Eric Johnson Strat a dark sounding guitar?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by htloren, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. htloren

    htloren Tele-Meister

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    i just bought an American Original 50’s Strat. Have an EJ guitar. The American Original has an ash body and the EJ has an alder body. Is it me or the EJ strat is a dark sounding guitar? Or is it just that ash is brighter sounding and any alder guitar would sound darker by comparison?
     
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  2. RoyBGood

    RoyBGood Doctor of Teleocity

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    In my experience, ash is a bit brighter. Am assuming the fingerboard on both guitars is maple.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
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  3. Fretting out

    Fretting out Tele-Holic

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    Could the pickups be the culprit?
    Do you like the sound of both Or is one too bright or too muddy sounding?
     
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  4. htloren

    htloren Tele-Meister

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    Both are basically 57’s. Both have maple Fretboards. Was just surprised how much brighter the American Original is compared to the EJ and wondered about it. Digging the brightness of the American Original.
     
  5. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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  6. fasteddie42

    fasteddie42 Tele-Holic

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    nope.
     
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  7. RoyBGood

    RoyBGood Doctor of Teleocity

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    ^:rolleyes:
     
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  8. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    My EJ certainly does not sound dark.
    It a brilliant example of a “classic” sounding Strat.
    I’ve had many Strats in my 52 years of guitar wrangling.
    EJ’s are the best sounding and best designed production (non custom shop) Strats available, IMO.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  9. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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    Are both guitars set up the same - strings, action, pickup height? Those three things make a lot of difference.
     
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  10. htloren

    htloren Tele-Meister

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    Pickup heights were both done by the same guitar tech. So he went with his ears. Strings are different. The AO50 and my Wildwood Tele (ash too) use Gibson Vintage Reissue (pure nickels) and the EJ uses GHS Rockers. To my ears the Gibsons are slightly darker but just a little than the GHS.
     
  11. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

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    Eric J strats are not dark, unless something isn't wired right. I got one for my birthday and realized after 15 minutes...I didn't want to sound exactly like Eric. So I returned it and got a straight up Strat Deluxe. The EJ was very airy and upper frequency focused.
     
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  12. htloren

    htloren Tele-Meister

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    Am not complaining about the EJ being darker. Just wondered if it is an alder quality? If alder is really that much darker than ash?

    Had a friend overseas try both the EJ and American Original 50 (he bought the guitar for me there) a while back in Hong Kong. He only remembers the American Original was more open and the “air”. He could no longer remember if the EJ was darker.

    I had an alder Tele a while back and when I put the two guitars together, they sounded about the same.

    My American Original and Wildwood Tele, both being ash, sounds amazingly the same in brightness and in general, tone. The only real difference is that the Tele is beefier sounding.

    I have an idea, plan to go to a music store near me today and compare (bring my EJ) the EJ with an off the wall alder guitar. Am really loving the brightness of my ash guitars but can definitely see the use of a darker guitar.

    Maybe I might find out there is something wrong with my EJ and needs maintenance from this experiment.
     
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  13. htloren

    htloren Tele-Meister

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    Will post back my findings
     
  14. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Holic

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    Pretty much going to come down to the pickups. Hotter/higher output pickups are less bright than lower output pickups.

    When talking about an amplified solid body electric guitar, the body & fretboard woods contribute very little to the overall "Tone" coming out the speakers (though can contribute quite a bit to things like sustain).

    General guitar construction contributes to tone, but if we're talking about 2 guitars built to the same specs (bolt on neck, body dimensions & same hardware....etc) but one of Ash & one of Alder, the electronics will be the out the amp difference.

    Of course this is only my opinion but it's based on having owned over 250 guitars in the last 25 years & modding almost all of them. Most my "Fender styled" guitars are Partscasters that are constantly evolving. Only on the couch do I hear significant tonal differences in wood types.
     
  15. htloren

    htloren Tele-Meister

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    Thanks all and I appreciate your inputs.

    Have a friend’s Ibanez ES335 style guitar laying around. I decided to put it on. So I compared my EJ to it just for the “bright” factor. EJ was bright, open, airy when compared to the humbuckered Ibanez ES335 style guitar. Yet all these qualities like bright, airy disappear when comparing the EJ to my American Original. Odd that they are here now.

    So odd. Comparing to this guitar makes me feel the EJ is very balanced sounding.

    It could really be true that alder is described as “balanced” and ash is “bright” and this is what I am hearing.

    Planning to take the EJ to the music store still. To compare with their off the wall alder Strat’s. I just need to know that it is the “alder” sound I am hearing and nothing wrong with my EJ. Then I can sleep. ☺️
     
  16. htloren

    htloren Tele-Meister

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    Time to report!

    So I went to the music store. Brought my EJ with me. Played an American Professional Strat. Both through a Princeton Reverb (great amp!) and both used the same cable (my Lava) and the same pick (white tear drop Tusq). The American Pro had the V Mod pickups and the EJ has stocks. The result was that even with strings being pure nickel on my EJ and the American Profession had nickel plated strings, I could tell sonically they were in the same ballpark. Found that alder tone.

    So my EJ isn’t dark. It is just alder :) granted there maybe brighter alder guitars out there, but based on this experiment, the standard seems to be this tone for alder.

    The EJ did have more bass (more full bodied), where I found the American Professional lacked bass (or you could say a more focused tone?). But that may just be the difference between pure nickel vs nickel plated.

    So now I can sleep :) thank you everyone for all your help and suggestions
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  17. htloren

    htloren Tele-Meister

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    Oh would also like to share, I find the EJ guitar lends itself very well for ZZ Top type tones. I wish my fingers could play EJ lines, but dig the mid range on the EJ’s.

    Was also surprised with the slinky feel of the American Pro. So easy to bend strings! But then all my Fenders have a bit of tension and so kinda got used to that already.
     
  18. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Glad you got it sorted out to your satisfaction, and can sleep again! :twisted:

    I don't own Strats, so I could only relate the discussion to my teles. I have a thinline that has alder veneers top & back. and one with a solid swamp ash body. They sound different, but then they have different brands of pickups.

    Oh, and by the way, I came here for the Strat talk, but got completely sidetracked by the canine in your avatar pic. What's the story on that dog?

    My Bella, a "Bocker Speagle" (Beagle/Cocker Spaniel mix), looks like she could be related to yours.
    06-25-2019 - Bella at Lost Maples Natural Area.jpg 07-26-2019 - Bella & me at Cleburne State Park.jpg
     
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