The importance of wood in the electric guitar

Many times listen to say: ” You put good pills to an electric guitar and sounds good no matter what wood is built”, well this is true, but the guitar will only sound “good” and what we all want is that our guitar sound “excellent”, that has a great sustain or a great attack and […]

Many times listen to say: ” You put good pills to an electric guitar and sounds good no matter what wood is built”, well this is true, but the guitar will only sound “good” and what we all want is that our guitar sound “excellent”, that has a great sustain or a great attack and that has a tuning as perfect as possible; to achieve this, it is required that the parts of an instrument be adjusted as well as possible. We will not enjoy the maximum potential of an instrument just for putting good microphones or just for putting strings of quality or just because it is built of good wood. The instrument is a set of details; any mismatch in any part of an instrument can change the final sound. That is why it is so important that each piece of our instrument is as correct as possible.

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There are many physical factors of wood that determine the type of sound or timbre that we can get with it. And we must bear in mind that any of these aspects cannot be assessed separately, only the set of these characteristics can give us the idea of ​​how wood can sound in an instrument. Let’s talk about the most important aspects:

Weight

It depends on whether our instrument will have a good or bad base. The heavy woods provide us with more sustain, while the lighter ones tend to be better in terms of attack. The greater the weight, the more stability the rope will have and therefore will vibrate for longer. On the other hand, lighter woods, due to their lower density, go more easily into vibration with the rope but they dampen part of the energy of the rope.

The weight of wood is very important in acoustic guitars where it is sought to reduce it to a minimum.

Resistance

This factor greatly influences the timbre of the wood. The number of harmonics, as well as the low or high pitch of it.

It should be noted that resistance is not always linked to weight. There may be light and resistant or heavy woods and easy to break (cracks).

Elasticity

This property is perhaps more critical in the wood we are going to use to build the mast. Here you need strong, elastic and deformable wood to be able to adjust the mast well, but it is also very important that the deformation is not permanent. When we loosen the tensioner, the mast must return to its neutral position. Maple, also known as maple, is the ideal wood for this. It is the type of wood most used in the construction of masts for electric guitars and basses.

Humidity

It is very important that the wood is dry enough to be used in the construction of an instrument. Only in special conditions of drying, air drying, dehumidification, etc; properly carried out we can ensure that the wood really meets the requirements necessary to be used in an instrument.

When the level of humidity of the wood is less than or equal to 12% we can say that it is in conditions to be used. How many times have we heard that the older the wood is or the longer it has been dried, the better the instrument will sound. This is true, although the way in which the wood is stored must be taken into account. If the wood used is very old but was stored in a place with little current of air and humid, surely that wood will not be stable enough nor will it be dry enough to be used. On the other hand, a newer wood but with a correct drying process, will surely be in better condition than the previous one.

Wet wood does not transmit correctly the frequencies of the high or low notes and the sound in general is opaque. This is because the walls of the fibres of the wood are soft because of the water they contain. When the wood is wet, this does not only affect the timbre but also the stability of the same.

The cut

There are two types of cuts that we are interested in. The radial cut and tangential cut. The first consists, in general terms, that the growth rings appear vertically or at an angle greater than 45 degrees. By contrast, in the tangential cut, the rings are located horizontally or at an angle less than 45 degree. The wood with radial cut is more resistant to bending and this type of cut is more suitable for the construction of masts. In the body of an electric guitar the tangential cut is used to seek to show the drawing of the wood, although the ideal would be to always use the radial cut, which is of immense importance in acoustic instruments.

Conclusion

A quality instrument will be one that has all its parts correctly selected, worked and assembled. Wood is very important as are microphones, strings, potentiometers, the bridge, etc. The musician who wants an instrument with a lot of sustain, such as a blusher, will be more suited to a Les- Paul type guitar, which has a large mass of wood that will allow the vibrations to be maintained for much longer. On the other hand, for musicians who need a great sound, such as a Heavy guitarist who plays at high speed, he does not need sustain, and a guitar with a smaller mass of wood.

Whatever the choice of the model of the guitar or bass, provided it is well built and with good materials, we will undoubtedly have an excellent instrument.

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