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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As a general observation, have any of you noticed lightweight guitars being easier to play?

By easier to play, I mean the notes feel and sound like they jump off the fretboard quicker and louder. The guitar feels more "responsive" to everything you play. For me, lightweight seems to start at around 7 lbs. and under. I remember the Ibanez S5570QDGD as being a good example. Unfortunately, other examples I've played were a used Tom Anderson and a used JEM7DBK (textured one) but I do not know how much they weighed. (I am not talking about standing and playing either. That would make sense.)

The reason I think there is something to this is from personal experience, but also the fact guitar dealers weigh their guitars now and list the weight with the specs. They did not use to do this and my guess is they do it now because guitarists want to know. Why would guitarists want to know? Many reasons, which makes this hard.

Based on your own subjective experience and intuition, have any of you noticed the same thing?
 

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Interesting.
Most lightweight vs heavy models have so many other feature differences that it's hard to isolate what it is that causes the differences...

Closest I could do is a js 1000 (basswood , larger trem route, very light) vs js1600 (big solid lump of mahogany, pretty heavy).

I'll get both out at the weekend and try to do a little A/B test..
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
To approach the question from a different perspective, have any of you noticed heavier guitars are easier to play?

(I think it is safe to assume the setup of the guitar matters the most when it comes to playability. Fair?)
 

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I can't say I have experienced that. My Les Paul is a great playing instrument and it's a whopping 9 lbs... Where my JS is very very light and plays better. The action on both is 1.5mm at the 12th fret and neither of them buzz...The JS is just easier to play. It takes less effort. I think it probably has more to do with the instrument it self.

And when it comes to weight being advertised, some people hate light guitars and other love them. For example my dad loves a heavy guitar, where I personally do not. I don't want a 10lb beast hanging on my shoulders for 4 sets lol. I'd rather have a light weight guitar. Though I still like my Les Paul.
 

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I think, without reviving the tonewood argument, mass DOES play a role in resonance vibration in an instrument. I believe a lower body mass is going to resonate more easily, or probably more accurate to say differently. But then at the bridge, adding a greater mass to, say, the trem block will increase sustain.
That said, there's also a bunch of other factors that play into this. I'm not sure how the chambers in a weight reduced Les Paul play into it, as the acoustics on an electric guitar aren't as big a thing. Mostly, I think it's the mass attached to the ends of the strings and the pickups that matter most. I usually think of the classical mechanics bit of an oscillating spring - but that's probably me oversimplifying it in my head.
 

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I agree with that. But this is going to get in the weeds because these always do. I mean, it also depends on the piece of wood. Not all wood is created equal... Not every piece of wood is either. Some pieces resonate better than others haha. They are just too many variables. For example... My JS24p is basswood and so is my 540 radius, and my js100 is also basswood with a gotoh floyd... They all sound radically different in the mid range.

Where my custom soloist style mahogany guitar with a Schaller Floyd and a jumbo brass teem block, sounds virtually the same as my Les Paul even with the Floyd. And all of them sing and sustain.
 

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I think if "wood didn't matter" and it was just the strings and the pickups, then you'd be able to throw a Tone Zone and Air Norton in a George Benson and get the same results as an RG.
But I think the TZ/AN combo in a Benson would be a *bad idea.*
 

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Wood definitely matters. I think everything together makes a certain character that is desired. For example. I had a 540s neck on my radius. I Could not for the life of me get a thick tone from that guitar that I liked, it sounded dark and thin. I changed the bridge pickup... Still not quite what I wanted. until I put a custom neck on it. It was still a maple with rose wood board just a thicker D profile. It was noticably warmer sounding. I actually really love that guitar now.

Wood matters a lot, but everything does haha. I mean the mo Joe humbucker in my JS24p sounds great! But when I suggested my dad put one in his mahogany super strat... It seriously lacked highs. It sounded really bad.
 

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Yeah acoustic guitars are a whole different world. But back to the original topic... Not tone wood. But do lighter guitars play better or do heavy guitars and vice versa. I do honestly think it depends on the instrument. And do either "sound better" is mostly relative as to what you think "better" is. Same as... Do hot pickups sound better than not hot pickups or... Or do you think ceramic magnet pickups sound better than alnico? It depends on what you personally like.

For me the biggest factor in; if a guitar plays better, is the neck more than the actual guitar. You can take a fender squire strat for $100... Put nice hardware on it and a really nice aftermarket neck... And it will play like a beast. Or comparing a js100 to a js1000. There's a huge difference in the quality of the craftsmanship in the neck more than the body. Just the attention to detail in how well polished the frets are makes a huge difference in feel.

When I bought the js100 I have it played like a cheap guitar... Put a gotoh floyd on it, leveled the frets and polished the frets to a mirror shine... It was a completely different instrument.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
When I studied classical guitar my teacher told me to look for light and loud in a guitar. Of course, that's a different world.
I am actually more familiar with the classical guitar world. Your teacher's advice of "light and loud" is a good rule of thumb. The two characteristics usually go hand in hand. Ironically, tonewood is not really a concept. It's just called wood. Strings on the other hand...8O

I was kind of hoping I would get posts like "Are lightweight guitars easier to play?! Of course they are! Don't you know anything?!" That cut right to the chase. As far as Ibanez goes, the S series has some models (or had some models) that seemed to have a weight/playability correlation. There is also the fact I have only really owned RG/UV type Ibanez guitars. If I owned a lightweight S Series the novelty might wear off and it would become the new "normal."
 

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Doesn't it depend on what you mean by easier to play?

I have JSs RG types and a Les Paul.
All very different weights.

To me scale length neck thickness/radius and action are the biggest factors.

All are easy to play. But there is an adjustment period when switching from one to the other..

I compensate a bit like running the ibanez longer scale with 9s and the shorter scale les paul with 10s which gives a similar tension across both..

As many have said above weight seems to be just one factor of many.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Doesn't it depend on what you mean by easier to play?
In this case, "easier to play" means less effort was required to play that particular guitar at that particular point in time. When this happened, the guitars seemed to be noticeably lighter. As it turns out, several df these guitars were chambered. I did not know that at the time so perhaps it is as simple as a chambered body is a feature I like on electric guitars and am figuring that out now. ;)
 

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My Jems and my Suhr are all light, the Suhr especially so (but then it doesn't have a big ass Floyd Rose anchoring it down). I've got a MIM Strat though made from Poplar which I use as my backup guitar, it sounds great and I enjoy playing it but damn the thing is heavy and really not comfortable for longer gigs, I had to replace the strap with a wider bass style one. A guitar being lightweight of me is a deal-breaker, simply because it's so much nicer to play for longer periods and there seem to be no negative factors with lightweight guitars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The times I've noticed how light a guitar is usually corresponds with these 3 things:

- it is not my guitar
- I play the guitar differently and come up with musical ideas that are completely different from what usually comes to mind.
- it is setup really well.

They have also been good guitars that I'm unfamiliar with. People are more malleable than guitars so I naturally adjust how I play to what the guitar "encourages" me to play. An easy answer would be: this what happens when you try something different. This is probably true, however, the low weight/ high resonance seems like it plays a part too.

If you go to the Strandberg website, they describe their guitars in a similar way; an emphasis on low weight and playability. Parker Fly's were described in an eerily similar way in their catalogs too. I do want to mention that Strandberg embellishes their marketing quite a bit. According to them, they designed the perfect guitar and have the science to back it up. I've found that is only true if you want it to be true based on the ones I've played.

The low weight/playability idea seems to have some historical precedent within the electric guitar community. If you have thoughts, please share.

https://strandbergguitars.com/
 
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