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Grant Harding

Body Wood Comparison

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Swaggers into bar. Starts tonewood fight. It's an old story LoL

The odd boy out is the Alder, the only difference being that he likes it and I don't. Scooped out is a negative to me.

 

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Seemed like I heard a slight increase in fullness from Ash to Mahogany; Alder included. That was the clean, I forget what pickups.

 

With the drive, the neck pickup demo had the most contrast. Bass strings were honkier on the ash followed by spankier high strings on the alder and an unusual neutralizing, top to bottom, on the mahogany.

 

That's with one inch computer drivers. try headphones later. Bet though that Warmoth cherry picked the test stock for best contrast.

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Sound is in your hands. All these woods sounded close and nothing a little EQ couldn't rectify.

 

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I hear4d a difference, and preferred the mahogany in the middle position. But that being said, was it a profound difference? Not at all to my ears.

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Probably the best thought out and executed comparisons I've seen.

 

What I heard was a slightly beefier lower end on the mahogany, and that's it. My ears are kinda old and high freq impaired somewhat though.

 

It was enough to convince me that body material is almost insignificant compared to pickups, strings (old, new, gauge), amp etc.

 

 

I wonder why no one has taken the recorded audio and run it through some high tech freq. analyzer tools where you could actually see differences.

 

Or maybe they have?

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This is probably the "umpteenth" iteration of this argument I've heard over the last 20-years. I've related this story in the past, but since the argument perpetuates, I'll share it again.

 

A friend of mine is a luthier who makes high end custom guitars for a living. When he first started out he had a "basic model" guitar that was a set neck version that he made using several different wood types for the bodies (as well as the necks). As one of several experiments he made four identical basic model guitars with a different body wood used on each. The body woods chosen for the test were mahogany, alder, swamp ash, and a southern "sinker cypress". His basic model guitar was unique in that it was made with a removable pickguard similar to that of a Stratocaster so each guitar was tested with the exact same electronics. The necks on each guitar were made from 5-pieces of maple, mahogany, and walnut; each piece from the same respective stock of wood.

 

In a blind test ten experienced guitarist were asked to listen to the four guitars each played through the same amp at the same settings. Due to the time lapse between each test due to the time it took to move the loaded pickguard from one guitar to the next, each sample was recorded so they could be listened to back to back in short order. 9 out of 10 of the guitarists heard clear differences in the tone of each guitar with half the participants able to accurately name at least 2-of the body woods (mainly the cypress and mahogany bodies).

Now, I've been around guitar construction long enough to know that wood taken from the same plank can display different tonal qualities from one guitar to another (usually body wood), but I seriously doubt that the neck wood of each of the 4-guitars could have skewed the test significantly, if at all.

 

I was there. I was one of the 10-guitarists to participate in the test, and although I've had several people voice their doubts, none of the doubters have ever offered any type of "clinical" evidence to refute the test results...only their personal opinions. Was the test "perfect"? No, there's no such thing in any test like this. But, except for the nearly identical necks, all other variables excluding the bodies were identical.

 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to don my fireproof suit before the flammers join in...:cool:

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Those studies were classified by the govt when it was discovered that the scope tracings were being influenced by the listeners.

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it would have been amazing if all three guitar body`s had sounded identical, i would liked to have seen that video. i despair

 

One thing I notice in comparison videos be it guitarz or pedals or EMPz, the demonstrator seems to stretch out more according to personal bias.

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One thing I notice in comparison videos be it guitarz or pedals or EMPz, the demonstrator seems to stretch out more according to personal bias.

EMP. electro magnetic pulse ?. yes it would be nice to see the demonstrators stretched out .

 

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I find conclusive evidence to be unsettling for some.

 

Are you the same one that said "physics states that the wood isn't part of the magnetic field, therefore can't affect the tone blah blah blah"? I can see why you'd be trying so hard to find a bias in any test that doesn't support your deeply held biases. :D

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One thing I notice in comparison videos be it guitarz or pedals or EMPz, the demonstrator seems to stretch out more according to personal bias.

 

That's one thing they could have done to improve this video - make it double-blind so that the person playing has no idea of which guitar body they're using at the time they're playing it. IOW, the guitarist should have been blindfolded. Ideally, the person who hands them the guitars to try out should also have no idea of which is which... that helps to remove preconceived biases from influencing the test.

 

 

 

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Phil, there have been some interesting double blind tests done with acoustic guitars - both regarding tone woods and most recently, sound ports. In one of the tests players were asked to evaluate three guitar sounds, two of which were the same guitar, and to pick out the odd ball. The results were statistically inconclusive. (I was actually a participant in one of those tests - I was blind folded and asked to play a guitar with a sound port. I played, the tester fiddled around with the guitar, I played again, he fiddled some more. I was asked if I could tell if there was a change in the sound - not whether I though the port was open or closed, just if there was a difference. This was done in a more or less quiet room at a convention with a very large sample of players, the results were published in a scholarly journal.)

 

The other thing that goes on a lot in the acoustic world is to take the human out of the picture - both the playing end and the evaluating end. There are several mechanical "pluckers" that have been developed to consistently pick one note exactly the same way, and with the abundance of sound analyzing software the human ear is really not necessary.

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Mechanical plucker/ strummer wood/would be the way to conduct tests. Eliminate human bias from even how we play because the guitar looks good color etc. :idk::)

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Mechanical plucker/ strummer wood/would be the way to conduct tests. Eliminate human bias from even how we play because the guitar looks good color etc. :idk::)

 

A common way to do that is to take a small piece of magnet wire, you know the 42 or 44 gauge stuff they wind pickups out of, loop it around a string and pull until the wire breaks. Apparently magnet wire has remarkably consistent strength and breaks with the same amount of force each time, and the force can be calculated from the properties of the wire. Usually the wire is pulled parallel to the top of the guitar to simulate picking with a plectrum.

 

There are other ways to do it, here is a classical guitar with the bridge being excited by a small piezo transducer. The response of the top is being recorded by a microphone suspended over the guitar and you'll notice that the guitar itself is sitting on some rubber bands that isolate it from any dampening.

 

IMG_1616.jpg

 

This is from a different test, it is a comparison of three different classical guitars with different bracing systems (Kasha, Fleta, etc). This is a "frequency domain" transform of the notes produced by the top - obviously they are responding in different ways.

 

135_azaret.jpg

 

 

My point is that there are far more scientific ways to decide questions like the one posed in the original video and in other areas of lutherie there has been a lot of research.

 

Btw, in that graph, a Romanillos bracing is considered "traditional", Fleta is a more modern bracing and Kasha is the double topped lattice style bracing that has become popular. People can usually hear a difference, just as they claim in the electric guitar test, but what exactly are they hearing. The graphs at least give a clue.

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Didn't Nigel Tufnel teach you guys anything about wood and sustain.

 

I don't know about you guys, but I could hear the sustain in that 59 Les Paul, that you can't find in like a 74 Les Paul. It just ain't gonna happen in a 74 Les Paul.

 

I wish I owned a 62 Strat with old tagger on it. I play the heck out of it. I bet that sustains well too.

I have a 62 Strat RI, but I took the old taggers off it.

 

[video=youtube;g7-5io1muSQ]

 

My Marshall amp only goes up to 10 too. I'm screwed when I dime the thing out, cause there's no where else to go. Sometimes you need just more. Jim Marshall should have known that.

 

Happy New Year and happy search in your unicorn guitar tone.

 

 

 

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