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contradicting information

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Jacob Bartfield, Apr 4, 2002.

  1. Recently I've been reading up on as much information as I could find about different woods, and the kinds of tones they produce. However, in some cases, ifferent sources have told me different things. Now I am aware that everyone hears things differently, and as Ken Smith already told me, wood will act in a different way depending on how the instrument is constructed. However, there are just a couple of things I would like to be more clear about.

    My understanding was that the more dense the wood, the more sustain it will have, and the brighter it will be. Therefore a lighter wood would be warmer. However, I have also read that heavier woods tend to be warmer sounding and lighter woods were brighter. For example, I've heard several descriptions of what swamp ash sounds like.

    I was wondering what your opinions are on this. (I realize that Ken Smith already answered part of my question). The other question that I'll just throw in is: Are there any advantages in the sound of a bolt-on neck design? I knowe this is also an opinion thing, but I was just curious.
  2. I'm no luthier, but I do know that density is only one of the factors affecting tonal response. Oil content and grain pattern are also very important.
  3. dhuffguitars

    dhuffguitars Luthier/Bass Wanker depending on your opinion

    Sep 18, 2001
    I am waiting for the next questions to pop up to be "which glue produces deeper lows".
    I agree with the more dense woods producing a DIFFERENT tone than a less dense wood. :)

    You can only formulate so much on how a instrument will sound by the woods. Are you calculating how much square inches of ebony vs. swamp ash vs. maple you are having on the bass? I think people are getting a little too focused on the tone wood factor on their electric bass. I am not trying to be negative, but this question has been asked so many different ways lately.

    As for the bolt on factor, they "generally" produce less sustain and more attack. But you also have to factor in the wood choices on a bolt on vs. set neck vs. neck through.:D
  4. DP Custom

    DP Custom DP Custom Basses

    Feb 7, 2001
    NC, USA
    One reason why a simple simple rule-of-thumb based on density alone doens't work, is that you have to also take into account the residual resin content of a wood. The higher the resin content, the deeper the tone (in general) ...

    AS for the bolt-on design...the only advantages IMO are in the production environment, not in tonal quality.

    Dave P.
  5. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    2 cents from a structural engineer:
    Material factors that affect sound are many, but generally, stiffness and weight have the most impact. You may refer to the string equation here.

    Then, with wood, we face a very, very complicated composite. Some of the new factors at hand are cell sizes, cell shapes, moisture and resin content.
    Cell size and shape gives us different density and different grain patterns.
    Density is also ambiguous, as it's used for both hardness and weight, which often but not always go hand in hand!
    Grain patterns are a real mess, because long, curly streaks look like they cancel sustain, while more granular grain look solid. While the opposite may be the reality.

    Those are a few reasons for stright-grained, stiff and light woods in the neck (sustain, no dead spots). The surface hardness also has impact on this.
    When it comes to the body,,,,messy!
    Light and hard would be best for snappy highs.
    Heavy and soft would be best for punchy lows.
    That never works out as it should - which is what keeps luthiers a very special group!

    Bolt-on...this inserts a weak joint in the neck, wich reduces stiffness and adds another resonance frequency. Which is good for punch, and to introduce dead spots.

    All this from a structural engineering point.:rolleyes:
    There is more, too...:eek:

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