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Author Topic:  Tone wood myth!!
Johnie King

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 8 Nov 2019 6:41 pm    
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Really is there such a thing as tone wood?
I’m on the fence here.
Maybe it’s a hyped up story.
An a acoustic Martin guitar yes I believe tone wood matters 100 percent.
Solid body electric guitars an pedal steels I’m thinking die board or high core count plywood would work as well as straight grain maple.
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Jim Park

 

From:
Carson City, Nv
Post  Posted 8 Nov 2019 6:49 pm     Tonewood
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I believe Chas Smith built one out of chromoly tubing and it sounded pretty good
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Eric Dahlhoff


From:
Point Arena, California
Post  Posted 8 Nov 2019 10:13 pm     tone metal?
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My ETS was made out of aluminum & sounded great. Shocked
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Bob Carlucci

 

From:
Candor, New York, USA
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 3:46 am     Re: Tone wood myth!!
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Johnie King wrote:
Really is there such a thing as tone wood?
I’m on the fence here.
Maybe it’s a hyped up story.
An a acoustic Martin guitar yes I believe tone wood matters 100 percent.
Solid body electric guitars an pedal steels I’m thinking die board or high core count plywood would work as well as straight grain maple.

No I disagree.. It depends on the guitar however.. Early MSA Classic steels that used plywood bodies with Mica covering often had no sustain and some were awful sounding guitars. Not all, but a lot.
Then MSA switched to maple bodies with lacquer finishes and the tone was transformed.. The guitars were brighter, much more "alive" sounding, and had a LOT more sustain.. They did add an aluminum changer mounting which helped, but in my opinion it was that more resonant body that was the biggest factor in the improvement in sound...
I will never forget when I took apart an MSA mica body that I had for years.. That nasty plywood and a neck that when you hit it sounded EXACTLY like hitting a waterlogged, rolled up newspaper.. Just a dead thud...
A good piece of hard maple that size makes a nice ringing musical tone when stuck... Just listen to the sound of a great old Bud, or ZB and you can hear what good wood sounds like... I do agree however, that a great sounding steel can be built in the modern age without so much as a speck of wood on it.
However I don't believe steels that are designed and built out of good musical maple would sound just as good, nor sustain as long if the bodies were replaced with some inferior wood.. Wood makes a difference... bob
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Barry Coker


From:
Bagley Alabama, USA
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 4:38 am     Tone Wood
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Mr. Mike Scaggs at the bottom of his posts says "Everything Affects Everything". I think that might be the best answer to this discussion.
As Johnie has posted before "The old Cast End Plates sound better than the new CNC made end plates" and I agree with him Totally. Sound on any electric instrument is the transfer and molding of the vibration of the strings. Whatever may change this transfer (For the Good or For the Bad) Will Make a difference.
As Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder, Tone is in the ear of the Listener.
I think the wood will make a difference a Mica guitar and a wood lacquer guitar built side by side will sound different But change any of a number of small items in the build list and the guitars tone will change.

Barry
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Last edited by Barry Coker on 9 Nov 2019 5:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 7:45 am     Re: Tone wood myth!!
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Bob Carlucci wrote:
...Early MSA Classic steels that used plywood bodies with Mica covering often had no sustain and some were awful sounding guitars. Not all, but a lot.
Then MSA switched to maple bodies with lacquer finishes and the tone was transformed.. The guitars were brighter, much more "alive" sounding, and had a LOT more sustain.. They did add an aluminum changer mounting which helped, but in my opinion it was that more resonant body that was the biggest factor in the improvement in sound...


my2cents...

Each guitar, or any instrument for that matter, has a particular "voice", something that it does really well, some area where it's response is great. Those old ply MSA guitars were poor on the top end, but they had good mids and fabulous lows, I mean like Hammond B3 lows! Emmons guitars, on the other hand, had good mids and wonderful highs, but not much at the low end. (And now you know why Curly preferred the MSA. Wink He played it like it was an organ.) The Sho~Buds were somewhere in the middle, and the ZB just had tons and tons of highs...and not much else.
Quote:


I will never forget when I took apart an MSA mica body that I had for years.. That nasty plywood and a neck that when you hit it sounded EXACTLY like hitting a waterlogged, rolled up newspaper.. Just a dead thud...
A good piece of hard maple that size makes a nice ringing musical tone when struck
Winking

Well, yeah. But once you mounted that maple neck on a body, it went "thunk" when you tapped it, just like every other neck. It's the same with a key head. Hang it on a piece of string and it rings like a bell. But screw it onto a 2x4, and that bell-like sound is gone...as gone as Ferlin Husky and that old song. Even a brick will make a ringing "clink" sound. But once you attach that brick to another, the "clink" is gone. Like Mike Scaggs says, everything matters. No one component makes the sound or tone what it is.

The mistake many non-pro players make is trying to make one guitar sound exactly like another. That's not the way to emulate, by adding a dingus or changing a pickup. If you want the old sound, play an old guitar and amp. If you want a Sho~Bud sound, don't buy a Carter. That makes it far easier. Cool Play the guitar the way it works best, find its unique sound and relish it, rather than trying to manipulate it into something it isn't.

A lot of times, when Buddy Emmons wanted a different sound, he just used a different guitar. Smart, huh? Mr. Green


Last edited by Donny Hinson on 9 Nov 2019 11:05 am; edited 2 times in total
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Len Amaral

 

From:
Rehoboth,MA 02769
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 8:16 am    
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GFI pedal steel are constructed with maple Die Board bodies. Die Board is a dense laminate, no voids and very stable.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 8:25 am    
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It was said the Buddy Emmons would strum the strings on a pedal steel and if he could feel the vibrations when he grabbed a hold of a leg, it was a good guitar. Very Happy
Erv
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Dale Rottacker


From:
Tacoma Washington, USA
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 9:30 am    
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As a Fella who Cut, or rather, took care of the bandsaws in a mill that cut “Tone Wood” Sounding board for 23 years, I can tell you that the folks from Steinway, Young Chang, Sammack, Balwin, Martin and Gibson, they thought there was a difference as there were times that they examined every piece we cut... We even cut some Alder/Maple for Solid body guitars and they felt the same.

Although I never owned a Steel that went THUD when you played it, I’ve heard plenty that did, and some within the same brand and year and model ...

So my conclusion would be that it does matter... FWIW Wink
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Bill C. Buntin

 

Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 9:49 am    
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I think it matters. Somewhat. Certainly not as “tone woods” matter to acoustic instrument but in our case with pedal steel, I believe it’s a combination of wood density and metal that transmits vibrations more or less, and to ervs comment, that is exactly right in my experience. The guitars that vibrations can be felt into the legs as in, The first push pull emmons I owned had that characteristic and thus had that “tone” we all crave or desire. My mci guitars had it, my emci has it, and the skh legrande I owned had it. But tone is also very subjective. Some people do not experience “tone” in the same way as others. So it’s a bit interpretive in my opinion.

In the woodwind world it absolutely is as real and important, all blackwoods, African, ebony and then cocobolo I mean there is a reason ebony is preferred in like clarinets and oboe, bassoon players and makers have their favorite. Bagpipe tone without a doubt is very dependent on wood species and age of wood.

Again it’s very subjective in my opinion.

Bill
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Bob Carlucci

 

From:
Candor, New York, USA
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 10:20 am    
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Cast end plates will ring better than milled endplates as well.. The old Fender cable jobs had those massive cast frames that the wood body sat in. When the bodies were taken out, that big casting rung like a bell when struck.. Fender steels are not everyone's cup of tea, but there is NO denying that they had a unique sound, that was bordering on magical for some[like me], and a lotof wonderful music was made with them.
I wonder if they used a CNC milled extruded stock frame the sound would have been as sweet?? I have my doubts... bob
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no gear list for me.. you don't have the time......
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 10:57 am    
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Here's a couple of clips of my old mica MSA Classic. This was the early model, plywood body, with no aluminum pickup surround. I'm not that great a player, and I probably don't have typical tastes in guitar sounds. The first clip is the guitar only going right into the board through a direct-box, and the second is live playing through my Twin Reverb with a 15" SRO speaker (using just a cheap cassette recorder on the stage floor). I don't expect many to like the sounds, but they're just an example of me and the (often scorned) MSA "plywood" guitar.

https://soundcloud.com/user812921474/lately
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Bob Carlucci

 

From:
Candor, New York, USA
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 11:48 am    
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Not scorning an MSA plywood.. I played them for years and years, and I can provide plenty of nice sounding clips as well.. Some were much better than others. however NO one except chalker played them even though they were the best built, most stable and refined pedal steels of their time. Too many didn't sustain well and too many lacked the bright vibrant sound other steels exhibited.

Once MSA went to all maple wood the MSA Classic was simply a much better sounding steel guitar with much better sustain.. Thats all I am saying. The old ones could be good, I had one that was quite good,, However I had others that were dark muddy mutts, that died out instantly, and I fought with daily at gigs to get some sustain .. Once the maple bodies came out, MSA became a much better sounding and sustaining guitar than MOST of the mica bodies... bob
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no gear list for me.. you don't have the time......
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Billy Carr

 

From:
Seminary, Mississippi USA
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 2:19 pm     psg
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I tend to look at who the player was playing the mica MSA's. Lots of Texas pickers at the time, of course being made in Dallas and Maurice Anderson, Bud Carter and others being hands on. At the time however, I still believe the mica MSA's had the best all pull changers but lacked the tone of the push pull Emmons' that Big E was playin'. The MSA was built to be an MSA, not something else. I do think mica MSA's had the best C6th sounds for jazz, etc. Curly, early Franklin and many others played mica MSA's. As far as wood, I can tell in a heartbeat the difference. I prefer hard curly maple. Just my .02 !!! thanks.
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Douglas Schuch


From:
Valencia, Philippines
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 3:54 pm    
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So is aluminum a "tone wood"? After all, none other than Buddy E. said, "The Sierra guitar has a soft but deep acoustic resonance that few other guitars have, so it's my favorite for the C6 tuning." I believe the Sierras he played were all alloy bodies. I'm not dis'ing tone wood - but saying it is far more complex a subject than "maple=tone, all else sucks."
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Tony Glassman


From:
The Great Northwest
Post  Posted 9 Nov 2019 6:18 pm    
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Douglas Schuch wrote:
So is aluminum a "tone wood"? After all, none other than Buddy E. said, "The Sierra guitar has a soft but deep acoustic resonance that few other guitars have, so it's my favorite for the C6 tuning." I believe the Sierras he played were all alloy bodies. I'm not dis'ing tone wood - but saying it is far more complex a subject than "maple=tone, all else sucks."


Even though Sierra’s were built on extruded aluminum bodies - the maple necks, changers and keyheads all sat on thin maple decks, upon which the mica was applied.
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Paul Wade


From:
mundelein,ill
Post  Posted 10 Nov 2019 6:04 am     Tone
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well i played msa d-10 woobody and mica guitar for 20 years had one mica covered that sounded very good but, heavy . here is the lat Don peck playing a mica msa d-10 with stock pickups. sounds pretty good to me. just my 2 cents Very Happy
https://youtu.be/PiLzmBX8lVk

p.w
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Johnie King

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 10 Nov 2019 8:58 am    
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Paul thanks for posting the MSA sound
I don’t see how a pedal steel could sound any better
Ok looks like another myth that the older model MSA don’t sound Good!!
Looks like this MSA has Stock MSA pickups too.
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Charley Bond


From:
Inola, OK, USA
Post  Posted 10 Nov 2019 9:46 am     Recording the sound from wood.
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A group of men called Luthiers have done some sound recording of the sounds produced through the woods they want to use for making Violins.

I've done some recording of sound produced in maple dowels for making Pool Cue Shafts. I made a tube Sound Chamber, hooked up a clapper to one end & mic at the other. We tested about 35 maple shafts for their density. Our parameters were number of rings, weight & stiffness. It was amazing that there was a difference.

I wonder if some of that Timeless Timber would make a good sound..??? It is maple logs, that have been underwater for 100 + years. It is in upper Michigan & Wisconsin.
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Dick Wood


From:
Springtown Texas, USA
Post  Posted 10 Nov 2019 9:56 am    
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All I can say is, I had a MSA Supersustain U12 back in the 80's that I HATED because it had a dark dead thunky sound to me. I never thought I'd own another MSA guitar but the new MSA's changed my whole outlook.

It has sustain, clarity and all the other attributes you could ever want in a guitar. Is it the wood,materials, or a combination of both that make the difference? I don't know but I like it.
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Dale Rottacker


From:
Tacoma Washington, USA
Post  Posted 10 Nov 2019 10:05 am    
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Dick Wood wrote:
All I can say is, I had a MSA Supersustain U12 back in the 80's that I HATED because it had a dark dead thunky sound to me. I never thought I'd own another MSA guitar but the new MSA's changed my whole outlook.

It has sustain, clarity and all the other attributes you could ever want in a guitar. Is it the wood,materials, or a combination of both that make the difference? I don't know but I like it.


Amen and Amen!!!
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*2014 #1 Prototype Rittenberry Prestige 9x8
*2018 Purple/Black MSA S-10 Legend XL Signature 5x7
*2016 Red/Black MSA D-10 Legend XL Signature 9x6
*1990 Jim Lindsey Special, Quad Original Bill Lawrence 705 PUP’s, 8x8 Gary Hogue Clone
*Black n Gray, Mullen D-10 8x7/ *Blue Sho-Bud Pro 3 Custom 8x6/ *Black Sho-Bud Pro 3 Custom 8x4
*Sho-Bud Maverick 3x1/ *Fender 400
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Mike Perlowin


From:
Los Angeles CA
Post  Posted 10 Nov 2019 11:49 am    
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According to rumor or legend, MSA received a bunch of inferior wood during the early 70s, and inadvertently made some guitars that didn't sound very good. But they also made some excellent guitars during the years from 1970 till '75.

One of our forumites who has a collection of MSA steels, wrote here that his dieboard/mica guitar was one of the best sounding steels in his collection.

I played 2 of the old classics for 25 years. The green maple and lacquer one shown in my avatar, and a white dieboard/mica one. Truth be told, I preferred the green one, but there was nothing wrong with the white one. I used them interchangeably, and nobody ever complained about the sound of the white one.

I could tell the difference between them, but I don't think anybody else could.
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Rich Peterson


From:
Moorhead, MN
Post  Posted 10 Nov 2019 1:16 pm    
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I have wondered what could be done in a PSG by using carbon fiber reinforcement rods in wood that otherwise wouldn't be stiff enough to handle the constant changing string tension. Some softer/lighter woods are very resonant.
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 10 Nov 2019 1:55 pm    
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Rich Peterson wrote:
I have wondered what could be done in a PSG by using carbon fiber reinforcement rods in wood that otherwise wouldn't be stiff enough to handle the constant changing string tension. Some softer/lighter woods are very resonant.


I don't think wood stiffness would be a problem. After all, there's a lot more wood in a steel guitar body and neck than there is in a straight guitar neck! (Think: a 12 string guitar neck.) Another concern would be how you got the carbon fiber rods in the neck. Gluing them in might affect the sound. After all, the major difference between the best plywood (maple die-board) and a regular maple steel guitar body/neck is the glue. It's well known that glues and finishes can affect the sound, so there's that to consider.
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Charley Bond


From:
Inola, OK, USA
Post  Posted 10 Nov 2019 3:12 pm     Make the neck like Ross made his for the new Sierra
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Ross made the New Sierra's neck like a bridge, maybe that
would free up the wood to make a difference in resonance... Anybody making a new Neck...?
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