What's wood gotta do with pickups?


New member
It is said that certain pickups work well with certain types of wood in terms of tonal quality...

how is this possible????

once the pickup detects a vibration in the guitar strings , it automatically converts the vibrations into electric signals and is sent delivered directly to the amp or in the case of a effects pedal on board , it goes thru the effects pedal first...

what has wood got to do with all of this????
i mean...the entire process of converting vibration into signals and sending it to the amp all happens in the internal circuitory of the guitar....
isn't it just a case of How Powerful the Pickup is????

please do not flame me as i'm not really a guitarist as i was just wondering only....

if there is any mistake i made in how the pickup detects sound please correct me...
The tonal difference is quite subtle and not really noticable to the untrained ears.

Yes, you can treat the pickups similar to a speaker cone. Same you can relate the guitar body as the speaker cabinet. So if I put the speaker into a soft wood cabinet or different kind of laminated woods, you may notice some response difference more in the low end and some in the mid end.

Because when the strings vibrate, some of this vibration also resonate thru out the body. So this mean of trammission may aid or hinder the vibration of the strings and the pickup seated in it in a very small way. The effect more noticable is the sustain.

So this effect could be overblown by some people, which is common where other than your own skill, you can only boast about your knowledge on your equipment. The more 'knowledgable' you sound, the more credible you seem to be. Haha..... :lol: :lol:

Don't think too much about it. I feel as long as the instrument is able to produce the sound you want, that's more important.

This site might help clarify some stuff.

A short excerpt of it:

"85-90% of the sound of an electric guitar comes from the pickups. The other 10-15% is a combination of things including the body wood, neck wood, fret board, bridge and nut, overall weight of the guitar and other things. The list goes on. But if your guitar only sounds 90% good, in my opinion that is not good enough. If you pick up guitars made of different woods and strum them unplugged you can hear, and feel, the resonance of the wood.......

.....A wood typically absorbs an amount of vibration from the guitar. If it absorbs none of the vibration it is deemed totally inert. Hard, dense woods are more inert than soft light woods. Maple is probably one of the most inert woods around. On the other hand soft light woods absorb vibrations from the guitar. The amount of vibration and the frequencies being absorbed or accented gives a wood it’s tone."
DoubleBlade said:
ChanMin said:
why does wood affect the piano's sound?

because it's an acoustic instrument and it requires wood to aid in it's natrual amplification....

but a guitar is entire electronic...

that is not true ... as a piano made with plastic will also enjoy a certain level of sound amplfication through the piano's sound source : which i tihnk is the piano wires being struck. (sorry not pianist )

but the wooden piano would sound better then the plastic one i presume...

i ask how would the wood affect the sound? ...
its the unique qualities and properties of different woods that will give different electric guitars different tonal qualities.

eg rock maple is brighter sounding vs mahogany which sounds warmer.
plus, no matter how you change your pickups, a similar tonal characteristic will be there... for instance, a stratocaster, always has that 'twang' sounding thinggy, and no matter what pickup you use, it still has that twang thingy... the pickups may just make it sound brighter or warmer... if thats what i think, correct me if i'm wrong anyone...
if you swap out the original pickups you might not get the twang sound back. Just because it says fender strat dosent = twang :) but most people buy fenders for the twang. Just note that a single coil will not always be twagy
Actually, most people buy fenders cause they're versatille... it can actually reproduce many, most guitar sounds, not exactly, but close, very close...
wood has inherent tonal properties due to its density & grain structure. the job of the pickup is to amplify this. the anology of it all would be this: would elvis & whitney houston sound the same even if they are using the same microphone?
wat good pickups would u recomend guys?? any good common brands...like duncuns, emg etc...i am looking for pickups to replace my stock ones in my RG270 n Epi LP Standard. i am looking for warm metalic sound for my RG n those classic rock warm sound for e LP. i am looking to emulate tones by artist...say those old skool heavy metal sounds...classic rocks etc...

thankz u very much guys!

btw my RG is Basswood n LP e standard epi type...
I've recently installed a SD 59 neck and SD Pearly Gates bridge in my McCarty.

The combination really gels very and delivers good classic rock sounds.

Take note that the 59 neck can be a little bassy, so either a SD Jazz or Alnico Pro might be preferable if thats a bother for you.
Hi Doubleblade,

I know little about the mathematics of it all to begin with. But, supposing pickups amplify tone and do not influence any of it (transparent). Magnetic pickup poles detect string vibration right? You may know that note sustain properties are directly affected by wood choice. But what about tone? :) If you study electronics you'd know something about wave measurements and Frenquencies.

Imagine the string vibration occuring rapidly over a single magnet pole. The only way to measure that would be in Hertz. Anything that makes a sound from 20Hz to 20k Hz would be audible to the human ears. But the strings are so damn soft, so pickups. Going back to woods, string vibration patterns -> tonal qualities can be very complicated to understand. But I'm pretty certain that woods contribute to things like attack, sustain and overtones (harmonics?). The reality of it is that pickups and woods DO work together to form an output sound. Don't forget amps too!

Why do you think electric bass players for example spend so much more money on their instruments and not amps? Simply cos they record Direct-In to the console and deck.