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Help me understand how wood affects tone..

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Kronos, Feb 17, 2006.

  1. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Since the sound is translated through magnetic or lightwave pickups, how is it that the resonance of the wood affects the sound? I realize acoustically it would sound different since the wood is resonating, but doesn't the pickups pick up string vibration?

    Without giving physics calculations, can someone explain the physical principles behind the sound translation?
  2. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    Not a scientific fact, but my "opinion":

    It's like a 'feedback loop', the way the wood resonates affects how the string itself vibrates, and that affects the tone that comes through the electronics.

    I do know that different woods sound DIFFERENT, as I get to hear all of it in the course of my daily work.

  3. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I figured as much soundwise, but I really didn't understand how.

    I guess what your saying is that the strings are sympathetic to the wood vibration, and therefore vibrate tonally more at the wavelength reflected back at them?
  4. tribal3140

    tribal3140 Banned

    Nov 9, 2004
    near detroit...uh
    the density and resonance of the woods combonation
    effect the A.) frequency of vibration and the B.) amplitude of those vibrations. The resulting friction of the strings to the magnetic poles in the pickups create that sound you hear. (these days you have to take into effect the resistors and capacitors in the preamp that allow and block certian wavelengths from being heard or boosting whats heard)

    the woods interacts by creating the amplitude and frequecy modulation for the pickups to "pick up"

    [the lightwave pickups measure movement of the strings which is just a more precise way of doing it without the mags.]

    of course I didnt pay all that much attention in physics
    so I could just be blowing the hot air.:D
  5. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I always thought of it like this:

    Energy can't be created or desroyed it can only change forms. When you pluck a string on your bass the string starts vibrating. The bass starts vibrating too. The only way the bass can vibrate is by stealing energy from the strings. Different woods, bridges, construction techniques etc, alter how much energy is absorbed at what frequency at what rate etc. which alters the tone.