How much do tonewoods matter for electric guitars compared to pickups, guitar cables, amps and your own hands?


Like many guitar players, I think tonewoods play a considerable role in the sound of a guitar. Some people disagree, and they have good reasons. However, I believe a fundamental part of the disagreement comes from trying to compare tonewoods vs. other things that affect a guitar's tone.

I think another big part of the argument stems from comparing the sound when playing the guitar in person to the sound in a recording. It's interesting how the same folks who claim amps, pickups, etc. alter a guitar's sound to the point where tonewoods don't matter can't see how much the recording process can alter the sound of a guitar.

I believe the number one thing that impacts tone is the player. Many of our guitar heroes sound as good as they do because of them, not the wood their guitar is made from. No tonewood could make these guys sound bad, just like no tonewood could make a bad guitar player sound good.

But that doesn't mean the wood doesn't matter. If it didn't, professional guitar players wouldn't be so picky about the guitars they play.

Pickups can change the sound of a guitar, too. Slapping a humbucker in a Telecaster changes the character of the guitar. But, to me, it still sounds like a Telecaster, and that has a lot to do with the wood.

Same with amps, cables, picks, etc. Of course, they influence the sound of the guitar, but just because they influence the sound doesn't mean tonewoods do not.

To sum it up: Many factors go into the sound of an electric guitar but, all things being equal, tonewoods make a difference. That's my experience, based on 34 years of playing guitar.

Updated on March 21, 2018

Original Article:

Do Tonewoods Matter for Electric Guitar?
By Guitar Gopher