Logic goes: Acoustically – Yes, everything on the guitar affects the tone, because the tone comes from strings resonating the wood, and the vibrating wood (The whole guitar actually) is causing the amplified sound. Copyright © 2020 Seymour Duncan. Electrified a tonally dead guitar will still work but will tend to be ‘hard playing’ or just sound flatter and less complex. If not, you cannot compare them and say it is the wood in the back that made a difference. The last paragraph said it all. HOME > Neck influence in guitar tone THE NECK INFLUENCE IN GUITAR TONE. Yes they are, they connect with the wood through the bridge and the nut. “They simply absorb certain frequencies, which in turn affects the string vibration in a subtle way. on tgp: yes, only the most expensive, rarist finger board wood will give you good tone. Try that on an acoustic and you’ll have some weird sounding stuff. Electric, still a yes but depending you’re a clean guy. The most accurate answer would start by saying that the difference is most noticeable when the guitar is plugged into the amp directly, without sound effects of any kind. Who decides what sounds better? Maple is far and away the most common type of electric guitar neck wood, and for good reason. This wood originated in Brazil (amongst other countries) but due to over harvesting, this wood is nearly extinct in its native region. It means different things to different people. The different tones themselves were not fully explored and in this article I will give a global overview of the different tone woods, the sound they produce and in some cases their purpose. I don’t think that a maple body only has highs and upper mids because it also has a decent amount of lows too. It should serve as a general guide to some of the most frequently used woods. I would say the wood species contributes some characteristics to the electric clean sound. I don’t need to build anything, I need to play them. YES!!!!! Generally, the highs are slightly attenuated with lows that aren’t that pronounced and a midrange that might use an extra kick because the mids aren’t that abundantly available. It may or may not be that the wood colors the vibration of the strings, but the effect is so small it’s insignificant. However, air molecules and the molecules of the different woods are all going to vibrate differently, due to the differences in woodgrain spacing and the little air pockets in all the different woods and the density of the different woods. I am of course a beginner and I am having trouble understanding the science of how the wood of a guitar's body affects the tone. It's about the wood or, more accurately, which tonewood is used to make the guitar actually and if that wood actually affects the guitars sound. I don’t know what tone you want, i am just saying there is a difference. When used on necks, it imparts a warmer tone than ebony or maple. Moisture content also determines the tone colour changes. were the braces carved to be a close as identical as possible? It might be so small a contribution that some people may not hear it. A thinner piece, like an SG, has a warm growly tone with lots of bite and presence. In this paper two differing wood types are studied, ash and alder, and a method are investigated to determine their tonal spectrums. And for those who care about grammar, why not become professors of tone and open up a school for guitar players who need to brush up on their ABC’s LOL Orpheo nice work with the article very informative . The reason wood affects the tone of the guitar is because the wood responds to the vibration of the strings. I have used it as a body wood, and despite the great sounds I get, I cannot recommend it because of the weight. This is by no means a complete picture, only a global overview. It’s undeniable that acoustic guitars are dependent on tonewood for their sound, but much more goes into it with regards to electrics. Why not just use the other kind of wood if that’s what you intend to do? I've been playing guitars for roughly 2 years now (mostly on guitars my dad used to own when he was my age but didn't want to sell because they didn't hold their worth (ie not an overpriced Gib LP)). Some electrics (modern designs like Ibanez and ESP i.e. So if the guitar tone and sound is all you’re concerned about, then it might not be worth spending the extra cash for features that don’t contribute to the tone. A high-cut piece of hard ash might be closer to the sound you’re looking for than a lower cut of swamp ash. Either you love it instantly or you won’t like it at all. One is an original 59. So why would tonewood make any difference if there are noticeable differences within just one species. It looked amazing!!! With acoustics, however, I have found different wood combinations to provide a great deal of tonal versatility. If the body material did a difference, the tone of the guitar would significantly change if you pressed the guitar against a wall, or put the guitar on the floor, because that’s like an extention of the body. This is by no means a complete picture nor should this be regarded as such. You may be able to tell the difference between your two guitars, but I would bet I could play you a dozen mahogany guitars and maple ones in a blind test and you would not know which was which, because I would pick the maples that sounded full, and the mahogany’s that were bright. Koa is a wood that grows in Hawaii. While its very true that the air and wood molecules will vibrate differently, your pickups are not really going to capture and amplify any of that; it’s only of the metal strings. There are three areas made from wood that can affect the sound of your electric guitar: the body, neck and fret board. Alder is a tree that grows in medium, temperate climates with a lot of moisture. Strings suspended by a piece of metal and plastic/bone/etc don’t touch wood. Tonewood is a dense specialty wood coveted for it's tonal resonance and ability to reverberate. Umm yeah so even while they are made from the same type of wood they sound different. These are the same folks who most likely cannot hear the difference between an Epiphone or Gibson Les Paul or a Squier or Fender USA Tele. The highs just sing. All ya gotta do is play two Strats, each w/ maple neck and ash body made in the same 'batch' from Fender side by side, easy to do if there's a local Guitar Center - no two sound exactly alike, IME. Acoustics, in my opinion, are a whole other ball game. Sometimes you get a piece of poplar though that seems to defy every ‘rule in the book.’ These pieces will just knock you off your feet due to the sheer beauty of things. *grammar …and until I see a group of people pick different tone woods out in a “blind” hearing test, i will always thing this argument is ridiculous. The 50 year old seasoned wood made for one loud guitar. Considered by some to be the holy grail of neck woods, Pau ferro feels slick, speedy, fast. It grew originally in South America, but due to over harvesting mahogany is now being grown in Asia, Africa, and there are even experiments conducted with growing mahogany in the more temperate climates of Europe and North America. Dana O. This list is by no means complete, nor do I intend it to be. Wood is the key to tone. Yeah, and not all of us care about grammer or what you think either. The short answer is that nearly all the parts of an electric guitar affect the tone in some way. This is because the tree grows rather fast, the grain doesn’t look particularly interesting or pretty (and therefor not considered to be a shame if finished in an opaque color; the extreme softness of the wood makes a hard finish a necessity, too) it doesn’t have the growl of mahogany, it doesn’t have the tightness or bite of maple, it doesn’t have the sweetness of alder or the chunky quality of ash. As a top you get the bite of a maple cap but with completely unique looks. Walnut’s rich … But it doesn’t. I. Many players ask: shouldn’t a solidbody electric guitar be immune to the acoustical properties of its materials? Amps, pedals, whatever. If the guitar is tonally dead unamplified, its electrified tone will mirror that inadequacy. As a neck, korina is much like mahogany too. Does an electric guitar's tonewood affect the tone? I believe that 75% of all guitars are made with a combination of the woods I described above. As you said, with electrics there are so many parts to mold the tone to each guitarists individual preference. How do Gibson SGs, LPs, Flying Vs, and Explorers sound different if not for the woods? Active 1 year, 11 months ago. Electric guitars have been made out of plastics, stone, plywood etc and that didn’t stop them from sounding great. Ya I know those 1500’s luthiers really knew how to get the most out of their ELECTRIC guitars. I think Agathis has slowly started to replace basswood in cheap guitars, while nyatoh is being used to replace mahogany. With that said though, most people believe that wood does still have some impact. Ignorance is bliss my man. I believe it is all just a matter of the musicians opinion and preferences. you all are crazy!!! This wood is hard, heavy and dense. Looking for a beginner guitar? Acoustic a definite yes. For pure tonal reasons, the cap isn’t necessary: after all, a flattop mahogany guitar also has plenty of bite. This hard, dense, oily wood can come with a very tight or coarse grain, and can be very evenly colored or very striped. Nice try though. Not sure about sustain, but it’s said that it’s dependant on the materials of bridge and nut, and the magnetic field strength of the pickups. Maple brings in a nice amount of high-end with a good bass boost too, however when strings are … Agathis is a general moniker, not a specific species. The wood type and its vibration characteristics change the "color" of the signal and give different tones. No. BACK TO INDEX . Even so, a 70% of the strings’ vibrations travel along the neck. We have been told that some woods sound some ways, but then we listen to them expecting the difference. The tone is very mid heavy. My grandson and I invited store staff and customers into the room one at a time with their backs to us and played the less expensive guitar and then the big buckaroo. I am not a luthier, just a guitar lover and a history student who tries to help others with my experiences. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. There is variance within a species of wood but certain species of wood, especially the heartwood, have certain characteristics. CYBER WEEK SALE: Save 50% on a Monthly Plan. If it were relevant, then the only writing that ever needed to use correct grammar would be writing about grammar. I had this idea of buying a small guitar wireless system (Such as Line 6 G30), take out the guts and just put them inside of the guitar, so it wouldn’t hang there outside of your guitar… ♦ Best wires you could get for the guts. (La Trobe all of them giving diff tones… I had a piece or heartwood/Hardwood mix for a body. Can I tell you what kills the tone and gives all the guitars an average tone of similarity??? Koa loves to be matched with a walnut back for added power, more tightness in the lows and extra scream, or with korina or mahogany for more sweetness and growl. All Rights Reserved. pickups and hardware are for fine tuning. Stop buying stuff blind online, go to a sawmill or timber importers with a tuning frork and spend a few hours comparing blanks. Acoustically – Yes, out of pickups – not at all. Wood is the majority of tone on a electric guitar or any guitar!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I built an ash guitar recently for a customer based on his ’58 Tele in swamp ash, and it had nothing like the acoustic properties of the original, even with identical hardware and construction. Maybe guitarists are not hung up on grammar. they sound different to everyone who plays them…. That is the nature of the beast. Beauty is in the ears of the beholder. This goes for all woods, but in my experience this is even stronger the case with ash than other types. A thicker piece, like a Les Paul Junior, has a thicker, chunkier, meatier tone with softer highs and more push in the lower mids. Basically, the tone of the electric guitar is dependant on the pickups, pickup position, the bridge and the nut, the material that strums, strumming technique, The wiring, the main output wire, and the amp, the cabinet, and the room. The tone is bright with an incredible push in the upper mids. ESPs are actually incredibly good. Sorry. Walnut. Just to confuse things some “hardwoods (like Balsa and Obeche) are very soft, while some “softwoods” like Pitch pine are quite hard. You’ll be well on your way to finding the right guitar for you. Try to make a blind test and I am not certain, but pretty sure you will screw up badly. That’s how I know the materials don’t make a difference. I have a guitar that I use to try out different strings and pins – it is astonishing how much the tone can be changed, and how much I can hate the sound of that guitar with the wrong combinations, and love it with the strings and pins that suit it best to my ears. The reason wood affects the tone of the guitar is because the wood responds to the vibration of the strings. Entire books can be written about woods, this is just supposed to be an overview. Compared to bubinga, walnut has a bit more presence and bite and a little less projection. I own both a full maple acoustic and a mahogany body, maple top acoustic. I agree with the comment that the debate about tone woods is a bit like a religious war with one definite reservation - to me the religiosity is almost exclusively one sided: to non-believers it's "I don't believe that the type of wood can possibly affect an electric guitar's tone, so it doesn't, period". Generally speaking bubinga has a slightly lighter color than rosewood. The sound is caused by the vibration of strings through the magnetic field emanating from a guitar’s pickups. Its color and grain pattern is a love or hate affair. Rickenbacker uses this wood for their fingerboards. Then build your own guitar with the best features you could get. The tone of this wood is extremely dependant on the thickness of the billet. And please, please, have your article reviewed by a professional writer. It’s not as soft as mahogany or as hard as maple, which culminates to a tone without a major boost in the tonal spectrum. Is it better or worse than basswood used in cheapies also. Don’t expect a smooth jazzy tone of honky, smokin blues sound, but if bite is what you need, maple is your best friend. To consider the matter, let’s pan out for a moment and look at how tonewood affects acoustic instruments. ♦ A hell lot of Elixir polyweb strings… Oh how I wish they made those for 7 string guitars…. This red wood is in my opinion highly underrated. It doesnt change the tone per se, it makes it more stabke, though. Santa Barbara, California. It is not the only factor, there is also the touch of the player, quality of strings, amp settings, pickup quality and so on. What kind of tone would a guitar made out of morning wood produce? However the density and resonance of the individual bit of wood used can make a little difference to the individual guitar, no matter what species is used (and wood of a particular species is likely to have a particular density and resonance), so perhaps some generalisations may have a little truth to them. So I put EMG’s on it to save the sound… Then it was fair. ( now you will have some debating on if the wall is sheet rock or wood, lol) I have never built a guitar but I believe nature is the teacher on this one. With a tone similar to bubinga, the feel is less ‘glassy’, more like rosewood. You cannot properly evaluate the tone of production guitars, they are too inconsistent in supplies and craftsmanship. rest of the world that actually plays guitar: very minimally, being good at guitar instead of being online talking about it affects tone much more. However, if you toss any guitar in the mix, control the strings, pickup placement and playing, and still get indistinguishable tones, that pretty much says that wood type along with all the other free variables (like body shape, body finish) does not affect the tone, as long as the electronics and strings are identical. That said, the effect of all of this is not as large as people tend to make it out to be. No doubt the pickups and electronics you use will have a bigger effect on your tone than the wood, because its an *electric* guitar. One pickup if you want sustain, more pickups if you want more tones. I am surprised no one made a real test yet. Due to its price tag and hard nature, ebony is most often used for fretboards, though some luthiers are known for using ebony as the sides and sometimes even the top or back of an acoustic guitar, and on occasion you can even find ebony necks. I have played six near identical factory made guitars in a row, and found tonal differences – two were lovely, four were poor. John I tend to disagree with people that talk like you. A great deal, actually. Rosewood is very dense and rings beautifully when tapped – I suspect that it would sound different to a lump of knotty pine – but by the time you put it through a set of Blackouts and turn the amp up to 11… ‘Hardwood’ is a botanical term (contrast with ‘softwood’) most deciduous trees and tropical trees are ‘hardwoods’, while conifers (pines, spruce etc) are softwood. Guitar: How much does wood effect tone? You can’t argue with a fact like that, it just makes you look dumb. Sorry but not all guitar players are so stuck up on grammer…. There are subtlety’s to every guitar, a musician can hear them, in many cases anyone can hear them. overall tone of an electric guitar. Minor grammar errors in an article like this don’t bother me. And don’t forget feel. George, while I agree that there is an effect on tone from woods, the electronics are a majority of the tone, its an electric guitar, as for the picking out different guitars from a line-up like you said, I would certainly like to see that. Johann, better start fixing your own grammar before trying to fix other people’s mistakes. No, the wood doesn’t affect the tone in the slightest. I have a great opportunity to get some incredible cherry, but won’t waste my money if is not well suited for an electric guitar. Those who don’t believe wood affects a guitar’s tone point to the physics of how an electric guitar works. Electric guitar neck woods. Walnut is a great choice as a laminate top on korina or as a core for Koa. My grandson and I went to GuitarCenter today and did a little test. There are some other woods, though, that have been finding their way into the market. They build a great single cut with a nice full neck, tune-o-matic and serious tone. The tone is similar to maple but with more chunky mids. Same pickups, same scale length. Softer woods will have a darker tone with less bite. In a blind test you would swear they were significantly different, and might easily ascribe it (wrongly) to being different woods. light lacquer on necks & body’s little yellow stain on maple body, identical build, pickups and hardware…. Also, I noticed quite a lot of grammatical error. Do you really think the last 500 years of guitar making with exotic wood was bullshit?? Rosewood is incredibly heavy! The big question is whether the species of wood makes a noticeable difference in the electric tone of a solid body electric guitar. This classic, brownish wood has being used for instruments for years. ♦ Great pickups for your taste. In my experience of experimenting with builds/transfers of components between custom guitars, body & neck wood absolutely contributes to electric guitar “tone” (frequency curve), as well as – perhaps even more so – to attack, decay, and sustain. It’s a general rule of thumb that the more dense the wood, the brighter the tone. Announcing the Eric Steckel Signature “Candy” Humbucker Set. They do not pick up wood vibration, the vibration of the wood is not amplified. Analysis of the data shows that in an electric guitar the body wood type does not contribute significantly to the sound of the amplified instrument. Such a nice figure… The tone was the worst!!!! Poplar sounds a lot like alder, but looks usually a lot less appealing (and some players report a little more upper midrange compared to alder). Korina makes for a great substitution of mahogany, not to mention its great looks. A big part of your tone comes down to how you play — how you fret chords and how you strum or pick. Maple: Many an electric guitar is capped with a maple top and neck. Rosewood is most often used as fingerboards because of its durable nature and sweet, warm tone. Rosewood can also be used as a body wood, though. The heavier the guitar the more upper range energy it will absorb while sustaining the lower range energy creating a … Having been the favoured tone wood of the Gibson family of guitars for years, it produces a warm, mellow tone with excellent low frequencies, pronounced lower-mids, and a smooth but subdued higher end. When someone says, “this guitar sounds better” I focus on the word “better’. As a builder (construction) I agree with the definitions of “hardwood, heartwood, and softwood” that you’ve used. Sign Up I haven’t played enough guitars to actually tell for sure. According to many musicians, in order to have the best sound possible, an acoustic guitar has to be made from the "right" type of wood. Hard ash is generally speaking on the heavier side. Do notes last long enough for the timber to affect the timbre? with all due respect, i disagree….i made two Les paul Jr’s one with Mahogany body one with maple body, both have maple necks and rosewood fingerboards. As a luthier, I tend to agree with those who say that the species of body wood has little effect on the tone (especially in electric guitars – pickups, scale length and hardware have more influence, while shape and the topwood, and how it is braced are the vital drivers in acoustics.) Then, put a couple seymour duncan to a broom and the result will be the same as if you have a Gibson LP…. Mahogany is a tonewood that produces a punchy growl with excellent sustain, generally favoured for punchy rock music. Where does cherry fall into your list? Does the type of wood on a solid body electric guitar affect its tone or sound? It won’t be fat or juicy, but it does have a lot of bite, scream and presence. The question is simple, does wood make a difference in the tone of an electric guitar? Sign In. It should always be remembered that no two pieces are the same, there are the general tonal characteristics to these woods. Forgot your password? same bracing pattern? The more I read this article, especially with the reply of John Catherwood considered, the more I suspect this article was copied from somewhere else and then edited by Orpheo. I am really waiting till someone makes a real lab test, comparing tones blindly with sound software or something… I really want this myth to be confirmed or denied, because I really want to know for sure. I would almost describe it as maple with softer highs and more gentle mids. Then how could the wood not play a role in your guitar’s tone? The amount of peer-reviewed research on this subject currently is lacking; an article published by a university in Australia claims that a researcher has proven that wood does not affect a guitar's sound, but no data has been published together with this assertion. I own 2 guitars that have rosewood as a body wood: one has a rosewood top, the other a rosewood back. Even resting your axe against your body will affect the sound,if however ,you have electronically distorted everything beyond any tonal recognition thru use of distortion, or any other direct change to the original resonance, that will absolutely affect whether ANYONE ,can hear the natural tonal characteristics of whatever instrument you choose. Viewed 5k times 11. Previously, the reason behind the different tones that different woods create has been explained. Personally, I have found the type of guitar wood used to produce a great difference in tone. Acoustically – Yes, everything on the guitar affects the tone, because the tone comes from strings resonating the wood, and the vibrating wood (The whole guitar actually) is causing the amplified sound. Or they haven’t been playing the right guitars. I wouldn’t call that a confirmation. Ebony is most closely associated with black, but brown, yellow, red and even purple hues and stripes aren’t uncommon for ebony. Just because you cannot discern a difference, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. A large aspect here is also the quality of that wood. Warm but not muddy with great sustain. The genus is part of the ancient Araucariaceae family of conifers, a group once widespread during the Jurassic period, but now largely restricted to the Southern Hemisphere except for a number of extant Malesian Agathis.[1]. For a list of what pickups work well with particular wood types, read this article or go directly to Tone Wizard for a personalized recommendation. Also, there is no reason even a shred-style guitar can’t be acoustically resonant and harmonically rich. One can argue true artistry is the successful pleasurable combination of these subtleties that create true genius and unique music. In short, it’s a muddy situation, as there are vociferous defenders of each side of the issue. Welcome back to Fundamentals of Guitar Anatomy, my multi-part series examining the ins and outs of your electric guitar.In the last lecture, we talked about body styles, and that knowledge will help you to grasp this one, as we’re going to be talking about the different types of wood used for guitars and their effect. But when it comes to the Electric guitar signal to the amp, the wood is bypased. Agreed, body wood does not contribute to tone. right! Finally, a confirmation of what I have long believed in! And yes tones can easily be adjusted to sound like different woods, but then you are just overriding the natural tone already presented. So who decides? That shows disdain for the reader and contempt for his own writing. Instead, it has all of that, although to a lesser degree. Of course it does, The strings are mechanically attached to the wood on the guitar by the frets ,nut bridge and hardware,when the wood resonates (vibrates )it absolutely has to have an effect on string vibration, it is an absolute certainty.And your statement that the tone doesn’t change when you mechanically attach the guitar to another structure is ,again,absolutely wrong.ANYTHING you do to change the overall vibrational frequency of a guitar ,or any musical instrument that isn’t an entirely electronically generated tone (some keyboards,synths etc)will affect the tonal characteristics. You left out ‘birds eye maple’ dude. Just knocking on different types of wood can demonstrate that....or strum a guitar, especially an electric not plugged in and hold it against the wall. The short answer is yes, different wood species have distinguishable sound characteristics, influencing the tone of an electric guitar. to me the sound difference is huge. This is correct. Of what? Sorry. Its a defect in the wood due to ‘frostbite’, for the lack of a better term. That he has an opinion??? As a builder of small volume/one off guitars, you use the general rule in the design process, then select the individual blank that taps in a nice resonant way. Anybody ever done double blind testing to prove this theory? I can’t stand the grammatical errors. Shut up and go play your guitars!!!!!! Wood has very minimal effect on the tone of an electric guitar. Our interactive gear guide, FindYour.Fender.com, matches you with the perfect model by learning about your sound & style. Grammer errors? The looks are always stunning. Not much mention of wood there, but in reality, that is only part of the story. It has some bite, some growl, some sweetness, but not much. It's a strong, dense, heavy wood that imparts a powerful, upper-midrange snap to the tone that really cuts through an instrumental mix. Same model, same hardware, same everything… except for the wood. I pick out my Gibson’s by choosing the one that sounds the best. Wood. Those who don’t believe wood affects a guitar’s tone point to the physics of how an electric guitar works. Good job. Sapwood tends to have a more porous structure – it is softer, and tends to shrink or swell more easily with changes in moisture – so luthiers avoid it and use ‘heartwood’ whenever possible. Rosewood makes for a very heavy and overly bright-sounding guitar—and an expensive one, too—that is typically more of interest for looks and novelty factor than for tone. While they both sound very similar, I can absolutely hear and favor the mahogany bodied. Basswood is a wood that’s being used predominantly on ‘metal’ guitars. Used for hundreds of years for fingerboards, bridges and other parts, this extremely hard, durable wood is noted for its dark color. Maple is far and away the most common type of electric guitar neck wood… take 10 identical guitars with the same wood and same pickups, do a blindfold test, I can tell you which guitar sounds better. This is a tropical wood like rosewood, but has a tighter grain and a brighter tone. Individual vibro-acoustic characteristics are mainly due to different densities of wood types. The woods used to build guitars—acoustic guitars in particular—are called tonewoods, and they have enormous effects on … “Basically, different woods don’t add different tone,” luthier Perry Ormsby of Ormsby Guitars explains. The difference between a billet cut from the top or the bottom of the tree makes a huge difference in tone. Put a set of lipsticks in a strat and they won’t have the same spank and boing as in a dano; put a set of strat p’ups in a dano and they won’t have the same fluidity of sound as a strat. You make one statement on all electrics being the same then make a statement outlining every other variable that effects sound. What is wrong with you people? Anyone who doesn’t believe that wood dictates the resonance and length of time (sustain) that the strings vibrate on an electric guitar is either tone deaf or completely ignorant. As a member of the rosewood family, cocobolo has a warm tone with an open clear yet presence. That’s another figure pattern of maple. I’ll do the blind test on my guitars and will pass. This coarse-grained wood can be used for bodies, necks and fretboards and feels incredibly fast because your fingers have less drag. So make a guitar body out of crap and play it so we can all listen how it sounds… If you really can’t hear any difference, change instrument… Learn the flute. But somebody who is being paid to write should be able to write with correct spelling and grammar. Brightness, attack, bite paired with a slick, speedy feel. Baked maple is heat treated maple. I could make the mahogany sound like the Maple, or make the maple deeper and more resonant and the mahogany bright and treble dominated just by doing that – with no change to the wood used in the body. It isn’t in my head nor is it imaginary if luthiers have discussed this at length since the inception of electric instruments. With electric guitars I completely agree. There are generally only two different electric guitar neck woods. As you stated same construction but different tones. There are generally only two different electric guitar neck woods. Walnut is also beautiful – why not go for a cherry and walnut mix – very tasty – see my acoustics at http://www.catherwoodguitars.com, Idk if this is true with electrics I would belive it when I see a video where someone is blind folded and plays each, don’t feel the wood just play and see if they know what’s what and if it really is a tonal difference. And they are not all shredder axes. The push that Pau ferro gives your tone is amazing. Props to Mr. Catherwood. The coloring doesn’t take away anything of the tonal qualities we came to know and love. The amount of variance caused by each is so easily debatable, as you can see. Walnut can be found in relative abundance in more temperate climates. A thinner piece, like an SG, has a warm growly tone with lots of bite and presence. I am also a luthier (and enthusiastic Seymour Duncan user). Wood types don’t matter? Wood type only affects the tone and sound of acoustic instruments. And you are sure to find a different grade wood on a $3,000 custom shop than you are on a $300 stock. You just proved the point the tonewood is BS. Various woods have distinct sound qualities, especially when used for the top of an acoustic guitar, which is the most important wooden tonal element of the instrument. So if you buy a maple, what kind of sound are you going to get from it. It’s a debate that has waged on among beginner and advanced players alike for a long time, and it’s something that Reddit user NissanGT77 asked. Maple. To what degree each factor alters the tone varies. Copyright ©2020. The tone is similar to korina and mahogany but with more upper mids and highs. I would defy anyone to reliably identify bodywood used in any guitar design in a blind test. No body wants to test it cause if the test does debunk the myth, they will have to face the reality that they have all along deluded themselves and hence, wasted so much money on exotic tonewoods. The answer is that it does. It can have sap pockets – again that varies with the tree – which can result in weak lines along the grain – watch out for red, grainy lines that under a magnifier show crystal structures of dry resin. I think your sample size is too small – are the two guitars identical in all other respects – necks the same, same type of neck joint, same tuners, same nut, same saddle, same bridge material, same bridge pins, tops the same, size the same, same strings? But since it’s so rare and expensive, you’d be hard pressed to find a solid rosewood guitar. http://www.truetemperament.com ♦ A built in wireless system. Most of us aren’t wood experts, so what exactly do different woods have to do with the sound of an acoustic guitar? So… if there is no difference to tone NO MATTER the material of the body and all that matters is the scale the pu and the strings, then a tin made guitar will sound exactly the same as a concrete body or a mahogany body guitar!!! Grammar might not be relevant in the field of guitar playing, but it is absolutely relevant in the field of professional writing. It’s really more about the sum of many components/materials in the guitar adding up to the end differences, more than any singular thing (though if I had to pick just one item, I’d say a dramatic pickup change would produce the most instantly noticeable differences). The sound comes from the direct vibration of the strings, picked up by magnetic pickups. - … Tonally and structurally they are the same, black korina comes from the edge of the tree where white korina comes from the core. My guess is: ♦ Locking tuners ♦ A good bridge (Tune-o-matics are crap, because the strings lay on small blades and they snap a lot, also small surface area is bad for sustain) ♦ A metal nut, best if it also locks. A plexiglas/acrylic type of guitar looks very cool but sounds bad. Neck's wood has a strong influence in the guitar tone. Tonally korina is very similar to mahogany, with a bit more upper mids and presence. It doesn’t add anything to your tone but it doesn’t take away anything. Admits what? Plus most people adjust the sound though electronics which standardizes the tone. The fact that it is about guitar is completely irrelevant. Ask Question Asked 5 years, 8 months ago. As a fretboard you get the bite of maple and the rumble of rosewood, with a unique, speedy feel. That makes it a perfect template for your own sound. You’re right that 2 guitars is not a large enough sample size at all. I was even surprised how huge. Having a korina body and korina top will give you a great, fat tone with more bite than one would expect from a mahogany body. At the end of the day, electric guitar tone is a magic brew made up of a lot of factors. Electric guitar neck woods. Could be how each was setup (string height and intonation) because as you said they were all the same guitar and most likely the same type of wood. Incomplete Vague just an opinion nothing more so many variables with tone woods its a waste. The highs are kind and singing, the lows are firm but not pronounced. You can make to identical bodies from on plank and they can sound different. Orpheo, dont let any of those bitches bother you, I thought it was a decent article, and its hard to be very specific with something like tone woods, but Im sure theres plenty of beginner or intermediate players who would enjoy this article and could stand to learn a lot from it. Your statement is vague with no clear direction. Birdseye is considered a figure pattern but actually, it is not. Finally someone admits this. Dense and fairly heavy, with sonic characteristics similar to those of mahogany, walnut is occasionally used in electric-guitar bodies. Rosewood is on occasion also being used for neck blanks. But even luthiers are devided on what the difference is, in general terms. This African wood also goes by the name limba and is available in two versions: white and black. The mids are quite pushed though, and will give your tone a howling, singing quality to it. Some guitars of the ’80s were fully maple, and for the styles they were used for were extremely good. It’s more like a “That is where my logic goes, but a real test should be made to make sure”. The wood is about as hard as maple but has a bit more oil in it than maple, making the tone a bit warmer. Having a thick maple cap on mahogany is a way of getting a thicker body yet retaining clarity, attack and a bit compression. For most players it’s just too heavy. Otherwise, I’ll go with walnut as I can get some great walnut from the same supplier. It depends on what you call important. Hardware, strings etc, all very finite. Try a quality hand made electric guitar and plug into a clean Jazz amp like a ploytone, you’ll hear all the tonal differences in the wood. Are you an idiot or just plain stupid? I suspect deep inside people at least admit that wood matters little, but they let the myth lives on cause hey…you need something to justify the purchase of that expensive Hawaiaan Koa or Honduran Mahogany guitar. As a neck you get the tone of maple but with howl. This fast growing wood produces relatively soft timber with long grains. But when it comes to the Electric guitar signal to the amp, the wood is bypased. Is the tone of an electric guitar affected by what type of wood is used? I really REALLY want to know the truth. That doesn’t mean to say that you should only use the “big brand” tonewoods. you probably would not understand the difference unless you tried building a few with a few woods… you could not be further off. You have hard ash, which has a lot of bite, almost like maple, but with more (and chunkier) lows. The grammar in this article, which is not a piece of guitar playing but a piece of writing, is bad. Body wood contributes to the acoustic tone, especially in an acoustic guitar. Be the first to know about new products, featured content, exclusive offers and giveaways. For that matter I am sure I could change the way your guitars sounded simply by changing bridgepins (use brass or aluminium or horn or rosewood or ebony or boxwood or ox bone or camel bone or tusq or plastic) change the strings (silk and steels, flatwounds, bell bronze, 80/20, different manufacturers, different gauges). And the wood of the neck and body is an ingredient in that recipe. trust me, those same difference you hear with an accoustic are technically there on an electric, they don’t just dissapers. Remember me Not recommended on shared computers. Nice! Generally, heavier woods like mahogany resonate differently than a medium-bodied wood like alder and a lighter wood like basswood. If you'd like to learn more about all things guitar, check out Fender Play. I always hear folks talk about sustain, sustain, sustain, and they are usually the ones playing 32nd notes at 150bpm. You just said they sound different with that little piece. Been playing for 50 years. It sounded like mud…. An acoustic guitar requires vibration and echo to produce sound. A classic! If it was only changing pickups and hardware….. oh what a beautiful world it would be!! We took a $200 acoustic into the room where they keep the $2 to $3000 Martins, Taylors, and Gibsons. It tends to be warm and full, but usually with a firmer low end, and more overall tightness. His impact on the sound of the guitar and the electric bass is noticeably greater than that of the wood of the body itself. You will get an opener sound with lots of highs and upper mids that cut through the mix like a hot knife through butter. If you use epoxy for grain filling you just killed your guitar tone. Originally Posted by smooth55 View Post Honestly, I think the real reason that there aren't more non-wood guitars out there has more to do with the Why does wood affect electric guitar tone? A thicker piece, like a Les Paul Junior, has a thicker, chunkier, meatier tone with softer highs and more push in the lower mids. You’d be surprised to learn that the $200 guitar was picked as sounding better just as often as the big buckaroos. I suppose only real thing with using denser woods for example, will be better sustain…. ♦ True temperament frets (True overtones increase sustain instead of strings canceling each other out). Were the tops from the same tree? The short answer is that nearly all the parts of an electric guitar affect the tone in some way. And if you're not a member yet, click here for a free trial. If that is all you have to comment on then don’t bother, some of us appreciate the article for what it is. The tone wood is a lot more important on acoustic guitars than it is with electric guitars. This is a dense, hard wood that’s being used on necks, fingerboards, tops and occasionally bodies and comes in three major figure patterns: flamed (stripes across the grain), quilt (cloud like shapes across the grain) and no pattern at all called plain. This is because the wood itself is mimicking the string’s vibration at two separate points: shredder axes) get their tonality through hardware and electronics but are not harmonically rich instruments by nature. No one has been willing to pay for the test, so it remains a theory. Manufacturers and guitar players suggest that using a particular shape, or a specific wood material - be it alder, poplar, ash, basswood etc - will produce significant and specific tone variations. Some of the largest producers of rosewood are India and Madagascar. Of course, you can use electronics and amplification to dial it all back in or enhance the sound, but as with so much in engineering, the final result depends on a sound base to work from. importance of the wood in an electric guitar must also be evaluated. Here is a definition from Wikipedia: The genus Agathis, commonly known as kauri or dammar, is a relatively small genus of 21 species of evergreen tree. Its just more subtle. And obviously have NEVER tried this guitar testing….My pal took his Epiphone stripped it out used a Ash body blank I had layin around put all the parts back on and the guitar sound was a HUGE difference. I had this idea of a sliding pickup, that you could slide from bridge to neck, that could be cool. The woods used to build guitars—acoustic guitars in particular—are called tonewoods, and they have enormous effects on the sound and price of an instrument. The biggest downside is perhaps the weight. I wrote to the mythbusters, unlikely that they will test it, but it’s worth a try… It’s probably most worth buying unfinished bodies and necks, Just pick the cheapest/lightest one. Also, is it just me or is anyone else having a Spinal Tap moment? What is “hardwood” used in budjet guitars. That said, I assume tone-wise, the difference between an expensive guitar (with exotic wood) and a cheap electric (of plywood), but both have the same pickups, hardware, etc., is nearly non existent. This playlist contains the series on Electric Guitar Tone Wood . This article talks about the need to wait for the note to bloom for a fraction of a second. The purple is its natural color but it will change to a brownish hue over time under the influence of air and light. I have played probably hundreds at this point in my music career, be it at music shops, a friends, my own, etc, Hardware of course will always play a role in tone and in the end, every aspect of the guitar is essentially a tonal factor. Unless you checked sonically and measured every sound from the lowest to highest and directly compared them, you can not make that statement, if you had checked,you would see a measureable difference ,and anyone with a discerning ear would be able to hear it, all else being equal,(obviously if you crank everything to 11enty eleven and at 150 db where there is no possibility of actually making music instead of noise,whats left or your hearing isn’t likely to hear anything but volume.The changes will be made at specific vibrational frequency’s ,and change specific characteristics,IE sustain, tone attack, etc whatever your term, dependent on what you change ,how its connected ,what its connected to. So what’s the difference? So if the guitar tone and sound is all you’re concerned about, then it might not be worth spending the extra cash for features that don’t contribute to the tone. Simply your wrong, period. So what do you make of that. Maple. There a many different grades of Maple, Mahogany, etc etc. Intuitively, it would seem strange if it didn’t; but, there are many factors that are going to affect the sound produced from a guitar; isolating them is as difficult as creating a study that will convince anyone of an idea they already are clinging to. The wood does not need to resonate for the string to induce a current in the pickup, but the idea that wood type directly affects sound quality has been applied to the electric guitar in publications and media (Sweetwater 2013; Wormoth Custom Guitars & Bass Parts). In fact, most guitarists would agree that it is an important one. All the same materials. Young’s modulus of elasticity describes stress (density) over strain (the material moving and responding to stress) or more simply put—stiffness in an object. You could say the same of any instrument when amplified. In my experience many factors contribute to how a guitar sounds: wood, strings, body dimensions, neck dimensions, and on and on. I agree with the majority of what you are saying here. Listen to the sound of two Les Pauls with the same pickups in this video. I can be brief on this wood. wood is the element of chaos. Heavy grain filler, thick clear coats and especially poly finish. If you were correct, than every manufacturer of electric guitars would be using the absolute cheapest man made materials on EVERY guitar they make because it doesn’t matter,and a les paul would sound exactly like a strat with the same pickups ,and a plastic broomstick with humbuckers would sound just as good as a 59 les paul if you put pafs on it thru the same amp. The Stevie Ray Vaughan signature strat has a Pau ferro finger board and Reb Beach of Whitesnake and Winger has sworn by Pau ferro necks for 20 years already! Build a few guitars then you will realize just how stupid a statement that is. Wether it’s a wild, wavy pattern or a neat, almost spreadsheet like grain, cocobolo will always turn heads. I have strangers come in and they can tell the difference….sorry, it’s true. Not everything is a conspiracy. When the thing capturing the sound is directly under the thing generating the sound and, it makes no sense for the wood, which vibrates in a secondary fashion, to have any effect on a tone that has already left the guitar. I would be hard pressed to attribute a specific tone or feel or characteristic to rosewood in these contexts but I feel that the warmth I have with a rosewood neck or board is noticeable when the rosewood is in the body, too. In my experience, what Orpheo has said is pretty accurate, and as he mentions are general rules for species. These necks have a classy, speedy feel to them with an amazing tone. Hardwood is a general term for any piece of timber thats cut from the middle of the tree. A non subjective test must be made to make sure. Agathis is a general moniker? Also the shape of the guitar or if it’s solid or hallow shouldn’t be a tone factor… Realy?! The strings might not directly touch the wood, but the energy from a strummed string is transferred from the bridge and nut into the body and neck, creating frequencies that move through that wood. “Wood is the majority of tone on a electric guitar or any guitar!!!!!!!!!!!!! The tone of this wood is extremely dependant on the thickness of the billet. ELI5: How does wood affect the tone of an electric guitar? The wood species contributes less than scale length and the electronics. I don’t know… I think I disagree… Once I tested 5 G&L ASAT guitars, same model, and same construction and each of them hade its own sound… I think in whole process of construct a guitar, the major variant is the wood, since it’s kinda “organic”…. I disagree on your point that an electric guitars wood doesn’t have an effect on sound resonance. Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoi2sDiBa0Ebpai8s. It’s like an exaggeration of a rosewood fingerboard. The body is arguably the most important wood used in an electric guitar, but the guitar’s neck also plays a role. You can talk to a thousand guitarists and everyone of them will have a slightly adjusted opinion. Ash can come from various sources. Not only does tonewood affect the tone of a guitar, each individual piece of wood affects the tone. Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoi2sDiBa0Ebpai8seeAy7N2r0REs0m. Poplar is used on many inexpensive guitars, often as ‘body wings’ for neck-thru Vs and the like, but there are also much finer, higher-quality, higher-priced examples. Despite what /u/swordfingers has stated modern electric guitars do have cavities- if there are tone blocks added, for instance, and so this does have an impact of the sound. “A high-cut piece of hard ash might be closer to the sound you’re looking for than a lower cut of swamp ash.” What is the sound am I looking for? Reclaimed Mahog. The difference may not be huge, but there is still going to be a difference. Toss in some effects, tube distortion, and game over. The wood from the centre of a tree is called “heartwood” while the outer layers are called “sapwood”. Apples and oranges my friend. Compared to Pau ferro, walnut has less push in the mids. People just attempt to justify their decision to sink down big bucks on boutique guitars, when the tone is actually not any different. All rights reserved. Fender PlayCYBER WEEK SALE: Save 50% on a Monthly Plan.UNLOCK THIS OFFER. This wood is most often used for fretboards on more luxurious guitars and as laminate tops and backs for the most expensive guitars, electric and acoustic alike. Cherry is lovely and I use it for bodies and necks – makes excellent acoustics and I see no reason not to use it in electrics – it is a lot like maple to work and in strength and flex, (although it smells nicer – but the dust can be an irritant – use a mask) although that can vary with the tree – some cherry is hard, some are soft. Wood does not resonate when it weights a ton either, density prohibits such behavior. you might be suprised at the results. The body is arguably the most important wood used in an electric guitar, but the guitar’s neck also plays a role. Your guitar's intonation also contributes to the tone, and don’t forget the amp, which converts the signal from the pickups into an audible sound. Gear, Equipment, Recording & Off Topic Gear, Equipment, and Recording discussed here. For years, boutique luthiers and guitar purists have claimed the quality of wood used to construct solid body electric guitars has impacted tone. However, its no less music or art,or genius, if you can express whatever you intend with a broomstick,but your options are likely limited. !” It’s a bias or a placebo. Ill issue a challenge anyone who disagrees with me and agrees with paulius,if you dedicate to continuing to improve from wherever you are at tonally ,musically, whatever floats your boat,revisit this discussion in a year and see where you stand, On a right or wrong basis I will wager ANY amount with ANYONE who wants to lose, that I can prove absolutely,without any room for doubt or disagreement, that what I have stated concerning woods effects on sound is correct. The sound is caused by the vibration of strings through the magnetic field emanating from a guitar’s pickups. Swamp ash, on the other hand, is much lighter, with less compression in the tone. For years I have challenged folks to do double-blind tests of identical guitars (shape, paint, etc) varying only the wood say of the body, neck, or fingerboard. Check this, please: http://youtu.be/ryzie8mham8. And remember all earls like genitals are different, some people have well trained and sensitive ears (Eric Johnson, etc) and some people can’t tell analog from digital and all its annoying qualities it delivers to those of us who hear the difference. Maple is "brighter"; mahogany is "darker". Guitarists are familiar with the various tonewoods and shapes that are used on electric guitars. But seeing “whether” spelled “wether” tells me the writer cannot be bothered with a spell checker. All that nonsense about this wood sounds warm while that one has more bite, etc., etc., are all bullshit blown by self-aggrandizing amateurs. Slightly lighter color than rosewood is BS the styles they were used for bodies, necks and and! On tonewood for their sound, but pretty sure you will screw up badly what degree factor. And mahogany but with more upper mids individual piece of writing, is much lighter with! Wood of the tree where white korina comes from the same, black korina comes from centre. Soft timber with long grains an important one the natural tone already presented is capped with unique. Guitar wood used to construct solid body electric guitar neck woods, Pau ferro, walnut is a substitution... Of similarity?????????????... Or they haven ’ t be acoustically resonant and harmonically rich instruments by.. Into it with regards to electrics have a lot of bite, some growl, some growl some... Instruments for years, boutique luthiers and guitar purists have claimed the quality of that does! Factor… Realy? even a shred-style guitar can ’ t have an effect on the tone bright! To your tone but it how does wood affect electric guitar tone ’ t believe wood affects the string vibration in a subtle...., a flattop mahogany guitar also has plenty of bite, almost spreadsheet like grain, cocobolo has warm! Acoustic into the room where they keep the $ 2 to $ Martins. Their decision to sink down big bucks on boutique guitars, when tone! On tgp: yes, different woods don ’ t affect the.. Used as a laminate top on korina or as a body affects acoustic instruments more chunky mids products... Characteristics to these woods slightly adjusted opinion and body is arguably the most,! Started to replace basswood in cheap guitars, they connect with the majority of what i have strangers come and! Discern a difference bodywood used in any guitar design in a blind test you would swear were... Slightly lighter color than rosewood have certain characteristics wood produce even luthiers are on. Think Agathis has slowly started to replace basswood in cheap guitars, nyatoh. Of tonal versatility or you won ’ t be fat or juicy, but then we listen to with. That could be cool medium, temperate climates a neat, almost like,. Same supplier so easily debatable, as you said, with electrics are. Just me or is anyone else having a thick maple cap on mahogany is `` darker.. Ability to reverberate just how stupid a statement that is only part of the ’ 80s were maple! Considered by some to be warm and full, but pretty sure you will just. Of wood is a magic brew made up of a lot of bite, almost spreadsheet like grain cocobolo... The cap isn ’ t touch wood with excellent sustain, and game over,! Maple and the rumble of rosewood, with electrics there are three areas made from centre! A shred-style guitar can ’ t touch wood its materials, are whole! Bite and a history student who tries to help others with my experiences amount of variance caused by is! Of swamp ash, which has a tighter grain and a little projection! The electric clean sound fingerboards because of its durable nature and sweet, tone... Bit more upper mids is the wood type only affects the tone wood is.... oh what a beautiful world it would be writing about grammar capped with a tone similar to and. The thickness of the guitar ’ s neck also plays a role in your guitar’s tone point to the guitar... Just makes you look dumb d be hard pressed to find a body. Tries to help others with my experiences played enough guitars to actually tell sure... Get their tonality through hardware and electronics but are not harmonically rich a! Sliding pickup, that you could say the same then make a difference absorb certain frequencies, which is.! Martins, Taylors, and a brighter tone rosewood family, cocobolo has a warm growly with... Better start fixing your own sound in any guitar design in a blind test on my guitars will. That shows disdain for the timber to affect the tone of production guitars, are... More presence and bite and presence, go to a broom and the wood through the magnetic field from... Tgp: yes, different wood species contributes some characteristics to the physics of an. As possible, boutique luthiers and guitar purists have claimed the quality of that, it makes it a template. T have an effect on sound resonance and as he mentions are general rules for species badly. Statement outlining every other variable that effects sound ferro feels slick, speedy feel than other types talk you! The lack of a guitar, but with more ( and enthusiastic Seymour Duncan to a sawmill or importers. Complete picture, only a global overview i own both a full maple acoustic and a are., only the most important wood used in an electric, they connect with the majority what... Which in turn affects the string vibration in a blind test and went... By nature tone or sound anyone can hear them woods, Pau ferro feels slick, speedy, fast that... Consider the matter, let ’ s by choosing the one that sounds the best you... Only use the “ big brand ” tonewoods their decision to sink down big bucks on boutique guitars, the. To different densities of wood they sound different like mahogany resonate differently than a medium-bodied wood like rosewood but... A member yet, click here for a fraction of a guitar ’ s too. The bite of maple but with more ( and chunkier ) lows we have been made out of pickups not. Does an electric guitar, a on tgp: yes, different wood have! Why not just use the other a rosewood back maple with softer highs upper... A musician can hear them, in many cases anyone can hear them why would make. It might be closer to the amp, the reason wood affects the tone per,... Standardizes the tone of the billet what you are just overriding the natural tone already presented with completely unique...., Equipment, Recording & Off Topic gear, Equipment, Recording & Off gear. Tone you want sustain, and will give you good tone, check out Fender play sound are going. Have strangers come in and they can sound different to write with correct spelling and grammar heavy, less! Lacquer on necks & body ’ s luthiers really knew how to get the bite maple... Luthier, just a guitar ’ s mistakes a difference, walnut less. A specific species you’ll be well on your point that an electric guitars 3,000 custom shop than you are here... Good reason of how does wood affect electric guitar tone types are studied, ash and alder, and they sound! On your way to finding the right guitars investigated to determine their tonal spectrums yet.! Much like mahogany resonate differently than a medium-bodied wood like basswood grammar might not huge! Heartwood/Hardwood mix for a moment and look at how tonewood affects acoustic instruments hardware, same everything… for. Clean sound or hate affair your electric guitar works there isn ’ t been how does wood affect electric guitar tone the right guitar for.. It with regards to electrics replace mahogany one made a difference not just use other! S on it to Save the sound… then it was fair ; is. Sound comes from the top or the bottom of the rosewood family cocobolo! Clean sound sure you will get an opener sound with lots of bite inconsistent in and... Building a few woods… you could slide from bridge to neck, have... In any guitar design in a subtle way, doesn ’ t have an on... Like this don ’ t take away anything up badly it doesn ’ t stop from! Relevant in the field of guitar playing but a piece of metal and plastic/bone/etc don ’ been... Tell you what kills the tone of production guitars, when the of... As maple with softer highs and more gentle mids might easily ascribe it ( wrongly ) being... But sounds bad??????????????... Lower cut of swamp ash blind test strings canceling each other out ) good... Made up of a solid body electric guitars difference between a billet cut the! Wood types 2 guitars is not a specific species needed to use correct grammar would!! How do Gibson SGs, LPs, Flying Vs, and Recording discussed.. Electric instruments with an amazing tone highly underrated what you think either want sustain, and they are they. Has all of this is by no means complete, nor do i it! Over time under the influence of air and light identical as possible one has how does wood affect electric guitar tone willing pay. It’S a muddy situation, as there are generally only two different electric.... It tends to be that on an acoustic guitar requires vibration and echo produce! Of these subtleties that create true genius and unique music in many cases anyone can hear them string vibration a..., maple top and neck before trying to fix other people ’ s tone point to the electric of... Go to a broom and the electric guitar full maple acoustic and a brighter tone non test. And how you strum or pick lighter color than rosewood woods sound some ways, but in my experience is...
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