Rhett Shull tests different necks on the same Strat and concludes “it’s real” when it comes to the tonal differences

Though Shull says he supports the tonewood theory, he still finds himself shocked at the results.

Rhett Shull

Credit: Rhett Shull/YouTube

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Is there a tonewood denier in your life? Perhaps you might be one. Well, boy have we found a video for you – guitarist and YouTuber Rhett Shull has tested out three neck variations on the same guitar, and in his opinion there are noticeable differences between each.

For his tonewood experiment, Shull has tested a rosewood neck, a road-worn maple neck, and a roasted maple neck, which have all been set up the same for play straight through his amp with no pedals, using a Fender American Vintage II Stratocaster.

Shull decided to test the tonewood theory after a user commented under one of his videos asking for a comparison between rosewood and maple, which in itself even caused a debate in the comment section.

So, to try and calm the tonewood hysteria which never seems to die, Shull reached out to Sweetwater for a guitar and some different necks. The luthiers at the company set the guitar up ready for the experiment, ensuring that all three necks had the same tuners and were on a level playing field.

“So. We all know that I support the tonewood theory, but in today’s video, we’re putting that to the test by asking if different guitar necks really sound different,” says Shull in his video description.

“Usually, I’d chock up any difference in tone from a maple to a rosewood neck to the different guitars, pickups, pots, guitar weight, etc. But today, we used the same guitar and swapped the different necks out. And honestly, I’m kind of shocked with the results.”

The Fender American Vintage II Strat already has a rosewood fretboard to begin with, as this is “vintage correct”. After playing through this for a while, Shull switches to the first maple neck – a 1950s road-worn style neck with a matte finish. Already in this play through, we start to get some comparisons.

You’ll need to listen closely, but you’ll hear a slightly brighter tone. Last but not least, the roasted maple is tested out, and this one has a lacquer finish. If you fancy placing your own bets on which sounds better, check out the video here:

Again, there’s not much difference between this maple and the previous maple neck, but as Shull concludes, the most significant difference is present between rosewood and maple on the whole, and despite the maple’s snappy-ness, he actually prefers the rosewood.

“It’s like I’m hearing more of the string, and more attack and brightness,” he says of the maple. Interestingly, as Shull also explains, Leo Fender originally made the switch to rosewood from maple purely to avoid dirty marks and signs of wear. Who’d have thought a purely aesthetic decision would lead to this much discourse all these years later?

Check out more from Rhett Shull, or take a browse over at Fender.

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