Tonewood! So the web is linking to my article. Cool!

      Materials, Tonewood, Wood

Is “Tonewood” bullshit? This guy says it is…

So… the web is linking to my article and causing controversy. Cool! One commenter noted: “I suspect that this thread will have at least 8 pages by tomorrow.”. I bet! Another says: “Tone is in the luthier. That’s how I read the article, and I agree.” Yep. That’s essentially what I wrote.

The discussion references my article in 2009: Tuning the Wood: On Tonewoods and Other Myths.

C’mon and share your thoughts!

Joel says:

Hi Paul! Well, if you get a chance to read the article, it's about acoustics. Also, while alpha is, technically speaking, a neck-through solid body, there's still a carbon fiber body top and bottom plus some resonant cavity in there that may contribute to the tone. IMO, it's about tuning this resonance, hence "Tuning the Wood".

I have not read Joel's article; I will tonight after work. But I want it to make it clear to anyone who thinks wood has an effect on tone in solidbody electric guitars: please learn your physics. Wood affects the tone of acoustics, of course, because the wooden top is the "woofer cone" of the guitar and the saddle and bridge are the "coil assemply" of this wooden speaker.

Solidbodys have none of this going on. The material of the solid body only affects sustain: the more rigid, the longer the sustain. That's all. If anyone says otherwise, they are welcome to respond along this thread, and I will be glad to read their comments.

David says:

Paul, please learn your physics!

Different species of wood has different densities and weight. All wood will flex. So the neck shaft of the guitar is not a totally ridged thing. Stiffer necks sound different from more flexible necks. That;s where most of the tone of the solid body comes from. But the body wood matters to.

Wood has different resonant frequencies. it will absorb energy from the strings as it resonates. This produces a comb filtering affect. You can clearly hear that a light weight basswood body sounds much different from a hard ash or maple body.

To illustrate this further in a very exaggerated manner, look at a banjo. almost all of the energy from the strings is converted to acoustic energy as they vibrate the drum head. So you get a loud quack of a tone with very little sustain.

If you change the head to thin wood, or plastic, you will get a different tone, and less acoustic output. Change it to a solid body, and again, very little acoustic output, but more of the energy of the strings is preserved. You get more sustain, and a fuller tone, albeit a very quiet tone.

Different types of woods will have this same affect, but on a more subtle scale.

Build a few identical instruments, but with different woods to hear the affect for your self.