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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I need help as to why my tone sounds muddy. I just put together a custom project. I have an original AANJ RG550 basswood body with a edge pro, V1,S1, Super distortion (bridge) pickups, rg550 volume/tone pots. Im using a maple aanj neck/fretboard from a rg 450 \with gotoh tuners and rg550 locking nut. Basically, all the parts I used are off a rg550 besides the maple neck itself. Now heres my problem. Everytime I strum the strings, without the guitar being plugged into an amp or anything, it sounds as if all the tone is getting sucked into the body itself and doesnt sound bright or crisp at all. Everything is tight on the guitar and it took me about 2 hours to set it up.. Stays in tune really nice, but the tone sounds like crap. Is there anything on the trem itself that would suck up the tone of the strings? Worn out saddles, trem block under the tremolo, worn nut, or possibly the paint? Any suggestions would be appreciative. The best way I guess I can describe the tone is if you had an acoustic guitar and put a blanket inside the hollow body and tried playing it that way.
 

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You do realize that your guitar is an electric guitar, right? Why don't you try plugging it in first before assuming you have a "muddy tone" when your electric guitar is unplugged?

Jimmy:smile:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well if it sounds like crap unplugged, its not going to sound good plugged in no matter what pickups you throw in it. Ya, it might help out a little, but compared next to my 89 rg550 when I strum that guitar, the strings sound nice and clear. It resonates very nicely throughout the guitar. Ive played this guitar through an amp, but it doesnt have that well rounded tone and nice mids like I have through my 550. The guitar I built has the same exact wood type as my 550 minus the standard block style neck. So im confused as to why the sounds of the strings sound so muffled compared to my 550.
 

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I suggest you up your post count and post lots of pictures of this guitar because you thinking it sounds muffled when unplugged isn't very descriptive. Does it sound like you've laid a piece of paper on the strings? If that's the case then something is obstructing the strings from vibrating. Possible causes (and I'm going out on a limb here):

1. Stupid low action?
2. The trem is sitting too low in relation to the fretboard?
3. You've got a high fret?
4. The pickup(s) are too high and touching the strings?
5. The locking nut is sitting too low?


Jimmy:smile:
 

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Well if it sounds like crap unplugged, its not going to sound good plugged in no matter what pickups you throw in it. Ya, it might help out a little, but compared next to my 89 rg550 when I strum that guitar, the strings sound nice and clear. It resonates very nicely throughout the guitar. Ive played this guitar through an amp, but it doesnt have that well rounded tone and nice mids like I have through my 550. The guitar I built has the same exact wood type as my 550 minus the standard block style neck. So im confused as to why the sounds of the strings sound so muffled compared to my 550.
Same type of wood but it's a different piece of wood. No two guitars are ever going to sound exactly the same. Sometimes they will sound very similar and sometimes they will sound very different.

I've got (2) PGM301s that until recently were almost identical (I've since changed the bridge pickup on one of them) but one weighs almost a pound more and the difference is in the body's weight. They're both basswood but one is from a different cut of wood. The heavier one sound a bit brighter then the lighter one but they both sound good to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Maybe its just the 2 different pieces of wood then. l dont like the action on my guitars low. I set it up so theres a good amount of relief in the neck. I think the super distortion isnt the right sound Im looking for in this guitar. Maybe a tone zone or an evo in the bridge will be better. The only reason I put in the super distortion is cause I pulled it out of an ltd explorer that I bought recently and wanted to throw something in the bridge that was different. This guitar has been laying around waiting to get put together, so thats why I threw it in there. I just wanted to get it together and play it.

By the way JB4674, all the those things you mentioned have to do with string buzz and I didnt mention anything about the strings buzzing. All I said that it sounds different when you strum it than my 550. Thats strumming open notes, not fretting any of them. The 550 just sounds significantly brighter strumming open notes without being plugged into the amp. The guitar actually plays really well and stays in tune great. Just totally different sound than my 550.
 

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But the question still remains, have you tried it plugged in??

Are the strings new? By that I mean have they been laying round in the packet for ages too.

I put a set of strings on a guitar for someone I was setting it up for, and the strings were bought from a Pawn shop. They were sealed but I think they had been sat in a drawer or in the window for god knows how long because it wouldn't set up properly or sound right. Put a set of my strings on and it was fine.

Tried upping the gauge? 10's or even 11's will make the guitar ring more too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
But the question still remains, have you tried it plugged in??

Are the strings new? By that I mean have they been laying round in the packet for ages too.

I put a set of strings on a guitar for someone I was setting it up for, and the strings were bought from a Pawn shop. They were sealed but I think they had been sat in a drawer or in the window for god knows how long because it wouldn't set up properly or sound right. Put a set of my strings on and it was fine.

Tried upping the gauge? 10's or even 11's will make the guitar ring more too.
Ya I played it through an amp and it sounds ok, but, it could sound alot better if the basic problem was fixed. The pickups only amplify the tone of the strings so if they sound like crap without it plugged into the amp, its only going to amplify that sound through an amp. I know you can cover up alot of tone through the distorition, but it aint going to help when your trying to play clean.

The strings are brand new. There D'Addario 9-42's. I use D-Addario's for all my guitars. Usually the strings are in good condition cause they keep them in a vacuum sealed pouch. I bought them at guitar center right before I put the guitar together. But who knows, they could have been on the shelf for a while. Now that its all set up, it doesnt take long to throw on a new set of strings. Maybe ill try that and see how it sounds.

Thanks for the info
 

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It's really comical that you complain about an electric guitar sounding muddy when it's unplugged. Bottom line is that if you don't like the sound of the guitar, then either sell it or change the pickups. It is an electric guitar after all and its sound shouldn't be judged when unplugged.

Jimmy:smile:
 

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It's really comical that you complain about an electric guitar sounding muddy when it's unplugged. Bottom line is that if you don't like the sound of the guitar, then either sell it or change the pickups. It is an electric guitar after all and its sound shouldn't be judged when unplugged.

Jimmy:smile:
I don't think it's comical. If an electric guitar sounds sweet and resonant unplugged then chances are a set of good pickups will mean that the plugged-in tone is good too.

Also, figuring stuff out like this, rather than just selling or changing the pickups, is educational.

You don't really learn anything by giving up and selling it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I don't think it's comical. If an electric guitar sounds sweet and resonant unplugged then chances are a set of good pickups will mean that the plugged-in tone is good too.

Also, figuring stuff out like this, rather than just selling or changing the pickups, is educational.

You don't really learn anything by giving up and selling it.
Exactly Sickbean.

For jb4674, Swapping pickups solves only partially the problem. Like i said before, if all you play is distortion, then it covers up alot, but what happens when you want to play clean? Im not gonna just up and sell the guitar. I definately learned that about 75% of people who are on forums are people who have no clue about anything or act like they know everything. You know what they say about people who have opinions. The reason why I posted this here is because I was hoping that someone would have a similar problem and the fact that many people here have years of experience with guitars. Anyways.

This is the second guitar that ive put together. My rg550 was my first "real" guitar that I bought and Ive taken that one apart, stripped the paint, repainted it, and built it back up. And the guitar sounds amazing. Keep in mind that Ive never setup a floating trem before or rebuilt a guitar ever. I hear people say all the time that trying to tune them in a nightmare, but if you have a basic concept of how a floating trem works with the springs then you can tune it easily. I dont find it hard at all to set one up. Maybe its just the fact I know how everything is suppose to be setup in unison or the fact that Im on the web looking up how to do all the work. Ive always been a hands on guy and building things has come with me through experience, not naturally. Im still a novice when it comes to guitar playing being that ive only been playing for about 2 years. So I still have trouble trying to explain tones and other concepts with the guitar. But, what I do know is that by jumping in to try to the solve the problem is the best way to learn.
 

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The pickups only amplify the tone of the strings so if they sound like crap without it plugged into the amp, its only going to amplify that sound through an amp.
TO be honest I half agree with you. But the tone is more the Wood than the strings. Though It is a mixture of the two.

You may have a bad one. When I was starting I bought a strat copy and there were 3 in the rack. Two sounded ok, but one just sang, same model, same manufacturer same amp.

As said maybe flip it on **** and buy something else.
 

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I have Gibson Les Paul Studio circa mid 1990s, ie when Gibson decided to stop making variably rubbish guitars and just make all of them rubbish.

Unplugged it sounds and feels dead. Clean tone is useless. G n' R type drive it starts to open up a bit, and by the time you get to Metallica levels of gain and beyond it sounds absolutely awesome - better than some of my more 'quality' guitars.

Complicated things are guitars, this is for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Im definately going to keep the guitar. I got about 8 hours in just paint and body work on it. I filled in the input jack hole and drilled out an angled one like vai. Then I did a relic desert yellow paint job along with the headstock. It wasnt suppose to have the relic look, but when I sprayed the last coat of yellow, I was using a heat gun to dry the paint faster. It was water based paint so it takes longer to dry between coats and a heat gun speeds up the process. Well, I held the gun near the trem cavity too long and bubbled the paint. So, my friend whos been doing paint work for about 15 years said to just wet sand the bubbles out, respray it a little and it should be fine. I asked if it was going to be ok to wet sand a water based paint and he said it was all good, and that he did it in the past. Well, it completely messed up the paint, so I just went with it and went around the guitar sanding in various places to mess up the paint. The end result came out cool looking in my opinion. Ill post up pictures of it later today so everyone can see it.

Im going to change the strings again and see if that helps. If it doesnt, ill just buy an evo or a tone zone for the bridge and just accept the fact that the wood is the problem or maybe it will sound amazing with those pickups. who knows, I might just get lucky
 

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when i blocked my trem i got much more resonance out of the body. Also, I just hollowed out an RG and put a bookmatched top on it, that really made the badboy resonate. I tend to agree, with the crowd, though, that the pickups, electronics, effects and amp will dominate the tone of an electric guitar. You can feel better by watching this Vai clip I found where he discusses his theory on the tone of a sloidbody electric guitar.
 

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Is the truss rod perhaps too tight? Sometimes that can make the guitar sound dead acoustically. And how is the fretwork? All part of the puzzle.

Basswood does sound a bit muddy acoustically but with the maple neck/fretboard this should brighten up somewhat. Which leaves me somewhat puzzled as to what this could be.

I Agree with a previous poster that it might be just "different" sounding wood.

Just out of interest how's the tone plugged-in, i.e. what's the sustain like, is the electric tone also muddy?

'87
 
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