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

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

  1. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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  2. rumblebox

    rumblebox Senior Member

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    ive stripped a few guitars and played them that way before refinishing them. i definitely heard a difference with and without finishes. the strat has too much paint and is kindof compressed sounding. it would be good if i used it for metal, but i need to strip it and refinish it with nitro to get the sound i want from it. on my old basswood ESP having a lot of paint actually helped its purpose. granted, pickups, wood, strings, bridges etc make more of a difference than the finish, but it is still noticeable.
     
  3. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    cheers for your contribution!
     
  4. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    rumblebox pretty much sums up me feelings and experience with the finish issue. I don't know the solution. Leaving a guitar with fare wood would allow for penetrating stains, I think. Thin nitro is a classic solution, but it get those cracks in the finish over time, which I don't like. Thin poly might do, but most manufacturers "pour it on". Tung oil? I don't know.
     
  5. dexfx69

    dexfx69 Junior Member

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    Old thread, but I just had to say: Wow. As an owner of 2 Highway One Strats, that you definitely don't own one. Because if you did, you'd know that they resonate way more freely than other modern finished strats, and are very alive in tone, unplugged and plugged in. Alive meaning nonmuffled, tonewise more articulate and more dynamic to the touch. More natural sounding lows, mids and especially highs. Remember, guitars are made of wood, not plastic, for a reason. We want WOOD tone. Thin finishes really help get the real WOOD TONE. Nitro is one excellent choice for a thin finish.
     
  6. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    Posting and running gets you a plonk.
     
  7. dexfx69

    dexfx69 Junior Member

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    To close this conversation on a positive note:

    Here are official statements from Gibson, Fender, DiMarzio and PRS that state clearly that thin finishes provide better tone, period. Anyone here have the gall to claim to have a more regarded opinion? Opinions are like assholes; everyone's got one. Me, I'll stick with truth, not conjecture.

    That's all I'm going to say on the matter. Seeing as they are regarded as the experts and we buy their guitars, let's hear what the pros have to say:

    Gibson says: Gibson

    Paul Reed Smith says: (starting at 7:20) [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bAgZ6l-oEw]PAUL REED SMITH 03 | The QUEST of TONE - PRS Guitars - YouTube[/ame]

    Larry DiMarzio says: [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exxB2Oh4mYU]Guitar World's Paul Riario talks with Larry DiMarzio - YouTube[/ame]

    Fender says: [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh6fbAhiZ4s]Fender Jason Smith poly vs Nitro - YouTube[/ame]

    I now leave this thread. See the light, folks who argue this point. You're fighting this out of your fragile egos. Let it rest already...and don't continue suffering with a thick case of polytonitis. :wave:
     
  8. SuiteAmpCo

    SuiteAmpCo Senior Member

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    Whew! Just read the whole damn thread, I don't know if to call it interesting (but guess it was I read all six pages), or just a decent study for psych students.lol
    The finish dept was always explained to me like this. -nitro allows a wood to dry out faster, to allow it to age faster. Poly seals the wood tightly so they age slower, poly is used mainly for production cost purposes.
    That said, to my ear, nitro finished guitars sound more arid and airy (more natural wood like tone). Poly sounds more brittle and snappy. I'm not gonna get into the physics of vibration except to say that no electric guitar, not one ever made, has the vibration totally isolated between the nut and saddles. Take that to the bank and write some checks on the account. If they did you could 2 guitars to sound exactly the same by swapping electronics and pups. There is no way that is ever going to happen. Live with it, all factors combine to complete the whole, no matter how minute the detail.
     
  9. SuiteAmpCo

    SuiteAmpCo Senior Member

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    Knew it was a tele, what's up with the speaker and what kinda power tubes are those that are screaming for their life? God I love I crank ass amp!
     
  10. Dougie

    Dougie Senior Member

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    This is a simple truth amid this whole conjectured discussion.. The truth is: (chairman flashes his beady eyes before lifting the fog shrouded lid on today's SECRET INGREDIENT!)

    Anything, and everything you do to a guitar affects the tone. Point blank, true statement, no way out of it because it's laws of physics that come into play here and if you could circumvent them then they wouldn't be laws, just bullsh*t agreed on by long dead scholars that made a LOT more money than you and I ever made....

    I agree the thinner finish generally makes for a louder more audibly vibrant response. GENERALLY. Then there are the ones that despite the 12mm thick poly finish just sustain for days and are loud as all getout. MIJ Fenders come to mind. I had a few that just defied logic in why they were so loud and raspy sounding. Loved them!

    Now.. Moving over to the bursts and their counterparts, change anything and the tone changes. Swap out the tailpiece for aluminum. Big change. Tune-o-matic for a Callaham. Big change. Send the R9 off to Historic Makeovers or another fine aging and relicing finish service for a thin and weathered nitro makeover. BIG change. Hide glue neck reset, remove condom from truss rod and hide glue the fingerboard. VERY big change.

    Even bigger changes than the finish can be had from refretting with the epoxy method where the slots are dremeled wider and the fret is set in liquid epoxy which makes absolute 100% contact with the fret, and the fingerboard, there is no finer method of fitting metal into wood than using a liquid, the volume and consistency from fret to fret all the way up and down the neck are incredibly noticeable over pressed in/white glued frets. Unbelievable difference.

    Want more? Run water thin superglue into the fretslots and let it soak into the end grain of the fingerboard for a few seconds then vacuum it out. Then put the frets in. Again, it picks up a big difference in filling in the airspaces in the grain and providing even more density and contact to the fret itself.

    It's not just the thin vs thick finish that affects tone, it is every single thing you do that adds up to taking a guitar, bringing out the best it can be. It's the combination, the sum of the whole that takes advantage of all the small subtle things that make the best guitars.
     
  11. IndianScout

    IndianScout V.I.P. Member

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    if you think the poly or the nitro that's sprayed on your guitar has any effect on tone after it's went thru your electronics, pedal board and amp, your hearing aid is broken

    anyone that can tell you otherwise is lying thru their teeth


    [​IMG]
     
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  12. rumblebox

    rumblebox Senior Member

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    actually you're full of shit. lol you think the guitar's acoustic properties arent transfered by vibrations through the the wood to the strings to the pickups, microphonic or not? YOU, my friend, are simply overly-opinionated and under-educated.

    it may be a subtle difference, but it is a difference none the less.
     
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  13. rockstar232007

    rockstar232007 Senior Member

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    I'm not going to go into a huge explanation as to why this (your comment) is complete BS, but I will say that if you actually knew half of what happens in an electric guitar (besides the obvious), it would make your head implode.

    It's not rocket science.
     
  14. IndianScout

    IndianScout V.I.P. Member

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    I got startd playing when I was 4, I've now played for let's just say around 50 years, 30 of it professionally,growing up around master luthiers and builders I do have a clue as to what I speak..,

    I wouldn't be so fast as to dismiss my reasoning, plus being and electronic engineer, it's just like the tone cap crap, it's all vaporware..

    let me expand a little, to argue my point..

    I copied this because well I would of just screwed it up typing but it validates my point..

    summary of my basis, the thinner the coating on the wood being it poly or nitro or simply sealed, it is effected more or less by humidity and temperature than those with the thicker coating like poly which would tend to hold in more heat..

    you stand a better chance of the humidity and temperature affecting your tone than what the electronics are in ie.. wood, metal.. glass..

    I hope this makes sense to you..

    thanks

    S
     
  15. Dougie

    Dougie Senior Member

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    wth? What in the world does that paste have to do with wooden guitars? Or ANY guitars for that matter?

    The tone of an instrument acoustically is TOTALLY responsible for it's amplified tone, given some degree of transparency of it's pickups.

    Whoever filled your head with the notion that none of that matters, is really full of it..
     
  16. IndianScout

    IndianScout V.I.P. Member

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    it's called the degree sheets that hang on my wall and 50 years of life and musical experience..

    don't take my word for it, go ask any audio professional than get back to me..
     
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  17. Zenzeypher

    Zenzeypher Senior Member

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    I agree with Indian scout, wood would have <2% difference on tone. It doesn't make sense that an electromagnetic voltage would be effected by wood...Surely we all know how electric guitars work? if so there wouldn't be a need for this discussion.

    When amplified wood makes little to know difference, it's all in the electronics in the chain and how you play including the setup of the guitar.

    Don't make me go get the concrete guitar video.
     
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  18. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    His point is that the electronics you use to process and amplify your signal alter it so much more than finish-type that hanging onto whether the finish is nitro or poly is pretty silly.


    A player really worried about the pure tone of the wood will power down, and play acoustic.
     
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  19. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Hello.

    It's a very simple test if you have the balls to do it. Take a guitar that you know very well, play it through an amp. Then strip all the finish off and play it again through the same amp.
     
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  20. rumblebox

    rumblebox Senior Member

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    I dont care if youre a nuclear physicist. Too much finish deadens the guitar's resonation, thus killing sustain. Hell.....even a clip-on tuner on the headstock makes a subtle difference in resonation. Is it a big enough difference to matter? IMO, no.
     
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