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Heavy guitars sound better...

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by aadvark, Sep 2, 2020.

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  1. DayDecco

    DayDecco NEW MEMBER!

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    I've seen Derek Trucks saying that he always tries to pick the lightest guitars on any given run - he gets to cherry pick them straight from production. His reasoning is that lighter guitars tend to have a better dried wood and would sound better.
     
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  2. crackercrumb

    crackercrumb TDPRI Member

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    this discussion is a good time for me to mention that I have a 72 Les Paul 54 Black Beauty reissue that has gotten too heavy for me ( since I discovered the joy of Teles) and also a " lespC72.jpg matching" 72 Fender Quadreverb that I rebuilt ( 90 lbs) that I am parting with hopefully soon. the LP has always had a dark tone but that's what I loved about it. I have noticed that if a guitar sounds bad unplugged, plugging it in isn't going to help.
     
  3. aadvark

    aadvark Tele-Meister

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    So, in summary:

    I know this has been discussed ad nauseam, but I think there are some things to be noted:

    1. Every piece of wood is different. (don't bother arguing with me if you are not of that opinion!)
    2. Guitars are a complex sum of many factors.
    3. Every guitar has a voice and when we play it, we should try to play to its strengths.
    4. Despite ergonomic considerations, the "light is better" argument may not be an absolute truth.
    5. Buy more guitars!

    I stand by my original post....
    the title of which did catch some attention, lol.
    Yeah, its about month 5 of lockdown, haven't played with other musicians for way too long. And Yeah, the Espy is closed.

    6. Play more guitar, whatever the weight!
     
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  4. goodcheaptele

    goodcheaptele Tele-Meister

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    AGREE.
     
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  5. goodcheaptele

    goodcheaptele Tele-Meister

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    I had quite a few guitars (Tele's especially) over the decades. I recall that the models from the 1970's (Teles again) were way heavier and LETHARGIC when compared with the models from the 50's and 60's. The most sorely missed guitar was a 1952 Fender Esquire that I bought in 1970 for $250 from a collector who got it in South Carolina at a garage sale for just $60. Wow. I traded it off for a 1959 Les Paul Jr DC TV yellow. Those were the days. Damn.
     
  6. KW1977

    KW1977 Tele-Meister

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    I’ve done little taste test recordings of each of my Tele’s(varying weights/woods) for the yay of it and luckily I have a habit of forgetting to label recordings. So in looking for song ideas I went shuffling back through a bunch of tracks only to find these Tele demos and quite scarcely being able to tell a difference between each of them beyond pickups.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
  7. jayhaknavy02

    jayhaknavy02 TDPRI Member

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  8. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'll share a little secret.. over in the Gear Page a few Months ago a similar thread about weight developed, yeah, strange I know.. another Heavy Guitars suck thread... but. in it. John Suhr made the comment that he's never heard a bad heavy guitar, and he couldn't say the same about lightweights..

    Just something to think about. seems like everyone is obsessing about stability... well no one has mentioned stability regarding the sound... a lightweight guitar opens the door for all kind of sonic issues, none good.

    r
     
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  9. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Holic

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    I have some heavy guitars. They all sound and play good, otherwise I wouldn't be keeping them.
     
  10. Tark1

    Tark1 TDPRI Member

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    There is no magical thinking involved. First consider that a lot of the vibration of an electric guitar is not visible to the naked eye. You will still hear an output from the amplifier even when string vibrations are so small you cannot see them. We know that string vibrations are transferred through the body and neck, they can be felt. If you tap on the body with your amp turned up you will hear a sound. So vibrations travel both ways through an electric guitar - from the strings to the body and from the body to the strings.
    The pickups are not rigidly bolted to some imaginary fixed point in space. They are mounted on the body. If the body vibrates then so do the pickups. That means the pickups are moving relative to the strings (at the same time as the strings moving relative to the pickups). Moving the pickup coils relative to even a stationary magnetised string will result in a signal induced in the coils which will be amplified and reproduced through the loudspeaker. The argument that the pickups are electromagnetic and only sense the string vibration so the body and neck can have no effect on the sound, is false logic.
    The electric guitar and amplifier form a feedback loop. The strings vibrate creating an electrical signal that drives the amplifier. The amp drives a loudspeaker producing sound. Those sound waves travel through the air and vibrate the body of the guitar. The body vibrations vibrate the pickups and the strings. And so on round and round the loop. If gain is high enough to overcome loss in the system you get feedback - 'infinite sustain'. The effect doesn't just go away at lower gain levels. Even below howling feedback levels the sound from the loudspeaker is still driving the body and having an effect on the sound.
    The body does have acoustic properties which affect the overall sound. Mostly its a low pass filter. Exactly how the body and neck behave is related to the density, stiffness and weight of the body and neck. The mechanical properties of the wood and the construction of the guitar are what matters, not what wood species is used.
    The term tonewood is just recent marketing hype. In previous centuries luthieres used what ever wood they could get their hands on that would get the job done. Ash and alder were not commonly used to make musical instruments until Leo Fender used them because they were easily available at a reasonable cost and did what he wanted them to do.
     
  11. Audiotrove

    Audiotrove TDPRI Member

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    The tone out of this one is loud, clean, and pure and the notes ring forever. The downside is you need physical therapy after playing it because it's so damn heavy.

    Trav.jpg
     
  12. Fmalitz

    Fmalitz TDPRI Member

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    with 22 guitars, half which I assembled, I sound just like me no matter which I take on stage. My tone is determined by picking technique not my equipment. I have everything from ultra lightweight telecasters to heavy Les Paul three pick up customs. I still sound like me. I have never used a paddleboard. i repeat: My tone comes from my picking technique, not my equipment. I’m not spellchecking.
     
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  13. Fmalitz

    Fmalitz TDPRI Member

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    well said; I find this applies more to acoustic instruments and semi solid guitars. Also jazz boxes. The wood seems to have less an affect on a solid body guitar.
     
  14. Fmalitz

    Fmalitz TDPRI Member

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    my experiences with dozens of guitars, literally, my picking technique determines my tone. I do not use processing. I sound like me no matter what guitar I bring on stage. Yes, I have single coil and I’m bucker guitars but I still sound like me. I’m glad.
     
  15. Fmalitz

    Fmalitz TDPRI Member

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    I have a couple of jazz boxes. But I’m a blues guitar player. They simply don’t have the sustain of the semi solid or the solid bodies. There’s a significant difference. So I had a wood block installed in my L5 thin line custom and that helped a lot. Kind of like a giant 335 but it still doesn’t hold a sustained note as long as a more appropriate instrument. sadly, I can rarely use these bigger guitars on stage because they’re hollow. Too much bass and of course they feedback. A jazz guitar is designed not to resonate excessively.
     
  16. artzeal

    artzeal TDPRI Member

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    Church Bells can weigh over a ton: They sound good. If not, they get melted down to make a brass cannon, which sounds not so good (except in the 1812 Overture). Bamboo flutes weigh next to nothing and they can sound good or bad depending on the maker. Some heavy or light guitars are worthy of display only, some are tone monsters. I have 10 - 11 lb guitars and 3lb guitars that are fabulous. Those that don’t sound good I don’t buy.

    A guitar is a system, and weight is at best vaguely representative of aspects of resonance, density, design, build quality, etc. Wenge has different resonant and stiffness qualities than woods of similar density. Maple and Mahogany can be about the same weight and sound very different. Wood with fancy grain doesn’t sound better than wood with boring grain. In fact, the weight of the tuners and hardware are probably larding on a couple of pounds to the weight of the guitar. Chromed brass or steel weighs more than Zamac alloys.

    There are some light composite guitars and basses (electric and acoustic) with light hardware and tuners that sound very good, though they tend to be brisker and bouncier than a behemoth that can grab the note and sustain it forever. And that much is a matter of taste. The lightweight might be just the thang for skanking with the caribbean cover band, and the sustain mammoth ideal for dirge metal.

    And there are those that will proclaim its not so much the guitar after all: Its all about the amp and anything that can stay in tune will do.

    I'm not even going to open the can of worms labeled " Pickups"
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
  17. shawnoh4

    shawnoh4 TDPRI Member

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    I've been around as long as anyone, I'd say in general it is true that heavier electrics sound better. I've always preferred the tone on some fringe heavier axes. The resonance is more noticeable on a lighter, less dense guitar, but that doesn't mean that there is more resonance being transferred to the strings... Anyway, most of the time the heavier guitar sounds better, pretty much all of the time it will sound "different." Whether it's a different you like is another story. I will tell you this, my buddy got the '60s LP standard, I got the '50's. He got the '60s first, and I thought it ranked one of the best I had ever played. (Viva La Renaissance Resistance!) I got the '50s and compared them head to head after about a week. The 60's felt like a toy at that point... Just sayin... It had nothing to do with the pickups, which are of course different, I'm talking about the guitar, even unplugged. There are of course minor trade-offs as with anything.
     
  18. shawnoh4

    shawnoh4 TDPRI Member

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    Oh yeah, Gibson used to make the pancake bodies. They sound better than the solid ones. They stopped because of material cost vs labor cost. When that shifted, they changed. The pancake construction adds a ton of definition, more "Fender"-like articulation. If that means anything to anyone here, lol. A Gibson V2 is made of 5 layers of walnut and maple, roughly. You will hear tone you've never heard before playing one. Unique frequency response because of the wood structure. Even unplugged. Pretty wild.
     
  19. TeleMonkey

    TeleMonkey TDPRI Member

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    I've never really understood the "heavier sounds better" thing. I just don't think it scales up. If heavier were the criterion, then some guy would have figured out a way to play a 300lb (136kg) guitar and it would sound amazing regardless of ability. Granted, a 1/2lb guitar would probably sound terrible as it flew away on a stiff breeze, so that holds up. ;)

    I think I'll echo a lot of guys on this thread that say "it's the player." Clapton is going to sound like Clapton on a million dollar Strat, or a $50 pawn shop loser. I've had a couple Les Pauls that weighed a *figurative* metric ton and hated them, and myself, after playing 3 hours of music. I now have a thinline that I can play until the cows come home and find that I love the tone, and the way I play at the end of the set. I suppose sustain could be a factor with heavier guitars, but I'd just turn up the volume and let the amp do the work if I were having trouble with notes farting out too soon. Or slam some new strings on the guitar and see if that fixed it.

    Anyway, sorry for the long absence. Missed y'all.
     
  20. kafka

    kafka Tele-Afflicted

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    If you wear your guitar lower, it weighs less. Think about it. Do you want a guitar dropped on you from a high heigh, or a low one? Most would say the low one. And that's because it weighs less. That's why Jimmy Page slings his Les Paul really low, but he wears his Telecaster higher.
     
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