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Endangered woods play no part in making better guitars: Study

ANI | Updated: Jan 28, 2019 20:16 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Jan 28 (ANI): Some might believe that when it comes to a perfect acoustic guitar, wood matters but according to a recent study back wood has a negligible effect on the sound quality and playability of an acoustic guitar and that cheaper and sustainable woods can be used as substitutes of expensive and endangered woods without loss of sound quality.
Some of the woods used for guitars are revered by guitar players for their acoustic qualities and are claimed to be tonally superior to other woods. Unfortunately, according to a recent study, many of these woods are expensive, rare, and from unsustainable sources. As part of the study, Researchers tested the sounds made by six different acoustic guitars in a study addressing the effects of the type of wood used in their construction.
The steel-string acoustic guitar is one of the world's most popular musical instruments. Some of the woods used for guitar backs are revered by guitar players for their acoustic qualities and are claimed to be tonally superior to other woods.
Findings of the study were published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 
Guitar manufacturers are aware of this issue and have taken a range of initiatives to address it, such as using different and more readily available woods as substitutes. The challenge is to find woods that are sustainable and cheap without compromising on the sound quality and playability of the instrument.
A study led by Lancaster University tested six steel-string acoustic guitars which were specially built by guitar maker Roger Bucknall. They all had the same design and material specifications except for the back and side plates which were made of woods varying widely in availability and price:
Brazilian rosewood
Indian rosewood
Mahogany
Maple
Sapele
Walnut
Overall sound quality ratings were then given by 52 guitarists in a dimly lit room who played the different guitars while wearing welder's goggles to prevent visual identification.
They gave similar ratings to all six guitars, while blinded tests by 31 of the same guitarists indicated that they could not easily distinguish the guitars by their sound or feel.
“We found that acoustically, the differences between the guitars were minimal. Guitarists gave very similar ratings to the sound quality and playability of the different guitars under blinded conditions. Furthermore, their ability to distinguish the guitars by their sound in a blinded discrimination test was poor," said Christopher Plack, lead author of the study.
According to the researchers, results suggest that the back wood has a negligible effect on the sound quality and playability of an acoustic guitar and those cheaper and sustainable woods can be used as substitutes of expensive and endangered woods without loss of sound quality. (ANI)

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