Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?

Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« on: October 08, 2008, 04:50:12 AM »
It's been said on here many times that body wood has only a small effect of guitar tone...that neckwood and pickups are much more important factors.  In that case, could a good maple neck and quality pickups and electronics, be enough to produce an acceptable enough tone from a plywood bodied guitar.
I know 'good" is all very subjective, but I'm not after top shelf Gibson, but something that more around the level of an Epiphone in sound quality to use as a backup.

Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2008, 05:50:28 AM »
I don't agree with that statement.

Bodywood is equally as important as neckwood and pickups. They all work together to make a sound, and the overall sound will only be as good as the weakest link.

I can tell you from my experience: I tried to take an old guitar body, and fill in the trem cavity using plywood, and then attach a fixed bridge. It sounded like absolute crap.  I've also had guitar students who have made project guitars out of plywood. They sounded on par with the sustain from a danelectro. But worse. 

Plywood just don't equal tonewood.

If you search hard on ebay, you could probably find some cheapo alder strat body for like under $50 bucks to use.

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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2008, 05:53:59 AM »

Plywood just don't equal tonewood.

Not completely true, i think it might of been jack(or not), but he said he had a plywood iceman that sounded pretty alright. maybe it's the way the plywood is made, how tight it's pressed or something
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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2008, 05:56:05 AM »
I don't agree with that statement.

Bodywood is equally as important as neckwood and pickups. They all work together to make a sound, and the overall sound will only be as good as the weakest link.

I can tell you from my experience: I tried to take an old guitar body, and fill in the trem cavity using plywood, and then attach a fixed bridge. It sounded like absolute crap.  I've also had guitar students who have made project guitars out of plywood. They sounded on par with the sustain from a danelectro. But worse. 

Plywood just don't equal tonewood.

If you search hard on ebay, you could probably find some cheapo alder strat body for like under $50 bucks to use.

And I don't agree with your statement, one of the guitars I own (a Marlin Sidewinder) is made from plywood and whilst it doesn't sound excellent it's a decent workhorse of an instrument even with it's dodgy tuners and at best temperamental electrics. Sure a plywood guitar almost certainly won't sound as good as a guitar made from proper woods but it doesn't mean it'll sound bad.

Although I do agree that a cheap solid body is a better buy than a plywood one.

EDIT: added quote

Offline GoDrex

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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2008, 06:10:28 AM »

Plywood just don't equal tonewood.

Not completely true, i think it might of been jack(or not), but he said he had a plywood iceman that sounded pretty alright. maybe it's the way the plywood is made, how tight it's pressed or something

I had the plywood iceman. Pickups made the biggest difference in how it sounded imo. I changed the body (with all the same parts) out for a single piece basswood body and it sounded a little different, but I couldn't tell you which one was "better."  I do think every part makes a difference, but I also think plywood can sound fine - different maybe, not necessarily bad (unless it starts coming apart like mine did hehehe)
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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2008, 06:34:18 AM »
I think it is possible for a plywood body to sound good in a guitar. Having said that, here are my reasons not to use plywoood as a body. 1) Any hand built tonewood guitar will almost always be worth repairing if something should happen to it. I don't think I would waste my time trying to repair a plywood guitar body. 2) I don't hear of many guitar collectors wanting to pay top dollar for a plywood guitar and I don't hear of too many players specifiying that their guitars be made of plywood. Just my 2 cents.

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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2008, 06:51:34 AM »
It's been said on here many times that body wood has only a small effect of guitar tone...that neckwood and pickups are much more important factors.  In that case, could a good maple neck and quality pickups and electronics, be enough to produce an acceptable enough tone from a plywood bodied guitar.

 absolutely. it's been done before, and will most likely be done again.

 all the best,

 R

Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2008, 07:14:20 AM »
I guess my question is: what is the main factor in wanting to make a plywood body?  Cost?

An average alder body blank runs about $40. 

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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2008, 07:32:55 AM »
A solid wood body will sound better than a plywood body.  That doesn't mean all plywood bodies will sound like Shazam, it just means you could probably improve a plywood guitar by replacing the body with a real wood one.

Plywood is heavy but doesn't sustain, and it's very prone to unpleasant feedback.

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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2008, 07:52:21 AM »
Plywood is heavy but doesn't sustain, and it's very prone to unpleasant feedback.

I don't know where you got that from. :icon_scratch:
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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2008, 08:10:37 AM »
Quote
I  guess my question is: what is the main factor in wanting to make a plywood body?  Cost?

 there could be two driving factors, with cost being one of them for those places looking to offer a $100 guitar for Walmart

 for others, use of a high grade plywood would provide a material consistency not available with a natural wood product. an example of this would be what Kubicki did for his X-factor bass line - a very high grade voidless Maple laminate which brought a consistency across necks that could not have been achieved with a natural product. I know this isn't a body, but utilization of a 'plywood' product in a neck should prove that it is feasable (and even desirable in some cases) for use in a great sounding instrument


Quote
Plywood is heavy but doesn't sustain, and it's very prone to unpleasant feedback

 you know this from first-hand building experience, or is this just passing along what others have repeated so often that it's regarded as truth purely because everybody repeats it as fact. not all plywoods are insanely heavy, and not all plywoods are equal - their properties totally depend on the materials each specific type is made of ... and this is driven by what their intended purpose is. you should be aware that there is more to plywood that what you find for home construction applications at your local Home Depot or lumberyard.

 all the best,

 R

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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2008, 09:44:36 AM »
It's based on the two plywood guitars I've owned... a Peavey whatsit and a Squier whosit.

Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2008, 10:16:56 AM »
It's based on the two plywood guitars I've owned... a Peavey whatsit and a Squier whosit.

It isn't the plywood causing the feedback in those two models, it's the cheap electronics and three dollar pickups they ship with

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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2008, 11:08:21 AM »
Once you get around the 130 decibel range with a dozen or so stompboxes between your guitar and amp, what your instrument is constructed of becomes mainly a cosmetic issue.

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Re: Is it possible for a plywood guitar to sound good?
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2008, 11:26:49 AM »
Use masonite instead, like Danelectro's