Heavy or light versus tone?

cybermgk

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I purposely look for lighter guitars, because of personal comfort preference.

A lot of times, a heavier guitar is due to incompletely dried wood.
 

rogue3

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@ the op, heavy or light for tone? for me, something in between.

I have owned heavy Les Pauls that sounded great. One of them,not so much.The one that didn't had a very bright piercing tone.annoying even. It also had a large 3 piece maple neck.And as a heavy( 11-12 lbs,pancake body)it did sustain literally for days, so sustain(and tone) by weight is not everything.

I have owned mid-weight Les Paul's(still do) they all sound great plugged in.But then i chose them,because they did. And they all have decent acoustic sound.fwiw

I picked up and played a 2005 chambered R8 once.uh,no.:eek2:.It felt like it weighed between 6 and 7 lbs. But as a hybrid,it will work for some players.

I absolutely adore my light weight Swamp Ash Telecasters.Acoustically, they are super loud and resonant.The wood.Louder than some of my heavier Gibby's. They (swamp ash)sound just as good plugged in as they do unplugged.There is the rub,for me. My ears.Go for both,is my yardstick.Why not?

I have an 87 Standard that is a champion for unplugged tone.Its weight feels about 9lbs.Maybe just short of 9Lbs(inaccurate bathroom scale read)Plugged in, just awesome.It stands alone.

I love just grabbing an electric without plugging into an amp(though i am always plugged in when i'm finished,lol).So i guess for me, depends on the guitar.I prefer my Gibsons in the mid-weight range and up.Plug into a Marshall half-stack and it becomes clear.

Based on my years experience, weight,on its own,is not yardstick for great tone, because a guitars tone is the sum of the package. But my swamp ash tele's sound amazing, and the type of wood is helping in that regard, i feel.When i strap one on,the (light) weight,loud acoustic ringing,belly cut and finish all add up to one great playing experience.Then plugged in,even better. The fret work is amazing too.
One difference, sustain is not set neck Gibson sustain. More a combo of acoustic and inherent sustain. In the end excellent sustain and tone plugged in, or not...ramble on, rant off... :jam:
 
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mjross

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Maybe not apples to apples, but I have a Corsa Manalishi that is probably my lightest single cut (LP Replica) that sounds as good or better than some of my expensive “boat anchors”! Go figure...
 

dro

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The Les Paul I use on every recording, is the heaviest, and best sounding that I own. Play lighter ones live. They are no slouch. My lightest is a 2012 Les Paul Classic. Sounds real nice. Got me thinking. I don't think I've A/B'd those two yet.
 

Big Do

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+1 on what Big Do and others have said about it has to sing acoustically.
Weight seems to not be a reliable predictor/indicator of how a guitar is going to sound.
I bought a LP Special about 6 months ago that was hand-picked from among 3 of same year/model (at Wildwood Guitars.) It was the most resonant acoustically and most balanced across the tone spectrum. To my surprise and the surprise of the the guy doing the comparison it was the featherweight from the 3 Specials - weighing only 7 pounds. I has a nice chunky neck on it, yet is not neck-heavy. A perfect guitar!

One thing that I think contributes more to a guitar's tone than people realize is the neck.
I've learned that chunkier necks produce warmer tone, while thin necks produce brighter tone. A luthier explained this to me as follows: "... other than the strings the only part of a guitar that moves when you're playing it is the neck. which actually flexes as the strings vibrate... if you took a high speed video of the side view of the guitar's neck and strummed the strings (then slowed down the video) you would see the neck flexing up & down."
To build on this...the two points of tonal transfer into a guitar's body are the bridge/tailpiece and the neck joint.
The bridge/tailpiece are the source of the high end tones going into the guitar body.
The neck and neck joint are the source of the low end.

From here things get complicated when you consider all the variables in bridge/tailpiece formula and same for the construction of the neck. Everything matters to some extent, and it is the combination of how all the parts interplay that make for a truly musical sounding instrument.... but... all of it can get flushed down the toilet if the guitar body is dead tone-sucking crap wood.

...um... what were we talking about?
Oh yeah! Guitar weight and tone!
Not as big of a factor as I used to think it was.
I used to think wood wasn’t that important, but I’m beginning to realise that it might be the biggest thing. Otherwise why would the same type of guitars sound so different?
 

PAPADON

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After almost endless hours of research on various forums concerning this matter I believe that I have completely resolved the issue. If you believe weight makes a difference then it does. If you don't then it doesn't. I can't believe that it's taken me this long to figure it out.
:slap:
 

ehb

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In my experience, weight has nothing to do with tone.
As much as it pains me deep down....way deep....no, deeper than that, I must agree with Vic.

I believe it is the consistency of both major wood blanks, similarity of rez characteristics between the two, and quality of join that determines a good build.

I did not say ‘what wood’ because I do not buy off that hog/syrup/granny/etc. wood WILL be any damn thing other than wood.

Although I prefer heavier guitars, it is not weight I’m looking for, more the consistent density which can actually be light or heavy in weight. In my mind the colors are a bit different in heavy dense wood guitars, which I prefer when I’m playing em. Played Teles that weighed nothing but rang like a bell beautifully...acoustically and plugged in. Didn’t much care for the colors as they seemed shifted upward. My Teles are a lot heavier and while they ring, they seem to have a bit warmer colors... Same with about any guitar/bass.

Just my redneck opinion formed over years...and don’t much care who agrees or disagrees. I attribute many cases of bad guitars to ‘bad wood’... I.e. inconsistent...
 

ehb

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Worst sounding guitar I’ve played was a high dollar almost brand spanking new Lester Custom that already had about replacement everything rolled through it, after which, it still sucked ass.... No, worse than that... Woodchipper level bad...
 

guidothepimmp

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Wow, gorgeous guitar.
My 2016 Trad is what I would call mid to heavy as far as weight goes. Not sure about the correlation to tone.. bit of the 5 or 6 LPs I played that fateful day, this was the one

Curiously, if I am randomly playing around..and I pick up my SG after the LP, my mrs normally asks what guitar the other one was. When I ask why, she remarks that it sounded more aggressive. My takeaway is she means, the SG has a snappier and trebly tone which she hears as aggressive, the LP has more syrupy and rounded tone. It has happened a handful of times, so she can consistently hear the difference. Also says, one isnt better than the other.. just different.
Of course, that is my cue to say, EXACTLY
 
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dro

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In an amp I call that "special" tone, Sweetness.
In a guitar, I call it Fire
Have had Les Paul's with and without Fire. Some had that Syrupy sound pimmp describes. Some not.
Some have the Fire, that can be tamed with a twist of a volume or tone knob. If Fire not there. No amount of twisting will kindle it.
 

diogoguitar

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hotly debated topic,... not 100% correlation, but the "feel" of playing a LP has something to do with weight.

My friend has an original 1958 LP. It's an amazing instrument, and the dexterity is different than what I play (he is righty, I'm lefty)... that guitar must have under 8 lbs... I wanna say like 7.5 lb. IMHO I didn't like that guitar that much - even though it's more expensive than the cars I've ever owned combined.

I have a 10lb LP and a 9lb one... they both sound and play great... and I wanna say I like the heavier one better. Now, it's nice to have both because while the heavier sounds better, I can't really play it all night, while the lighter one is less of an issue.
 

tnlpaul59

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Much older, but I have a 2008 Traditional (9lbs. 4oz.) that I’m very pleased with, bought it used a few years ago & it had some after market mods including stainless frets & new bridge/electronics, loved the frets but changed out the bridge & tailpiece to Faber & a harness made by Jonesyblues with Mojotone ‘59 Clone low output pickups, this one probably gets played more than any of the others including my CS models, partially because I’m less worried about leaving it out & it’s close at hand, really a good solid guitar that is well worth the money I have into it.
Sounds like yours is a good one too, and they come stock as good guitars, no need to change anything & I think Gibson USA got it right with the Traditional, have really liked the few that I’ve played & a gold top would be nice someday.
Hope yours works out well for you, sounds like you’re off to a good start with it. :cheers:
I got around to weighing the TRAD, topped out at 9.8 lbs. Wasn't going to be an issue either way as I am sitting anyway but was curious. I like it the longer I have it. I think it is just an all around guitar for blues, jazz, rock. Put an OD or DS pedal in front and you can have a lot of fun with it.
 

Shelkonnery

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Just bought a 2016 Traditional with Zebra pickups. Incredibly heavy; almost 11 lbs. Huge tone and sustain with lots of bottom end. Got me thinking, what’s the experience within the Mylespaul community. Are heavy guitars better or vice versa?

View attachment 511164
I have a 2011 Traditional that is a boat anchor - 11.9lbs.

And a 1990 Custom which is medium I guess - 9.4lbs.



The heavy Trad has lots of low end and a tight brightness the further you go up the neck.
The lighter Custom is very round and balanced.

It’s the sweetest sounding guitar when unplugged and it really translates when plugged in.



But as many have stated, I don’t think it’s a direct correlation to tone quality.

That can be so subjective.

I love them both for what each brings to the table.

Congrats on the awesome new LP :cool2:
 

filtersweep

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Granted the pickups are oriented differently, but does no one here own both a Les Paul and an SG?

Extreme weight difference, but my SG sustains very well, and the bridge pickups sounded remarkably similar— when they both had the same pickups.

Most ‘dull’ guitars unplugged can be greatly‘improved’ with higher action and heavier strings— not that I’d want either. But who plays unplugged in the first place?
 

Mesamay2003

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I've got a bunch of Les Pauls, most are all in the high 8 lb to low 9 lb range...I just picked up a new Slash Standard that only weighs 7 lbs 14.7 oz, it's the lightest LP I've ever owned or played. It sounds killer though...so I think there's more to it than just weight.
 

Duane_the_tub

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In my experience, weight has nothing to do with tone.
Agreed. I also think acoustic tone is overrated as a measure of what a guitar is going to sound like plugged in.

Both these topics have been argued to death on this forum. It's all subjective. What sounds good, bad, better, best - IT'S ALL IN YOUR HEAD.
 

gball

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Yeah, it's subjective - everyone's definition of great tone is going to be slightly different.

That being said I guess I go against the grain because I tend to feel the heavy ones do sound better...for me. There is a bite to the tone, particularly guitars with an ebony fretboard, and a response that I have never gotten from the lighter Les Pauls I have owned. The heavy ones tend to be the ones that stay and the light ones, especially anything weight relieved, are the ones that have gone over the years.
 

David Garner

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I honestly can't say "better" or "worse," but mine have about a pound difference between them and they sound different for sure. The 93 Standard is the heavier one. It's a little over 9 pounds and has a little more scoop to the tone, and tends to sound plasticky or artificial with a pickup that is also scooped. There's just something odd about the low end on that guitar. Whereas a mid-heavy pickup tends to accentuate the base tone of the guitar. I have a JB in the bridge now and it came with a 498t and both of them sound good. The one exception to that is the Wolfetone Dr. Vintage set I had in it for a few years. That set sounded amazing in that guitar. Antiquities, Custom Shop Pearly Gates and 57 Classics all were less desirable. The Pearlies were the best of that bunch but ultimately I went back to the JB and 59. I tend to use it for heavier stuff, 70s rock up to 80s metal, and anything with a lot of dirt on the tone like stoner rock. I should note -- the neck pickup doesn't matter much in that guitar. It's the bridge pickup that gets all wonky if there is too little push and too few mids.

My 2016 Traditional is a little over 8 pounds, and it has a strong midrange tone to it, and also sounds woodier and more organic, for lack of a better term. Where the Standard loves a mid-heavy rock pickup and prefers to throw its weight around so to speak, the Traditional prefers lower winds and unpotted pickups. The Custom Shop Pearlies that are in there now are pretty much ideal for that guitar. It has a honk and a bark to the tone that the Standard can't match. I use it for blues, classic rock, and really anything up to AC/DC levels of gain, but not much more. The A2 pickups in that guitar tend to mush out on the bottom end for heavier stuff, but they sound glorious for Black Crowes or Gov't Mule, and they clean up beautifully.
 

bum

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My LP weighs over 12 pounds and it's a bit of a pain in the ass.
Pickups and amp are where I go if I want to change tone, wood weight is way down the list just under what underwear I have on.
I have a Mustang with a Dirty Fingers in it that sounds more like a Les Paul than most Les Pauls :laugh2:
 


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