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ShatnersBassoon

So what exactly does contribute to 'tone'? Aside from pups

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8 hours ago, curtisa said:

I suppose the issue I have with claims like that, and why I approach the importance of wood/frets/paint/air pressure/[insert factor here] with a grain of salt is that it's intrinsically impossible to prove that anything makes a difference when it seems to be universally acknowledged that they're all inter-dependent and can (allegedly) amount to no difference whatsoever. And if the player themselves is acknowledged to be a significant contributor to the tonal mix, then the whole argument that 'wood/finish/frets/fretboard X = resultant Y ' becomes moot.

The follow-on questions in that case could be, 'why should a Strat be made out of ash?' or 'why should I use maple in a neck?' etc (ignoring obvious structural reasons for selecting certain wood species for particular applications). My only logical conclusion to that paradox can be that we do it because we have convinced ourselves that it does make a difference and that all we're doing as builders or players is perpetuating an unprovable hypothesis when we should be focusing our attention on just building and playing a guitar.

I say embrace the things you can prove to make a tangible difference to the sound, and exploit the use of novel materials and solid construction techniques for their aesthetic benefits. The rest of the instrument will simply fall into place after that.

and you just are gonna ignore the MOST important comment I made re kirk hammet... must have really nailed you there (hehe). 

 

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to me choosing ash, mahogany, maple, alder.. et al., to define a specific tone is analogous to choosing a specific ethnicity to define a specific logic...

Sure as a whole a Native American (I'm part such) may have a basis for logic defined by their culture,, but its not a fact that all Native Americans would come to a uniform conclusion simply because they're  Indians,,,

the same is true of Asians, Africans, Europeans, Inuit, Latina, etc, etc.. while each culture will have produced a specific "coloration" to their logic,. it not "carved in stone" that they do so. Our World is replete with those of one culture that meld easily into another...

same for the woods... while not quite as the predicate for heated discussions, a piece of Swamp Ash, usually "accused" of being snappy sounding, can easily be used in a guitar with other more predominant, characteristic... it's just not cast in stone..

Or... just because you use Alder, your guitar is not gonna sound like your favorite guitarist that also plays an alder guitar...

rk

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9 hours ago, Ronkirn said:

to me choosing ash, mahogany, maple, alder.. et al., to define a specific tone is analogous to choosing a specific ethnicity to define a specific logic...

... it's just not cast in stone..

But a lot of people do believe that to be the case, even when presented with examples that defy their belief that swamp ash makes a brighter guitar than alder, or that a tune-o-matic bridge has more sustain than a Floyd Rose.

 

9 hours ago, Ronkirn said:

while not quite as the predicate for heated discussions, a piece of Swamp Ash, usually "accused" of being snappy sounding, can easily be used in a guitar with other more predominant, characteristic.

Can that be predicted when you have the unfinished blank on the workbench in front of you? Again, so why make the choice up front to build that guitar out of that piece of swamp ash when, as you allude to, it might not result in the finished product sounding bright and snappy due to factors outside of the influence of the wood itself?

What about if you constructed a guitar out of a material that you'd never worked with before - cast bronze, plexiglass, blackheart sassafras, a reclaimed beam of unknown origin from an old warehouse where creosote was handled? Could you make an assumption on what the resultant guitar might sound like based on the material properties alone?

For all we know, MDF could be the perfect material to make a guitar out of ;)

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20 hours ago, Ronkirn said:

a piece of Swamp Ash, usually "accused" of being snappy sounding, can easily be used in a guitar with other more predominant, characteristic

Exactly. The place and way the tree has grown can have more effect to the attributes than the species. A tree which has grown on a rock has much more dense growth rings than the same species grown in a field which adds to the weight and overall density. The amount and type of available nutrients and water can tremendously effect the properties of wood. Actually, Swamp Ash isn't even a species of its own as far as I've learned. It's just common ash (actually several variables of the genus Fraxinus) that has grown in wetlands.

Aspen is another good example. It's basically lightweight and fast grown (basswood may be the closest alternative for those who don't know aspen). It has been popular as sauna benches because it doesn't conduct heat. It has also been used for one piece log boats since the stone age. What I recently heard about it is that if the aspen has grown in calcareous ground is very rot resistant while the very same species grown elsewhere would decompose within a year when exposed to moisture. Or was it the other way around? Anyhow...

So rather than looking at the wood species for tonal qualities weighing them might give more accurate information.

Edited by Bizman62
Added a sentence of uncertainty.

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