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  • Tone Wood Followup

    I figured I'd start a new forum for this. This is a guessing game. In the previous forum there were a few posters who thin the wood in electrics don't have any affect on tone. I happen to have three guitars that have the exact same mini Humbuckers. I recorded all three clean and all three with drive. My opinion remains firm. I say its fairly easy to hear the differences in wood tone with clean pickups running because they basically run like Microphones. When you add drive you flatten the peaks and overtones which are the things the ears need to distinguish the difference between guitars and the Pickups simply filter out frequencies you'd normally hear with your ears.

    I will give you the three guitar types. I had a Dot with Mini Humbuckers, a Semi hollowbody Tele made of 100 Year old Walnut Top, Maple sides, and Rosewood back, Maple Tele neck, and one with a 100 year old Maple body and Maple Tele neck.

    Let the guessing begin. I have frequency analyzer pictures of the instruments and audio files of the recordings. The recordings were done direct, no amp, no coloration of any kind. All I did was adjust the levels so they match. The second set are the same guitars with the same pickup settings, using both pickups, with drive added. I attempted to play the same chord progression on all tracks in the same key so the files that were run through the frequency analyzer weren't affected by playing the music in different keys which would have skewed the results.

    I'll ley your ears and eyes decide. This is about as scientific as I can get at the moment while having a few beers on a Friday night after working in the studio so let the test begin.

    Here are the tree guitars.

    Guitar A https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...0/IMG_1077.JPG
    Guitar B https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...0/IMG_1066.JPG
    Guitar C https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...0/IMG_1074.JPG



    #1 Clean Guitar https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...31%20Clean.wav

    #2 Clean Guitar https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...32%20Clean.wav

    #3 Clean Guitar https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...33%20Clean.wav

    #1 Driven Guitar https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...1%20Driven.wav

    #2 Driven Guitar https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...2%20Driven.wav

    #3 Driven Guitar https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...3%20Driven.wav

    #1 Clean Pic https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...31%20Clean.jpg
    #2 Clean Pic https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...32%20Clean.jpg
    #3 Clean Pic https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...33%20Clean.jpg

    #1&2 Clean Pic https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...62%20Clean.jpg
    #1&3 Clean Pic https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...63%20Clean.jpg
    #2&3 Clean Pic https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...63%20Clean.jpg

    #1 Driven https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...1%20Driven.jpg
    #2 Driven https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...2%20Driven.jpg
    #3 Driven https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...3%20Driven.jpg

    #1&2 Driven https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...2%20Driven.jpg
    #1&3 Driven https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...3%20Driven.jpg
    #2&3 Driven https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...3%20Driven.jpg

    #1 Clean #1 Driven https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...1%20Driven.jpg
    #2 Clean #2 Driven https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...2%20Driven.jpg
    #3 Clean #3 Driven https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...3%20Driven.jpg

    Now the only thing I didn't get to track was the guitars using a contact mic to pick up the tones directly from the wood and compare it to the pickups.
    I have that sucker hiding around the house someplace and I will give a thorough search for it tomorrow. I'm pretty beat up at the moment and its no big deal adding the tracks and pics as comparisons later in this post. Using the contract mic completely removes the pickup from the equation and you can compare the analyzer spectrums and see the two really aren't that much different other than the fact the pickups roll off the highs and lows, frequencies very noticeable to the ears. Hearing the differences in the midrange frequencies are difficult and do take a trained ear. Anyone who has done allot of recording and mixing will have less trouble making out the differences because that's what that art form is all about.
    Last edited by WRGKMC; 08-08-2014, 11:10 PM.

  • #2
    The only way you're going to impress me is if you can listen to an electric guitar track be able to accurately state the species of wood that the guitar is made from. If you can't (and excuse this by citing other factors involved)....you basically admit that tonewoods don't matter because they are overwhelmed by other factors.
    "I don't want to be immortalized through my work. I want to be immortalized by not dying." Woody Allen

    Comment


    • #3
      Cool demonstration! In my response to your last post I think I said something to the effect of wood does make a difference, but I have never been able to reliably predict what a guitar will sound like based on the woods used. Your demonstration supports both my position and yours. The three guitars sound different, but I wouldn't have a clue which is which based on the woods they are made of. Also, you have three different designs... semi-hollow made of laminated wood, semi-hollow (really chambered) made of solid woods, and one made of solid woods.
      Please visit my website www.treeguitarworks.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Since I think you did this mostly for me and because I know how much work it is to do any sort of comparison posting, first let me say Thanks. Second, before I make any comments I want to take enough time to really listen to the clips and look at the waveforms. That might require a beer or two on my part....

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by guitarcapo View Post
          The only way you're going to impress me is if you can listen to an electric guitar track be able to accurately state the species of wood that the guitar is made from. If you can't (and excuse this by citing other factors involved)....you basically admit that tonewoods don't matter because they are overwhelmed by other factors.
          I fully plan on revealing which is which in a day or two after people have done some guessing. This is not a "got cha" post, its merely to have fun. If you read my other posts under the tone wood thread, you'll know I've done similar posts every year or so.

          I posted what woods are in the guitars except for the Dot which I believe is made of maple plywood, center block of wood is likely maple and a mahogany neck with a rosewood fret board. The pics are listed in the post as well. Two are my own builds, and I modded the dot with adaptor rings for the mini humbuckers. The humbuckers have matching vintage impedances. The epi does have a fatter bridge then the others. The two hand built guitars have matching bridges electronics etc. Even the tuners are the same Grover 18:1 tuners. I used a blue tortex pick strumming the parts. I believe the strings are all the same brand as well 9/46 pure nickel SIT strings all having approx. the same amount of wear, so its not like one set is new and bright sounding.

          Comment


          • #6

            Originally posted by Freeman Keller View Post
            Since I think you did this mostly for me and because I know how much work it is to do any sort of comparison posting, first let me say Thanks. Second, before I make any comments I want to take enough time to really listen to the clips and look at the waveforms. That might require a beer or two on my part....
            Well it was party because you asked but I thought it would be challenging for everyone. Since you're an acoustic guy you could do the same thing with acoustic guitars. Use a sound hole pickup on three acoustics, then record the three of them with a mic and do a comparison. I only have one acoustic at the moment and its just an old Alverez bang around so I really cant compare its tone to other instruments of the same kind.



            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post

              I fully plan on revealing which is which in a day or two after people have done some guessing. This is not a "got cha" post, its merely to have fun. If you read my other posts under the tone wood thread, you'll know I've done similar posts every year or so.

              I posted what woods are in the guitars except for the Dot which I believe is made of maple plywood, center block of wood is likely maple and a mahogany neck with a rosewood fret board. The pics are listed in the post as well. Two are my own builds, and I modded the dot with adaptor rings for the mini humbuckers. The humbuckers have matching vintage impedances. The epi does have a fatter bridge then the others. The two hand built guitars have matching bridges electronics etc. Even the tuners are the same Grover 18:1 tuners. I used a blue tortex pick strumming the parts. I believe the strings are all the same brand as well 9/46 pure nickel SIT strings all having approx. the same amount of wear, so its not like one set is new and bright sounding.

              Not sure if you evaded the point of guitarcapos post or ignored it. Either way you missed it.
              Whatever the graphs say , (and at best they can only prove different guitars sound different.) If you cant tell the difference in a real world situation then the difference is negligible.
              "I don't think he's a liar, just a fantasist. He says whatever he likes, and then he believes it."
              Norman Tebbit

              Comment


              • #8
                I have a Basswood body .1996 Dinky/Jackson with 24 frets,Floyd Rose tremolo, (N) Bill Lawrence L-250, (M) Dimarzio Fast Track 2 with a Dimarzio Evolution in the bridge with 500k ohms pots and a 47k ohms cap. This is a great 1980's Metal guitar, very Satch / Vai sounding.


                I also have an Alder body 1997 PS-4 Jackson Dinky with 24 frets, Floyd Rose tremolo, ( N) Dimarzio Evolution , (M) Dimarzio Fast Track 2, (B) Dimarzio Evolution with 500k ohms pots and a 47k ohms cap. This guitar is very heavy handed, great for Speed Metal / Thrash playing because of heavy bass response and nice highs it generates.

                Basswood and Alder are my favorites, but lately, Maple has gotten in my circle of tone woods.
                Guns don't kill people .... Fathers with beautiful Daughters do !!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  why do you have to be able to "name the wood" for it to matter? guitarcapo and knotty you are both trying to put your own criteria on "what proves wood matters".

                  There is a difference. Just listen to the clips. If you can't hear a difference in all three of those clips both clean and distorted....then frankly...I'd have to say your ears are terrible. I mean it's totally obvious.

                  If you can hear the differences then my first point stands. You are simply "moving the bar" to fit your argument.

                  This is a "real world situation" and I can clearly hear the difference. Me not knowing which wood one is doesn't change the fact there IS a difference and IF I were recording a song that difference would play a HUGE role in my choice. So the argument that because I can't "predict the wood so it doesn't matter" is totally illogical.

                  For example if I were recording a smooth moody passage I would NOT choose guitar # 1. It's WAY too bright. I would choose guitar # 3 cause it has the most rounded balanced tone. That's wood mattering in real world conditions. No "other factors involved" at all.




                  Now....with regards to taking a shot at predicting the wood....which I am quite happy to try....and really don't care if I'm wrong......cause again...that does NOT change the fact there are clear differences between these guitars because of the wood and only the wood.....

                  I am going to make one qualifying statement....

                  while I'm thankful to WRG for doing all this...the effort is appreciated....one problem for me is his guitars are all woods I basically have no experience with in terms of what tones they are suppose to be. I bet if this comparison had been done with clips of alder vs ash strats I would get the answer right most of the time.

                  So here it goes......

                  From what I have read maple is a very bright wood. But then I've heard that walnut is too.....in spite of that I'll say...

                  Guitar 1 is the all maple. Very bright sounding guitar. (if it's the walnut maple I wouldn't be surprised)

                  2 and 3 are harder to tell. There is obviously a difference....guitar 2 is not as "round" a tone as guitar 3. Guitar 3 is the most balanced while guitar 2 is more peaky highs and low end with a bit of lack of mid range. yeah.....thinking about it....i'm going to say....

                  #2 is the tele style.....

                  and

                  #3 is the dot.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by soundcreation View Post
                    why do you have to be able to "name the wood" for it to matter? guitarcapo and knotty you are both trying to put your own criteria on "what proves wood matters".

                    There is a difference. Just listen to the clips. If you can't hear a difference in all three of those clips both clean and distorted....then frankly...I'd have to say your ears are terrible. I mean it's totally obvious.

                    If you can hear the differences then my first point stands. You are simply "moving the bar" to fit your argument.

                    This is a "real world situation" and I can clearly hear the difference. Me not knowing which wood one is doesn't change the fact there IS a difference and IF I were recording a song that difference would play a HUGE role in my choice. So the argument that because I can't "predict the wood so it doesn't matter" is totally illogical.

                    For example if I were recording a smooth moody passage I would NOT choose guitar # 1. It's WAY too bright. I would choose guitar # 3 cause it has the most rounded balanced tone. That's wood mattering in real world conditions. No "other factors involved" at all.




                    Now....with regards to taking a shot at predicting the wood....which I am quite happy to try....and really don't care if I'm wrong......cause again...that does NOT change the fact there are clear differences between these guitars because of the wood and only the wood.....

                    I am going to make one qualifying statement....

                    while I'm thankful to WRG for doing all this...the effort is appreciated....one problem for me is his guitars are all woods I basically have no experience with in terms of what tones they are suppose to be. I bet if this comparison had been done with clips of alder vs ash strats I would get the answer right most of the time.

                    So here it goes......

                    From what I have read maple is a very bright wood. But then I've heard that walnut is too.....in spite of that I'll say...

                    Guitar 1 is the all maple. Very bright sounding guitar. (if it's the walnut maple I wouldn't be surprised)

                    2 and 3 are harder to tell. There is obviously a difference....guitar 2 is not as "round" a tone as guitar 3. Guitar 3 is the most balanced while guitar 2 is more peaky highs and low end with a bit of lack of mid range. yeah.....thinking about it....i'm going to say....

                    #2 is the tele style.....

                    and

                    #3 is the dot.

                    I have never said there is no difference and of course you can tell a difference in his " test" .
                    My point about real world is that you dont do what he did and record with direct recording and flat settings, you adjust the amp and tweak the rest of the signal chain to suite your sound requirements. At least I do. Thats the whole point of electric guitar.
                    In my view a better test would be to take his 3 guitars and let me adjust the signal chain to suite any famous song we all know. I doubt anybody would identify them or tell them apart then.
                    Thats my point. Different - yes. So diferent you cant replicate with another wood - no. Not for me anyway.
                    "I don't think he's a liar, just a fantasist. He says whatever he likes, and then he believes it."
                    Norman Tebbit

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by knotty View Post


                      I have never said there is no difference and of course you can tell a difference in his " test" .
                      My point about real world is that you dont do what he did and record with direct recording and flat settings, you adjust the amp and tweak the rest of the signal chain to suite your sound requirements. At least I do. Thats the whole point of electric guitar.
                      In my view a better test would be to take his 3 guitars and let me adjust the signal chain to suite any famous song we all know. I doubt anybody would identify them or tell them apart then.
                      Thats my point. Different - yes. So diferent you cant replicate with another wood - no. Not for me anyway.
                      You clearly stated there were differences in the other thread. What would be the sense of manufacturers building so many different guitars out of different wood types if there weren't differences.

                      I could have used guitar amps miced of course. I do it all the time when recording. A guitar head, speaker type, cabinet size, air volume and wood type will affect the sound quality and frequency response. The differences between a small practice amp with poor fidelity may very well make all the guitars sound the same. On the other hand I do have several amps that can record completely clean or driven and I could use high quality condenser mics and make the same kinds of samples I've posted above so its simply a redundant process of recording the tracks with the amp in the chain.

                      The problem is you add coloration to the test and then we open up a whole bag of worms about amp tone. Unless others want to hear that as well, I figured that might be good for some other debate. You could question do different speakers in a cab sound that much different or does different tubes in the same head really produce a change.

                      In this test. the guitar pickup is essentially part of the amp circuit, not part of the instrument. It just happens to be permanently mounted to the instrument with a jack to make it convenient for the player to plug in. Prior to that they miced the instruments.

                      In any case I removed the amp from the chain to focus on the instrument only. By doing so I eliminated the rooms reflected tone which is another huge factor. Most guitarists tune their amps by ear to get good room reflection tones as well as the direct. That too can be recorded and measured with a good reference mic and frequency analyzer and in fact when you build a studio its important to test the room with that gear to find places in the room that are overly reflective or have standing waves that boost or cut frequencies that color the sound and treat the room to remove those offending frequencies. In my case I have a dead room with practically no reflections so I could test amps or record without those problems.

                      Again, my main point of this is to point out, driven guitars are harder to tell apart. If you look at the pics with the same guitars driven and clean you see the hills and valleys less dramatic with the driven tones. The curves occur in the same places, but they aren't as deep or high. This is caused by compression. The distortion prevents the peaks from occurring and they get flattened out like a steam roller. If I had added more saturation/compression I could have likely flattened out the response even more.

                      Oh, I went back and tried to find guitarcapo's post. I reread all your posts and couldn't find anything he posted in that thread so I must be blind of something. If you could post a link or repost it here, I'll be happy to read it. I didn't intentionally ignore it.
                      Last edited by WRGKMC; 08-10-2014, 05:41 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by soundcreation View Post
                        why do you have to be able to "name the wood" for it to matter? guitarcapo and knotty you are both trying to put your own criteria on "what proves wood matters".

                        There is a difference. Just listen to the clips. If you can't hear a difference in all three of those clips both clean and distorted....then frankly...I'd have to say your ears are terrible. I mean it's totally obvious.

                        If you can hear the differences then my first point stands. You are simply "moving the bar" to fit your argument.

                        This is a "real world situation" and I can clearly hear the difference. Me not knowing which wood one is doesn't change the fact there IS a difference and IF I were recording a song that difference would play a HUGE role in my choice. So the argument that because I can't "predict the wood so it doesn't matter" is totally illogical.

                        For example if I were recording a smooth moody passage I would NOT choose guitar # 1. It's WAY too bright. I would choose guitar # 3 cause it has the most rounded balanced tone. That's wood mattering in real world conditions. No "other factors involved" at all.




                        Now....with regards to taking a shot at predicting the wood....which I am quite happy to try....and really don't care if I'm wrong......cause again...that does NOT change the fact there are clear differences between these guitars because of the wood and only the wood.....

                        I am going to make one qualifying statement....

                        while I'm thankful to WRG for doing all this...the effort is appreciated....one problem for me is his guitars are all woods I basically have no experience with in terms of what tones they are suppose to be. I bet if this comparison had been done with clips of alder vs ash strats I would get the answer right most of the time.

                        So here it goes......

                        From what I have read maple is a very bright wood. But then I've heard that walnut is too.....in spite of that I'll say...

                        Guitar 1 is the all maple. Very bright sounding guitar. (if it's the walnut maple I wouldn't be surprised)

                        2 and 3 are harder to tell. There is obviously a difference....guitar 2 is not as "round" a tone as guitar 3. Guitar 3 is the most balanced while guitar 2 is more peaky highs and low end with a bit of lack of mid range. yeah.....thinking about it....i'm going to say....

                        #2 is the tele style.....

                        and

                        #3 is the dot.
                        I do have three Strats made of different woods. Ones Adler, ones basswood and ones something else which I failed to identify before I repainted it. I could do the same tests but though they do have single coils in them they are different types of pickups. They all have different pick guards, ones a standard tortus pick guard, ones a gold anodized aluminum and ones a wooden pick guard I made because it required a custom cut.

                        Between the pick guards, and different pickups these guitars sound much too different so its not a fair comparison. I did a comparison here with those three before using a contact mic and it did produce very different frequency responses, mostly in the bass response. I compared the strings strummed against just knocking on the wood, which eliminated the strings and just recorded the wood resonance.

                        You're right when you say knowing which wood is which isn't that important. We get to know our instruments by playing them and when we want a certain tone we instinctually grab the beast that will give us that coloration. When you add in the EQing and gain effects different pickups can give us plugged into any number of amps and effects, the pallet for achievable tones does get much larger.

                        I will add, The three instruments in this case only have each other to provide contrast. The brightest may sound dull if there was a bright tele added as a comparison which brings about one important point. Its only important how an instrument sounds in contrast with others in a mix. If you're playing with a band and your instrument occupies its frequency range without allot of masking by other instruments, then you will stand out well in that mix. You don't need a wide high fidelity tone when playing with others and in fact you can wind up masking other musicians who themselves are trying to be heard in a mix.

                        Wide response is important when you're playing solo like an acoustic guitar because you want to fill all those frequencies where other instruments don't exist. you want to sound as full and broad as a full orchestra, a one man band with maybe a vocal or two.

                        In a rock band you have to limit the response, mostly midrange. Les Paul knew this when he built his log. He was competing with horns, saxes, clarinets, piano, drums bass, etc. Those instruments may have stopped playing while he soloed, and jazz guitar is fairly muted, but he found when he amplified it that didn't matter because he could still get those tones he got from a fat body jazz guitar using an amp to act as the acoustic sound chamber.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by guitarcapo View Post
                          The only way you're going to impress me is if you can listen to an electric guitar track be able to accurately state the species of wood that the guitar is made from. If you can't (and excuse this by citing other factors involved)....you basically admit that tonewoods don't matter because they are overwhelmed by other factors.
                          I'm pretty sure it's everyone's quest to impress you. What else is there?
                          MIA Fender Strat / Gibson Les Paul Studio / Custom Telecaster / Washburn WI64 / Martin D15S / Guild D55
                          Simon & Patrick Cedar

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The tone of an electric guitar is the sum of its parts and electronic chain. Speaking to the guitar itself, the pickups and electronics contribute the lions share to the instruments voice. Woods, construction details, and hardware mass and composition all have an influence on the final output. Some more, some less, but all contribute and should not be discounted. And specifically to the woods contribution, I think of it as spice in the dish or maybe that subtle accent you might hear in someones voice. For those that can not or do not believe that these details make a difference in an instruments voice, its ok. As long as you have a guitar that you like and love to play, then thats the important thing. When you are in the groove and rocking your best guitar face, it really does not matter.

                            On the clips, my best guess is
                            #1 = C
                            #2 = B
                            #3 = A
                            My Name is Tom Pettingill ... I build Hand Crafted Custom Lap Steel Guitars
                            http://s302.photobucket.com/albums/nn87/tompettingill

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post

                              You clearly stated there were differences in the other thread. What would be the sense of manufacturers building so many different guitars out of different wood types if there weren't differences.

                              I could have used guitar amps miced of course. I do it all the time when recording. A guitar head, speaker type, cabinet size, air volume and wood type will affect the sound quality and frequency response. The differences between a small practice amp with poor fidelity may very well make all the guitars sound the same. On the other hand I do have several amps that can record completely clean or driven and I could use high quality condenser mics and make the same kinds of samples I've posted above so its simply a redundant process of recording the tracks with the amp in the chain.

                              The problem is you add coloration to the test and then we open up a whole bag of worms about amp tone. Unless others want to hear that as well, I figured that might be good for some other debate. You could question do different speakers in a cab sound that much different or does different tubes in the same head really produce a change.

                              In this test. the guitar pickup is essentially part of the amp circuit, not part of the instrument. It just happens to be permanently mounted to the instrument with a jack to make it convenient for the player to plug in. Prior to that they miced the instruments.

                              In any case I removed the amp from the chain to focus on the instrument only. By doing so I eliminated the rooms reflected tone which is another huge factor. Most guitarists tune their amps by ear to get good room reflection tones as well as the direct. That too can be recorded and measured with a good reference mic and frequency analyzer and in fact when you build a studio its important to test the room with that gear to find places in the room that are overly reflective or have standing waves that boost or cut frequencies that color the sound and treat the room to remove those offending frequencies. In my case I have a dead room with practically no reflections so I could test amps or record without those problems.

                              Again, my main point of this is to point out, driven guitars are harder to tell apart. If you look at the pics with the same guitars driven and clean you see the hills and valleys less dramatic with the driven tones. The curves occur in the same places, but they aren't as deep or high. This is caused by compression. The distortion prevents the peaks from occurring and they get flattened out like a steam roller. If I had added more saturation/compression I could have likely flattened out the response even more.

                              Oh, I went back and tried to find guitarcapo's post. I reread all your posts and couldn't find anything he posted in that thread so I must be blind of something. If you could post a link or repost it here, I'll be happy to read it. I didn't intentionally ignore it.

                              I am not knocking your test I think its a very valuable basis for the discussion.
                              My point was simply that you designed a test to demonstrate the differences, as people requested.

                              If you used the gear at your disposal with different settings for each guitar, to make for example guitar 1 sound like guitar 3, how close could you get?

                              I think with my limited resources I could make it indistinguishable. Thats my point. I think I can make anything sound like mahogany or ash etc etc. So in that respect wood don't matter.
                              Last edited by knotty; 08-10-2014, 10:07 AM.
                              "I don't think he's a liar, just a fantasist. He says whatever he likes, and then he believes it."
                              Norman Tebbit

                              Comment



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