Archives of Acoustics, 46, 4, pp. 571–578, 2021

On the Audibility of Electric Guitar Tonewood

AGH University of Science and Technology

Stanisław OLEŚ
AGH University of Science and Technology

AGH University of Science and Technology

AGH University of Science and Technology

Electric guitar manufacturers have used tropical woods in guitar production for decades claiming it as beneficiary to the quality of the instruments. These claims have often been questioned by guitarists but now, with many voices raising concerns regarding the ecological sustainability of such practices, the topic becomes even more important. Efforts to find alternatives must begin with a greater understanding of how tonewood affects the timbre of an electric guitar. The presented study examined how the sound of a simplified electric guitar changes with the use of various wood species. Multiple sounds were recorded using a specially designed test setup and their analysis showed differences in both spectral envelope and the generated signal level. The differences between the acoustic characteristics of tones produced by the tonewood samples explored in the study were larger than the just noticeable differences reported for the respective characteristics in the literature. To verify these findings an informal listening test was conducted which showed that sounds produced with different tonewoods were distinguishable to the average listener.
Keywords: electric guitar; tonewoods; spectral analysis; instrument timbre; exotic woods; guitar tone
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DOI: 10.24425/aoa.2021.138150