Guitar crystal ball

Milspec

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With the current trends of thick poly coatings and desire for lighter guitars, how many years until all electric guitars are built from plastics or fiberglass?

Seriously, with the pressures towards protecting wood species, the costs of building, etc., could you see a builder start to get rid of using wood altogether? We already have richlite finger boards and who would even know what was beneath some of those thick factory coatings used today, so why not just go with a new material?

Let's face it, the species of wood used in an electric guitar really has very little effect on the sound of the guitar. It is 99% magnetic so as long as the electronics sound good, you would be good to go. We have all seen people building guitars out of plexiglass or even a cement block and they still sounded good with quality pick ups and amplifier, so why not plastics or fiberglass?

Personally, that would be the end of the hobby for me as I would not follow that path, but I can honestly see the younger generations willingly choosing that direction.

What do you think? Is that day coming in the next 10-20 years, because I think it very well might be.
 

FuncleManson

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SwitchWild 1, from about 2005. Not an ounce of wood on it. One-piece molded structural foam body & neck with an ebanol fretboard. They didn't really catch on then, so...
20190806_162143.jpg
 

tele12

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With the current trends of thick poly coatings and desire for lighter guitars, how many years until all electric guitars are built from plastics or fiberglass?

Seriously, with the pressures towards protecting wood species, the costs of building, etc., could you see a builder start to get rid of using wood altogether? We already have richlite finger boards and who would even know what was beneath some of those thick factory coatings used today, so why not just go with a new material?

Let's face it, the species of wood used in an electric guitar really has very little effect on the sound of the guitar. It is 99% magnetic so as long as the electronics sound good, you would be good to go. We have all seen people building guitars out of plexiglass or even a cement block and they still sounded good with quality pick ups and amplifier, so why not plastics or fiberglass?

Personally, that would be the end of the hobby for me as I would not follow that path, but I can honestly see the younger generations willingly choosing that direction.

What do you think? Is that day coming in the next 10-20 years, because I think it very well might be.

I don't see it happening.
Wood is cheap, it grows on trees, and easy to work with.
 

stxrus

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I don’t see it happening. But I’m old and probably won’t be around for the “next big thing”
I did get to play an acrylic guitar once and I do believe the only guitar I’ve played that weighed more was my ’70s LP Deluxe. 12lbs 3oz. Damn, that was a heavy guitar and it was wooden
 

Milspec

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As the traditionalists die off, I still see that as a real possibility.

Just look at amplifiers, traditionalists want tubes, but that market control is becoming less and less with each passing year. If the big name builders can produce guitars for half the cost using something other than wood that would be lighter without losing playability...I see them doing it.

Just look at Leo for a minute, he was producing some of the most popular tube amps yet started to embrace the solid state amps as that market was opening up. Tube reverb has been largely replaced with pedals today and the non-tube amps have reached a good portion of the market with the tonemasters being the next big leap.

It just feels like the instruments are next with the richlite boards opening the door.
 

ChicknPickn

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As the traditionalists die off, I still see that as a real possibility.

Just look at amplifiers, traditionalists want tubes, but that market control is becoming less and less with each passing year. If the big name builders can produce guitars for half the cost using something other than wood that would be lighter without losing playability...I see them doing it.

Just look at Leo for a minute, he was producing some of the most popular tube amps yet started to embrace the solid state amps as that market was opening up. Tube reverb has been largely replaced with pedals today and the non-tube amps have reached a good portion of the market with the tonemasters being the next big leap.

It just feels like the instruments are next with the richlite boards opening the door.
I knew it wasn't about "tone woods" back in the seventies, when I saw a guy demonstrating an acrylic Strat. Body and neck were transparent. And it sounded great.
 

FuncleManson

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With the current trends of thick poly coatings and desire for lighter guitars, how many years until all electric guitars are built from plastics or fiberglass?

Seriously, with the pressures towards protecting wood species, the costs of building, etc., could you see a builder start to get rid of using wood altogether? We already have richlite finger boards and who would even know what was beneath some of those thick factory coatings used today, so why not just go with a new material?

Let's face it, the species of wood used in an electric guitar really has very little effect on the sound of the guitar. It is 99% magnetic so as long as the electronics sound good, you would be good to go. We have all seen people building guitars out of plexiglass or even a cement block and they still sounded good with quality pick ups and amplifier, so why not plastics or fiberglass?

Personally, that would be the end of the hobby for me as I would not follow that path, but I can honestly see the younger generations willingly choosing that direction.

What do you think? Is that day coming in the next 10-20 years, because I think it very well might be.

I think this is an interesting topic. I don't disagree at all that it CAN be done. The guitar in my photo is an example of exactly what you're suggesting. I just don't see any indication that demand is pushing the market in that direction. The Switch guitars have a bit of a cult following, but they never caught on. The reason I purchased mine was that I used to work in plastics processing and I thought it would be cool to own an all plastic guitar (and it was cheap :)).

Also, I would say that if these potential changes were motivated my environmental consciousness, I have a tough time believing plastic would be the chosen alternative. It's not exactly viewed favorably (and not just single-use plastics) by eco-warriors.

As far as Richlite, unless I'm mistaken, it's made from paper (wood), so I'm not sure anyone would be gaining anything there.

So, basically, I think wooden guitars are safe for a while.
 

sloppychops

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With the current trends of thick poly coatings and desire for lighter guitars, how many years until all electric guitars are built from plastics or fiberglass?

Seriously, with the pressures towards protecting wood species, the costs of building, etc., could you see a builder start to get rid of using wood altogether? We already have richlite finger boards and who would even know what was beneath some of those thick factory coatings used today, so why not just go with a new material?

Let's face it, the species of wood used in an electric guitar really has very little effect on the sound of the guitar. It is 99% magnetic so as long as the electronics sound good, you would be good to go. We have all seen people building guitars out of plexiglass or even a cement block and they still sounded good with quality pick ups and amplifier, so why not plastics or fiberglass?

Personally, that would be the end of the hobby for me as I would not follow that path, but I can honestly see the younger generations willingly choosing that direction.

What do you think? Is that day coming in the next 10-20 years, because I think it very well might be.
I think your post is quite prescient. I can totally see this happening, and before the 10 to 20 year timeline you posit.

However, just like there were still vinyl LP aficionados when CDs came out, there will still be wood guitar aficionados. Wooden guitars will become more expensive, and produced in less quantities.
 

nojazzhere

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SwitchWild 1, from about 2005. Not an ounce of wood on it. One-piece molded structural foam body & neck with an ebanol fretboard. They didn't really catch on then, so...
View attachment 976678
Did they not catch on because of the material they're made from.....or because they're REALLY UGLY?
No reason a more traditional-looking guitar couldn't be made of that stuff, is there? Unless the thing is too heavy, I'd at least give it a try. ;)
 

bgmacaw

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As the traditionalists die off, I still see that as a real possibility.

The thing is that old traditionalists create young traditionalists. That's why tube amps (guitar and audio), relic guitars and other retro and semi/pseudo-retro things are still preferred by some, particularly young hipster types.

I do think that there will be a trend towards more environmentally sustainable, fast growth, woods and engineered/recycled woods instead of full use of carbon fiber, resins and such.
 

teletimetx

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Wood is a renewable resource and generally benign to the environment when it’s useful economic life is over.

Plastic, not so much.

The lifespan ahead of me is not long enough to care about the outcome of this debate. Really.

Angels on the head of a pin; dancing.
 

Dan German

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Any ponderings on Whither Guitars In The Future is less Crystal Ball and more Magic 8 Ball. Thing is, even if non-wood construction was objectively better, it would be a hard sell. Look at Harley Davidson. For decades, their business model was ”the bikes of yesterday, today.” And it worked for them.
 




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