Guitar finish impacts sound in the audible range

Guitar finish impacts sound in the audible range

  • Yes

    Votes: 53 24.4%
  • No

    Votes: 164 75.6%

  • Total voters
    217
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naneek

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My squier affinity tele has an incredibly thick poly finish, which I painted over in duplicolor and even more poly finish. Thickening that poly made no difference whatsoever on a low end telecaster.

that guitar had no set neck and most of it's tone comes from its low end hardware...
and myriad factory defects.

It has a 9 piece body made up of weird triangle shaped wedges (no joke), and 3 sets of screw holes for the neck, all drilled in the wrong places, and filled in with what looked like a handful of bamboo toothpicks that had to be carefully reassembled like a jigsaw to get the neck back on.

Terrible job, Indonesian sweatshop operators. But good for the exhausted sweatshop worker who thought to jam the toothpicks into messed up neck pocket, and met his quota.

it turned this guitar into some kind of anti-capitalist artistic statement haha
 
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Sax-son

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So it basically boils down to those that don't think is has any impact still say no and those that think it does still say yes. Time to end this thread!
 

eallen

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I stripped a guitar of it's finish once and I really didn't sound the same afterwards.... that's all I know. It was a junky thing made of plywood though, so maybe the finished was almost holding it all together in some way, like it had become part of the 'structure' of the guitar or something. .. but yeah, it sounded and played terrible afterwards.

If you disassembled it and reassembled then there are multiple factors that could have effected the sound, not the least pickup heights.
 

teletail

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I had a PRS that I wanted to refinish so I called PRS to ask about it. They said they would do it, but it could affect the tone. I opted to not refinish it. I assume they know what they are talking about.
 

maxvintage

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I have a good mexican made 60s jazz bass that had a really thick and really indestructable poly finish on it. I was interested in this whole question, and using a heat gun and a ton of work managed to strip the poly finish off. It's a job I'd never do again. I painted it Oly white with a very thin, barely-there acrylic gloss finish on it. I had done a lot of gigs with this bass and recorded it a bunch of times, and I did a lot of gigs with it after and recorded it multiple times, and it sounded the same. I didn't notice any change at all. And I worked hard stripping that finish off: I really wanted to believe it sounded better.

If you find it sounds better, great. I've been playing and building guitars for longer than the OP has been alive, and my conclusion is if it makes a difference it might not be a difference for the better, and confirmation bias is a powerful thing.
 

ricknbaker

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My squier affinity tele has an incredibly thick poly finish, which I painted over in duplicolor and even more poly finish. Thickening that poly made no difference whatsoever on a low end telecaster.

that guitar had no set neck and most of it's tone comes from its low end hardware...
and myriad factory defects.

It has a 9 piece body made up of weird triangle shaped wedges (no joke), and 3 sets of screw holes for the neck, all drilled in the wrong places, and filled in with what looked like a handful of bamboo toothpicks that had to be carefully reassembled like a jigsaw to get the neck back on.

Terrible job, Indonesian sweatshop operators. But good for the exhausted sweatshop worker who thought to jam the toothpicks into messed up neck pocket, and met his quota.

it turned this guitar into some kind of anti-capitalist artistic statement haha


Excellent. Sounds like a guitar that Strummer would've been proud to own.
 

feldkeen

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Just happened to be listening to ziggy stardust and dreamed that Mick Ronson sanded the finish off his Les Paul. Seemed like a dream anyway.
I dream alot so don't ever quote me on anything.
 

Si G X

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If you disassembled it and reassembled then there are multiple factors that could have effected the sound, not the least pickup heights.

It was a cheap LP type.. the pickups didn't come out of the rings... but yeah, I agree... it could have been anything, it could have just been that afterwards I knew it was made of basically cardboard and glue under that thick finish. :D
 

BostonTeleGuy

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I think it must make some tonal difference just like different string brands do but nowhere near the amount pickups, saddles or a neck would.
 

Greggorios

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For Teles/solid body guitars: No. I love super thin transparent finishes on Teles but I don't believe that there's an audible difference, at least to my ears. I understand that some "objective" testing has been done where there's no measurable difference. But, as people far more experienced and wiser than I have pointed out, "subjectively" one person's ears may hear a difference that someone else doesn't. If that's the case then go for it I say.

I've sat with friends and A/B tested audio components. To my ears I can hear significant differences between some pieces of equipment. My friend(s) don't or don't hear enough to warrant upgrades to their stereos.

Different strokes for different folks. Love music, play guitars.
 

maxvintage

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Luthiers--small shops or people making prototypes for production--will often string up a guitar "in the white" with no finish, to see how it lays. They then make adjustments--with an archtop, they might carve the top or the recurve a bit. With a flattop they can't really make many adjustments once it's together, but they might be able to shave the braces or even take the top off if binding isn't installed.

Nobody ever says "then i put the finish on and the whole sound changad dramatically"
 

DjimiWrey

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the tone discussion will never end
and that's ok,
yes, there's a difference but not everyone perceives it;
and that's ok.
some people can't even tell the difference between a solid tele and a tele thinline amped or not. some of us can hear a clear difference between basswood, ash, pine, alder, etc.
some can't
and that's ok.
don't hate if you can't hear it
 
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