Is it true that guitar finish thickness affects its natural tone?

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by 5F6-A, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    I'm usually with the skeptic but claiming that the wood or acoustic tone of an electric guitar has negligible effect on amplified tone is just tough to defend against real world experience. Take a telecaster with a maple neck vs a rosewood neck...see what i mean? Now compare that one-piece maple neck tele to a maple cap tele. the differences are astronomical and will survive most of what signal degradation can be thrown at them. same goes for maple capped bodies vs all mahogany bodies. The effects of finish thickness are less pronounced but still present, IMO. I've played enough late 70's strats to know that the "encased" body sounds dead because of the finish applied. This will affect the amplified tone a great deal. We get stuck in polarizing mindsets when faced with nonsense claims like Braz boards sound better or certain caps are magic, etc. but electric guitars are guitars first and electric second. accoustic properties matter and finish is a part of the equation. Now if you want to argue Poly vs Nitro I'm with the skeptics again:cool:
     
  2. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    Well, there's a world of difference between anywhere from 1/4" to one or two full inches of wood, and a finish measured in microns.

    Of course finish has an effect. The question is, is that effect audible?

    It's a shame we don't have a blind test of this. Through a cranked amp, I doubt anyone can discern any difference, myself.
     
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  3. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    In the nitro vs. poly matter, I have read (and heard) from those who know more than me that the WORST finish for good primary tone is thick nitro. Worse than thick poly, they say. Me? I don't know. Because all my guitars are different. I have a vintage SG (nitro) that really does not sound very good until you get to arena volumes. I have some vintage Carvins with thin poly that sound good under all conditions. I A/B'd my Epi 56 GT P 90 against a Gibson GT P90 (Fairly thick poly vs nitro) and found the Epi to be more like jazz and blues and the Gibson had more treble than I could use without rolling down the tone. And I have a DGW Contender (see my signature) that appears to have a thin poly body and a natural neck that sounds more like a vintage Tele than an vintage Tele -- even though it has twin humbuckers.

    Go figure. Every guitar has its own primary tone (and therefore amped tone). I think the finish is but a small part of it all.
     
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  4. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Why through a cranked amp?
     
  5. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    When I'm played with a band, I was usually sitting at 4-6 on gain, with volume enough to hear myself over a loud rhythm section.

    Even if you were playing supposedly pristine cleans, the very nature of tube amps introduces distortion into the signal. The even-order harmonics of a tube amp are what we hear, psycho-acoustically, as "warmth".

    The amp need not be cranked, that was simply me projecting my personal experiences playing rock in a band.

    Also, here's Riv's test: Five guitars. http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/backstage/82554-five-guitars-choose-one-sight-unseen.html
     
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  6. 22Frets

    22Frets Senior Member

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    Absolutely it does. Consider the finish to a Stradivarius violin. It is part and integral to the tone of the violin. The same concept applies to a guitar or any finished wood instrument.
     
  7. korus

    korus Senior Member

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    Goran makes guitars and pickups also. In last 2 years he made 3 or 4 guitars one after the other without anyone ordering them in order to have one of them in the shop as a demo platform for his own pickups, but all were sold, one after the other. So, he decides that he’ll have none of that any more – goes to a guitar shop, tries 3 or 4 Squiers (CV ‘60s) and one of them had IT obviously more than any of other 3 by large margin, both unplugged AND plugged. It had that resonance you can feel in the back of the neck with the plam of your fretting hand. It was a one like this Buy Squier by Fender Classic Vibe Stratocaster ‘60s Electric Guitar Candy Apple Red | Squier Classic Vibe Series | The Music Zoo | CGS1036155

    Unfortunately there are no clips of it stock good enough to be uploaded, but this is what it sounds like now
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol7vN6MLABY]Squier CV '60s and Goran Custom Guitars Pickups - YouTube[/ame]
    Is there a huge difference in tone – stock & stripped and refinished? Yes, a huge one.
    Would every single guitarist find it worth the effort, time and money? No.

    Me? I’ve been trying to find a Strat tone I would want to have in the guitar of mine for at least last 5 years actively and I’ve found out that I want a Strat with TONE exactly like THIS CV Squier badly and I might be able to make him sell it to me although he needs it – but it’s no go because I’m left-handed. ( Not the exact tone in the clip, mostly a bit cleaner but you get the idea …)

    I am currently in the process of discussing it with him – how close we can get trying to make his custom lefty Strat as a complete TONE CLONE of this very Squier CV 60s Strat as close as possible, with Nocaster thickness neck which is tonally significant change and some other minor changes which are tonally insignificant...

    For the record – sure, it’s not only finish that’s been changed. Changes PRIOR to finish change were :

    1. Callaham bridge
    2. refret
    3. headstock made thicker to be equal to original ’63 Strat’s headstock thickness
    4. bone nut
    5. custom handwound pickups and the rest of electronics

    (It sings better with 9s than with 10s. I prefer 10s but the guitar prefers 9s. This recording is made with Fender 250s 9-42 set)

    I’ve played it after every single change. The final change - stripping the original finish finishing with much thinner nitro than the original then making relic out of it – overpowered/outweighed all the other changes combined. It kind of emphasized all of them so the final result is what you hear in the clip..

    Some guys did the A/B with couple of Master Built/Team Built good ones using some excellent boutique and vintage amps. And this ‘poor’ Squier was equal if not better than 3-5k USD CS Strats. But as many of you can imagine, the only thing that keeps this guitar home (with it’s maker) is the fact that it sports Squier instead of Fender (or some well known boutique name) on the headstock … which is both funny and silly, but he finally has his demo platform for his pickups that has a good tone and will not be sold. If only someone offered the money for the tone and not for the name on the headstock, but it does not happen. I would but I need lefty. If it was lefty it could sport any name, I’d offer what is enough to make him sell it to me.

    This is kind of my take/my personal experience/prospective on this finish material/finish thickness issue. I hope you might find it amusing if not useful.
     
  8. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    Why can't we reach a compromise on this discussion along the lines that thickness of finish does make a tonal difference, but not as much as wood type, pup types, bridge type, TP, nut, electronics, wood type, amp, and construction of the guitar. Some folks say thick finish dulls the tone while others say it mellows the tone. They are both right, dependent on the features of the guitar and the tone the player seeks. I think most of us will agree that refinishing the body and neck is probably the very last thing we would do in the "tone quest" we all go through when "modding".
     
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  9. SuiteAmpCo

    SuiteAmpCo Senior Member

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    Quite reasonable, NOW EF OFF. lol:D
     
  10. rumblebox

    rumblebox Senior Member

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    excuse me, but there are 2 F's in EFF. that is all.
     
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  11. SuiteAmpCo

    SuiteAmpCo Senior Member

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    Where's yer proof? I want to see some data on that.:thumb:
     
  12. strat

    strat Senior Member

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    I think so. I think that the paint chokes out the "natural resonance" (oouuuuu ahhhh) of the wood. I think thats a huge reason why cheap guitars, which have thicker coats of paint sound so weak. Don't listen to me though. read my signature. LOL
     
  13. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    I don't have any "proof" except my ears, which have 50 years experience listening to my guitar music. (It may not be that great, but I have been able to learn what creates good tone -- or not). The closest thing I have for "proof" is an A/B test playing session with my Epi '56 GT P90 and a Gibson 60's tribute with a gold top and P90s. The Gibby has more clarity and treble, but the Epi was (to my ears) richer. Which tone was best? Neither actually, but they were different.
     
  14. SuiteAmpCo

    SuiteAmpCo Senior Member

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    no, no sorry brother, forgot to quote this one. was being a smart ass and screwing around. dont take offense.
     
  15. Dougie

    Dougie Senior Member

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    Originally Posted by rumblebox View Post
    excuse me, but there are 2 F's in EFF. that is all.

    Oh wow man see how that second phrasing of EFF slugs down the rapid readability of that phrase? It deadens the resonant peak of the misspelled word, so it resonates less, and has less sustain..:slash:
     
  16. rumblebox

    rumblebox Senior Member

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    lol i know. haha
     
  17. SuiteAmpCo

    SuiteAmpCo Senior Member

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    Ok this who meant to apologize to. My "need proof" statement wasn't directed at dolebludger. It was a satirical comment aimed at the spelling of EFF. There I think I cleared it all up.
     
  18. LtKojak

    LtKojak Senior Member

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    Oh, the paint clearly affects tone. Everybody knows that red guitars sound undoubtly better. As do red amps as well.

    My dog hears a difference. And I certainly trust his word! ;)
     
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  19. River

    River Senior Member

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    Violin = acoustic. And no one seems to be able to pick Strads out in blind tests. Not absolutely.
     
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  20. BillB1960

    BillB1960 Senior Member

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    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfUYuIVbFg0]Don't Stop Believing Journey lyrics - YouTube[/ame]
     
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