As some here know, I do a lot of work with classical instruments, and I'm always interested in how they generate sound, their tone, etc. In doing my reading, I stumbled on a 2008 scientific study the other day that I've been thinking about. Seems that a Dutch team that included a well known violin maker decided to study a CT scan of a variety of violins that included Stradivari, to try to discover why the early 18th Century Cremona violins projected better than more modern instruments. The physician member of the team specialized in evaluating lung density.
The reason for the CT scan was that it didn't make sense to saw up a zillion dollar violin to look into the secrets of the wood itself. The CT scan makes that unnecessary. Evidently, this is the first time this procedure was done to evaluate a fiddle.
Over the years, there has been speculation that it's got to do with the varnish finish formula, or the placement of the sound peg, or a variety of other factors. What was discovered was that Stradivarius and Amati were very, very good at finding woods of uniform density -- by that, not the most dense, but instead the most even growth:
The scientific explanation given is that the sound waves will project better when the wood vibrates at a more constant rate resulting from the even growth rings.
While some electric guitar folks have advanced the idea that the tone comes from the pickups and the strings and the woods have nothing to do with it, experience shows that's clearly untrue. Play any two electric guitars of the same model, with an identical factory setup, and they sound different. It is obvious (and makes sense given the fact that the vibrations of the wood affect the way the string vibrates) that the wood plays a significant role.
Limiting the scope of this post strictly to PRS, I've been a PRS player since 1991. During that time, I've owned (and played) quite a number of them, and in several instances, more than one of the same model at the same time. In every case, they sounded different, and one would be more "lively" than the other, with the notes feeling like they were easier to produce and almost springing off the guitar.
Of course, not having access to a CT scanner when buying guitars, I have no idea why this is the case.
But -- the two liveliest guitars I've ever owned are the two limited run guitars I have, the Artist V with a Peruvian 'hog neck, and very densely ribboned 'hog back, and the Sig Ltd with the so-called sinker neck (the back of mine isn't translucent, so I have no idea what that's like at all).
Anyway, the article raises some interesting thoughts.
Edit: Oops, i didn't finish my sentence and forgot what I was going to say. Heh. I'm getting really fuzzy headed in my old age.