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How much does Rock Maple vary in Tone?


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Hi everyone, maybe a bit of a silly question but how much does Rock Maple vary in tone? We all know that two pieces of wood from the same tree can sound quite different but it occurs to me that Maple is so hard and bright that it might not vary that much

I have some Maple but its just regular lumber and wondering, would be better off buying timber that is intended for musical instruments?

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Timber that is set aside for musical instruments is usually done so because of the figure that creates a demand that will support higher prices. If your regular lumber is structurally sound, it is perfectly fine to build with.

 

It's been a long time since we've had discussions about the tonal effects of various woods on electric guitars. I believe the various woods or various pieces of the same wood can influence tone enough to be heard. If you are listening specifically for that reason and are trying to hear a difference. The signal chain: pickups and amp have by far the biggest say in what it is going to sound like.

Or perhaps the answer to this question illustrates the importance of the wood species best of all: What's the most important component of an electric guitar involved in creating its sound?

 

The strings. 

Choose wood that is physically able to do the job and pleases you to look at. Build it well. Let your pickups and amp determine the tone. 

SR

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My experience is different and I find the guitar comes through regardless of strings, pickups and amp. The amp of course plays a huge roll but I think its pretty hard to quantify just how much each component contributes to the over-all resulting sound

I think that's going a bit off-topic though and the question I have asked is a bit hard to answer because you would have to compare an all-Maple guitar with other all-Maple guitars and very few guitars are made entirely of Maple

I made one guitar entirely of Maple and I won't be doing that again. I also made other guitars with too much Maple and it seems like any guitar I make that has the slightest bit of Maple sounds like Maple LOL

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No doubt the wood comes through. To answer your question as asked, I would opine that it does not vary a huge amount. The degree would depend on what you are comparing it to. I repeat, that is only my opinion as the question is somewhat subjective. some people would hear the variance in tone and call it minor, and others, listening to the same thing would call the difference large.

The strings example was given by an instructor whose point was if there are no strings there is no sound, thus they are the most important component to sound from a guitar.

SR

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Yes good points, all agreed

I was thinking about all this today and wanted to mention about my experience. I compare guitars back to back in my room with a few different amps and they all sound a bit different each with their strong points. And I realise that is a bit overboard and you don't do that when playing to an audience. You just play and as long as the guitar has a good tonal range all is well (ie an all maple guitar is quite extreme) In any case is the audience going to say "that guy's guitar sounds crap" and get up and leave?

Also just to mention I made a Les Paul a while back and in my humble opinion it sounds nicer than my Gibson LP Studio and I sourced the timber from the same place as a reputable Perth guitar maker that is on here sometimes

Cheers and thanks for your replies!

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5 hours ago, Crusader said:

Also just to mention I made a Les Paul a while back and in my humble opinion it sounds nicer than my Gibson LP Studio and I sourced the timber from the same place as a reputable Perth guitar maker that is on here sometimes

I suspect that has as much to do with the quality of your construction versus Gibson as anything else. Just one of the many benefits of building your own.:)

SR

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  • 1 year later...
On 1/6/2017 at 11:10 PM, ScottR said:

I suspect that has as much to do with the quality of your construction...

I didn't know anything about Gibson neck-joints when I made that guitar but now I know its what is called "Transitional" I remember cutting about 3/4 of an inch off, so it could have been a Long Tenon Joint!

Getting back to the topic of Maple

Tonight I was mucking around on a few guitars and the conclusion I came to is the Maple I have been using is not very tuneful. Everything I've made with it has an upper mid-range mono-tone sort of sound to it. I have already re-made one guitar to get rid of it and was the best thing I've done. That guitar now (to my ear) rivals the tone I get from my R9

Also I recently met a guy who has a "Doves In Flight" accoustic which is made of Maple yet has a beautiful warm tone. The closest thing I have to compare to that is an ES-137 which is made of Maple with a Mahogany block. It has a bit of that nasally mono-tone sound when playing accoustically but mostly disappears when plugged in. However my guitars are solid bodies and the nasally sound dominates when plugged in

So my conclusion from all this is, yes Maple does vary in tone

 

EDIT: I just noticed the date on this and I can't believe its been a whole year! Oh well that's shows how often I get to working on things around here

Edited by Crusader
The date
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