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Size/shape Effects On Tone


brutas
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I have read the previous post on the size and shape on the tone of the guitar. I would like a little clarification.

I love the LP sound, but I love the look and feel of the PRS Singlecut. So, I would like to make something similar to the PRS that sounds like a LP. What I have read said the biggest factor, using the same woods and scale length, is the weight. I'm confused. Although the LP is larger,bulkier it is weight reliefed. If a PRS weighed the same a LP(using LP scale length and PUPs) would it sound like a LP?

I apologize if this seems like the rambling of a mad man. All input would be helpful.

Thanks.

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TONE VOODOO ALERT!

I don't think there is a clear cut answer. But here is how I believe different aspects of a guitar affect tone:

1) Scale Length - IMO, the biggest factor.

2) Neck Wood - Close second. The stiffness of the wood affects how much of the string vibration is transmitted (or, imo, more precisely, what frequencies are absorbed by the neck wood).

3. Pickups - Humbuckers vs Single Coils, different pickups, etc

4. Body Wood - Body wood on an electric just doesn't seem like it has such a huge affect on sound when compared to the other factors.

I don't understand how weight could itself change the tone.

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Weight meaning the amount of wood used. The more wood used, the more sustain you get (very simply put, it'll affect a lot of other attributes also).

If you wanted to make a DC guitar that has the same resonance properties as your favourite LP guitar, just make sure it's the same wood, and volume wise, the bodies are the same size, and same wood.

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Weight meaning the amount of wood used. The more wood used, the more sustain you get (very simply put, it'll affect a lot of other attributes also).

I don't agree with that at all, at least not within the realm of guitar body size. I.E., if you build a regular LP, and then another LP with twice as much wood, I HIGHLY doubt you would see an appreciable difference.

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Call in the pro's, it's debate time!

I say more wood (weight, in this case) will definitely change the factor of tone. So let's say we're comparing thicknesses. Exact same body, neck, PU's etc.etc. except the body thickness is different on both. One is 1 5/8" thick, the other is 2" thick. I think there would be a considerable sound difference. This is just speculation, though. I'd love to hear some personal experience!

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Call in the pro's, it's debate time!

I say more wood (weight, in this case) will definitely change the factor of tone. So let's say we're comparing thicknesses. Exact same body, neck, PU's etc.etc. except the body thickness is different on both. One is 1 5/8" thick, the other is 2" thick. I think there would be a considerable sound difference. This is just speculation, though. I'd love to hear some personal experience!

I still don't think you would notice a big change when looking at 3/8" of a difference. The key here, I think, is the wood stiffness associated with thickness, not the weight. For instance, if you take a guitar with, say, a 1" thick body, and compare it to a 2" thick body, the 2" thick body will have more sustain because the body isn't able to flex as much as the 1" body does, thus it won't dampen as much of the vibrations.

So, will you see a difference between a 2" body and a 1 5/8" body? Maybe, but only if the wood is relatively soft. Think of it this way: the effect of the tension of the strings (which would affect how much flex the body is under) will only be countered so much as the thickness increases. Its the idea of diminishing returns in economics: for every 1/8" extra thickness added, you get less sustain than the previous 1/8" added. You can only increase the stiffness of the body to a certain point. Beyond that point, the returns are negligible.

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Call in the pro's, it's debate time!

I say more wood (weight, in this case) will definitely change the factor of tone. So let's say we're comparing thicknesses. Exact same body, neck, PU's etc.etc. except the body thickness is different on both. One is 1 5/8" thick, the other is 2" thick. I think there would be a considerable sound difference. This is just speculation, though. I'd love to hear some personal experience!

I still don't think you would notice a big change when looking at 3/8" of a difference. The key here, I think, is the wood stiffness associated with thickness, not the weight. For instance, if you take a guitar with, say, a 1" thick body, and compare it to a 2" thick body, the 2" thick body will have more sustain because the body isn't able to flex as much as the 1" body does, thus it won't dampen as much of the vibrations.

So, will you see a difference between a 2" body and a 1 5/8" body? Maybe, but only if the wood is relatively soft. Think of it this way: the effect of the tension of the strings (which would affect how much flex the body is under) will only be countered so much as the thickness increases. Its the idea of diminishing returns in economics: for every 1/8" extra thickness added, you get less sustain than the previous 1/8" added. You can only increase the stiffness of the body to a certain point. Beyond that point, the returns are negligible.

Sounds logical enough. But in my experience - Tap tone on X board with 3/4" thickness sounds different from same board with 1/2" thickness. But I think your post makes more sense of why.

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So what is it I like about super light mahogany compared to a heavy piece?I always thought the word was sustain lol.I guess I mean something else.

Thanks for clearing that up for me

Keep in mind that this is all just speculation. If there were a cut-and-dry answer, you would never see debates like this one!

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Keep in mind density can vary from the same speices of wood

thats one reason three identical strats can sound so differant

and a three peice body may have more sustain than a two peice

as the neck is bolted or glued to one solid section transfering its vibration

along a single peice. while a two peice distributes it across the two

seperated by "glue"(no help for sustain) now add the fact that density can be differant

and youll get less sustain

a thicker peice will eliminate flex but at 2" thick there wont be much flex if any

and the length of the body does not play as much of a factor beyond the bridge

IMHO the best results for sustain are the neck to body construction

1st neck thru

2nd bolt on

3rd set neck

Edited by spazzyone
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I made 2 identical guitars as first projects, both using the same piece of mahogany for a body, the second one had a maple cap added, about 5mm thick. The mahogany bodies were about 40mm thick. Single cut, bolt on neck. Same circuits, same pickups. They sound quite different in the mid range.

The maple capped one has a lot more depth of tone, warmer, deeper bass and also stronger top end sparkle whereas the uncapped one has more mids.

I reckon less of this difference is down to the maple cap and more down to my learning from earlier mistakes and making the second (maple capped) one with a far better neck pocket rout and neck joint. So many variables to consider!

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Obviously I'm no expert or I wouldn't have posted. But, it seems to me that it should be some kind of mathmatical formula taking all factors into account. I realize that one LP can sound different from another. Isn't this due to things like wood density?

I subscribe to the theory of diminishing marginal returns mentioned above. I also believe a large part of why Gibson doesn't change the dimensions is more asthetics than anything (their customers would kill them). They tried it before with the SG.

I have always looked for facts and formulas because I understand it more than I do art. Art is too hard to grasp. It is not repeatable.

Thanks for all your postings. Keep it up.

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Obviously I'm no expert or I wouldn't have posted. But, it seems to me that it should be some kind of mathmatical formula taking all factors into account. I realize that one LP can sound different from another. Isn't this due to things like wood density?

It has been said by better guitarists than I will ever aspire to be that the biggest variation in tone is in the guitarist's fingers.

It has also been said that if building guitars was to be compared to building ships, the solid-body guitar would be the equivalent of the dugout canoe. The National Resonator might be a 3-masted schooner.

You can hear all sorts of arguments. I have an Ibanez with a mahogony body, maple top. Another one had an agathis body. The cheaper one actually sounded better (although it didn't "feel" better!).

Dean Guitars swears their paulownia body (just a step up from balsa) has great tone, due to the "angles of the strings on the headstock, and the spread of the body."

Maybe.

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Keep in mind density can vary from the same speices of wood

thats one reason three identical strats can sound so differant

and a three peice body may have more sustain than a two peice

as the neck is bolted or glued to one solid section transfering its vibration

along a single peice. while a two peice distributes it across the two

seperated by "glue"(no help for sustain)

Personnaly, I dont think that glue joint have a damping effect on string vibration since the glue we use are harder that the wood itself. I get more sustain from my multi-lam neck that my flat-saw p-bass neck and multi-lam neckthrought are realy popular for there sustain.

Here you will find some 3D simulation about the way a guitar react to vibration.

Philippe

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Here you will find some 3D simulation about the way a guitar react to vibration.

No, that's just how those specific guitars react to vibration. The research hasn't controlled for wood type/source, humidity, denseness, thickness, age, etc. So it's just not possible to make any conclusions about the effect of the shape from this.

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Keep in mind density can vary from the same speices of wood

thats one reason three identical strats can sound so differant

and a three peice body may have more sustain than a two peice

as the neck is bolted or glued to one solid section transfering its vibration

along a single peice. while a two peice distributes it across the two

seperated by "glue"(no help for sustain)

Personnaly, I dont think that glue joint have a damping effect on string vibration since the glue we use are harder that the wood itself. I get more sustain from my multi-lam neck that my flat-saw p-bass neck and multi-lam neckthrought are realy popular for there sustain.

Here you will find some 3D simulation about the way a guitar react to vibration.

Philippe

glue hardness by itself does not equal sustain.make a hole body out of it how will it sound?

Multi meaning many, and what types of wood are we talikng about in this case

and keep in mind this is a neck that has a fingerboard connecting the lams and screws

"Clamping" it to the body

and the other case is neck through wich is always better for sustain

wether its one or seven peices

Edited by spazzyone
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Keep in mind density can vary from the same speices of wood

thats one reason three identical strats can sound so differant

and a three peice body may have more sustain than a two peice

as the neck is bolted or glued to one solid section transfering its vibration

along a single peice. while a two peice distributes it across the two

seperated by "glue"(no help for sustain)

Personnaly, I dont think that glue joint have a damping effect on string vibration since the glue we use are harder that the wood itself. I get more sustain from my multi-lam neck that my flat-saw p-bass neck and multi-lam neckthrought are realy popular for there sustain.

Here you will find some 3D simulation about the way a guitar react to vibration.

Philippe

glue hardness by itself does not equal sustain.make a hole body out of it how will it sound

Multi meaning many, and what types of wood ar we talikng about in this case

and keep in mind tah is a neck that has a fingerboard connecting the lams and screws

"Clamping" it to the body

and the other case is neck through wich is always better for sustain

wether its one or seven peices

If we follow your thinking, a one piece neck through will have better sustain? If you have better sustain with a 3 parts body, it's because you have 2 glued joint that make your structure stronger. It's the composite basic.

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no in a three peice body the neck should (and usualy does)

connect to a solid center running from the neck pocket

through the bridge mounting area to the heel with a peice of wood on the each outside of the solid center

in a two peice that same center section is split between two halves.

seperated by glue wich does not transfer sustain as well as a single peice of wood. when you think about the fact that two peices of wood from the same tree will sound completly differant then it becomes obvious that there will be a change in tone/sustain from one half to the other. now could you hear this differance? no its impossible.

to hear that you would have to bolt a neck to each individual half

not very practical

what im getting at is my answer to the original question

does size/shape effect tone/sustain?

IMHO it must to some degree as mass has to have an effect

try this as a test have someone play your guitar unpluged

now place your ear against the body can you hear anything?

can you hear a differance from one spot to another?

i doubt it but that does not mean its not there

i dont think by just listening anybody could say yes or no

as there are to many variables to take into account

i have thought about making a guitar out of corian just to see

1. how well does it sustain 2.does the shape change the tone

i figured corian was prety consistant density wise but to get a 1-1/2"

thick peice you would have to glue two peices together

and any "air" that wound up between them would alter the results

to much from one area to another to be consistant

but i still might make one as sustain must be enough for a guitar

maybe not the best but certainly better than poplar or bass wood

not to mention scratches could be buffed right out as its a solid color

Edited by spazzyone
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