Tonewood

Tonewood. A topic that causes such massive disagreement amongst so few. In real terms there are more people practising copraphagia right now than who truly give a ‘shit’ about tonewood. It seems that every subculture of society has a niche subject that they fight to the death over. In the days of 8-bit computing it was the Sinclair Spectrum versus Commodore 64 battle. It can be argued that one of the machines should absolutely have been awarded the win. The Commodore 64 was the technically superior box of chips. But, even today, I would grant Sinclair’s humble machine the victory. You see, life doesn’t fit nicely into the square-shaped hole. Opinions, although indeed like arseholes, are important to the individual. Unless you’ve walked in someone’s shoes you cannot judge their verdict on an argument. Life is tricky. And a raging argument can rampage forever onward with no purpose. Like a forest fire, the eventual, desolate scene of blackened carnage does not remember the initial, tiny spark from the match.

So what is tonewood? For the uninitiated, tonewood describes the species of wood used to construct a musical instrument, chosen specifically for its impact on the quality and nature of that instrument’s sound. The current argument raging amongst the few on the internet regards the use of tonewood in the manufacture of the electric guitar. When precisely this ‘argument’ reared its head is hard to fathom. I have played the electric guitar since my teens and I have to admit that until last year I did not have any comprehension of the intricacies of ‘tonewood’. Not only that, but I’m not sure anyone else did either. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I was aware that, for example, Jimmy Page’s 1959 Les Paul was held aloft as a beacon of greatness due to it’s seasoned, and (due to the gigs and records it had featured on) almost spiritual wood. I say I was ‘aware’, but what I really mean is that I’d read about it in guitar magazines. There is an understandable significance placed on historically important guitars and if that ‘significance’ was absorbed by the young me then it must have been taken on board by every player of my generation. However, when I bought my first guitar I did not know what wood it was constructed from. And when I bought my second guitar I did not know or care what wood it was made from. Likewise with my third. I have a Les Paul and a Telecaster and I could not tell you, even now, what woods they are made from. I assume the Les Paul is mahogany and I guess the Telecaster is ash or alder or something else beginning with an ‘a’… but I don’t know. So when did the argument over ‘tonewood’ arise?

Although people state that the tonewood debate has been raging forever and a day I would dispute that. Perhaps it was a real issue amongst the illuminati of the electric guitar. But for the everyday player it meant nothing. It was nothing. It wasn’t even an ex-parrot. No. I only became aware of the tonewood debate when I started watching videos on YouTube. That was 2015. ‘But the argument must have raged before then?’ I hear you ask. Yes, maybe. But I was not aware of it. The press wasn’t discussing it. So it wasn’t ‘out there’. Is it even ‘out there’ now? Maybe it isn’t? I reckon that if you were to ask guitar players (even famous players) who do not watch YouTube videos for their views on the tonewood debate you would be met with silence. I chose my guitars for their colours. There is far more to the electric guitar than the wood underneath those layers of paint. Therefore I’m going to stick with the Youtube era as the time when this debate rose from Jimi Hendrix’s sacred bones. Personally, I stumbled upon the debate when I watched videos by Scott Grove, Will Gelvin, Duncan Kinnaird and Rob Chapman. I’ll admit right now that it interested me. The wood a guitar is made from ‘doesn’t’ affect its sound? Hmmmm… although I hadn’t given it any prior thought, when presented with this simple idea, it still provoked a twinge in the spine. Let’s say that again… the wood a guitar is made from has no impact on the sound it makes when it’s plugged in. It did indeed beg scientific analysis. Hence the need to watch every video on the subject! And so I did.

Simple. The science showed that the wood made no difference. Didn’t it? Will Gelvin and Duncan Kinnaird proved it to be so. Without a shadow of a doubt. Will even went so far as to call anyone who believed wood made any difference whatsoever a dumb fuck. I may have got the precise insult wrong… but it was something along those lines. And I was along for the ride. It did appear simple. The pickup is (simplistically!) a magnet with a wire wrapped around it. A field is produced which the vibrations of the guitar strings interfere with, thereby generating small amounts of electricity. This electricity is amplified to produce sound. The argument of the anti-tonewood brigade is therefore that the sound is caused by the movement of the metal string in the magnetic field. Nothing else. So how can the wood affect the movement of the guitar string in the magnetic field? Now, as I said, I was on board with this argument. But, today, as I type these words I can see that the issue is far more complex. I wish someone had laid it out then as I have now. Let me repeat. How can the wood affect the movement of the guitar string in the magnetic field? Wow. If it had been put like that I may have doubted myself!

I created a video, filmed in my car, where I discussed the impact of wood mass on the sound of a plugged-in electric guitar. I came to the conclusion that it couldn’t affect the sound too much. And, in a way, I tend to stand by that conclusion. The downfall of my own argument however is a fundamental one. What do we mean when we say tone? This question is ground zero in this debate. It is the primary cause of all the nonsense. For me, back then, ‘tone’ referred to the ‘quality’ of the sound. The bass, middle and treble-ness of the sound. Did it refer to the ‘resonance’ or all the other ‘qualities’ that an electric guitar’s sound can be said to possess? No. I was just thinking of the ‘brightness’ or the ‘darkness’ of the sound. And to be perfectly honest with you I believe that light and dark have dominated the tonewood debate. But there must be more to the argument than whether or not the sun is hiding behind a cloud?

There were those (the majority?) who were vociferous in their belief that wood has a significant impact on the tone of an electric guitar. Chief among this group was Warlock Wyatt. Vilified by the anti-tonewood crowd, and put up by them as the leader of the pro-tonewood faction, Wyatt was an interesting character. An apparent bedroom guitar player who had introduced himself to the debate by calling out Scott Grove, Wyatt was the spearhead for those who opposed Gelvin and Kinnaird. Although Rob Chapman was the establishment’s figure head, it was Wyatt who carried the argument to the (relatively speaking) masses. Wyatt was a talented guitar player and one who, tonewood nonsense aside, would be easy to side with. His heartfelt outpourings as to why the electric guitar was important to him were genuine and, were it not for his sometimes abusive ‘tone’, would have won him many plaudits. Still, Wyatt brought together the pro-tonewood side of the debate in a unified ‘fuck you’ to the supposed ‘accepted science’.

The war began. There were casualties on both sides but the nature of the argument appeared to change. Although the opposing armies remained resolute in their beliefs in the existence or non-existence of ‘tonewood’, the generals changed their stance. Wyatt decided that wood may only make a small difference and Gelvin stated that wood might just make a difference in certain, unspecified circumstances. What caused this sea change? There were filmed experiments that contradicted both parties’ points of view. And there was also a seeming lack of conviction. Had someone who had called all those who disagreed with him ‘retarded’ really backed down on his once rock-solid position? Chapman is still adamant that tonewood is real. Not only real, but highly significant. Grove and Kinnaird are still adamant that tonewood is a myth. Gelvin and Wyatt meet somewhere in the middle.

The barrier to the truth is the constant cry of ‘it doesn’t matter’. But it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t matter. The question of whether the wood affects the sound of a plugged-in electric guitar can be answered. It is not a mystical question. There is no need for divine intervention. The wood either does or doesn’t make a difference. The difference, or lack of, is perfectly measurable. That it hasn’t been satisfactorily measured yet is a sign of disinterest by the establishment. So, why is this the case?

Have guitar companies knowingly perpetuated the ‘myth’ of tonewood or is tonewood so obviously a real-world phenomenon that no one, bar internet commenters, doubts its existence? The anti-tonewood brigade insists that ‘tonewood’ is a tool used by Gibson, Fender, PRS et al to inflate the retail value of electric guitars. But can this really be the case if I managed to reach this point in my life unaware of tonewood? Sure, I’ve always understood that guitars made with exotic woods cost a lot of money. Lottery-winner-style money. But that was an obvious consequence of wanting a guitar made with quality materials and displaying unique, eye-catching looks. Did I believe that the rare ‘Angus Duras Tiger Betjeman’ wood made the guitar sound better? Maybe. I don’t know. I can’t remember. But I know that, even today, I would choose a guitar on its looks over its wood. That doesn’t necessarily make me pro or anti. I just like a good looking guitar. That’s why the question of ‘who perpetuates the myth?’, if it is indeed a myth, is so difficult to answer. Does Rob Chapman preach tonewood in his videos to sell his guitars at a higher price? It does not seem that way. As far as I am aware ‘Chapman Guitars’ are affordable guitars. The brand is an affordable brand. Chapman Guitars have won awards for best beginner’s guitar and best low-cost option. The pro-tonewood side have been vilified as money-grabbers. The anti-tonewood side have suffered being portrayed as a cult.

Why is the tonewood debate still raging when the people who could settle the matter for once and for all are standing at the side-lines? Do you hear Gibson or Fender weighing in? Universities? Television documentary makers? Anyone other than individuals on YouTube? No. Silence.

So who cares about the tonewood debate? Well, I for one still find the question of the significance of electric guitar wood interesting. The idea of the mechanics of the guitar. The system. The vibrations, the electrics, the pickups the everything. But it is an interest that should not be hampered by idiocy. And the idiocy is the violence of the argument. This seemingly accepted, but totally unacceptable, violence. People are beating each other up over an argument that will never be sorted. A person who owns an exotic wooded, or otherwise expensive guitar, is willing to punch a Squier owner in the face. And the owner of the Squier has to be careful that his argument doesn’t come across as sheer jealousy. Even if the debate was settled right now, categorically, with absolute certainty, people would still fight. Because they can. And most of all because they want to. That’s the most important factor that is either forgotten or ignored. People want to fight. Because, wait for it, they ‘enjoy’ fighting.

I still believe that the Sinclair Spectrum was a greater computer than the Commodore 64. Yes, it has been proved not to be the case… something about colour graphics and an infinitely better sound chip, //scoff, but I still believe the Spectrum to be the best. That is the root of the problem. And that is why this seemingly insignificant little issue will rage on amongst those who want it to. Because people like to fight and there is no better fight right now amongst a handful in the ‘internet-guitar-community’ than this one. And, remember, people often lose sight of what they’re fighting for. It becomes about the fight rather than the issue.

Tonewood.

Okay, what did we define ‘tone’ as again?

23 comments

  1. Excellent article that addresses to some degree what I feel to be a central theme of this clash (I will not call it a debate as some have). That is what seems to be the inbuilt human need for conflict along with the desire to force your own beliefs on others. This has plagued mankind since we crawled from the primordial goo…No we didn’t God put us here…..Hang on there which God is that because my God is better than your God and so it goes on ad infinitum about pretty much any subject you care to mention. This is a real shame as it casts a shadow over what is an interesting and relevant subject that deserves some thought. Unfotunately it would be impossible to cross examine and test every theory put before us so we have learned to trust in the discoveries of scientific research and the experience of others as well as our own experience. From all this we draw our own conclusions and discuss them, possibly even changing our minds in the process and voila we advance our understanding while accepting that something new may come along that changes everything. You see “science” is not absolute, it is a way of describing the universe that we are part of in a language that we can understand. I give you gravitational waves as a recent example that was once just an idea based on “experience” now has the potential to change so much “accepted science”. As for tonewood I think that as far as electric guitars and the “tone” that they produce (My word this is subjective isn’t it) is concerned present evidence would suggest little impact. But as far as the construction and integrity of the “whole system” is concerned it is an improtant factor. Yes you could impregnate balsa wood with resins to make a guitar but why bother when you could just use a piece of mahogany, or something which has similar properties and beautiful…Oops subjective again, that as anyone will tell you is very easy to work with. Is the purpose here to build the best guitar you can or to prove a point? Both have their merits, but in my mind they are very different things. Now which is best Mac or PC…..

    1. Excellent!!! Why did I not think of that! You’re right, the tonewood fight can be compared to the ‘Mac vs PC’ battle. A ridiculous war where both machines do exactly the same things in almost identical ways using almost identical components. Ha ha!

    2. Karate vs TKD
      M16 vs AK47
      iPhone vs Android
      Dunken Donuts vs Starbucks
      Army vs Marines
      Revolver vs pistol
      Coke vs Pepsi

      There are countless “fights” like this. I think you are right, just human nature to fight and argue.

  2. Congratulations Mr. Six, this really puts the whole debate into perspective, (Too much F***ing perspective !), how it started as something of genuine interest, but descended into name calling, abuse, pointless divisions among guitar players, and now is something that’s very hard to take seriously or with any enthusiasm.
    I think some manufacturers do use “Tonewood” to sell guitars, but after seeing a famous “Anti TW cult” member advertising new guitar models on youtube, within days of kicking the whole stink into motion again, I’m not even sure if that arguement is so cut and dried anymore.
    Like you, I’ve never bought an electric guitar based on the type of wood..Acoustic guitar, yes,certainly..I know I prefer the Rosewood/Spruce combo rather than Mahogany/Cedar for example..but as for my electrics..One of my favorites is a 1981 USA Feder Bullet, which is made from plywood, and sounds incredible, punchy and bright as hell..and as for my Danelectro Bass,well, they just defys all the rules..Hardboard for God’s sake, and a whole bunch warmer and “Bassier” than my massively heavy Squier HM 5 string.
    It’s a shame this whole subject has become such a minefield, or a joke, depending on where it’s viewed from. As you said, it seems to have attracted poeple who like to fight and see their own name in comments, and that’s a shame as it’s probably putting others off of doing more genuine unbiased experiments, I mean, who needs all the crap that goes along with having an opinion on this subject, let alone being so blatantly provocative as to conduct some real research ?

    1. The ‘tonewood debate’ has been used to increase viewing figures and subscriptions in the most obvious way… yet no one says it out loud. Is everyone blind? Or is everyone too scared to call people out for fear of retributions? Probably a bit of both. But I’m not blind.

  3. Tonewood tonewood tonewood…
    ok, no stones flying my way, therefore I assume it’s safe here.

    Indeed the tonewood question is poorly defined, but in its nature interesting. The latest spiritual version “does wood affect sound of electric guitar?” is so vague it’s not even funny. What wood? Wood of the funiture you have at home while playing gig at other end of a city? Morning wood can affect the sound if it force the guitarist to have the instrument in uncomfortable position. Is it about spicies only or is it about the shape of the wood also? for exmaple difference in lenght of the neck as LP vs SG? etc… From the physics point of view structure the string is attached to affects string’s behavior, end of story. My OPINION is that there can be resonable criticism rised against WillsBusyGuitar’s analysis / lectures on the subject. On other hand I’m not luthier and I don’t realy have practical use for the ultimate answer from the physics side of things, about tonewood, therefore I’m not motivated to invest time into investigation etc… especialy when its only practical use will be arguing on YT. I have to get credit to WIll as he stated what he means by tone and what he means by tonewood.

    The catch is that nobody’s interested in difference that can’t be heard, so sorry physics you’re not sufficient to give us the whole answer. Different people, different hearing, human senses are far from being precise measuring devices and they can be fooled. When it comes to recorded audio, even freeware software can get you from sworn of bees to wet fart and back ( Intentionaly simplified and exaggerated ), so difference the wood might provide doesn’t seem to be useful here. When you are playing the guitar it’s real catch 22, because you cannot possibly isolate just hearing. With closed eyes you still have touch, sense of how heavy the guitar is and your current emotional state. Which brings another problem. Who does choose the guitar objectively just because of how it sounds? Nobody or almost nobody. Looks, neck profile, tunning stability, hard tail vs tremolo etc… all that affects the result of liking or disliking the guitar.
    Ergo easy solution for guitarist is : Play guitars before you buy them through signal chain you’re familiar with, don’t buy guitars you can’t play through familiar signal chain before buying them, otherwise risk is involved. If you already have guitar to bring that one to the shop as reference for yourself is also good idea. On other hand if someone likes the suspense and waiting, if the guitar he/she ordered, just by specs and photo, from another end of the world, will be nice or not, I’m the last one that would try to stop him/her.

    Mac vs PC, Android vs iPhone, FL Studio vs Ableton live vs Cubase vs Protools vs Reaper, Highpass each track in mix or not, Metal vs Punk… etc. etc. all of those arguemnts attract people that are unable or unwilling to see anything between black and white, while being quite loud about it, which tend to bury all informative content of the argument.

      1. I just think it’s the most liberating piece of software. It rarely hinders artistic expression. My future videos will be featuring it heavily so people will be able to see for themselves why I think it’s the bee’s knees.

  4. Ableton ? I’m a Reaper user myself, but that was pretty much entirely based on price. Oh, hang on, that’s why I own pretty much every guitar I have..because I could afford it at the time, or because I just happened to walk past a shop window, or in a secondhand section of a guitar shop, and I had a few quid in my pocket.
    Excepting my Ovation, and the Fernandes Sustainer guitar, nothing Ive owned has ever been based on a preset idea of brand, pickup configuration, or (dare i say it), Tonewood.
    I think I want another Stratty type guitar, just the classic 3 single coils and that’ll do, and another Washburn acoustic, just because I gave one away and I’d like another..but other than that, my random collection of Yamaha, Peavey,Indie, Epiphone, Washburn, Aria, etc. guitars manage to cover all the bases..and I have some Basses to cover the Basses, again, random stuff, Encore, Squier, Danelectro., 4 string, 5 string, Acoustic..everything covered. Nice.
    I agree with the previous post, play what you love, sell the ones you don’t love and buy some more..
    A random secondhand purchase can sometimes give you a totally new feel or sound or way of thinking, I’ve often written tunes on a brand new guitar just because it sounded like nothing else I owned, and by messing about, I’ve hit one chord that’s made me stop and think, “Wow”. It’s never really that hard to write a song from that starting point.
    Six made a point about people being scared to make any comment on this old TW debate for fear of retribution. My recent experience is that as soon as you say anything at all, the Bottom Feeders also crawl out and attach themselves to you..I’d made a comment recently, and for a brief exciting moment, I was the new King Of the Trolls, which is sort of like being voted safest 70’s radio DJ for a kid’s party..it’s just plain sleazy.. I’m sure these people will get very bored of me very quickly, if they haven’t already. There’s no fight in me on this subject, because if Tonewood really does exist, and the finest woods really make your guitar that much better..I can’t afford it anyway.

    1. I still love ya’ Robbo, but the i’m not afraid to say tonewood. It is truly amazing to me how free speech can be held in such high esteem until someone says something independant, well then we shall all gather together and smite his ass in the name of our lord…..But all I said was this piece of tonewood is good enough for jehova… XD

    2. I suspect possible love triangle (square, or even more sides shape)…
      I missed that brief moment, but it’s quite likely that we would be promoted together as I get quickly very unpolite if my friends are attacked while being innoncent.

    3. Rob, try out a G&L for a Strat, The Legacy Tribute I found a few months ago (and play on my recent vids) is one sweet guitar to play.

  5. I’ve stated in the past that I’m in the “who cares, why fight about it?” side of the debates.
    I fully respect everyones views as they are everyones opinions on the subject and it’s not good to be closed minded to opinions.
    I’m inclined myself to say BOTH sides are correct. Why and how, you may ask?
    I’m in the view that the overall sound of the guitar comes from many factors and the amount of change from wood, to me is not a high percentage through the electronic highway. I consider the most important part of that wood/material, between the bridge and the nut, in a straight line. Can this influence the sustain? likely? But to me actual “tone” plays a big part in shaping the note with your fingertips. Something Punk-thrashers and Djent players don’t use, therefore end up being “tone-is-not-in-the-fingers” camp (which is true for them because of the way they play). You see both camps are right for tone in the fingers debate. 😉
    Vibration is important to me. When I hold a guitar, I like to feel that vibration through my hands and through my body, and I mean not the sound of the amp, I mean the actual body of the guitar vibrating through me.
    The interesting thing about vibration and sound is that the low frequencies play a huge roll in what you hear, and that vibration coming from the guitar (not amp) buzzes through your body influencing everything you hear.
    You only need a little low frequency to create big “problems” in a recording, which is why we High-pass/Low-cut those in the mixer.
    I like to record with a mic directly into the speaker, and one that openly picks up the area around the player at the same time. The open mic picks up the guitar vibration, pick brushes and can be added to the mix to give air and life to a sound.
    So I’m inclined to say, through the dry electrical signal, the wood makes very little difference to “tone”, to the player holding the guitar, that resonating vibration impacts everything he/she hears as “tone”. At least it does for me. So both sides are correct. Wood does and doesn’t influence the tone of the guitar.

    1. I agree with you. It’s strange how I could probably do a video on any subject and no one would pay any attention… but a video on ToNeWooD causes consternation! I just don’t know what it is that arouses such nonsense.

      I think the ‘tone is in the fingers’ point is very important. Often in these arguments, people haven’t properly factored in the type of pick used, the strength of attack, the angle of attack, the pressure of the fretting hand etc etc. I was playing acoustic guitar today and I had to give up on the chicken pick. Whilst it’s my current favourite pick for electric guitar, it is useless on acoustic. Far too scratchy. An almost paper-thin pick works much better. Funnily enough I used to use paper thin picks on electric guitars at gigs. I swore by them. If I needed more attack I just bent the pick slightly. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you discuss the impact of distortion. You’re right that a lot of these metal players, with their active pick-ups and fizzy sound, are not in the position to talk with authority on the impact of wood in the sound of an electric guitar. Not with a guitar that sounds like a buzz-saw!

      I think you’re right. Wood does and doesn’t influence the sound of an electric guitar!

    2. Both sides can be right only if the definition / question is vague.

      Example:
      Does wood affects tone of usual lespaul guitar?
      Ok, let’s remove all the wood from that guitar.
      What do you get?
      No tone at all as there isn’t any structure which would hold the tension of the strings anymore.
      Therefore wood has 100% effect on tone of usual LP guitar.

      While this example is logicaly sound (or it seems to be) it’s most likely not what person which asked the question had in mind.

      Anyway, we are in agreement that not only the actual sound shapes players perception of the sound he/she creates.

      btw. about the high pass / low cut … you might consider watching https://youtu.be/MslNaNafyr4 I have feeling it might help you. If I’m wrong about that and you already knew things mentioned in the video, feel free to tell me to fuck off 😉 it won’t be taken as attack in this case.

      1. 🙂 The filter pot on the G&L just helps keeps the clean, playing when using a tube amp, actually a Matchless clone, there are times I need to flip from fat tone to clean, but the problem is getting too much “boom” on the bottom end when playing live.
        It’s great sounding when distortion is involved though.
        I keep 90% of the guitar track intact as well as Drums. Bass guitar is usually where I cut with High-pass.
        A lot of times I will notch to have certain frequencies peek out

      2. The number one problem with the ‘tonewood debate’ from the very beginning was that people failed to define precisely what they meant by ‘tone’. I took it to mean the general ‘eq curve’ of a guitar. Did the difference in wood make the guitar brighter or darker? But I think there is an acceptance now that the ‘sound’ of the guitar is much more than whether it is bright or dark.

        Good video you linked to. I like DO NOT MIX BY DEFAULT. That is so easy fall into. But there is a time and place for everything. I think one of the main problems is that people mix with their eyes rather than their ears. The video touches upon it when he mentions rooms that haven’t been treated. I tend to mix on monitors and then check between headphones and monitors for the bass. But the bass content of a mix is a massive issue. If you were to take the message of the video as “leave everything alone” (which he is not saying) you would likely end up with a muddy mix. If you high-pass everything, which is indeed ‘taught’ by many people, you do affect the relationships between the instruments and can be in danger of a ‘thin’ mix. There are so many opinions on mixing and mastering. You have to pick pieces of the puzzle that fit your specific jigsaw.

      3. Mixing is indeed very complex subject. I wouldn’t call myself expert on it, but I’ve learned that thinking about what you are doing combined with, at the moment, deepest avaliable understanding of a subject, is the best prevention of screw ups, that I know. My approach to mixng is purely result oriented, do things that work and don’t do things which don’t 😀 While what works depends on the mix in question. Extreme cases of high pass everything / nothing, resulting in good mix probably exist, but extreme cases are extreme. (Sorry my english doesn’t seems to be fully functional today)

        My workaround for not having threated room is that I mix with one pair of headphones and check on everything at hand ( other pairs of headphones, computer logitech speakers, hi-fi system). It’s quite punk way of doing things, but as far as I can tell it works. Plus I have no intention to poison my relation with music by making it my job, which makes my temptation, to build “professional” studio, very low. What else would you expect from Mr. Strange Guy ? 😀

  6. I like your input on tonewood 6. It’s a kind of voice of reason that doesn’t treat the concept as a battlefield first and foremost. After all this time I’ve developed a few theories, and I’m not certain that tonewood is always necessarily about wood species and tone.
    There are a lot of people who compensate for their lack of playing ability/commitment with “knowledge” they can convey as something that displays a (false) expertise in the guitar as a player or builder. And, having conveyed that “knowledge” in great detail, they are more than slightly piqued when told they’re talking bollocks, and defend their position accordingly, to the point where they attempt to censor anyone who questions tonewood.
    Then there is the colour issue -the sensory perception. I’ve done a test on this and I’m still trying to work out how I can do it in a youtube vid. Put simply for some reason a light coloured guitar apparently “sounds” brighter than a dark coloured guitar. I’ve tested it with some vids and audio clips with the kids I teach; the results are fuckin hilarious. It’s not a new idea, but I thought I’d put it to the test. I put a one audio clip to three different guitars and almost everyone perceived them to “sound” brighter if the guitar was brightly coloured. At this point I can offer rhetoric on this but I will produce some evidence eventually.
    The question of tone and wood species is not strong enough. Can wood species have an impact on the tone to the extent that the wood can be identified? The answer is no. The answer is also no when it comes to acoustic guitars, -I mean does wood have an impact on the tone in a acoustic- yes, of course it does. But, I have never met anyone who could identify the wood species just by hearing the acoustic guitar in question.
    As a guitarist, I am a musician and an inherent cog in a machine that is much bigger than one instrument type so tone wood is ultimately irrelevant. It’s a white elephant, and it can be smoke and mirrors for sales people or “experienced” guitarists. I’ve never seen a musical score with guidance on construction material but I have been advised to use single coils as opposed to a humbucker loaded geet and vice versa.
    It’s not a debate, it’s a slanging match. At best, it’s an (unfriendly) discourse a lot of the time. Ultimately aimless. The impact of the wood is too small to matter.

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