How important is the body of a Strat in the production of sound?

Butcher of Strats

Most Honored Senior Member
Feb 28, 2022
6,824
Maine
Bingo and busted. I just installed ChatAI and was curious to its response on this frequently asked question. In hindsight I should have put it in quotes. AI can be very pro-business indeed.
Sadly it has been confirmed that Chat GPT sources myths propaganda facts and marketing claims all without any "sense" of the need to separate facts from fictions.

The youth of today are learning about the world via internet myth promoters like YouTube and AI.

Soon enough they will be in charge and basing critical decisions on the most repeated info rather than the most correct.
Or really, much of the population is already there...
 

BamaStrat

Strat-Talker
Jul 27, 2022
382
Deep South
Sadly it has been confirmed that Chat GPT sources myths propaganda facts and marketing claims all without any "sense" of the need to separate facts from fictions.

The youth of today are learning about the world via internet myth promoters like YouTube and AI.

Soon enough they will be in charge and basing critical decisions on the most repeated info rather than the most correct.
Or really, much of the population is already there...
Agree. And it's definitely a continuation for Google in controlling information on the web. I haven't kept up with it much but can envision being directed to increasingly more on the fly ai generated pro product content with popular queries in the future. You'll have to dig deep much deeper.
 

92 Fiesta Red 62

Senior Stratmaster
Apr 27, 2022
1,733
TEXAS
Interesting observations.

Have you noticed any patterns? Have more than an equal proportion of the guitars that you liked the feel/ resonance/ sustain of had similarities? Be it design, pickups, bridges, wood.

Sometimes I’ll think about my favorite music, or books, or movies, cars, etc and wonder what It is that I like about them. Try to find the similarities between them. There are elements that I tend to gravitate to; and to me it doesn’t matter whether it is objectively verifiably factual or simply in my head. I live in my head and it makes all the difference if it’s true up there.
It’s hard to quantify—all my guitars are pretty different.

-I have more P-90’s (or P-90 variants) than any other kind of pickups…but I have regular single coils and humbuckers and piezos and lipsticks in there too.
-I prefer (and have more) string-through guitars/bridges than top-loaders.
-I prefer hardtail bridges, and currently, the only rubberbutt I have (my Fiesta Red Stratocaster) has the vibrato decked and blocked.

Other than that, they’re all different.

Ultimately, I judge how good a guitar is once it’s in my hands…it’s kinda like US Supreme Court Justice Potter Smith’s statement about hardcore [you-know-what], “I know it when I see it…
 

Isotope

Strat-Talk Member
Mar 31, 2021
94
United States
Well, insofar as it is the structure to which the bridge and neck attach, I'd say it is very important.

So too, it provides the resonant chamber (acoustic) whereby the strings are amplified and/or the structure into which the pickups inserted. Again, very important.

Play a few acoustics with different woods for the tops and you will instantly recognize that the construction matters too.

So....with an electric, at the very least, one needs someplace to sink the bridge.
Good point. I think the neck pocket making flush contact with the neck and that connection being solid is a big factor. We’ve seen other companies using threaded inserts into the neck heel in order to make that connection very solid.
I’ve played the AM pro ii strat with the roasted pine body. It was very lightweight, but it still sounded as stratty as any alder body strat I’ve played. I like the way ash looks, but I’m not sure it sounds different.
 
I think the neck pocket making flush contact with the neck and that connection being solid is a big factor.
I think so too...
And... what we're discussing are elements of a system. Each element makes its contribution however large or small and thus affects the outcome.

No different than a tremolo system. String and spring tension play important roles, as does string gauge and yes, even the magnetic field of the pickups.

It's a system and when it is being worked by a proficient operator...

Magic.

This should have stopped after like four responses, the OP is probably just more confused now
This is a conversation that has been going on for ... what...since the 17th century?
Look up Antonio Stradivari...

We ain't never gonna stop, it's way too much fun
 

Caffiend

Strat-O-Master
Mar 15, 2020
589
Yorkshire
Do they, though?
Yes. Shutting people down with a demand that they Google isn't helpful in many respects. Apart from the adversarial nature, if someone is new to the topic it's quite possible there are many words or terms which would be useful in construction of a useful search which they don't know. Plus, topics like 'variables affecting tone' are full of conjecture from all sides simply because like many guitar connected things, there's much about it which is subjective so a discussion is actually more useful. The fact that the questions usually generate lengthy threads also suggests there's an appetite to engage for many - so possibly the 'dont like, don't look' principle applies 🙂
 
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Caffiend

Strat-O-Master
Mar 15, 2020
589
Yorkshire
It's a system and when it is being worked by a proficient operator...

Magic.
And this is the central point. The reason these threads pop up so often is because there's an entire industry out there trying to persuade people they could sound better if they'd just spend some more money and it causes a lot of angst among people who'd prefer to whip out their wallets than admit being confused. It's not an original idea, it's the oldest sales pitch there is.
 

nadzab

Play Don't Worry
Silver Member
May 15, 2009
6,761
New England
But how do know this? Your reply puts forth more of your assumptions, but it doesn't provide any actual evidence to support your assertion that "forums that do this come across as being full of dicks and stop getting new members."

Maybe the query language I posted was greatly appreciated by many, because it brings up a plethora of prior threads that are very much on point with the topic, a wealth of relevant information at your fingertips. Maybe some saw it as me being a "dick"...who knows?

And we're obviously still getting new members...heck, you've only been here since 2020... ;)
 
The reason these threads pop up so often is because there's an entire industry out there trying to persuade people they could sound better if they'd just spend some more money...
The reason these threads pop up is because there is indeed some validity to the observations that some of these things exhibit specific, as yet unexplained qualities. And genuine interest.

I recently sold a 64 strat. It had sound qualities that were...different than those of my other two S-type guitars. I never figured out why.

People want to know why two seemingly identical instruments can sound distinctly different in the hands of the same player. Science has afforded some responses but no guides.

Perhaps the artisans in question were exceptionally gifted at selecting the raw materials with which to construct their instruments, or perhaps they practiced witchcraft...who knows...

The discussion is centuries old. We have the same discussions in the orchestral community (you wouldn't believe the hype surrounding bows for stringed instruments...I made my own).

It is not just because of charlatans.

Okay...maybe a little bit.
 

gesaro

Strat-Talk Member
May 10, 2023
29
EU
It matters more than what the people who say it makes no difference at all want you to believe, but in the grand scheme of things it's subtle. A nuance. Certainly matters more to the player than the audience, since the player also feels the guitar in his hands and against his body and has to support the weight of it.

I often see the argument for it not mattering at all being that the pickups only pick up the metallic strings vibrating in a magnetic field, which of course is mostly true, but that assumes some kind of idealized perfection where the strings and guitar body don't interact at all, but if you can feel the guitar body resonating with the string vibrations, then obviously some kind of transfer of energy is happening there, which will affect the string vibration. Doesn't mean the acoustic sound and feel of the guitar translates directly to the amplified sound, in fact I think it might often be the opposite - a guitar that sounds a bit "dead" and feels "lifeless" acoustically might have a very strong and healthy amplified sound, perhaps in part because more energy is retained at the strings instead of being "sunk" into the body.

As for the shape / size of the body, two pieces of same material will have a different resonance frequency if they are of different size.

That said for the amplified sound I think it's pretty low in the list of priorities. Something like a minute pickup height adjustment will make a way bigger difference in the amplified sound than changing the body. For example I have two Squier strats, one with a poplar body and one with a nyatoh one, poplar body is very lightweight and resonant in play, nyatoh is lot heavier and sounds very different acoustically, so the bodies are not really "close" to each other at all in feel or acoustical sound. While I wasn't able to make the guitars sound identical amplified, I could get them almost there... just a couple turns of a screwdriver away from sounding vastly different from each other. Yeah, pickup adjustments matter... and this was with different strings and gauges... 9-42 nickel plated steel on one guitar vs 9.5-44 pure nickel on the other. With identical strings I could've gotten them even closer - though even with same type & brand of strings, there is a *slight* color to the sound of both guitars that seems to stay there no matter what I do with the pickup heights. Like the nyatoh one always seems a bit more "focused", but I have no idea where that comes from, could be the pickups (I think should be same but different patch), could be the body wood, could be neck pocket or combination of body resonance vs. neck resonance, could be the gold plated hardware or the sienna sunburst finish...
 

Maranello94

Senior Stratmaster
Aug 30, 2022
1,907
Finland
Good point. I think the neck pocket making flush contact with the neck and that connection being solid is a big factor. We’ve seen other companies using threaded inserts into the neck heel in order to make that connection very solid.
I’ve played the AM pro ii strat with the roasted pine body. It was very lightweight, but it still sounded as stratty as any alder body strat I’ve played. I like the way ash looks, but I’m not sure it sounds different.
Neck to body contact is very important indeed. Not only for sustain but also for the well being of the neck. For example using a shim or microtilt might under a long period of time cause a kink/hump in the guitar neck due to more pressure being put on that part of the neck. If one has to shim a guitar I recommend using a full neck pocket shim. This way there will be more sustain and the neck will stay in good shape
 

Caffiend

Strat-O-Master
Mar 15, 2020
589
Yorkshire
But how do know this? Your reply puts forth more of your assumptions, but it doesn't provide any actual evidence to support your assertion that "forums that do this come across as being full of dicks and stop getting new members."

Maybe the query language I posted was greatly appreciated by many, because it brings up a plethora of prior threads that are very much on point with the topic, a wealth of relevant information at your fingertips. Maybe some saw it as me being a "dick"...who knows?

And we're obviously still getting new members...heck, you've only been here since 2020... ;)
Meh, it's possible to assemble stats but it's pretty pointless. When someone bounces in all excited with a question that's important to them it really doesn't take a genius to fathom that being told to go Google and stop cluttering the forum isn't a friendly response.

Conversely, it's impossible to assemble meaningful stats to show that a forum would or wouldn't grow faster or larger dependent upon behaviour of members because this is clearly supposition and there would be many assumptions involved in any attempt at prediction. Whether larger growth is desirable from the pov of the regulars is one thing but you can bet it's what advertisers want to see.

It's still much easier to simply ignore threads you don't like rather than bash newbs for asking questions which annoy you though.
 

Isotope

Strat-Talk Member
Mar 31, 2021
94
United States
It matters more than what the people who say it makes no difference at all want you to believe, but in the grand scheme of things it's subtle. A nuance. Certainly matters more to the player than the audience, since the player also feels the guitar in his hands and against his body and has to support the weight of it.

I often see the argument for it not mattering at all being that the pickups only pick up the metallic strings vibrating in a magnetic field, which of course is mostly true, but that assumes some kind of idealized perfection where the strings and guitar body don't interact at all, but if you can feel the guitar body resonating with the string vibrations, then obviously some kind of transfer of energy is happening there, which will affect the string vibration. Doesn't mean the acoustic sound and feel of the guitar translates directly to the amplified sound, in fact I think it might often be the opposite - a guitar that sounds a bit "dead" and feels "lifeless" acoustically might have a very strong and healthy amplified sound, perhaps in part because more energy is retained at the strings instead of being "sunk" into the body.

As for the shape / size of the body, two pieces of same material will have a different resonance frequency if they are of different size.

That said for the amplified sound I think it's pretty low in the list of priorities. Something like a minute pickup height adjustment will make a way bigger difference in the amplified sound than changing the body. For example I have two Squier strats, one with a poplar body and one with a nyatoh one, poplar body is very lightweight and resonant in play, nyatoh is lot heavier and sounds very different acoustically, so the bodies are not really "close" to each other at all in feel or acoustical sound. While I wasn't able to make the guitars sound identical amplified, I could get them almost there... just a couple turns of a screwdriver away from sounding vastly different from each other. Yeah, pickup adjustments matter... and this was with different strings and gauges... 9-42 nickel plated steel on one guitar vs 9.5-44 pure nickel on the other. With identical strings I could've gotten them even closer - though even with same type & brand of strings, there is a *slight* color to the sound of both guitars that seems to stay there no matter what I do with the pickup heights. Like the nyatoh one always seems a bit more "focused", but I have no idea where that comes from, could be the pickups (I think should be same but different patch), could be the body wood, could be neck pocket or combination of body resonance vs. neck resonance, could be the gold plated hardware or the sienna sunburst finish...
I think Nyatoh is a denser, much harder wood than poplar. I think poplar is quite similar to alder. But if the strings sit higher on a certain guitar, that can increase the string tension, even with the same gauge of strings. Modern Fender strats like the American Standard and American Professional actually have deeper neck pockets than vintage style strats. An SRV neck pocket is still made to be 5/8” deep as a vintage strat neck pocket would be. The newer strats that tend to have the two point trems have 11/16” neck pockets. The neck sits lower into the body and this also allows the saddles to sit lower to the body. All in an effort to make string bending easier. That might affect the tone as well, but I’m not sure. Because I’ve never A-B tested the ones I’ve had with the same pickups.
 

Isotope

Strat-Talk Member
Mar 31, 2021
94
United States
And this is the central point. The reason these threads pop up so often is because there's an entire industry out there trying to persuade people they could sound better if they'd just spend some more money and it causes a lot of angst among people who'd prefer to whip out their wallets than admit being confused. It's not an original idea, it's the oldest sales pitch there is
 

Isotope

Strat-Talk Member
Mar 31, 2021
94
United States
Like describing a neck as “fast”. How is a neck fast? Eric Johnson plays chunky neck strats and he can play faster than anyone I know.
Like a slim neck is fast and a 58 Les Paul keeps you under 40 mph in the slow lane.
I do believe bigger frets can help a person play fast, but the neck thickness is going to be something related to individual comfort. Some of us have long fingers and short palms by comparison, some have shorter fingers but large palms. I think these factors are what makes us like a fat or slim or V or D shaped neck.
 

JDug

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 18, 2020
1,143
New Jersey USA
This is my take on this subject:
I believe the weight of the guitar matters more than different body woods.
Also a thicker neck.
I had a 2017 Wildwood Thin Skin ‘56 Strat, it was 8.6 lbs, Ash body, with a thick 10/56 neck, .91”/1.00”
That guitar, you could actually feel the thing vibrate, it was like nothing I ever played before, Strat wise. Loud unplugged!
Kinda heavy, but it just sounded great.
Not sure of the Ash body factoring in, but just amazing, so I believe a heavier guitar with a thicker neck makes a difference generally.
My current guitar, a 2022 ‘57 CS is a close second. 8 lbs Alder, 10/56 neck as well.
Not huge difference from other Strats, but they thicker neck/heavier guitar resonates/vibrates more, more substance to it.

And although I have an Alder bodied Strat now, I only would prefer Ash because its grain looks nicer through a 2TSB, not sound wise.

(Also, to me, maple vs rosewood boards are more looks than anything.)
 
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