Difference in LP tone with and without maple top.

Der_Kaiser

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I could see the book matching being done more for aesthetic purposes than tonal. The 59 looked pretty with that flame top. But they were plain maple tops before then. So who knows.

We also know the original Les Paul Customs were made to be all mahogany and I would be curious to know if they did that just out of convenience or for any tonal benefit. With most guitar makers, I find these changes are usually done based on what’s most cost effective or will lead to more sales rather than a tonal benefit.
Surely to add the cap made the guitar less cost effective and so to their ears the tonal difference added enough to the value of the instrument to make it worth it.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any of the Tony bacon books or beauty of the burst but I always thought the cap was added because it gave the guitar a bit of bite.

I thought the original customs were specifically made as Les’s tuxedo guitar, if he requested the black finish then presumably he wanted all mahogany too.

This part of the reason I love Les Paul’s and Gibson in general all the little myths and legends it’s great.
 

v-man

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Surely to add the cap made the guitar less cost effective and so to their ears the tonal difference added enough to the value of the instrument to make it worth it.
I am not convinced of this at all (and have no qualms being corrected if I am wrong)… Seeing how maple is an abundant North American species and Mahogany is primarily a central/south American species, one would think that the maple would be more cost-effective back then when preference wasn’t given to sourcing AAA flame timber.

It is also possible (in addition to possible cost savings) that this was done in the tradition of acoustics where the body of the guitar would be mahogany and the top would be a different wood, like spruce.
 

Der_Kaiser

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That’s the thing about a topic like this, there’s not many people if any that can correct you.

I suppose I’m just playing devils advocate because I’d like to think back in the day they wanted to make the best instrument they could, but I know that even then they still had a bottom line.
 

JDZ

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This.

If I ever win the lottery or have the resources, would love to hire a cheap but consistent builder to churn out several hundred identical guitars with wood type being the only variable that changes and do some comparisons between them. Would also need a consistent way to measure any tonal changes. Would have a machine do the strumming so it’s a consistent strum on each guitar, and may need to survey lots of guitarists and have it be a blinded study so those listening and doing the survey aren’t being biased in what they hear. Would also get some objective quantified measurements based on the recorded sound waves themselves. I’m surprised no one has done this, but I guess any big guitar company with the money and resources wouldn’t have any reason to care, if anything they benefit from all this tone wood talk. And most scientists are busy with more pressing issues.

Screw lotto, you have a great idea. Just have a few pair made and then rent them out for people to satisfy themselves one way or the other.

Bigger the flame wars the more you'll make!
 

InTheEvening

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Screw lotto, you have a great idea. Just have a few pair made and then rent them out for people to satisfy themselves one way or the other.

Bigger the flame wars the more you'll make!
I love it! I think I just found my new side gig. :thumbs:
 
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Force235

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An accelerometer can measure the vibration and resonance of the wood body as it vibrates due to strumming, this would be the most scientific way to evaluate how much a certain wood body vibrates due to the playing of strings.
 

InTheEvening

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An accelerometer can measure the vibration and resonance of the wood body as it vibrates due to strumming, this would be the most scientific way to evaluate how much a certain wood body vibrates due to the playing of strings.
That would be awesome to have, def fits what I had in mind for a proper quantitative look. That and a blinded study where people hear the sounds but don’t know which wood type it is would give a lot of helpful objective unbiased data.
 
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edro

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Just some food for thought.....

Comparing two Lesters to state this or that is just about ridiculous.... Sure, one may be brighter than the other.... That would be true between two identical made-on-the-same-day guitars, made-by-the-same-folks, same paint, same pickups/hardware, with consecutive serial numbers..... or a Teisco and a ZimGar.... The wood of two guitars is NEVER 100% identical even if you carved the suckers out of the same log using a CNC from hell....

Some of the brightest Lesters I've hear were a 59/60(?) conversion Ed played on a vid, A Gecko from rocket town a few years back that would pop a harmonic if you yelled at it, and an all hog slab... In my 60+ years, I've heard Lesters all over the tone color map...so bright I shoulda worn shades to dark bottom corner of the dark side of the moon...in a dark pit.... No two 100% identical... Full blind, I could pick the brighter of two or three but same full blind I could not reliably say WHICH was definitely A or B or C....

Lots of folks couldn't tell a Lester from a Tele through a wide open Champ in full blind... ;)
Hmmmm....

:cool2:

Cream-Binding.png
 

Bobby Mahogany

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This.

If I ever win the lottery or have the resources, would love to hire a cheap but consistent builder to churn out several hundred identical guitars with wood type being the only variable that changes and do some comparisons between them. Would also need a consistent way to measure any tonal changes. Would have a machine do the strumming so it’s a consistent strum on each guitar, and may need to survey lots of guitarists and have it be a blinded study so those listening and doing the survey aren’t being biased in what they hear. Would also get some objective quantified measurements based on the recorded sound waves themselves. I’m surprised no one has done this, but I guess any big guitar company with the money and resources wouldn’t have any reason to care, if anything they benefit from all this tone wood talk. And most scientists are busy with more pressing issues.

Screw lotto, you have a great idea. Just have a few pair made and then rent them out for people to satisfy themselves one way or the other.

Bigger the flame wars the more you'll make!
It's pretty easy to achieve.
I suggest you take a look at a Fender '57RI and a Fender '62RI and compare
how they sound, the only difference being the maple neck vs the rosewood fingerboard.
Everything else is the same.

I own one of each. Same manufacturing era. Same set-up.
And the '62 is warmer, more bluesy, while the '57 sounds harder and is a Rock'n Roll machine.
Of course, you can play anything on both and they sound great.
But the don't sound the same.

I would say that's kind of a 101 course on tone difference.
Or at least it's easy to catch.
Once you've opened your ears to the concept, you can navigate
through rosewood vs ebony, etc. and then body wood.
There are subtleties all across the board.

Of course, one can also stay in one's "room" and type away at the subject
but hands on experience and real life exploration accounts for something.
 

ARandall

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I am not convinced of this at all (and have no qualms being corrected if I am wrong)… Seeing how maple is an abundant North American species and Mahogany is primarily a central/south American species, one would think that the maple would be more cost-effective back then when preference wasn’t given to sourcing AAA flame timber.

It is also possible (in addition to possible cost savings) that this was done in the tradition of acoustics where the body of the guitar would be mahogany and the top would be a different wood, like spruce.
There's a pretty easily discoverable written interview (if you want to find it) with Ted McCarty where he talks about the various construction prototypes they went through to build the first Les Paul. Specifically the dimensions and wood types were exhaustively trialled until they found what they were after. None of the goals were either budget or convenience related.
 

PageSide84

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Any truth to the rumors that Gibson will be topping the maple cap with an MDF veneer?
 

Christosterone

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In 2012/2013 gibson did a re-issue of the les paul recording…
I found one 2 years ago untouched and still had untouched plastic over the guard

the 2012/2013 does it all as Les(the person) intended without bugs that creep into this finicky wiring setup after 40 years

easily my most whacky les paul and u can get truly cool tones from it

it really should be in ur collection…it’s les paul’s(the person) dream guitar

ignore his anti-bigsby propaganda…it’s fake news :naughty:
#BigsbyForLife

 
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Bobby Mahogany

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In 2012/2013 gibson did a re-issue of the les paul recording…
I found one 2 years ago untouched and still had untouched plastic over the guard

the 2012/2013 does it all as Les(the person) intended without bugs that creep into this finicky wiring setup after 40 years

easily my most whacky les paul and u can get truly cool tones from it

it really should be in ur collection…it’s les paul’s(the person) dream guitar

ignore his anti-bigsby propaganda…it’s fake news :naughty:
#BigsbyForLife

I'd totally go for it...
if it didn't have a Bigsby!

:rofl:
 

moreles

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I have yet to encounter any study that combines scientific methods with a sufficient sample size. The only analysis I know about that draws upon examination of truly large numbers of guitars comes from luthiers and builders who have worked on many hundreds of instruments (thus, not boutique builders). There are consistent judgments from that group but I'm not going to go into them here because I'll just get slaughtered. The info is out there and people either accept it or not. Gong back to the OP: Gibson produced LPs w/o maple tops and called them Customs and made them the top of the line and they were claimed (by Gibsons and users) to have a warmer, smoother tonality.
 

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