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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Moisture Content And Tone

jesse1d

canada

May 21st, 2019 07:45 AM   Edit   Profile  

I was impressed with the concept of "baked maple" necks thinking it would be more vintage-like as older wood dries out. But my ears have not been impressed as I find the sound brittle and with a collapsed mid-range.

I was wondering if maybe wood moisture in certain ratios is actually beneficial to tone? Any thoughts?

Peegoo
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Planet Peegoo

Rhythm & Lewd Guitarist
May 21st, 2019 08:21 AM   Edit   Profile  

Absolutely it matters. Even when wood is really dried out, it's usually in in the range of 2%-6% moisture content due to ambient humidity.

Virtually all 'name' guitar makers monitor the moisture content in their rough wood and don't start resawing it until it's down to about 6% because if it's any higher, it will continue to move/twist after resawing. Rosewood and ebony have to be around 2% before resawing to help ensure it retains its finished shape.

In acoustic guitars, humidity is critical because if the wood becomes too dry after the guitar is assembled, the guitar's geometry will change (top flexes, the neck joint creates an S-bend on the end of the neck, etc.) and the guitar can become unplayable.

You can get yourself a wood moisture content meter from any woodworking supply. They're not expensive.

Far as baked maple goes, I have not noticed any tonal trend due to the torrefaction process. There are too many other factors that contribute to the tone of an electric guitar to assign a specific guitar `voice to the type of wood used in the neck. I have guitars with different neck woods besides maple (ebony, rosewood, mahogany, bubinga, kingwood, canary, purpleheart, yellowheart, padauk, cocobolo, etc.), and the tone of the guitars they're on is more affected by the pickups than anything else. YMMV.

wrnchbndr
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New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
May 21st, 2019 08:42 AM   Edit   Profile  

Tone happens.

Peegoo
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Planet Peegoo

Rhythm & Lewd Guitarist
May 21st, 2019 09:43 AM   Edit   Profile  

Sometimes it doesn't :o|

I've done builds with top-quality woods and components and just...meh. Uninspiring and flat-sounding.

On paper it was going to me a barn-burner of a guitar.

But as I was assembling it, the guitar gods got in a huddle and decided to deal me the 'Roll Again' card as soon as I plugged it in.

(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 11:48 AM, May 21st, 2019)

Tinkerer
Contributing Member
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San Diego, CA USA

May 21st, 2019 11:06 AM   Edit   Profile  

A number of years back a neighbor knocked on my door and asked me if I wanted the wood from a 1920's era Victrola cabinet. I looked at it, and thought that I could laminate the sides and make a guitar body from it. The veneer was heavily damaged and when I got that sanded off and was down to bare wood, it was really distinctive- insect holes, lots of character, etc. I could not identify what kind of wood it was, and a wood worker I know examined it and thought that it was cypress.

It was really cool looking, and I had very high hopes for that guitar- it would be an interesting story to say the least. I even sourced an original Victrola brass plate for it as a body ornament. It ended up, however, sounding completely lifeless. I tried numerous pickups in it, but to no avail.

Peegoo
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Planet Peegoo

Rhythm & Lewd Guitarist
May 21st, 2019 11:17 AM   Edit   Profile  

For the first few guitars Paul Reed Smith built, he used figured maple from the drawer fronts of an old dresser as the top wood.

Gotta start somewhere :o)

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
May 21st, 2019 11:27 AM   Edit   Profile  

The purpose of baking maple or other woods is not to permanently lower the moisture content, it is to "cook" and harden the resins in the wood. Wood will always find a moisture content that puts it in equilibrium with the environment it is in.

Peegoo
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Planet Peegoo

Rhythm & Lewd Guitarist
May 21st, 2019 12:33 PM   Edit   Profile  

Yeah, it's like carmelizing a steak.

I've cooked wood in the oven; some woods take it well and other's don't.

FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Moisture Content And Tone




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