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How Important Is Body Shape To Tone?


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While differences in tone from body mass and shape can be subtle, I like the idea about musing about different possibilities in tone. Here are my favourite experiments, none are particularly innovative but they are fun.

a) Put a single space pickup in a Gibson style guitar, bridge position.

:D Get the local amp guy to put an extra valve in your preamp.

c) Put a 100 watt Marshall amp in an isolation booth in a recording studio, turn the preamp to 10 (obviously) and the master volume to 8, close the doors and go and sit in the control booth and connect your guitar. At this volume lots of things will resonate as well as the wood, hell, the steel reinforcing in the concrete floor might be adding to the tone.

d) Increase the distance between a tune-o-matic bridge and the stop bar and press the heel of your hand down on the strings behind the bridge and wobble for squawking vibrato and pitch change effects.

Any others that I have missed?

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the guys who want to say it is "voodoo" or "sales pitches" will never be proven wrong(on many many levels they are right), but fundementally the answer has to be yes it will change the timbre of an instrument along with many other larger and smaller factors.

That's a non-point. I agree with the rest of what you're saying, but you're implying that just because all changes can be quantifiable on some molecular level, anybody who says "don't bother worry about it" is crying "voodoo". I'm just crying "common sense". :D Common sense, not "voodoo avoidance" dictates that you shouldn't really choose the silhouette of your guitar as something that will impact your tone goals. Just design something you like and are happy with, within certain general parameters like mass/thickness/etc.

If I dent up my guitar with a spoon, it's going to impact the tone on some molecular level, too, but I'm not about to try to strategically place tone-enhancing dents. :D If you can't identify what the impact will be, then it's not a design consideration. It's that simple.

Greg

Greg,

I think you took that as aimed at you (which it was not). My point, is just what I said. There are many people who will say that it makes no difference and is a myth. This is not true, there is a difference, but there is truth in saying that sometimes these differences are slight and may be a much smaller or over shadowed by many other factors big and small. What I am saying pretty much says what you are crying, use common sense, but I will not ever agree that body shape, volume and properties of the wood make no difference (it does, within reason).

In your spoon analogy, I think you make a good point. If you can't identify the dent made a change and what it changed, you can't use it as a design element you can control. I believe that is what I was getting at(although I stop short of saying it is not a design consideration) when I said this.

The answer to the first question is yes, of course it will. The problem with quantifying the difference especially between guitars with different scale length, electronics, wood(and every piece of wood is going to be a little different), ambient factors that effect the instrument dirrectly, variables outside the guitar(amplification, signal chain, speakers and enclosures, environmental considerations for these components, the "room", your ears, players technique, and on and on). All of these variables make it next to impossible to "prove" the value of these things.

The reason I do not say these things can not be used at some controlled level, is that we are limited by our lack of experience. This is also why I see the value in looking back at past efforts, and learning from them. Either way I am not interested in debating small points, as I know you and I are really saying the same thing (or at least we are very close to being in agreement).

Peace,Rich

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Any others that I have missed?

I've always wanted to build a Strat-shaped glass bubble, fill it with cuts of beef and bolt a neck to it. I envision the ultimate in gutless radio-friendly rock sound since the beef would kill any resonance you get from the glass. But, since that's a pipe dream (for now) I've instead decided to invest $30 in a brand new strat copy off eBay. Not only will it give me that spineless kind of sound, it gives me something to hone my woodworking skills with. (read: butcher with a router)

Anyhow, carry on. Nothing to see here.

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