Break down the percentages... what makes up an electric guitar's tone?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Colo Springs E, Apr 1, 2020.

Which of these approximate % breakdowns of guitar tone most closely aligns with your opinion?

  1. Pickups 50%, body/neck/fretboard wood 25%, everything else 25%

    10 vote(s)
    9.2%
  2. Pickups 75%, everything else 25%

    84 vote(s)
    77.1%
  3. Pickups 40%, body/neck/fretboard wood 40%, everything else 20%

    8 vote(s)
    7.3%
  4. Body/neck/fretboard wood 50%, pickups 25%, everything else 25%

    5 vote(s)
    4.6%
  5. Pickups, woods and hardware are all pretty equal contributors

    2 vote(s)
    1.8%
  1. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I literally crawled the Sonoran desert floor for the 3-guys-bar punchline! You really make me work for a reply, don’t ya? :D

    Approach is everything.
     
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  2. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    YEP!!!
     
  3. Colo Springs E

    Colo Springs E Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    lol okee dokey smokey
     
  4. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Aww man you seriously inspired me!
     
  5. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Meister

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    Player 90%, amp 5%, other stuff 5%.
     
  6. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Maybe we should ask some trees if some of them grow up to be tonewood while others grow up to be deafwood or ice-pick-wood or whatever non-tonewood is?
     
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  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    You know we have all these individual sets of fixations on what matters most to us, and we can't all be right aside from the basic fact that we're right to believe in something and get on with playing some music rather than going on forums to ASK what to believe in.

    WRT scale length being a notable contributor to the sound, I get the source of the idea where the shorter Gibson scale seemingly has some influence, but as soon as we fret a note the remaining scale of a Fender is 24" or less, so only the open notes are the longer scale.

    One can then argue this or that but the scale length changes at every fret and even if the string tension is more or less due to scale length, change the gauge and capo at the first fret should sound like a different guitar?
    Not really.
    Move the pickup and you get a different sound, that's true.
    Shorten the scale with the same number of frets and the neck pickup may be in a different place, as may the bridge pickup, but that's pickup location not scale length.
     
  8. funkysoul

    funkysoul Tele-Meister

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    its an electric guitar so an electric cirquit with its components makes the diference for 75% all the others do the rest
     
  9. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Friend of Leo's

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    I voted for “pickups 75%” / “everything else 25%”… that being in particular the bridge assembly.

    But as others pointed out, this assumes that we’re talking about solidbodies. Solid vs hollow for instance has a HUGE impact on the sustain.
     
  10. Hobbo

    Hobbo TDPRI Member

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    Blackguard sounds better than pearloid!
     
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  11. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    In approximate order...

    80% Pickups, pot/cap values (measured, not what’s on the stamps), fingers, right neck for you, setup inc break angle, string age, pick weight, trem/no trem/trem setup, saddles and nut.

    10% String gauge a little.

    5% Scale length, file under string gauge and fingers.

    5% Body and neck material, not a lot, but it does change the feel of a guitar in the ergonomics and the resonance you feel. Neck finish will do that too. A guitar doesn’t play itself so while I am sceptical of “tone wood” based on the more rigorous sound tests I’ve seen, I am certain construction helps people play their best. I definitely perceive some difference but those guitars all have differences in the factors above. So maybe there’s “feel in hand”...
     
  12. saltyseadog

    saltyseadog Tele-Meister

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    It's all in the trousers. :cool:
     
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  13. MarkA

    MarkA TDPRI Member

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    Amp, pickups, pick, room, hardware, wood :p
     
  14. Wrighty

    Wrighty Friend of Leo's

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    The guy playing it, Eric will sound like Eric in anything...............sorry, possible troll, I’ll keep out of this one!
     
  15. Cesspit

    Cesspit Tele-Holic

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    Ok, my personal take on this;
    Tone is all about pickups, amp and the player, probably in equal (ish) measure.

    However, resonance and sustain is most definitely down to woods/bodies & necks and all the other bits and pieces that make up a guitar. This is more important to me and here's why.
    Regardless of guitar, pickups or amp, I sound like me and it took a long while for me to be comfortable with that. Sure, if I play a strat it sounds like a strat, and so on, but it still sounds like me. The tone variations between the guitars are not huge.

    The resonance and sustain (unplugged) are the first attraction to any guitar for me, does it feel alive in my hands. If it is everything else is just icing on the cake.
     
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  16. Violeiro

    Violeiro TDPRI Member

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    Pickups and weight. A guitar on high 7lbs low 8lbs holds an incredible amount of sustain while the strings vibrate...lighter guitars the sustain fades away faster, also feels like a toy.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
     
  17. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Truth be told and this is a well kept secret, the '60s Fender black three ply guards often had pearloid on the back which is what gave the best vintage Strats their awesome toanz.
    SRV only used those old pearloid backed black guards on his preferred Strats because he just couldn't get his sound without that secret ingredient.

    But again, if you prefer the twangy country style Tele tone then you won't like the fatter toanz those vintage pearl backers deliver.
     
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