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  1. #51
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    OK, Skydog, that sounds like good stuff!
    "Life's too short not to enjoy great tone."

    Some contend that rock 'n roll is bad for the body & bad for the soul
    Bad for the heart, bad for the mind, bad for the deaf & bad for the blind.
    It makes some men crazy and they talk like fools.
    Makes some men crazy and they start to drool.

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by StudioMike View Post
    Ebony, mostly. But old rosewood is good. As is maple.

    But the idea that fretboard wood changes the tone of the guitar is crazy. (I hadn't heard the even crazier idea that some fretboard woods "work better" with certain body woods.) Here are two absolute facts that put the lie to this pervasive myth.

    1. Guitars are affected by body wood resonance, but that can't be predicted by knowing the variety. You can pick up a Strat body made of mahogany, let's say, that is light, bright and lively, and you can pick up another mahogany body that is dark, heavy and sounds bad. But you can't tell what any given mahogany body will be like just from knowing it's mahogany. You just can't. As a raw material, wood is wildly unpredictable. As for fingerboard wood, here's a paraphrase (from memory) of what Paul Reed Smith had to say about this nutty concept: "Your fingerboard is maybe a half inch think, slathered with a ton of glue and clamped to a neck... then it gets slots cut into it, really deep slots, and 22 or 24 strips of metal get stuck into those slots. Now how much do you think fretboard resonance contributes to the tone of a solid body electric guitar?"

    2. Human perception is completely unreliable. We don't see, hear smell or taste anything completely, as we imagine we do. We only perceive a very, very small sampling of our environment, and the rest of what we think we perceive is actually our brain filling in the blanks from memory or other stimuli. People have been made to wrongly taste orange soda as cola, just by changing the coloring to brown. Eyewitnesses to crimes invariably get about 10% or what they think they saw right. People react to everything visually first, whether it's something you taste, smell or hear. So of course maple sounds brighter than rosewood.... just look at it!

    Humans don't do this because they're trying to put one over on your (well, if it's a guitar store guy, maybe he is). It's not an act of will. We do this because we can't help it. Our brains do nothing all day long but observe, compare, contrast, make judgements. That's how we managed to survive and evolve despite our physical inferiority to every other animal on the planet. It's our entire evolutionary approach to survival. "No, those berries look like the good ones, but they have a tiny black dot on the bottom... those are the ones that kill you." Well, just because we don't have to run from tigers any more doesn't mean we can stop doing what our brains just... do.

    So, to recap: you can't predict the sound of a guitar based on wood species. You will make judgements about how something sounds by looking at it. And all this discussion about it is useless, because it's all utterly wrong.

    Know this and you'll be smarter than 95% of the population.
    What else is useless is your entire "doctoral thesis" posted above! The OP asked, "which do you like best", not which sounds best.

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydog6653 View Post
    What else is useless is your entire "doctoral thesis" posted above! The OP asked, "which do you like best", not which sounds best.
    But it immediately devolved into another discussion of how fretboard wood affects the tone of electric guitars. Which it doesn't.

    Clearly you've never read an actual doctoral thesis. They're quite a bit longer - by thousands and thousands of words - than my post, and cover their subjects much more deeply. But my post is scarcely useless: if I can save even one guitar player from believing the unsubstantiated horse**** that gets spread to fertilize the floor at your local guitar shop, then my work will have value.
    "No matter how smart you thought you were, you are actually way less smart than that." - David Foster Wallace, from Infinite Jest

  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by StudioMike View Post
    Ebony, mostly. But old rosewood is good. As is maple.

    But the idea that fretboard wood changes the tone of the guitar is crazy. (I hadn't heard the even crazier idea that some fretboard woods "work better" with certain body woods.) Here are two absolute facts that put the lie to this pervasive myth.

    1. Guitars are affected by body wood resonance, but that can't be predicted by knowing the variety. You can pick up a Strat body made of mahogany, let's say, that is light, bright and lively, and you can pick up another mahogany body that is dark, heavy and sounds bad. But you can't tell what any given mahogany body will be like just from knowing it's mahogany. You just can't. As a raw material, wood is wildly unpredictable. As for fingerboard wood, here's a paraphrase (from memory) of what Paul Reed Smith had to say about this nutty concept: "Your fingerboard is maybe a half inch think, slathered with a ton of glue and clamped to a neck... then it gets slots cut into it, really deep slots, and 22 or 24 strips of metal get stuck into those slots. Now how much do you think fretboard resonance contributes to the tone of a solid body electric guitar?"

    2. Human perception is completely unreliable. We don't see, hear smell or taste anything completely, as we imagine we do. We only perceive a very, very small sampling of our environment, and the rest of what we think we perceive is actually our brain filling in the blanks from memory or other stimuli. People have been made to wrongly taste orange soda as cola, just by changing the coloring to brown. Eyewitnesses to crimes invariably get about 10% or what they think they saw right. People react to everything visually first, whether it's something you taste, smell or hear. So of course maple sounds brighter than rosewood.... just look at it!

    Humans don't do this because they're trying to put one over on your (well, if it's a guitar store guy, maybe he is). It's not an act of will. We do this because we can't help it. Our brains do nothing all day long but observe, compare, contrast, make judgements. That's how we managed to survive and evolve despite our physical inferiority to every other animal on the planet. It's our entire evolutionary approach to survival. "No, those berries look like the good ones, but they have a tiny black dot on the bottom... those are the ones that kill you." Well, just because we don't have to run from tigers any more doesn't mean we can stop doing what our brains just... do.

    So, to recap: you can't predict the sound of a guitar based on wood species. You will make judgements about how something sounds by looking at it. And all this discussion about it is useless, because it's all utterly wrong.

    Know this and you'll be smarter than 95% of the population.
    I'm going to have to beg to differ somewhat with your main thesis from personal experience. My swamp ash strat had a Brazilian RW fingerboard for years, and at one point I thought it sounded a little sizzly for my taste. The tech I go to in Baltimore, who also assembled and Plek'd four of my guitars from USACG parts, suggested that I try a maple fretboard. His theory was that although maple is thought to be brighter than rosewood, the way it combines with a swamp ash body actually makes the guitar sound a little warmer than rosewood and quite possibly less sizzly - and that is EXACTLY how it turned out.

    So, at least using this one data point, fretboard woods definitely have an impact on the guitar's tone, regardless of what PRS says - he also disses the idea of Plek'ing, so you need to take what these people say with a huge grain of salt. You might ask how many people can hear the difference, or whether that particular specimen of swamp ash or that particular specimen of maple were more inclined to provide those tonal changes than other specimens; and nobody can answer that question. It is obvious that natural materials like wood exhibit significant variance from sample to sample, but builders have gleaned general principles that are borne out in most cases - more in some cases and less in others. Sure you can EQ these things out, but thats neither here nor there.

    That said, somebody here had posted a youtube clip of a Strat made of cardboard, and it sounded more than acceptable, but I don't think novelty projects like that prove anything.

    FWIW..:)

    Srini

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    Srini, I think you missed an important part if my thesis: it is an established, tested, clinical fact that human perception is not in any way reliable. When someone says, "oh, I can hear it, even if you can't," what they actually saying is, "my crude sensors and my complicated brain tell me that I'm perceiving something that isn't there."

    And I don't understand why making a Strat out of weirdo materials and finding it sounds like any great Strat made of ash and maple doesn't prove anything. It seems to me that it proves all this handwringing over wood species is kind of nuthin'.
    "No matter how smart you thought you were, you are actually way less smart than that." - David Foster Wallace, from Infinite Jest

  6. #56
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    "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture."
    - Francis Vincent Zappa
    "Life's too short not to enjoy great tone."

    Some contend that rock 'n roll is bad for the body & bad for the soul
    Bad for the heart, bad for the mind, bad for the deaf & bad for the blind.
    It makes some men crazy and they talk like fools.
    Makes some men crazy and they start to drool.

  7. #57
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    I really don't know who said that, but it wasn't Frank Zappa. I've heard it attributed to a dozen musicians, all of them slightly off center. The most likely coiner is Martin Mull, although similar phrases date back to the turn of the last century.

    Funny thing is that most of the people it's misattributed to wrote quite a lot about music, including Frank. I often wish for a forum where people actually do talk about music rather than stuff you can make music with.

    http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/11...g-about-music/
    "No matter how smart you thought you were, you are actually way less smart than that." - David Foster Wallace, from Infinite Jest

  8. #58
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    Of course human perception is imperfect! The point really is, if by changing woods, someone says they can hear a difference, then they obviously can hear it. There is no real way to prove it because nobody else can hear what they hear. Regardless of what they're really trying to say vs what they're actually saying, they hear what they hear. So for them, as it was for me, there could be a decided difference between rosewood and maple fretboards.

    Making a strat out of cardboard may prove a lot of things, but it hardly proves that materials don't matter. I have three Strat style guitars, all almost exactly the same, except one is swamp ash/maple/maple. the second is mahogany w/redwood top/mahogany/RW and the third is a traditional alder/maple/RW. They all sound just like you would expect ash, alder and mahogany to sound (along with the respective neck and FB woods), based on what people say.

    Granted, we're talking ballpark tones, and there are a lot of other variables - I'd hate for this to turn into a discussion of every single parameter that could possibly affect a guitar tone - but for me anyway, the sounds of different woods are audible. I do very much think that materials make a difference to the sound. But then, Jeff Gay, who builds HighOrder humbuckers (IMHO, I have yet to find a more musical pickup) says that no matter how much you know about the guitar into which the pickup will go, what it will eventually sound like is pretty much a crapshoot . You jump in with both feet and hope for the best. That may be true, but I think that speaks more to human inability to model detailed sonic parameters, especially in a predictive exercise, than to the actual effect that these parameters have.

    Srini

  9. #59
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    Thanks for straightening me out, Mike!
    "Life's too short not to enjoy great tone."

    Some contend that rock 'n roll is bad for the body & bad for the soul
    Bad for the heart, bad for the mind, bad for the deaf & bad for the blind.
    It makes some men crazy and they talk like fools.
    Makes some men crazy and they start to drool.

  10. #60
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    If I were to live in a perfect world, every Strat & Telecaster would have maple fretboards.

 

 

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