Mother Nature’s Guide to a Well Balanced Tone
Well here we are in our 4th entry into our blog series about the design our Pasquale Custom Guitars Revelator 8 Guitar. This is a project that was in development with PCG Endorsing Artist Drew Creal for over a year and is finally coming to fruition as we finalize all the minor details that come with a Signature Guitar.
In previous blogs we looked at the original design concept as well as the ergonomics of the body, the fret scale and neck design. I this article we are going to look at the unique woods that we chose to achieve a full balance of frequencies and the effect that the woods have in producing a variety of tones.
The genesis of this project began when Drew began his latest musical project Muir. Muir is a multi- layered instrumental band that relies on a variety of heavy and light tones as well as alternate tunings and volume swells to achieve an ethereal and cinematic post prog-rock musical experience.
Drew used several of our custom PCG guitars for the recording of the album and he wanted to create one single guitar that he would be able to use to recreate the experience of the album in a live situation. This single guitar would have to have the full tonal palette of sound from his previous guitars as well as having the tonal range to handle the alternate tunings. The concept was great and with this challenge in mind the Pasquale Revelator 8 was born.
We had already overcome many challenges in our design so far and now we were faced with the choice of woods that we were going to use. The guitars that were used for the Muir recording were made of two types of woods. One type consisted of Mahogany body with a Flame Maple Top and the other consisted of one piece Padouk body. The necks were hard maple with Macassar Ebony Fingerboards.
We wanted to keep the tonal characteristics of the original guitars and still add some new dimensions to the sound since we were going to be adding 2 more strings to the lower register and we were adding 2” to the fret scale which would give it a very low bass harmonic frequency.
Our biggest concern was adding too much bass to the low register. With the bigger strings and the lengthened scale it would be very easy to muddy up the low end and make it unusable without some serious EQ at the amp. This would defeat the whole purpose of the design so we chose some very specific wood for some very specific reasons.
For the body wood we chose a combination of two specific woods for 2 specific reasons. We chose a one piece Mahogany blank for the back wood because we needed to keep the tonal characteristics that Drew was used to. Mahogany has a deep, dark and rich bass response with a warm sound and feel. Drew’s main guitars both features mahogany backed bodies so we needed to keep the EQ consistent with those.
For the top wood we chose a 3/16” Padouk laminate top which would be bent over the forearm contour. Drew’s other PCG Custom was a one piece Padouk body that we made specifically for the mid-range punch. Padouk also has a warm and dark characteristic to it but it packs a mid-range punch to it that just cuts through the mix. We chose a 3/16” piece of Padouk because we wanted just enough of the tonal characteristics of the wood to add some mid-range to the mix without overpowering the Mahogany on the back.
This combination of woods had an extremely gorgeous cosmetic effect because the Padouk has a distinct reddish brown color to it with a delicious grain pattern. While the Mahogany has a lighter brown appearance. These two combined create a dazzling visual effect.
As we moved on to the neck woods we decided to we wanted to continue our use of exotic woods to exaggerate the appearance but we only wanted to use them as they applied to overall tone of the guitar. We knew that we had achieved a great balance of mids and lows with the body wood combinations and now we wanted to make sure we covered the mid and high frequencies.
We started with the fingerboard wood first. We needed something to add brightness to the mix so we were going to go with either standard Gaboon Ebony or the more exotic Macassar Ebony that we had used on Drew’s previous guitars.
As we were discussing this at my shop, Drew happened to notice a unique grained piece of Wenge* wood in the corner of the shop that I had come across at my local hardwood store months before. It had a mesmerizing grain appearance that almost seemed like the feathers of an exotic bird and since Wenge has the same tonal characteristics as Ebony, we decided that this would be our fingerboard wood.
The last thing we needed was our neck wood. Drew’s other guitars all featured hard maple necks. Maple is extremely stable and consistent and adds a nice brightness to the overall mix. We were concerned however about the brightness that we added with the Padouk top. We didn’t want to add too much brightness to the mix so we decided to add some creaminess to the mix by using a solid piece of Pau Ferro wood for the neck. Pau Ferro is probably the greatest wood on earth and when used in just the right amounts in just the right places it can be the perfect “secret” ingredient in the EQ mix. Here we used one solid piece for the neck because we wanted that smooth and silky tone that come from the Pau Ferro to permeate this guitar. An added feature to Pau Ferro is the gorgeous grain pattern and dark rich brown color. This was sure to make this custom guitar even more unique.
So there you have it. The sonic and cosmetic logic behind the wood choices for the Pasquale Custom Guitars Drew Creal Signature Revelator 8 Guitar. The full story on how Mother Nature helped us get a full balance of tones for our latest project.
Stay tuned for our next blog article entitled:
“Eight Poles in One Hole: The Birth of the Vintage 8 String Pickup”
Until then, Rock on My Friends
*This wood is often mispronounced “WHEN- Juh”. However, the correct pronunciation of this word is “WHEN-gii” or “WHEN-ghay depending on which part of the Congo you are from. If you are inclined to debate this I can assure you that I learned this from a Swahili Medicine man while I was travelling through Cameroon in search of the ancient remains of King Solomon’s throne...OK that’s not true…actually, I just looked it up on Wikipedia. I was just trying to see if anyone is actually paying attention. ROCK ON …PANTERA RULES!