Does Tone Wood Matter on Electric Instruments?

Does Tone Wood Matter on Electric Instruments?

I have always suspected the answer is, No. The idea of tone wood having an effect on an electric instrument has never made sense to me. I think this is one of the best videos I’ve seen illustrating this point.

Tested: Where Does The Tone Come From In An Electric Guitar? - YouTube




These have also been my thoughts on this, :+1: :+1: :+1:

I see the trolls have arrived in your topic :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


No, you misunderstand the reference. Eric is trolling us. In the best way possible. The tone wood debate!


So yeah, pickups go a long way for your tone :joy:


To me, this isn’t definitive for a few reasons, but is suggestive. I think people will agree/deny based on their current beliefs.

Here’s my feedback, hopefully objective.

Who is this guy? I don’t know him from Adam, and people have gone through far more elaborate hoaxes. How do we know how much was done in the mix. We know he says none, but there clearly is some. I can tell my that from listening on my phone. Also I don’t trust everything on the internet.

Like any scientific experiment, it’s not accepted until it’s repeated.

Does bass work the same? I hear objects vibrating in my house when I play my bass, but not when I play my guitar through the same pedals and amp. I literally unplug one and plug in the other. Basses resonate. How does tonewood interact with resonance.

I have played a bass top loaded, and through loaded. It doesn’t sound the same, and sustain is different.

I have added high mass bridges and again, tone is different.

And I mean different, not better or worse.

I think I’m still where I was at the start. Tonewood is a contributing factor, but a minor one. Most of the tone comes elsewhere. But the tonewood makes a big difference for weight, comfort, and durability.


Ok but how about tone concrete?


Lot of variables in concrete. The asphalt the pave the streets with is concrete. Different than what you pour into a foundation.

When I worked for the Department of Transportation we had like 70 recipes for concrete depending on the use. And it changes as you move across the country as concrete is highly impacted by weather.

Concrete is really scientific and complex.


Absolutely according to Paul Reeds Smith.

I will definitely spend the extra $1000 on a great tone wood on my $20,000 custom build for sure, lol.


According to Warwick most definitely.

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We have covered this topic before.
Does it? - yes
A lot? - no
A little? - no
How many other factors effect tone before/more than tone wood would (see what I did there)? - all of them

Sax world has a ton of these myths - vintage lacquer that has darkened over time sounds darker, silver plate is bright, gold plate is brighter. Black lacquer is darker than gold lacquer.

Marketers need things to talk about, to call out as a differentiator.
What we forget is that they are calling out a differentiator from one instrument to another, but not necessarily something that actually matters.


I’ll reiterate where I think it matters.

Weight, some woods weigh a ton

Durability, some woods are soft and dent easily

Comfort, I personally love the feel of an ebony fretboard. Rosewood next

Looks to some extent but minor. With veneers these days it’s not a huge factor, but I like a nice grain pattern.


Literally the only tonewood choice factor that matters to me. The tonal differences are so minor that they are outweighed by nearly everything else you can do.


It matters, but not for tone :laughing:


Damn it, Eric! Didn’t mean to troll you guys with yet another tone wood topic.
When I posted the link to the video, I was thinking, “Am I missing anything here? Was this a reliable test?” Unfortunately, I didn’t write any of that as I was hurrying to get out the door.

Thanks, Wombat. All excellent points.

I think this was one of the things that initially soured me on the idea of tone wood. I have learned (and re-learned) to always treat marketing material as suspect.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love good wood. An attractive woodgrain, the feel of rosewood, and a sturdy instrument are all very important to me.


I wasn’t being serious. But mention Tone Wood and I immediately think ‘fishing trip’. My hearing is so damaged courtesy of the British military that no type of wood could affect how I hear something. Make a bass out of some nice birch plywood and I’d be happy.
If you can hear the difference, great. But as others in this thread have so eloquently pointed out. The weight and look of the wood is the only factor for me.


I don’t really consider wood on electric instruments in regards to tone, especially on a neck-through construction. There’s a solid slab of maple (or whatever) running through the middle that basically everything is attached to; the body wings are glued on. Heck, how many pieces of wood is a guitar or neck made of that are they glued together? How does the glue change the vibrations? Does it change the vibration? XD

It’s funny that someone in the comments mentions a similar Warmoth video that has audibly different results.

…you know, from .a company that has a vested interest in selling you more expensive bodies and necks :tipping_hand_woman:t2: :eyes:

However, I’m also not going to argue with someone that insists on having a mahogany body with a maple top because they like how that combination of woods gives them the sound they are after. It’s their money, and more importantly, their enjoyment of the instrument :slight_smile:

I will comment on how amazing it looks if it’s quilted, flamed, spalted, etc.

Tbh I have no idea what wood The Beast is made from. Probably an alder body, maple neck, and I know it’s an ebony fretboard. I have to look up the SRC6 because Ibanez changed the woods the year after I bought mine. I’m not sure what any of my instruments are made from XD

Though I do have a cool af pickguard for my Strat coming that’s made from some crusty piece of recycled wood. Wonder what tone it’ll add? :thinking: XD

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I can understand the thinking behind the tonewoods having different vibrational qualities that then feed back into the strings to make a difference to the tone.

I just doubt this is very significant in comparison to all the other factors. Like, I suspect changes due to relative age of your strings is probably 10x what tonewood changes. Unscientifically of course.

I also highly, highly doubt that wood is the optimal material for this kind of resonance and transfer of energy. But you never hear religious arguments about tonewoods versus metal springs, graphite or plastics. What’s the fun in that? No one is going to go to the mat arguing that their boat hull has a way better strat tone than Fender makes :rofl:


Wood on the body and neck is considered the most important for the way your instrument looks and feels but not sound. Case and point.


if you try the exact same guitar or bass with the only difference being the wood, you will ear a difference. otherwise it means that your ears don’t work. an alder and a mahogany body don’t sound the same, that’s a fact. neck woods are even more important.

pickups are important, for sure, but their purpose is to capture the strings vibrations. how can one imagine that the vibrations are not impacted by the things that makes the resonnance frequency and internal damping of the instrument ?