks or tops)

Ash(body)

Alder(body)

 

Maple/Ebony/Rosewood for fretboards

 

The rest is just firewood(including Basswood) or decoration... :-

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Hey there' date='

Whats peoples thinking on the best types of woods for a solid body electric guitar?

Can you put them into an order you like best at number one and so. [/quote']

 

 

Tone woods depend primarily on the type of instrument being made, but here's my

preferred choice..

 

EDIT: So have we covered all the woods from "A" (Ash) to "Z: (zebrawood)?

Aspen..a nice light wood similar to popular, Butternut, Bubinga, Balsa, Cypress,

Redwood? and perhaps Tupelo? (grows in the swamps of Mississippi and Tuscaloosa...not a good tone wood but a lightweight filler similar to balsa or chromite to keep the weight down.

Haven't found a wood that starts with "X" though..but maybe we could call that "mysterywood" ..."x-factor wood" in stead?

 

 

 

1. Black walnut...heavy, but a good tone wood.

2. Figured maple (include flame, tiger, curly, birdseye, quilted, even spalted)

3. Sitka spruce for flattops and carved tops; cedar is good too (western)

4. Honduras Mahogany for backs,sides and necks

5. Hard maple for necks

6. Ebony, not really the best tonewood, very heavy, but good for bridges and fingerboards

 

and the rest for solid bodies ....

 

7. Mahogany..any kind they can get now (African ribbon stripe,

Phillipines (luan) and black market/hoarded Honduras

8. Maple, Alder, birch, maybe elm, it's got a nice grain, a bit like alder

9. Poplar, basswood, exotic woods such as coco bolo etc.

10. Pine, spruce

 

11. the rest...cratewood, mdf, particle core, plywood, lexan plastic. acrylic plastic,

carbon fiber and aluminum (necks and bodies)

 

 

Mr Jones wrote:

Just wanted peoples opinions thanks.

Maybe also neck woods too and fingerboard too (if that makes a difference to tone?)

 

Neck woods are chosen more for stability...less movement/warpage..and that

would be Maple or Honduras mahogany, or laminated woods, such as maple/ebony,rosewood

Also quarter sawn black walnut is very stable.

 

Fingerboards, rosewood or mahogany are chosen for wear, not tone, as a 1/4 thick fingerboard with

fret slots in not necessarily the best transmitter of tone, but combined with a good solid neck,

may help. Violins fingerboards which are not fretted are almost exclusively ebony along with the

tailpiece. However, the thin bridge is almost exclusively maple...along with the hard maple neck.

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And then there are great guitars made from woods that you wouldn't expect, such as Brian May's homemade guitar that was formed from a slab of wood from an ancient castle that was being demolished. I would guess that it is Oak, a wood that isn't considered a tone wood.

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And then there are great guitars made from woods that you wouldn't expect' date=' such as Brian May's homemade guitar that was formed from a slab of wood from an ancient castle that was being demolished. I would guess that it is Oak, a wood that isn't considered a tone wood.[/quote']

 

Oak (white is for making whisky barrels as it is very unstable and has a long feather

grain that is impossible to sand out as well as being very porous. ).

 

Red oak is used a lot for furniture, so I don't know why it couldn't be used for a solid

body, except that it is very heavy and porous as well. Hickory is another hardwood

that has been overlooked for guitar bodies. It makes excellent baseball bats though.

Do baseball bats have that unique tone when hitting one over the bleachers?

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Red oak is used a lot for furniture' date=' so I don't know why it couldn't be used for a solid

body, except that it is very heavy and porous as well.

[/quote']

 

I've heard several reports on people using oak bodies. Westone(Japan)had some models in oak some 20+ years ago. Like you said, heavy as hell!

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Long time ago I used to play with a guy that had a Travis Beam...(not even sure I got the name quite right)

It was made of Koa with an aluminum neck. Had a heck of a sustain.

 

Acacia Koa..grows exclusively in Hawaii and no where else. Beautiful figured wood

similar to Honduras mahogany (in some ways).

 

I can see it now...a LP made out of Koa with a aluminum (or Koa), neck playing

softly, the palm trees swaying in the breeze, the t*pless grass skirts swaying,

drinks served in coconut shells...

 

Ok, back to reality.. guitars and woods, death and taxes, not necessarily in that order

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And then there are great guitars made from woods that you wouldn't expect' date=' such as Brian May's homemade guitar that was formed from a slab of wood from an ancient castle that was being demolished. I would guess that it is Oak, a wood that isn't considered a tone wood.[/quote']

 

The story I heard was they they made it from their home fireplace mantel, and it was indeed oak.

 

I see nobody thought of Korina aka limba.

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The story I heard was they they made it from their home fireplace mantel' date=' and it was indeed oak.

 

I see nobody thought of Korina aka limba.[/quote']

 

But wasn't that meant for Flying V's exclusively...which is a solid body. Ok, being

an exotic wood, I didn't specifically mention it.

Some info on "Limba"..

 

Limba (calle Korina by the people that sold it to G*bson) TedMcCarty chose it for the Flying V because he

wanted something completely different from the usual mahogany that everyone was using and it didn't

have to be finished to a colour..it was almost white.

(Terminalia superba)

Color: Pale yellow to light brown with black streaks.

The Wood: Lumber is separated for color and sold as "white" without black streaks or "black" with black streaks. It is relatively soft and easy to work. Medium coarse texture. Open pores require filling for a smooth surface.

Typical Uses: Furniture, cabinets, interiors.

Source Region: West Africa, widely distributed from Guinea to Zaire.

 

 

Afromosia

Carverman's addon: (used for Garrard turntable tone arms in the late 60s)

(Pericopsis elata)

Color: Brownish yellow with darker streaks, or crimson-brown with bands of golden brown.

The Wood:Resembles fine-grained teak. Afromosia is hard with interlocked to straight grain; boards tend to be fairly large and exceptionally clear. An attractive stripey grain is very common as well.

Typical Uses: Boat building, decorative veneer, desks, cabinetry and flooring

Source Region: West and Central Africa, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, and Congo.

 

Nigerian Pearwood

(Guarea spp)

carvermans addon: (Guild used pearwood in their Mk VI classic guitar. Mark V was S.A. Rosewood.)

Color: Pinkish brown, with slight darkening with age. The color is even.

The Wood: Extremely stable, dries well, and has a pleasant spicy scent when worked

Typical Uses: Furniture, cabinets, interior millwork, joinery, flooring.

Source Region: Ivory Coast to Nigeria

 

Zebrawood

(Microberlinia brazzavillensis)

Color: Golden brown with pronounced dark brown streaks.

The Wood: Medium to coarse texture; grain usually wavy or interlocked and produces alternating hard and soft material which creates working difficulties.

Typical Uses: Furniture, accessories, inlay.

Source Region: West Africa, especially Cameroon and Gabon

 

 

and of course Teak as well as black cherry, padauk, and a host of other exotic woods too numerous to mention.

G*bson used quite a few "smartwoods"...(non-depletion woods) in their LPs in '96/97,

such as Sting's, Jackson Browne's. Curupay fingerboards, and tops made from rare

and exotic woods such as ambay guasa, banara, cancharana, guasa,peroba or taperya

all from Paraguay S.A.

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Other than the sustain, I don't know how much effect wood has on the tone of a solid body guitar. The pickups are the biggest concern there. The questions I would be asking you would be (1) how do you want it to look, and (2) which wood is easiest to work with (do you have a complete woodshop at your disposal?).

 

I have a lap steel made by this guy. He makes a lot of Les Paul style guitars out of metal with some plastic and a wooden neck.

 

http://www.industrialguitar.com/guitars.html

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Other than the sustain' date=' I don't know how much effect wood has on the tone of a solid body guitar.[/quote']

 

Well, a solidbody sounds different than a hollowbody and an SG sounds different than a Les Paul. So something is definitely going on.

 

The pickups convert the vibration of the strings into an electrical analogue. However that vibration is affected by the tonal character of the wood, even in a solidbody. Some frequencies will be attenuated while others will be augmented by the character of the body. This affects the actual shape of the wave that is created as the string vibrates (it's NOT a simple sine wave; this would sound horrible), and the pickup will create an electrical signal that mimics that waveform.

 

I recently picked up a nice slab of bloodwood which is probably too dense for use in a body but it promises to make some beautiful necks in the Fender style.

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I guess I'm skeptical of just how much vibrating is going on in a solidbody guitar, especially the ones made of harder wood like maple. My assumption in the past was that the softer woods had more of a damping effect than the harder woods (lowering sustain), and that the bolt-on necks had more of a damping effect than the necks that were part of the actual guitar body.

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You can put humbuckers on a strat and it still sounds like a strat. I don't know if its the neck, body, or wood type, but they still have that fender spank. This goes for all fender models, I have a jazzmaster, tele and a squier 51 all with humbuckers and its the same with them all.Stan.

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I guess I'm skeptical of just how much vibrating is going on in a solidbody guitar' date=' especially the ones made of harder wood like maple. My assumption in the past was that the softer woods had more of a damping effect than the harder woods (lowering sustain), and that the bolt-on necks had more of a damping effect than the necks that were part of the actual guitar body.[/quote']

 

While seemingly not as important as on an archtop....an older piece of wood with a light nitro finish as opposed to a mysterywood body with the heavy poly glop that's all over the place today resonates much better.....when a solid body guitar just has that ring to it unplugged...you know it's going to sound great plugged in.

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I guess I'm skeptical of just how much vibrating is going on in a solidbody guitar' date=' especially the ones made of harder wood like maple. My assumption in the past was that the softer woods had more of a damping effect than the harder woods (lowering sustain), and that the bolt-on necks had more of a damping effect than the necks that were part of the actual guitar body.[/quote']

 

If you hold a tuning fork on a piece of 2x2 hardwood at one end and hold your ear or a microphone to the other end,

you will definitely hear the tuning fork vibrations come through. I did this with 40 inch long piece of walnut and

then the same with the maple. I didn't have a 2 x2 piece of mahogany worth trying so I can't say from my

experience if it's any better. How much sustain vs attenuation is anybody's guess.

Whether soft maple is better or worse than hard maple depends on how the wood is cut and seasoned,

 

Solid bodies don't have the same projection of sound as a flat top or archtop..but

you can hear the strings vibrate somewhat so the wood neck and body is carrying the sound.

Bolt on necks..don't know too much about them, but if the bolt-on "transfer" area is large enough

and the bolts are torqued down, it should work almost the same as a short tenon, I would think.

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Other than the sustain' date=' I don't know how much effect wood has on the tone of a solid body guitar. The pickups are the biggest concern there. The questions I would be asking you would be (1) how do you want it to look, and (2) which wood is easiest to work with (do you have a complete woodshop at your disposal?).

 

I have a lap steel made by this guy. He makes a lot of Les Paul style guitars out of metal with some plastic and a wooden neck.

 

http://www.industrialguitar.com/guitars.html[/quote']

 

I think wood has a lot to do with the tone of a solid body guitar. Bend over and lay your ear on the body while sitting and playing in a quiet room and you will hear lots of acoustic overtones that you don't hear through the air. The pickups absorb a lot of acoustic sound as well as induction from the strings. There's a microphonic component to their design. That's why you can lower the pickups and get a lot warmer sound. You are reducing the inductive component and balancing the acoustic properties into the mix. Of course, when you lower the pickups, you have to crank the amp a little higher, but that also gets you into the sweet spot range of the amp.

 

You might notice the difficulty in using a tuner when there's a lot of noise on stage. When it's quiet, my Fender foot pedal tuner is rock stable. When there's a lot of noise, it can dance around quite a bit. That's coming from acoustics through the body and pickups. I try to touch up the tuning in between songs if necessary, rather than during a song.

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You can basicly build a electric guitar from anything you want. As long as it will hold strings and has room for a PU.

You could build one from cardboard, or simply nail some strings and a PU to the wall. But reproduction of stringsound has nothing to do with accomplishing a musical, classic guitar-tone.

 

The best electric guitars mimic acoustic sound properties. Material(choice of wood) and construction should reflect the same workmanship that goes into building a good acoustic.

 

When you try or buy a new guitar. Play it unplugged first. All the qualities of a good acoustic sound will translate in a good amplified sound. Not the other way round.

You can mod all you want with PUs, if the guitar has no desirable acoustic quality, you're left with sticking in a DiMarzio Super Distortion. #-o

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You can basicly build a electric guitar from anything you want. As long as it will hold strings and has room for a PU.

You could build one from cardboard' date=' or simply nail some strings and a PU to the wall. But reproduction of stringsound has nothing to do with accomplishing a musical, classic guitar-tone.

 

The best electric guitars mimic acoustic sound properties. Material(choice of wood) and construction should reflect the same workmanship that goes into building a good acoustic.

 

When you try or buy a new guitar. Play it unplugged first. All the qualities of a good acoustic sound will translate in a good amplified sound. Not the other way round.

[b']You can mod all you want with PUs, if the guitar has no desirable acoustic quality, you're left with sticking in a DiMarzio Super Distortion.[/b] :-

 

 

No offense to Ibanez shred guitars out there...but this is the exact same reason I just had to get rid of my Ibanez Joe Satriani JS1000. It was just a piece of **** tonally. sure, it had nice pickups, but it was made of basswood; light but in terms of acoustic tone, it was a turd. I think this guitar was built with the expectation that the tone would come from a monster rack of effects instead of the well-built/designed inherent guitar tones one would come to expect from a high-priced "high end" guitar.

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Long time ago I used to play with a guy that had a Travis Beam...(not even sure I got the name quite right)

It was made of Koa with an aluminum neck. Had a heck of a sustain.

 

It was Travis Bean. I used to have one as well as a Messenger. (Think Mark Farner) Both had aluminum necks fitted well into the body cavity, the Beans had the pickups actually mounted to the aluminum part of the neck in the body. They did have great sustain but man was that aluminum cold. Try playing one at an outdoor gig in January ! I did, not fun at all.

 

Both funky but not great guitars IMO. I just read that some big name Co. is currently making the Messanger again but with a set wood neck, looked like the real Mccoy though. I can't remember now who it was. Both Travis Beans and Messengers go for big bucks now when you can find them. If you do find one , you can have it, I'll pass !

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You can put humbuckers on a strat and it still sounds like a strat. I don't know if its the neck' date=' body, or wood type, but they still have that fender spank. This goes for all fender models, I have a jazzmaster, tele and a squier 51 all with humbuckers and its the same with them all.Stan.[/quote']

 

I wish that was true for "all" Fender styles. I have a Squier (Indonesia) Tele Custom with HB's and I can barely get it to sound like 1/2 a Tele and can only do that with the bridge pup. I've had two Telecasters in the past and this Squier doesn't even come close, which for me is a bummer. I dunno, maybe its just the way it was put together but its such a simple makeup - bolt the neck to the body, throw in some pups etc. Interesting.................J

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When I say sounds like A Fender,I'm a guy that doesn't like the fender sound. So when you put humbuckers on A strat or tele I like that sound. Now I can hear A touch of Fender in all my humbucker equiped Fenders, but not enough to ruin it for my wierd ear. Stan.

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When I say sounds like A Fender' date='I'm a guy that doesn't like the fender sound. So when you put humbuckers on A strat or tele I like that sound. Now I can hear A touch of Fender in all my humbucker equiped Fenders, but not enough to ruin it for my wierd ear. Stan.[/quote']

 

I must have the same "weird" ear that you do although I do like the Strat or Tele ambiance for some things. However, I do like the idea that with even stock F*nder pups and the right amp settings or pedals you can get 'em to emulate pretty much any sound/tone you're trying to reach...............J

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Leo Fender made his first guitar bodies (Broadcaster/Nocaster) out of pine before switching to ash... I have to wonder how "twangy" those early guitars were...

 

Some people say that an electric guitar's tone comes from the pickups and the amp and the wood has little to do with it... I just can't believe that... I'm a firm believer in playing a guitar acoustically first when shopping for a guitar (something that's impossible at GC) and I have yet to play a guitar that sounds crappy or dead unplugged, but has killer tone when amplified... I also play my guitars unplugged around the house a lot and I can definitely tell the difference in the tone between different guitars... Those differences are reflected in the amplified tone..

 

I saw an interview with Paul Reed Smith once in which he was knocking on various blocks of wood, demonstrating the tone it makes and the difference in tone between different blocks of wood... Even blocks of the same species of wood... They all sounded musical.. You could clearly hear distinct notes when he knocked on it.. And they all sounded different..

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Hollow bodies sound different than solid bodies and that's the difference in shape and wood type. You can change the tonal qualities by chambering the body, and you can change the sound by changing string guage and bridge components. Some changes are subtle and some are drastic. It's the combination of all of the above that makes one guitar sound a little different than the others. Billy Gibbons, at last count, had over 25 Les Pauls, purchased in his search for a backup for "Pearly". Some were close, some were not, but none matched the sound of Pearly in his opinion.

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