Well here you go – this is the first in a series of papers where I will try to give the reader a comprehensive overview of how different pickups and wood interact and produce the sounds in solid body electric guitars. Trying to understand these effects and interactions was actually the motivation for why I started building guitars in the first place and the beginning of Calaveras Fretworks Custom Guitars. A few years back I put a Maple Tele neck on the first CFCG mahogany body and was floored by the new sounds I heard – especially from pickups like the Fender Texas Specials and Gibson 57 Classics that I was already familiar with but had only played in instruments using different body and neck woods.
Why did these pickups play so much better? So much more sustain along with a fuller or “fatter” tone. You all know what sustain is – there is so much more hang time to the note or chord that the guitar seems to play itself. A fatter sound to me means that there’s more meat or gain in portions of the audible spectra – more on this later.