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Does the weight of a guitar influence its sound?

 
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Joop
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Joined: 10 May 2008
Posts: 133
Location: Heemskerk, Holland

PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 5:19 pm    Post subject: Does the weight of a guitar influence its sound? Reply with quote

I came accross the following video about an original '59 Gibson Les Paul

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX5wMTdE2PQ

In this video the guitarist (Michael Caswell, famous a.o. from LickLiberary) remarks on how light weight this original 1959 Les Paul is and that all 3 originals that he has been able to lay his hands on, all have been light in weight. He states that it makes the guitar more resonant..

What is your experience? Do guitars on the lower spectrum of the scale (say up to 3,5kgs) sound better than their heavier counter parts?

I can immagine that a guitar with less weight is easier to gig with but I want to exclude that argument.

I want to know the influence the weight has on the sound of the guitar because before seeing the video, my thought would be that a heavier guitar would be more resonant and able to produce fuller tones and perhaps even able to produce more sustain...

Look forward to reading your comments..

Cheers!

Joop



Vintage tones requires time, not technology....
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luis
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Joined: 15 Sep 2001
Posts: 2323
Location: Spain

PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes it does. Lighter Les Pauls (3,7 kg.-4 kg.) sounds different than over 4,3 kg.
Some prefer lighter ,some prefer heavier. I have both and I can say I like both, my best Love Rock is heavy. But I like my LS-50 which is the lightest of all my Love Rocks,it does that crunch sound the best.

If the guitar weights lower than 3,6 it would have bass sound missing altough there are several tricks to get some back.

If we are talking about sustain then a Hibiki HLS has something special on it (4 kgs mine) with a great attack and fast sound travel.It hassomething about how Tokai designed more than the weight here.

Your best choice is getting one of each .
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davejm
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Joined: 21 Sep 2009
Posts: 44
Location: Cheshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just wanted to say Thanks for the link, Joop.

What always amazes me is how all modern Gibson LPs look so obviously different from the beautiful lines of original LPs - and not just the obvious absence of the old carve - especially noticeable in a vid where the movement displays the whole guitar - that guitar looks 'lean' and sculpturally pleasing in a way they simply don't now; there must be design nuances that have just been coarsened over the years.
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CliffsComicWorld
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Joined: 21 Mar 2008
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Location: U.S.A.

PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me.......

The heavier the guitar over 9 lbs. = Better bottom end sustain Rock sound.

The light end under 9 lb. = Loss of bottom end and more mid/treble.

Trouble is ... I prefer a lighter guitar and the sound of a much heavier LP

My 2 cents
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Vignale
I only know 3 chords


Joined: 24 Aug 2008
Posts: 22
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some 25 years ago I was a luthier and I then always preached: the more heavy a guitar weighs, the more sustain.......

I thought like this: Imagine bolting or gluing a neck to a "sleeper" (You know: the wooden parts under trainrails)
The strings would chime longer than when glued to a sigarbox

What I also learned: maple and other hardwoods have a tight cellular density and give more high overtones, while softer tone woods like mahogany give more warmer tones because of more wide cell density.

I also found out, since I had build an explorer that sustain comes from the length of the body-wood. (it had a Indian rosewood top and Mahogany back)
An explorer has these long "horns" and the tone goes from one end to the other end of the body and back.

Since many people say that light LP's have a longer sustain I thought I was wrong in my opinions and found that light LP's do sustain equally well......
I think this has to do with the rest of the mathematics of other parts like strings bridge neck etc.
There's an end to the string vibration somewhere even when stringed on the most sustainable wood there is.....
Light LP's might just have this mixture of selected woods and mathematics that is minimal required for the max. sustain.
Hope you understand what I mean.

The above might be a lot of b.....s.....t but it's JMHO.....
Let me know what you think.....

Cheers,
Chris.
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CliffsComicWorld
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Joined: 21 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right on Chris... Thanks for your input!
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StugIII
Power chords are my friend


Joined: 14 Oct 2009
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Location: Spain

PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weight is just a factor in tone equation. Two parts we have to consider separately: neck and body, because there are important differences in mass effect between both.

Lighter guitars are more resonant than heavier ones, anything else being equal. Lighter wood means less energy required to excite resonances. Also, physics explain that lighter guitars resonate at higher frequencies than heavier. Neck play a paramount role in resonance, while body just modulate neck vibrations. Heavier bodies mutes neck resonances. And heavier necks resonate at lower frequencies than lighter ones.

So, a light neck and a light body usually resonates too much and at higher frequencies. Has potential for a lot of sustain, but tone may be too airy. Usually this is not good for bass notes but add some richness to the tone of high notes.
A heavy neck a a heavy body has a poor resonance, but much clarity and attack.
A heavy neck and a light body usually have both resonance and deep bass tones and is my personal preference for a good woodier tone.

Regarding to sustain: it depends on the transmission from the strings to the body. The lesser, sustain increases but also resonance is reduced and hence, tone lack woodiness.
But transmission heavily depends on the bridge design and mass, so guitar mass is not the decisive factor here.
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bluejeannot
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Joined: 20 Feb 2007
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Location: London

PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.frudua.com/guitar_craftpedia_en.html
Here`s some interesting info about guitar construction from an Italian luthier . He really seems to know his stuff Gabe.
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Last edited by bluejeannot on Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:13 am; edited 2 times in total
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Thomas/Sweden
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Joined: 05 Oct 2011
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Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was surprised when I got my OBG LPC-57B Custom, it's only 3,4 Kg and very resont but still full LP sound with enough bass. It was a bit strange at first with a Custom this light but it plays and sounds great (57 classics).
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JohnA
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Joined: 02 Mar 2007
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Location: Leicester UK

PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had quite a few Les Pauls, some heavy and some light and they all sound 'different', but IMO there are too many other factors to consider (hardware, pickups, construction), and the way a guitar sounds is a sum of all of these so it's really difficult to say what effect weight alone has.
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