Archives of Acoustics, 46, 4, pp. 571–578, 2021
10.24425/aoa.2021.138150

On the Audibility of Electric Guitar Tonewood

Jan JASINSKI
AGH University of Science and Technology
Poland

Stanisław OLEŚ
AGH University of Science and Technology
Poland

Daniel TOKARCZYK
AGH University of Science and Technology
Poland

Marek PLUTA
AGH University of Science and Technology
Poland

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
Full Text: PDF

References

Ahvenainen P. (2018), Anatomy and mechanical properties of woods used in electric guitars, IAWA Journal, 40(1): 106–S6, doi: 10.1163/22941932-40190218.

Ahmed S.A., Adamopoulos S. (2018), Acoustic properties of modified wood under different humid conditions and their relevance for musical instruments, Applied Acoustics, 140: 92–99, doi: 10.1016/j.apacoust.2018.05.017.

Bennett B. (2016), The sound of trees: wood selection in guitars and other chordophones, Economic Botany, 70(1): 49–63, doi: 10.1007/s12231-016-9336-0.

Carral S. (2011), Determining the just noticeable difference in timbre through spectral morphing: a trombone example, Acta Acustica united with Acustica, 97(3): 466–476, doi: 10.3813/AAA.918427.

Fleischer H., Zwicker T. (1998), Mechanical vibrations of electric guitars, Acta Acustica united with Acustica, 84(4): 758–765.

Fletcher N., Rossing T. (1998), The Physics of Musical Instruments, doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-21603-4.

Green D.M. (1993), Auditory Intensity Discrimination, Springer Handbook of Auditory Research, Vol. 3. Springer, New York, doi: 10.1007/978-1-4612-2728-1_2

Jansson E. V. (1983), Acoustics for the Guitar Maker, Function, Construction and Quality of the Guitar, Publication No. 38 of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, Stockholm.

Koch M. (2001), Building Electric Guitars: How to Make Solid-Body, Hollow-Body and Semi-Acoustic Electric Guitars and Bass Guitars, Koch Verlag, Gleisdorf.

Martinez-Reyes J. (2015), Mahogany intertwined: Enviromateriality between Mexico, Fiji, and the Gibson Les Paul, Journal of Material Culture, 20(3): 313–329, doi: 10.1177/1359183515594644.

Ozimek E. (2002), Sound and its Perception. Physical and Psychoacoustic Aspects [in Polish: Dźwięk i jego percepcja. Aspekty fizyczne i psychoakustyczne], Polish Scientific Publishers PWN, Warsaw.

Paté A., Le Carrou J., Fabre B. (2013), Ebony vs. Rosewood: experimental investigation about the influence of the fingerboard on the sound of a solid body electric guitar, [In:] Proceedings of the Stockholm Musical Acoustics Conference (SMAC), Stockholm (Sweden), pp. 182–187.

Paté A., Le Carrou J., Navarret B., Dubois D., Fabre B. (2015), Influence of the electric guitar's fingerboard wood on guitarists' perception, Acta Acustica united with Acustica, 101(2): 347–359, doi: 10.3813/AAA.918831.

Puszyński J. (2014), String-wood feedback in electrics string instruments, Annals of Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW Land Reclamation, 2014(85): 196–199.

Puszyński J., Moliński W., Preis A. (2015), The effect of wood on the sound quality of electric string instruments, Acta Physica Polonica, 127(1): 114–116, doi: 10.12693/APhysPolA.127.114

Schubert E., Wolfe J. (2006), Does timbral brightness scale with frequency and spectral centroid?, Acta Acoustica United with Acustica, 92(5): 820–825.

Torres J., Boullosa R. (2009), Influence of the bridge on the vibrations of the top plate of a classical guitar, Applied Acoustics, 70(11–12): 1371–1377, doi: 10.1016/j.apacoust.2009.07.002.

Torres J., Boullosa R. (2011). Radiation efficiency of a guitar top plate linked with edge or corner modes and intercell cancellation, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 130(1): 546–556, doi: 10.1121/1.3592235.

Tzanetakis G., Cook P. (2002), Musical genre classification of audio signals, 2002 IEEE Transactions on Speech and Audio Processing, 10(5): 293–302, doi: 10.1109/TSA.2002.800560.

Ulrich R., Vorberg D. (2009), Estimating the difference limen in 2AFC tasks: pitfalls and improved estimators, Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 71(6): 1219–1227, doi: 10.3758/app.71.6.1219

Wilkowski J., Michalowski P., Czarniak P., Górski J., Podziewski P., Szymanowski K. (2014), Influence of spruce, wenge and obeche wood used for electric guitar prototype on selected sound properties, Annals of Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW. Forestry and Wood Technology, 85: 235–240.




DOI: 10.24425/aoa.2021.138150

Copyright © Polish Academy of Sciences & Institute of Fundamental Technological Research (IPPT PAN)