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Thread: So tell me how an all-rosewood neck sounds compared to mahogany.

  1. #1
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    So tell me how an all-rosewood neck sounds compared to mahogany.

    I was able to play a Quatro unplugged, and loved the feel of the neck big time!

    I was able to play another brand of guitar with an all-rosewood neck through my amp, and found that it was a bit "grittier" than what I was used to, for lack of a better term. As bright and clean maple sounds to me, this was at the other end of the spectrum. (Which is ok - this is why I like rosewood fretboards better than maple too).

    Does this seem accurate? How do you think the tone compares to mahogany?

  2. #2
    408 Sig Club President Twinfan's Avatar
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    I find they have more range - a little more top end and bottom end - with a slight extra emphasis on the low-mid. This can give a slightly 'scooped' sounding effect, but this can be countered by EQing your amp accourdingly, and using some pickups that are well matched to the guitar.

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    To assist you in answering your question, I "stole" this post from another forum.

    Disclaimer...I take no responsibility for what is going to be posted, and do not necessarily agree with the post...but clearly, it is intended to defuse some existing thoughts and "myths"....here goes...don't blame me....I just copied it from another forum since I thought it was relevant to the OP.



    Basically these articles/experiments demonstrate the following measurable effects:

    1) Our perception of an experience is heavily influenced by our expectation or idea of that experience.

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/20...xpensive-wine/

    2) There isn't a perceptible difference in amplified tone between identical electric guitars made of different woods. In this case Ash and Alder.

    3) The different tonal characteristics of an unamplified electric guitar don't affect the tone of the amplified instrument in any perceptible sense.

    http://www.stormriders.com/guitar/te...uitar_wood.pdf

    4) Experts cannot reliably identify specific instruments under double blind test conditions.

    5) Vintage instruments don't sound better than new instruments.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/no.../#.URN7fGdLm2s

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/03/sc...f=science&_r=0

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptiveca...ad?sc=fb&cc=fp

    6) Instruments don't 'open up.' Played in instruments don't sound better than instruments that haven't been played.

    http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/powerhousetwins.html

    http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/reprints/IntaViolin.pdf

    7) Bolt on necks have the most sustain followed by set neck (LP) and lastly, neck though construction.

    8) There is no perceptible difference in tone between the 3 types of neck joint to the human ear.

    http://liutaiomottola.com/myth/neckJointSustain.htm

    To sum up... If you expect a guitar to sound better based on it's reputation, that expectation has a measurable effect on your experience. Your unamplified tone doesn't affect --or have any measurable relationship to-- your amplified tone. Your tone is overwhelmingly dependent on your pup's and amplification. Vintage or played in instruments don't sound better than new ones of similar quality. Experts can't identify similar instruments solely by their tone. The neck joint --let alone hide glue-- makes no difference to your tone.

    The bottom line is get the best looking top you can and change the pups accordingly... If you still think a '59 Burst sounds better, I can prove you wrong with 5 Historics, a blindfold and an FMRI machine

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    Hey Doc,

    Actually, I am not looking for a "better" or "worse" review. I want to know how the tone is different. I'm sure it is. Maple and rosewood fretboards are different, so....

    Wow.

    as I read through these, it seems that all guitars (should) just all sound the same according to them. I guess I don't understand why you'd post this, other than to suggest "it doesn't matter". Why do we need different types? I agree with some, but disagree with instruments not "opening up" for one (and though I don't have a ton of experience with Ash, I imagine I could eventually find a preference between ash and alder). I guess that's why they are scientists / testers, and we are musicians with ears that can tell. Maybe not strictly tonally, but there's a big "feel" factor going on with much of this.

    Anyhow, back to the topic at hand..
    Last edited by KazJY; 02-15-2013 at 09:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Twinfan View Post
    I find they have more range - a little more top end and bottom end - with a slight extra emphasis on the low-mid. This can give a slightly 'scooped' sounding effect, but this can be countered by EQing your amp accourdingly, and using some pickups that are well matched to the guitar.

    Thanks for this! And can you comment on level of clarity and/or chime?
    Last edited by KazJY; 02-15-2013 at 08:46 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KazJY View Post
    Hey Doc,

    Actually, I am not looking for a "better" or "worse" review. I want to know how the tone is different. I'm sure it is. Maple and rosewood fretboards are different, so....

    Wow.

    as I read through these, it seems that all guitars (should) just all sound the same according to them. I guess I don't understand why you'd post this, other than to suggest "it doesn't matter". Why do we need different types? I agree with some, but disagree with instruments not "opening up" for one (and though I don't have a ton of experience with Ash, I imagine I could eventually find a preference between ash and alder). I guess that's why they are scientists / testers, and we are musicians with ears that can tell. Maybe not strictly tonally, but there's a big "feel" factor going on with much of this.

    Anyhow, back to the topic at hand...
    Again...not trying to derail or to be provocative. Just posting it to show that whatever opinions you get, they are going to be highly subjective and for each opinion offered, there will be an opposing one with someone shouting louder that they are correct......me...I probably couldn't tell the difference between an electric and an acoustic blindfolded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by docbennett View Post
    Again...not trying to derail or to be provocative. Just posting it to show that whatever opinions you get, they are going to be highly subjective and for each opinion offered, there will be an opposing one with someone shouting louder that they are correct......me...I probably couldn't tell the difference between an electric and an acoustic blindfolded.
    yeah, understood (and I hope I didn't sound snarky - I didn't mean it that way - I know you're a good guy :-) ) - it's almost a shame that someone is testing this stuff though. Tell a company that uses hide glue what it says here, and they'd flip!

    I like having the "X" factor on different instruments.
    Last edited by KazJY; 02-15-2013 at 10:11 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Steph's Avatar
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    Great post Doc! Very instructive.

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    408 Sig Club President Twinfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KazJY View Post
    Thanks for this! And can you comment on level of clarity and/or chime?
    That would depends on the pickups, and the rosewood neck wood itself

  10. #10
    Yes, expectations affect perception, but that's not news.

    Different guitars offer a different platform sound to the player, who then uses his or her technique to get different sounds out of it. People have an equally hard time identifying which mic or electronics were used to capture a vocal on a recording, but the mics do sound different. Thing is, the voice sounds more unique than the electronics, and that's what the ear concentrates on.

    The player is the X-factor in the sound of the guitar. The player makes different guitars sound more alike because the player is taking the information the guitar is giving with each note, and manipulating with his/her technique to achieve a certain sound.

    The listener is processing pitch, dynamics, tone, the sound of the room, the sound of the mics and recording equipment, the sound of the amp, the inherent tone of the player, etc., all at the same time. No wonder it's difficult to tell guitars apart on recordings. But the listener isn't part of the player's feedback loop as he or she is manipulating the instrument and its components to achieve the player's sound.

    Finally, our ability to retain very detailed information about tone differences to be able to identify which is which when switching between listening to two instruments is utterly lost after only a few moments. A/B tests have that built-in limitation. In addition, A/B testers suffer from ear/brain fatigue after only a few playbacks. Both of these limitations have been proven. Add in the vagaries of the recording process and you're really screwed as a listener being asked to identify certain tones.

    There are lots of differences between the basic tone platforms of various guitars that a player uses (or must overcome) to enhance the playing experience that may or may not show up on a recording.

    But all you have to do is look at a waveform analysis of a note plucked on two different electric guitars and you'll see differences that the ear can hear.

    Yes, different neck woods will provide a different base tone. Yes, you can hear differences between bolt on and set necks as you play them. Yes, these differences affect what you might do with your technique, and even enhance different styles of music (for example, chick'n pickin' on a tele, with that compressed attack of a bolt on and fast transient of maple on maple).

    Does your '61 SG sound different to you than, say, your PRS with RW neck? Of course it does, unless you're completely deaf. Certainly your expectations are different, but there's also a real difference in sound.

    Can you identify it on a recording? That depends on the limitations of the recorded medium. And trust me, there are many, many limitations.

    And among the limitations with electric guitar is the amplifier, that influences the sound to a huge degree.

    Another limitation is that it's very difficult to pluck a string to the same amplitude and in the same spot on the string repeatedly. You'd need a machine to do it. And amplitude and where you pluck changes tone.

    And the more distortion the amp adds, the less difference between the guitars you can perceive.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 02-15-2013 at 10:18 AM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by KazJY View Post
    I was able to play a Quatro unplugged, and loved the feel of the neck big time!

    I was able to play another brand of guitar with an all-rosewood neck through my amp, and found that it was a bit "grittier" than what I was used to, for lack of a better term. As bright and clean maple sounds to me, this was at the other end of the spectrum. (Which is ok - this is why I like rosewood fretboards better than maple too).

    Does this seem accurate? How do you think the tone compares to mahogany?
    I forgot to answer this question in my long post.

    I agree with Twinfan's description, but it's hard to put into words. I think RW has a little more "oomph", maybe because it can be denser. This might cause an amp to sound a little grittier.

    Frankly, it doesn't matter at all whether one can describe the tone differences, because the real question is can you tell a difference, and do you like the difference?

    I love the feel of RW, and have had several RW necked guitars, but found over the years that I actually prefer mahogany for its tone. And I prefer mahogany to maple in an electric guitar for the same reason. Every situation is different, and it's all a matter of personal preference.

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    I would have agreed with a good bit of what the Doc linked to at one point.

    The thing that changed my mind was shopping for a Les Paul. When I was a teenager I had a 68 LP Goldtop and wanted to get a P90 Goldtop again in memory of it. I did some research and found out about Music Machine in Kennewick Washington was just about the best place in the world to buy a Gibson guitar and it was just a few hours drive. When I got there they took me down to the basement which had an un-freakin-believable number of Gibson Historic and Custom Shop guitars. I had literally never seen that many guitars in one place in my life.

    So they started bringing out 54 and 56 Historic reissues for me to check out. At first, I pulled one out and said "this is great, I think I'll take it". And the guy says - "you need to try more". I thought it was going to be a waste of time - they'd all be the same right? Wrong. I couldn't believe at how different these guitars were. Obviously it wasn't as drastic as a crappy guitar vs. a great guitar or a Strat vs. a Les Paul - but there were obvious differences in the guitar. In the end I narrowed it down to 3 guitars and had my buddy that was with me hand them to me at random to try out and I could pick the same guitar out that sounded the best to me every single time. The guitars all felt pretty much the same to me. And they all had the same hardware and finish. My playing was not varying that dramatically to make one stand out. There was no question that one guitar stood out for me.

    Since then I've done this same experiment with a lot of other brands and models. Most recently I was thinking about getting a Strat type guitar and went to check some out. It came down to two Suhrs for me. One was from their Pro series and one was from their Custom Series. I looked at the spec sheets and they were identical except one had a maple board and the other rosewood. And they were different colors. Those guitars sounded quite different to me. Even my 14 year old son could hear the difference when I switched guitars.

    So when anyone says that the wood doesn't matter I will have to disagree. Big time.

    I do think that magic Jensen oil capacitors are a bunch of BS though.
    You're never too old for tater tots.

  13. #13
    Tim, it's funny that you mention your 14 year old son, because mine was that age when he got really good and needed a better guitar. So I had him start playing instruments and we did the same kinds of tests. This was 12 years ago. And instead of playing, I got to listen to him on my own instruments, as well as instruments in stores, etc.

    And the differences were plain as day.

    Like you, I've also had those kinds of experiences choosing between a group of guitars for myself.

    This is something you really need to be in a room live to get the most sense out of, as recordings don't do the process justice.

  14. #14
    Senior Member clcwarlock's Avatar
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    I dont believe in the blind listening tests, for whatever reason, I can tell right away if I am playing a mahogany neck versus a maple neck. Pickups do make a difference but I only believe it is most noticable going from paf style to high output style. It takes a great guitar with the right woods, neck joint to sound great with paf pickups. This is why the Les Paul was designed the way it was. Gibson spent a long time doing research trying different combinations of woods until they got it right. I think high output pickups are more forgiving of the wood and add sustain. I think the longer you have played the more you can tell the differences. I also think the violin players would have been able to tell in a blind test if you gave them each violin to play. I have been looking at speakers from celestion and eminence and have been listening to demos on there web site. I notice after listening for a while the all started sounding the same and we all know thats not true. I agree with Tim and Les.

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    Senior Member VHTStark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twinfan View Post
    I find they have more range - a little more top end and bottom end - with a slight extra emphasis on the low-mid. This can give a slightly 'scooped' sounding effect, but this can be countered by EQing your amp accourdingly, and using some pickups that are well matched to the guitar.
    This is my perception as well: expanded top and bottom with midrange emphasis on the low-mids. I have two rosewood neck PRS's and they definitely sound different compared to my mahogany neck ones. For "chime".....well....my McCarty has a rosewood neck/board combo and it is pretty dark sounding. Not much chime. My Singlecut has an ebony board and I would say that one definitely has a chimey top end as well as a more percussive low end.

    Another note (IMO!), I love my rosewood neck guitars for clean tones to mid gain tones. For compressed, higher gain stuff, I prefer my mahogany neck singlecut. The midrange focus just seems to work better in that application. Not saying a rosewood neck guitar can't rock....because they sound huge.....just might take a little work/tweaking to get what you're after in that context!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Twinfan View Post
    I find they have more range - a little more top end and bottom end - with a slight extra emphasis on the low-mid. This can give a slightly 'scooped' sounding effect, but this can be countered by EQing your amp accourdingly, and using some pickups that are well matched to the guitar.
    I find this to be pretty close to the case as well. On my guitar with a solid Brazilian neck, there seems to be a bit more sparkle throughout the range, along with the nice percussive top and bottom others referred to. And as many others also stated, this is all highly generalized, but I've noticed these tonal 'tendencies' in other BRW neck guitars I've owned/played as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KazJY View Post
    I was able to play a Quatro unplugged, and loved the feel of the neck big time!

    I was able to play another brand of guitar with an all-rosewood neck through my amp, and found that it was a bit "grittier" than what I was used to, for lack of a better term. As bright and clean maple sounds to me, this was at the other end of the spectrum. (Which is ok - this is why I like rosewood fretboards better than maple too).

    Does this seem accurate? How do you think the tone compares to mahogany?

    This is my opinion only, and the way my ears and hands react only! YMMV and all of that.

    . After living with many Rosewood necked guitars, (3 ME1s, a ME 2, a Quatro, several CU22s with RW necks, and 2 private stocks with them, 1 brazilian and one Rosewood,) I think I have finally found out what you stated above, along with them just being a bit muddier and "fuzzier" (less clear) sounding all around. I made a big mistake ordering my last PS with one, and am now trying to sell it to get the exact same guitar but with a Mahogany neck. For me, going from Rosewood to Mahogany is like taking a blanket off the speakers. Someone please buy my mint PS Artist 3 semi hollow trem with RW neck so I can order another with plain old boring Mahogany.

  18. #18
    Senior Member LJD's Avatar
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    I have to agree that a rosewood neck expands the spectrum, hi's and low's are there. Ebony fretboards pair well with rosewood necks, mine is plenty bright.

  19. #19
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    Like them both but I tend to lean towards mahogany. It just sounds a bit more clear in my hands.
    Plank Owner

  20. #20
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    I'm probably just agreeing with some previous posts, but I'll use my words anyway.

    I find the rosewood neck makes the lower harmonics much more prominent. This give the guitar a very earthy feel, which I find very appealing playing through a relatively clean amp, or a blues oriented amp setup.
    The feel of unfinished rosewood in very seductive, which in itself makes the guitar very appealing and maybe it makes my hands do things a little bit different that makes the sound even more soulful.

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