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Poplar is a crap tone wood? Replace my '97 MIM Strat's body with Alder or Ash?

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  • Poplar is a crap tone wood? Replace my '97 MIM Strat's body with Alder or Ash?

    I bought my MIM strat new in '97 and have upgraded it over the years with:
    USA Custom Guitars neck with locking tuners
    Duncan Custom Custom Humbucker, Vintage Rails and DiMarzio HS-3
    Callaham Cold Rolled Steel Trem Block
    Graphtech saddles etc....
    and now I learn in a really good book at Barnes and Noble called "Tone Guide" that if your guitar is poplar you should look for something else if you are really on a tone quest.

    The USACG website says that Poplar is the "Tastes like chicken" wood that sounds a lot like alder.

    I have this ONE guitar and want it too be as good as it can be. I've had issues with it being too bright or harsh, but I think that is the fault of the Vintage 30 speaker.

    Poplar is so soft that I stripped out one or two of the pickguard screws many years ago. Is a harder wood like Alder gonna give me more sustain?
    I'm all about getting as much sustain as I can.

    I know that Chris Degarmo of Queensryche had ESP make his super strat style guitars (M-I?) out of Ash instead of Alder... I wonder why...

    Alex Lifeson recorded the solo of "Limelight" on an Alder body (frankenstein?) strat and there is tons of sustain in that solo (and overlapping delays).

    Should I replace my poplar body with a warmoth one of a different material?
    What am I missing out on?
    I would go for a rear route and ditch the pickguard too.

    thanks for your thoughts!
    <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">DR Strings &gt; '97 Mexi Strat: USACG neck &amp; Super Vee Blade Runner &gt; Duncan TB-11 Custom Custom, Fender Original '57/'62 &gt; Barber Direct Drive &gt; Soldano Astroverb &gt; WGS RETRO 30 (replaced Vintage 30) in Avatar 2x12. DD-5 Delay, Chorus. Fender Blues Junior III (BillMAudio mods in the mail) </font></div>

  • #2
    Tone is in the fingers
    <div class="signaturecontainer"><b><a href="http://acapella.harmony-central.com/forums/showpost.php?p=27942820&amp;postcount=140" target="_blank"><font size="2">References</font></a></b></div>

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    • #3
      Tone is in the fingers


      Oh. Damn. Then I've got it already! Nice.
      So that awesome tone I was getting earlier was from me? Thanks for pointing out my awesomeness!

      consider this a bump!
      <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">DR Strings &gt; '97 Mexi Strat: USACG neck &amp; Super Vee Blade Runner &gt; Duncan TB-11 Custom Custom, Fender Original '57/'62 &gt; Barber Direct Drive &gt; Soldano Astroverb &gt; WGS RETRO 30 (replaced Vintage 30) in Avatar 2x12. DD-5 Delay, Chorus. Fender Blues Junior III (BillMAudio mods in the mail) </font></div>

      Comment


      • #4
        Truthfully I think you may be disappointed if you were to change out the body on your Strat. First of all, it entails a lot of work if you plan to keep your pickups, bridge and trem block, but second of all, I really doubt you will find the tone you are after that way. It sounds to me as though the real culprit is your amp - from what you have said. You have to realize that the MIM bodies were overall better quality then than now as the new ones have up to seven piece bodies as compared to two or three for the 90's fare. I have two 90's MIMs and believe one of them may have a poplar body (oblique finish) as the dust on the screws (when removed) seems too red to be Alder. It is a fantastic sounding Strat with plenty of sustain and character. My other one is a transparent finish and on closer analysis, two piece Swamp Ash. I like them both for different applications.

        Try another amp, you may be surprised.
        <div class="signaturecontainer">My 9/11 Tribute Song: <a href="https://vimeo.com/49284582" target="_blank">https://vimeo.com/49284582</a><br />
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        <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n7uJnKGTGg&amp;feature=relmfu" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n7uJ...feature=relmfu</a><br />
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        • #5
          Poplar is quite similar to alder only not as warm, and slightly more articulate, or so is the case with mine. For what it lacks in complexity, it excels at transparent true sound. Like alder with bite.

          The vintage 30 is, in my opinion, the most shrill and overly trebley mess of a speaker I have ever heard. I suggest changing the speaker first.
          One MIA Fender Strat, one Gibson Les Paul, one Martin Acoustic, what more do you need?

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          • #6
            Thanks! I've had the same thought in the past about my amp being the problem, but finally realized that I might want to ditch the Vintage 30 speaker to get rid of its shrillness (speaking as a guy who is only a bedroom guitar wanker at the moment).
            I'm about to order a Warehouse Guitar Speaker Retro 30 that I will try in place of my Vintage 30.

            Actually, just last night I surprised myself by discovering the perfect tone and eliminating the shrillness from my amp by turning my treble down to 6 and my master up from 5 to 6.

            Thanks for telilng me about your great sounding and sustaining poplar guitar- that was just what I needed to hear. Mine does sound good and sustains like crazy now that I'm running my amp a bit louder with less treble. The ears are ringing just a little bit though (as usual)... maybe I can turn the volume back down and the treble back up a touch when I ditch the V30?
            <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">DR Strings &gt; '97 Mexi Strat: USACG neck &amp; Super Vee Blade Runner &gt; Duncan TB-11 Custom Custom, Fender Original '57/'62 &gt; Barber Direct Drive &gt; Soldano Astroverb &gt; WGS RETRO 30 (replaced Vintage 30) in Avatar 2x12. DD-5 Delay, Chorus. Fender Blues Junior III (BillMAudio mods in the mail) </font></div>

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            • #7
              Had you never read that qoute in the Book, would you still be thinking about this?

              If you have the spare cash, selecting the prefect body you want from Warmoth would be a nice idea to make your guitar more unique.
              But I would'nt do it for the sole expectation of trying to aquire a greatly improved tone, because the result may not end up sounding too much different.
              <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">Mesa Boogie MK III <br />
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              • #8
                Poplar is quite similar to alder only not as warm, and slightly more articulate, or so is the case with mine. For what it lacks in complexity, it excels at transparent true sound. Like alder with bite.

                The vintage 30 is, in my opinion, the most shrill and overly trebley mess of a speaker I have ever heard. I suggest changing the speaker first.


                AGREED! My WGS Retro 30 should ship out on Monday or Tuesday. I know it has more treble than their Veteran 30, but their Veterean 30 sounds like it has a blanket over it... so hopefully the Retro 30 is like a Vintage 30 minus the high mid spike. I actually want more presence than the V30 has (which I get from my greenback) but want to ditch the harsh high mids.
                <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">DR Strings &gt; '97 Mexi Strat: USACG neck &amp; Super Vee Blade Runner &gt; Duncan TB-11 Custom Custom, Fender Original '57/'62 &gt; Barber Direct Drive &gt; Soldano Astroverb &gt; WGS RETRO 30 (replaced Vintage 30) in Avatar 2x12. DD-5 Delay, Chorus. Fender Blues Junior III (BillMAudio mods in the mail) </font></div>

                Comment


                • #9
                  Had you never read that qoute in the Book, would you still be thinking about this?

                  If you have the spare cash, selecting the prefect body you want from Warmoth would be a nice idea to make your guitar more unique.
                  But I would'nt do it for the sole expectation of trying to aquire a greatly improved tone, because the result may not end up sounding too much different.


                  I've thought about it a lot in the past, but was barely employed for a long time and then unemployed for a bit. Now I have the money, but I need some fillings and will probably be needing a clutch in the next month or two!

                  I think I will stick with what I have. Thanks, guys!

                  I'm gonna get a Super V bridge- anyone tried one?
                  <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">DR Strings &gt; '97 Mexi Strat: USACG neck &amp; Super Vee Blade Runner &gt; Duncan TB-11 Custom Custom, Fender Original '57/'62 &gt; Barber Direct Drive &gt; Soldano Astroverb &gt; WGS RETRO 30 (replaced Vintage 30) in Avatar 2x12. DD-5 Delay, Chorus. Fender Blues Junior III (BillMAudio mods in the mail) </font></div>

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                  • #10
                    Musicman uses poplar and basswood. Both are soft wood.

                    No doubt they use properly dried and cut quality wood for their guitars.

                    It could be that you just got a somewhat not very resonant body on your highly mass produced Strat.
                    <div class="signaturecontainer">~ Fear is your only god ~</div>

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                    • #11
                      Musicman uses poplar and basswood. Both are soft wood.

                      No doubt they use properly dried and cut quality wood for their guitars.

                      It could be that you just got a somewhat not very resonant body on your highly mass produced Strat.


                      Now that everyone has told me that Poplar can sound good I'm no longer worried about upgrading to Alder. I needed to get some opinions to find out that poplar isn't a crappy tonewood. Thanks everyone!

                      As soon as I landed on the musicman page I went straight to the Steve Lukather guitar (since I'm a fan of his) and noticed that it is made out of Alder. For some reason I guess Steve likes alder. I know he originally was playing strats and then super strats- so maybe he just stuck with Alder since that's what his strats and the strats that were being made for him were made of?
                      <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1">DR Strings &gt; '97 Mexi Strat: USACG neck &amp; Super Vee Blade Runner &gt; Duncan TB-11 Custom Custom, Fender Original '57/'62 &gt; Barber Direct Drive &gt; Soldano Astroverb &gt; WGS RETRO 30 (replaced Vintage 30) in Avatar 2x12. DD-5 Delay, Chorus. Fender Blues Junior III (BillMAudio mods in the mail) </font></div>

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                      • #12
                        Tone is in the burrito.

                        Mazi Bee Militia!
                        JJ Pistols Kickfụck Brigade
                        PpP
                        My gear list is in serious need of an update...

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                        • #13
                          My Parker Fly is made out of poplar, and I think it sounds quite lovely. I don't care what some website says about it, because I have two ears and I can judge for myself.
                          Signature...

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                          • #14
                            I have a poplar body MIM 1994 strat. It's easy to get bitten by the upgrade bug. I also have the same problem with wood being soft and screws not sitting tightly after a few removals.

                            I'm sure you've tried this, but if not, try the free stuff first. Play with pickup height. Also try backing off the volume knob on your guitar a little bit, like to 6 or 7, and crank the amp higher. Try a different pick. Or try something like a clean boost or maybe an eq pedal unless you're some kind of guitar -->cable--> amp purist. I kind of liked my pickups low tonewise but I think it was making the attack on notes spikier... lately I've raised them and it's a little more compressed sounding and warmer with better sustain. I could be completely wrong though. But it costs nothing to try.

                            I know we hear it a lot, but one of my greatest epiphanies was realizing that as a bedroom player the tone I am seeking is very different than someone out gigging nightly with a full band. For one thing, you don't need as much treble to "cut through the mix". If your ears are ringing every time you play, you're doing something wrong (been there myself). Some amps or speakers have a powerful mid spike that adds clarity in a crowded bar situation but harshness in your house.

                            Did you mention what amp you're using? If it's not that good it might make sense to put the money towards a new amp fund otherwise you risk being like those guys driving around Cadillacs on bald tires. You can also sometimes clip capacitors out of your amp, depending on what it is, and make it better (or worse).

                            How did the Callaham block turn out for you?
                            Guitars:
                            -Fender Wayne's World 2 Stratocaster w/Fat '50s pickups
                            -Fender Blacktop Jaguar HH
                            Amps:
                            -Fender Champion 110 w/Lil' Buddy
                            -Fender Princeton 112 Plus w/Red White and Blues
                            -Crate Palomino V8
                            Effects:
                            -Way Huge Swollen Pickle Jumbo Fuzz
                            -Pro Co You Dirty Rat Distortion
                            -MXR Carbon Copy Delay

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                            • #15
                              I guess the main question is- do you really think it will sound that much different? Yes different woods have different qualities, and maybe in an acoustic it is more obvious- but with the exception of the Eric Johnsons of the world, can most of us identify the species used on an electric guitar from a sound clip....hmmm.....

                              Its your guitar, but the posters above are giving you some pretty good advice on things that will probably matter a lot more. Good Luck, I hope you get what you are after.
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