Jump to content
MoJo

Are plywood bodies necessarily a bad thing

Recommended Posts

7 hours ago, BigRedX said:

You could make an argument for "tone wood" in a solid electric instrument if the bodies were made of a single piece of wood, specially selected for it's resonant properties and shaved and sculpted to bring out the best of those tonal features, in the way that a good luthier will work on the soundboard of an acoustic instrument.

However with few high end exceptions they are not. The bodies od solid electric guitars and basses are randomly cobbled together from two or more pieces of wood that have most likely been selected with an eye for getting the largest number of instruments out of a single plank rather than their tonal properties. They are joined at random with lashings of glue (compared with an acoustic instrument where to top is joined to rest of the body with smallest amount of glue that will still achieve a stable and strong join) and then cut and shaped to a template designed in the most part for player comfort rather than tuning the body for optimum sound.

Once manufacturers start applying the care that the luthier of acoustic instruments does in choosing and shaping the wood, and is able to produce consistent tonal results from the same species of wood then I might start believing in "tone wood" for solid instruments. 

Agreed.  To be honest I’ve no idea how gluing together a sandwich of exotic hardwoods a la Alembic or Wal compares to (for example) Fender gluing together longitudinally 2 or 3 bits of often indifferently seasoned cheap hardwood - though you’d think the former would be preferable.    Many many years ago I wrote to Electric Wood (Wal) asking what difference the different wood facings made to the tone, and Pete kindly wrote back to me with a list; he seemed quite convinced about the differences (American walnut was best for “fretless growl” apparently......took me a long time later to be able to actually afford one, but that was the spec).

In the 1960’s Gibson and Guild had a reputation for using really top quality - usually tropical - tonewoods for their solid body guitars and basses, with bodies usually made in one piece of wood.   Gibson in particular had stockpiled massive quantities of exotic hardwood in the early 20th century during the mandolin craze that fizzled out, and which got used for guitars instead.  Despite this, the fact that vintage Fenders are now far more valued than vintage Gibsons I guess indicates the importance of design and ergonomics over quality of tonewood and methods of construction - though as a long scale player I’d personally take a ‘60’s Thunderbird over a ‘60’s Fender any day.

 

1 hour ago, Cuzzie said:

Beach Volleyball?

Roll on Tokyo Olympics.....9_9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Cuzzie said:

I lived in Norwich!

Explains a lot of things.

Oh, tee hee!

Edited by NancyJohnson
Speling. Chubby finger syndrome.
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a musima p bass which sounded really good in stock condition - I gave no qualms about ply 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dispelling the myth that plywood bodied basses are ship anchors

A8A4A031-73AE-44E7-9FD4-CD315C191FF9.thumb.jpeg.c7a3c1dc2e7d405832976d2da9728bc9.jpeg

5F373DF8-0663-45C5-BD12-EA265A234654.thumb.jpeg.b933b64acf55d9345a3a25ed0ebe0c26.jpeg
 

That’s the weight of this Vester (admittedly with my Gotoh Res-O-Lites fitted)

Edited by MoJo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, NancyJohnson said:

Explains a lot if things.

Oh, tee hee!

High 6!

  • Haha 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Shaggy said:

American walnut was best for “fretless growl” apparently

Well Jaco epoxied his fretboard to make it harder which may have contributed to his cutting mid range honk. I think the days of worrying about the purity of tone woods in solid body instruments are slowly coming to an end.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, greavesbass said:

Well Jaco epoxied his fretboard to make it harder which may have contributed to his cutting mid range honk. I think the days of worrying about the purity of tone woods in solid body instruments are slowly coming to an end.

 

An epoxied fingerboard compared to bare wood  definitely changes your sound as the string is physically vibrating against it, which is what creates the fretless 'mwah' sound. The harder the fingerboard surface, the more pronounced the effect. 

The 'tonewood' debate is a completely different thing as bodies and necks (not fingerboards) aren't in direct contact with the strings. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I demand that the finest popcorn in the world be served right now ... 🍿

  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, greavesbass said:

I think the days of worrying about the purity of tone woods in solid body instruments are slowly coming to an end.

I do hope so. All the talk of resonance, etc is meaningless when pickups are not microphones and do not function as such. To test this, turn your bass and amp right up and shout as loudly as you can at the pickups. Unless they are or have gone microphonic - due to poor construction, age, etc - you will hear nothing from the speakers. How can they "hear" the acoustic/unamplified sound of the instrument? Electronics and construction are what make the difference.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes we can all have a laff about the popcorn...Im on my second bucket haha...but the truth is out....all that matters is weight, tone and feel...It can be made from chicken poop for all I care, and if it fits those three criteria..I'm in.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Dan Dare said:

I do hope so. All the talk of resonance, etc is meaningless when pickups are not microphones and do not function as such. To test this, turn your bass and amp right up and shout as loudly as you can at the pickups. Unless they are or have gone microphonic - due to poor construction, age, etc - you will hear nothing from the speakers. How can they "hear" the acoustic/unamplified sound of the instrument? Electronics and construction are what make the difference.

No, pickups don't function like microphones; they create an electrical signal in the pickup windings caused by the steel strings moving across a magnetic field, and in doing so also pick up the harmonic frequencies fed back to the string from resonant vibrations created within the bass - usually made of wood.  As musicians we perceive these extra harmonics as "character", and it's why electric guitars and basses sound like guitars and basses, not synthesisers.   Piezo transducers "hear" the sound one way, pickups do so in another.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Shaggy said:

...also pick up the harmonic frequencies fed back to the string from resonant vibrations created within the bass - usually made of wood.

Everybody's talking about the wood, but not about the shape. This is a bit strange as every shape has characteristic resonance. You can start studying this from the very basic acoustic books like Rossing's The science of sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, itu said:

Everybody's talking about the wood, but not about the shape. This is a bit strange as every shape has characteristic resonance. You can start studying this from the very basic acoustic books like Rossing's The science of sound.

I suspect in terms of overall tone on solid body guitars the effect of body shape is even less than that of the wood used to build it.

If you put three single coils and a trem on a Les Paul body shape it's going to sound far more like a Strat than a Les Paul and that's taking into account the different types of neck joint as well.

Edited by Cato
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

Is the top "Foto Flame"?

Yup.  Lovely piece of paper stuck to a nondescript lump of something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, NancyJohnson said:

Yup.  Lovely piece of paper stuck to a nondescript lump of something.

That bit of paper makes all the difference to the sound don't you know?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paper and poly gives quite a bright tone but paper with nitro sounds like St. Leo singing in the shower on Christmas morning using primarily his left hand to get a lather going in his side hair.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Cato said:

I suspect in terms of overall tone on solid body guitars the effect of body shape is even less than that of the wood used to build it.

If you put three single coils and a trem on a Les Paul body shape it's going to sound far more like a Strat than a Les Paul and that's taking into account the different types of neck joint as well.

You probably intentionally forget that the instrument consists of a body and a neck.

Yes, the topic is about bodies, but the body needs the neck before it becomes an instrument. A long stick in a slab and you have a system of resonances.

A trem makes things complicated. The strings are not connected to the body very well, because of the trem construction, especially with those floating ones.

Quote

@Doctor JPaper and poly gives quite a bright tone...

...and is nearly the same as phenolic resin. Resin and some paper. Fretboard material.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 19/02/2021 at 18:38, such said:

The bass I've made most money playing was a defretted Peavey Milestone jazz bass thing with a plywood body. I don't know if it sounded good or not, didn't care as much about "tone" then as I do now, didn't have any pedals etc. I did practise a lot though, might have had something to do with it. 

I have a Peavey Millenium Precision that is ply and if I had known that when I bought it I would not have (bought it). However when I took the pickguard off, I finallly realised that tonewood for solid bods was tosh. I have played this bass extensively and out of my five basses this would be the second last to go if I had to sell any.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everyone knows that the look, scarcity and cost of timber are what influence the tone and playability of an instrument more than anything else.

If stiffness, rigidity, strength to weight ratio and consistency were important characteristics for electric instrument bodies they would all be made out of plywood.

🙂

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...