The sound of the electric guitar is made up by all the different parts of the guitar. The most important part may be the pick ups, but all parts of the guitar work together to create its sound. For this article a quick overview of what all the various parts do for the sound of the guitar.
Fretboards come either in Maple or Rosewood, Maple looks lighter compared to Rosewood. Maple is actually harder than Rosewood. Untreated Maple may get dirty over time from being used. Have a look at some older Fender guitars to see what this looks like. Most guitar players will think about their fretboard as something which creates the feel of their guitar rather than the sound of their instrument.
The body can be made out of one piece of wood or several pieces of wood. A guitarbody made out of one piece of wood will resonate better compared to a body made out of several pieces of wood.
The thickness and density of the wood also makes up for the sound: Wood absorbs the sound of the strings and denser woods may absorb less, but denser wood may add more depth to the sound. Thinner guitar bodies will add less depth to the guitar and will give you a thinner sound.
Is the bridge a floating one or a fixed bridge like Les Paul type of guitars have? Floating bridges do have less contact with the body, therefor make up for a different sound. Fixed bridge guitars do have a more direct sound, the body can react quicker with the sound of the string which makes up for a different sound.
Are you using a thin or thicker gauge of strings? Thin strings will add more twang and ring to your sound. If you are playing mainly chords you may like this sound, for playing single strings you may want a bit more body, thicker strings would be better for that kind of idea.
Probably the most obvious part people will associate with the sound of their electric guitar. There are Humbuck and Single Coil pick ups. Gibson guitars tend to use Humbuck pick ups while Fender type of guitars tend to use Single Coil pick ups. Single Coil pick-ups do give a brighter sound while Humbuck pick-ups will give you a fuller and thicker sound. Some guitars combine both type of pick-ups. It may be possible to customize your guitar for using both Humbuck- and Single Coil pick ups.
The nut can be made out of bone, plastic, brass or metal. All these different type of materials will do something for your sound. In the 70s and early 80s some guitars builders favoured to use brass as it was believed it would add to the sustain of the sound. Different kind of ideas are being used at different times. Tastes of guitar players also change over time.
Can you actually hear any of what I have mentioned above? Experienced players will hear the differences, and most people will be able to tell the difference once they have been explained what to listen out for when comparing a few different type of guitars.
What is the best you may wonder? There is no such thing, it is all about taste and what you want from your guitar. It is probably why most guitar players end up with various guitars which will suit for different playing situations.
Experiment with customizing any of you guitars may be fun: Start out with changing one part such as a pick up to see what the result is for your sound. Once you have changed one part you can carry on by changing anything else to see how it affects the sound. By doing this you may end up with a guitar you really like (or dislike…) It is always a gamble but by changing one part at a time you get to see what the effect of the change does to your sound.
Have Fun and hope to see you soon again,