Thursday, June 19, 2008

What gives a Guitar its Tone?

Hey guys,

I've come across an excellent set of articles all about guitar tone. Have you ever wandered what makes a guitar sound the way it does? These articles deal with exactly that. Each part of the guitar affects its tone. The author cleverly discusses these parts individually. They are:

  1. The Strings
  2. The Neck
  3. The Body
  4. The Bridge
The author explains these concepts fundamentally from the types wood to the pickups. I find that the basic idea with the tone of any instruments or a room, is simply that hard surfaces (eg. a brick wall) reflect high frequencies whilst soft surfaces (eg. a soft sofa) absorb the high frequencies.

Using light as an analogy to sound works well because they are both waves and both reflect and refract off materials. Think of hard surfaces like a mirror - they reflect almost all the light. Soft or rough surfaces diffuse the sound, similar to how a glazed bathroom window diffuses light.

You will notice that guitar tone is governed by the same fundamental rules. Hard materials brighten the tone and soft materials seem to boost the low frequencies, creating a warmer sound. All the same, the above mentioned articles are definitely worth a read because they go into way more detail about which woods or materials create which sound.

Other posts you might find interesting:

Microphone Review: Shure SM57 Microphone
Speaker Placement
High There?!
Panning for Gold
Audio Recording in Ubuntu Studio - Part 1: Plan your Project


dcsimon said...

I think someone left out a key part of the guitar, arguably the most influential element in the guitar's tone: the guitarist.

Brian said...

Everyone's a wise ass :). You have a good point though.


dcsimon said...

I don't mean any offense, I actually enjoy reading your blog, just wanted to provide a different point of view.

Brian said...

Hey dcsimon,

I'm not offended, I was just joking with you. You have a great point. I think often amateurs run out and buy expensive instruments thinking that it'll make them sound better. The truth is - an instrument will only ever sound as good as it is played.

I remember once, an old jazz drummer, jammed on my first drumkit, which was not exactly top-notch, and it sounded fantastic.

Thanks for the support.