Chambered vs Solid

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by alathIN, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. alathIN

    alathIN Tele-Holic

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    I have a thinline with an ash body and cherry top that's very heavy for a thinline - about the same as a solid tele - and I love the tone.

    Some folks have opined that thinline vs solid might be more about the weight than the hollowness.

    Now making a strat with the same mix of ash and cherry. I dont like f holes on strats but thinking about chambering it to keep the weight within reason.

    Generally I dont mind a moderately heavy guitar but I dont want it to get ridiculous.

    Who's made (or has) a chambered body guitar without f holes and what are your perceptions about the tone?
    Seems to work for Brian May...
     
  2. Fuelish

    Fuelish Tele-Meister

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    I have a chambered guitar with no f-holes - a '10 BMG, to be exact (Brian May Guitars) - and I love many of the tones, but, for lack of a controlled experiment, dunno how much the chambering affects the tone. If BMG did a few one-offs with non-chambered bodies and bodies with f-holes, I might be in position to contribute something worthwhile. Am pretty certain his original and the pricier versions (both official and produced by private luthiers) are chambered more heavily than the BMG that's more down to earth priced (yet still not cheap.....I managed to get MF to give me free 2 day shipping and knock $100 off the price because somebody in warehouse dropped the ball and didn't put my order through when I ordered it.....as originally ordered, it would've been free shipping delivered on Xmas Eve in '10....they screwed up, had to contact them after Xmas, and they agreed that they f'ed up and agreed to my demands for $100 off....but I digress.
    And, we can't forget BB King's Lucille, chambered with solid top as well
     
  3. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Poster Extraordinaire

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  4. FenderLover

    FenderLover Friend of Leo's

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    I think the sound that comes out of an electric is 90% pickup. F-holes are for cosmetics and chambering is for weight.

    I have one Tele that's heavier than my Les Paul, and my '73 Thinline is my second lightest Tele. My MJT relic is a few ounces lighter.
     
  5. oceanblue

    oceanblue Tele-Meister

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    I am waiting on a chambered tele body from Warmoth, 2 lb 15 oz., all about the weight, as the video above shows, differences in tone, if any, are minimal.
     
  6. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Depending on the level of processing and gain, I suggest the unmiked, isolated electric guitar base sound is 95 to 99 percent the pickups/electronics. To me, all center-blocked or semi-hollows, especially those with stud mounted or string through body bridges, to be weight relieved solid body instruments. The resonance you hear is what you hear, being so close to the guitar. That aural information is lost in the mix/processing/phrases you play with it.
     
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  7. FenderLover

    FenderLover Friend of Leo's

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    I'll agree with that, I was just being nice when I said 90% ;) Makes me smile when the maple/rosewood fingerboard discussion comes up regarding tone.
     
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  8. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Heh, I had to up the numbers on ya :)
     
  9. alathIN

    alathIN Tele-Holic

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    The video is pretty definitive. Not just chambered vs solid, but also weight making no detectable difference.

    I still have a hard time believing my ES335(ish) semihollow would sound the same as a solidbody.
     
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  10. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Generally I lean toward chambered bodies having less sustain and tone I like. But there have been exceptions too. I had a killer Thinline I should have kept. The differences we musicians hear in guitars are not that evident in a video comparison, but play it for a while or in a band mix and you definitely hear it.
    Same for speakers. Listen to the video sound comparisons of Emi's for instance and you can hardly hear a difference. Play one for a while and you may hate it or like it.
    I strongly believe that pickups make only a subtle difference in a guitar. Having tried several pickup types in certain guitars I didn't like, only to realize that you can't change the basic character much.
     
  11. alathIN

    alathIN Tele-Holic

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    I might not go quite as far as you but I do agree that different pickups aren't always all that different.

    I have an Ibanez AS73 (ES-335ish) and switched the moderately hot factory pickups for Seymour Duncan Seth lovers, which are the extreme end of the vintage/low output/unpotted variety.
    I definitely heard a difference - more harmonics, somewhat brighter - but it was still identifiably the same guitar.
    There was much more of a tonal difference when I switched to a roller saddle (which I didn't like) then graphtech saddles (which I did like). But still, marginal differences, not a wholly different sound.
    I'm 100% with you that it's still the same guitar. The saddle, pickup, nut, and wiring changes I made were all fairly minor tweaks to a guitar I already liked a lot.

    This gets mysterious because if the pickups don't make much difference and the fretboard material doesn't make much difference and the body doesn't make much difference, then what does make the differences we hear?
    My guess: the sum total of all that stuff.
     
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  12. alathIN

    alathIN Tele-Holic

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    UPDATE - talked to the guy who's making my body.

    We're going to do alder instead of ash for the back, still cherry on the top.
    The Aerodyne strat I played at Sam Ash was basswood with a maple top, and I felt it was a smidge too light for my taste.

    According to a wood specific gravity chart I found, black cherry is about the same as maple and alder is moderately heavier than basswood - so I figure I should wind up with similar to slightly-heavier overall weight.
     
  13. Toast

    Toast Tele-Holic

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    Interesting video. Of the two guitars in the video, I prefer the chambered guitar for its lightness. There wasn't enough of a difference in their sound for me to prefer one over the other. However, I think the player in the video didn't emphasize the bass strings enough when he played the guitars. When I hear a difference between a solid body and a hollow body guitar, I hear it in the bass strings. That difference in the bass sounds is what I'm angling for when I listen to a hollow body guitar. I think of it as kind of like the difference people hear between Martins and Taylors: Brightness versus Boom or however people describe it.

    There are two things that I like about the sound of my semi-hollow body guitar: a thump and an echo. I hear the thump when I play chords with lots of bass (open E chord, 3rd fret G power chord), sometimes I can hear it with single notes. The thump I hear is the actual sound wave bumping up against the wall of the guitar chamber, I believe. I've tapped the body of my guitar to listen if I could reproduce that thump with my hand, but I think the thump is more a generalized thump coming from all sides of the guitar getting nudged by the sound wave. It's hard to duplicate that sound with a finger tap.

    Anyway, I knew there was a difference between the sound of my semi-hollow body and my solid body, but I could never quite pin it down. What helped me was to compare the sound of a stand-up bass with a solid body bass. It's much easier for me to hear the hollow versus solid difference between basses. In my ears there's a huge thump with an upright bass as opposed to a solid body bass and there's more of a shimmery echo to the hollow body bass. The sound quality of that echo, I suspect, is where the chamber of the guitar, wood type, and X factors (e.g., F holes versus an enclosed body chamber) come into play. One of the reasons I started thinking along these lines is because I got obsessed with the bass in this song:

    Nancy Sinatra - "These Boots Are Made For Walking"



    I finally had to look it up and discovered it's a blend of a solid body bass and a stand-up bass. Ah ha, that was a revelation. I love that bass sound. I also learned something about Carol Kaye, very cool musician.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Kaye

    I forgot to add that hollow body guitars are strange beasts. Some got the thump, especially large chambered guitars, and some don't. I haven't really played enough thinline style chambered guitars to get a sense of their hollow sound qualities.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
  14. regularslinky

    regularslinky Tele-Holic

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    I have a chambered tele-style without f holes, a swamp ash tele-style, a pine tele-style and an alder tele-style. Unplugged, the chambered guitar is a bit louder and brighter sounding than the others. Plugged in, they all sound very similar with the differences attributable to the different pickups. There is nothing unique or different about the electric sound of the chambered guitar.

    Electric guitar pickups are NOT microphones. Wood and chambering make no difference to the electric sound of a guitar.
     
  15. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I made a mahogany/maple cap Tele. I drilled the heck out of it to reduce weight. Two things: It's still heavy. Ir sustains like a piano, it really rings. What this proves,I'm not sure. If you do the math, cubic centimeters removed x weight per cubic centimeter, you will see it takes a lot of chambering to make a significant reduction in weight.

    Here's the drilling I did:

    DSCF1744.JPG
     
  16. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    The results would be different depending on the pickups used. No mention of how hot those pickups were. The hotter the pickups the less noticeable the differences in bodies would be.

    I thought the tone in both recordings sounded equally bad.
     
  17. stefanhotrod

    stefanhotrod Tele-Meister

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    I‘ve found the combination of a lightweight (chambered) body, low output pickups and a fat neck are the main ingredients for a vintage sounding Telly. And to my ears chambered or semiacoustic guitars are more responsive and „wooden“ sounding, so to say.
     
  18. joeford

    joeford Friend of Leo's

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    for me, it's a feel thing. hollow and semi hollow guitars have a smidge less sustain... but you can feel more resonance in your hands and that definitely informs how you play and how the guitar feels when you're playing it. the amplified sound isn't drastically different... but the feel can be miles apart.

    chambered bodies tend to have that resonance and liveliness... and that's always a plus for me. nobody in the audience will hear it... you probably won't either... but it might be a bit more fun to play. heavy solid bodies can feel a bit dull and uninspiring sometimes... but maybe that's just me?
     
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  19. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity

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    A chambered body can sound just like a solid if you get the right neck wood.
     
  20. edvard

    edvard Tele-Afflicted

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    In the Warmoth video, I heard the opposite of what he heard, but I agree with his conclusion; it's the WEIGHT that matters most when talking about the differences between solid and chambered, because the tone is going to go farther with the turn of a dial on the amp or a new set of pickups than a particular construction method ever will.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
     
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