Heavier Guitars Sound Thicker?

moreles

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Observation of the guitar-playing community (that is, innumerable players over the decades, not individual comparisons) would surely suggest that the broad tendency is for more massive guitars to create/be used for thicker sounding tones, and lightweights for more trebly stuff. This is surely influenced in part by players choosing instruments by custom (LP = heavy sustain) rather than by year, but surely, too, there are reasons for these stereotypes. On the other hand, my experience has been that it is generally not only possible, but now quite easy, to get really heavy sounds from a Tele, and unless the pickups are too hot, as many are, it's possible to get really cutting and airy tones from a LP, so I think of the generalizations as tendencies, and not absolutes or limiting factors. The acoustic tone of an instrument definitely features in its amplified sound because the body of the guitar contributes to the way the string vibrates. But here, too, it's a matter of degree -- not a be-all/end-all factor, IMO. A lot of this stuff can be trumped massive by a simple knob tweak on the amp, or the use of a pedal. I tend to like any guitar that plays well and has good (= non overpowering) pickups. I almost never feel limited by any good, functional guitar. They can all do so much!
 

Dolebludger

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I like the post which stated that wood type, as separate from weight, matters a lot. I agree. Here’s an example.

I bought a used mint Carvin solid body, on which Dimarzio Titan pups had been swapped for the originals. It has a five piece hog and maple neck through with ebony board. Body wings are hog with a thick figured maple cap. I really like its tone. I thought those Titan plus would also be great on another Carvin solid body with maple set neck with ebony board and a maple body. I had those pups put in. They sound good on the maple guitar, but lack the character and depth the have on the guitar with a combination of hog and maple. So wood type would seem to make tonal difference.
 

Dolebludger

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Oh, I agree that quality, consistency, and construction methods are important. But in my example above, the guitars were of the same make and quality, and the main difference was wood type. Yet the amped tone was not the same, with the same pups. Granted, one guitar was neck through and the other is set neck. But I hear more tonal difference than can be attributed to that.
 

Elkoki

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Oh, I agree that quality, consistency, and construction methods are important. But in my example above, the guitars were of the same make and quality, and the main difference was wood type. Yet the amped tone was not the same, with the same pups. Granted, one guitar was neck through and the other is set neck. But I hear more tonal difference than can be attributed to that.
How much does a longer scale length affect tone? Like lets say a 25.5 scale vs a 26.5 would it be a very noticeable difference usually?
 

Dolebludger

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I would say that small differences in scale length wouldn’t change tone to any perceptible degree. In my example above, one Carvin has a 25” scale and the other has a 24 3/4” scale. I don’t think that difference can cause the tone variance I hear.

However, when we start talking about 26 1/2” or maybe more, these guitar are made to down tune with heavy gauge strings, and this will cause a tone difference, of course.

The scale on my guitars range from 24” to 25 1/2”, and all are tuned to full pitch with 9-42 strings. The main difference I notice in this scale range is playability, not tone.
 

Elkoki

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I would say that small differences in scale length wouldn’t change tone to any perceptible degree. In my example above, one Carvin has a 25” scale and the other has a 24 3/4” scale. I don’t think that difference can cause the tone variance I hear.

However, when we start talking about 26 1/2” or maybe more, these guitar are made to down tune with heavy gauge strings, and this will cause a tone difference, of course.

The scale on my guitars range from 24” to 25 1/2”, and all are tuned to full pitch with 9-42 strings. The main difference I notice in this scale range is playability, not tone.
Some people say they don't hear much of a difference between 25.5'' and 26.5'' scale length guitars. I've only owned 1 of the latter so I can't say for sure how much they differ from 25.5'' scales. This guitar had a mahogany body & neck(3 piece set neck) but it was SUPER light, about 6 pounds. It was very well made too. When compared to another guitar that was 10lbs (of the same brand) with the same exact woods and construction and similar bridge/nut & pickups the difference was night and day. The lighter guitar was way more "airy" sounding and WAY WAY brighter. Probably the brightest guitar i've ever owned... The only other difference was the scale length..I was using 9's at one point BTW, which I think is pretty close to 10's on a 25.5'' ... To me this felt like 1 example of lighter guitars not having that thicker/richer sound. Or maybe I was quick to make the assumption that the difference was because of the weight....

Maybe i'm wrong.. I don't mind being proven wrong....


I've also noticed that Ibanez has a lot of RG's and S series guitars with the exact same necks and pickups. The RG's are made of basswood and the S series are made of mahogany .. The S's have thin as pancake bodies which usually results in the whole guitar weighing like 6lbs, and the RG's are usually 7lb-8lb... Assuming weight makes no difference in the tone, wouldn't the S series guitar sound thicker or warmer because of the wood? Yet most of the S's i've ever owned sounded thinner/brighter with less bass/thickness..
 
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hbucker

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There is also a player's personal prefs for feel and tone, which I believe is at the root here. The audience can't tell the difference. But if your preferences are fulfilled, you're more likely to play something everyone else might enjoy.

My back-breaker might be your holy grail, and that's just fine with me.
 

freebyrd 69

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I don't know if i'm crazy or not, but to me heavier guitars sound fuller & thicker. I've owned a small collection of guitars from Schecters, Epiphone, Ibanez, Jackson, Squier, Westone, Hondo and on and on... The guitars that always sounded best to me, because it's what I preferred were the heaviest guitars. They just sound fuller & "richer"...

The lighter & thinner the guitar was physically, the thinner it sounded to me. I know lots of things matter.. your amp, your pickups, scale length, wood, construction etc etc... and there's lots of things you can do to compensate for a thinner sounding guitar, like pickups, EQ settings, but sometimes they aren't enough to match a heavier guitar and you end up with an artificially thicker sound...

All guitars have their use, and none are bad or worse. But just based of what i've heard I feel the heavier the guitar is the fuller/bassier/warmer/ thicker (how ever you want to call it)it sounds.

I think this idea becomes more obvious when people change the weight of their guitar like either through weight relieve or adding more mass like adding a bigger,heavier block to their tremolo...

So anyone agree...or am I crazy?

You're crazy.
 

freebyrd 69

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I think with the right settings you can make any guitar sound pretty massive even the thinnest,lightest,pancake thin guitar. But I still stand by my point that heavier guitars have certain characteristics that light guitars don't and vice versa.
So by your point, I should be able to give you a sound clip/video of my guitar, and from that, you should be able to guess the rough weight of it, correct?
 

ehb

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So by your point, I should be able to give you a sound clip/video of my guitar, and from that, you should be able to guess the rough weight of it, correct?

Some folks can evidently while blindfolded, wearing only a football helmet and swim fins, just smell the speaker after listening to a wav file of a Lester he's never seen and tell you what the binding tech at Gib had for lunch his second day in third grade....
 

Elkoki

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So by your point, I should be able to give you a sound clip/video of my guitar, and from that, you should be able to guess the rough weight of it, correct?
Yes please send it my way
 

Elkoki

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Some folks can evidently while blindfolded, wearing only a football helmet and swim fins, just smell the speaker after listening to a wav file of a Lester he's never seen and tell you what the binding tech at Gib had for lunch his second day in third grade....
Wrong. It has to be an MP3 file and don't forget the swim trunks and nose plugs .. jeez
 

ehb

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Simple... One of em wuttin like the other... or was the other wuttin like one of em... one of em anyway... Ain't even close to the same color....
 

freebyrd 69

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The first one is heavier? 10lbs?

Second is 8lbs?

AMIRITE? ;)
Absolutely........


NOT.

I hope this helps prove to you that weight is ZERO indicator of tonal characteristics. More than a few members here know the story of the first guitar you see in the video. I went to Nashville and selected the wood on it myself. Bonamassa picked the guitar up and his first words were "oh, it's chambered". It is in fact, not chambered. It's 8 lbs. right on the nose, and one of the lighter reissues around. By the way, the guitar in video one and the first guitar in video two are the same axe. I assume you guessed that.

The second guitar in video two is a mid 90's Les Paul Standard, and is 9.2 lbs.. That makes you oh fer. LOL. Thank you for playing though (no pun intended), and I hope this proves the point 100%.
 

Elkoki

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Absolutely........


NOT.

I hope this helps prove to you that weight is ZERO indicator of tonal characteristics. More than a few members here know the story of the first guitar you see in the video. I went to Nashville and selected the wood on it myself. Bonamassa picked the guitar up and his first words were "oh, it's chambered". It is in fact, not chambered. It's 8 lbs. right on the nose, and one of the lighter reissues around. By the way, the guitar in video one and the first guitar in video two are the same axe. I assume you guessed that.

The second guitar in video two is a mid 90's Les Paul Standard, and is 9.2 lbs.. That makes you oh fer. LOL. Thank you for playing though (no pun intended), and I hope this proves the point 100%.
Doesn't really prove much .you're playing in a band setting with mediocre audio quality from a camera. At least you actually tried to prove me wrong unlike everyone else who just says no but has nothing more to prove .

Besides that I never said I could predict precise weights lol. I said heavier guitars have certain characteristics light guitars sometimes don't . Have you ever played a guitar with the exact same construction with the same pickups that was 4-5 lbs lighter ?
 

freebyrd 69

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Doesn't really prove much .you're playing in a band setting with mediocre audio quality from a camera. At least you actually tried to prove me wrong unlike everyone else who just says no but has nothing more to prove .

Besides that I never said I could predict precise weights lol. I said heavier guitars have certain characteristics light guitars sometimes don't . Have you ever played a guitar with the exact same construction with the same pickups that was 4-5 lbs lighter ?
Two guitars with the exact same construction and same pickups with a 4-5 lb. weight difference??? How is THAT possible? Short answer....it’s not.

Just because you have two guitars, say, 2 Gibson 59 Reissues....one weighs 8 lbs., and one 9.3. If you plug them in to the same amp, with the same settings, there WILL be a difference in tone. Not solely because one weighs more than another though. It’s because every guitar sounds different to some degree. It’s the sum of the parts.

You can say what you want about crappy cameras or audio, but I’ll tell you this...what you heard on that crappy camera/audio would only be magnified in person. That guitar is a 2011 R9, and it is a BEAST. Fat, thick tones, excellent clarity....all up and down the neck.

I respect you for taking the challenge, but, it was a fail on your part....not on one guitar, but both.

Of the 100+ Reissues I have owned, most all have sounded great, and most all have sounded different to some degree, but weight and acoustic properties have had little to do with it.

People that make claims like you....many claim they can tell a difference, but blind folded, through an amp with the same settings, no way you identify a tonal difference based on weight on a fair sample size.
 




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