PDA

View Full Version : Acoustic woods



veinbuster
02-20-2013, 07:03 PM
We talk about wood choices here quite a bit, but with a very strong bias to electric guitars. I think the wood has much more impact in the sound of an acoustic guitar. A while ago a did a comparison for some friends. Included are:
Brazilian body/cedar top: rings like a bell and my most played acoustic
pernambuco body/European spruce top: sounds like a church bell tower, breath taking harmonic sustain
Indian rosewood body/Engelmann spruce top: for playing with friends, a very pure but traditional sound
all mahogany: late night guitar, a very gentle voice
all koa: for mellow music, a very interesting decay
mahogany body/Sitka spruce top: a camp fire guitar that you can beat the snot out of
birch body/spruce top: my first steel string, and only one for about 30 years

I'm curious what others think of acoustic wood choices.

The long version, with photos is at: Peter's thoughts on acoustic body woods (http://mrpetesays.com/music/TheAcousticWoods.html)

LSchefman
02-20-2013, 07:42 PM
I really love the way a maple bodied acoustic with a maple neck and spruce top sits in a mix.

Sage
02-20-2013, 11:40 PM
Mahogany-back/Spruce-top is my personal favorite. It has a pronounced midrange snap that makes it sound very woody. I'm not a bluegrass player, but it's the sound I most identify with bluegrass guitar.

Rango
02-21-2013, 12:31 AM
I've got two nice Rosewood guitars but find I favor my one Mahogany - must be that midrange bump. I like to play that one when I sing, it sits in the right place in the mix to my ear.

veinbuster
02-21-2013, 06:12 AM
I've got two nice Rosewood guitars but find I favor my one Mahogany - must be that midrange bump. I like to play that one when I sing, it sits in the right place in the mix to my ear.

Interesting. I think I would go with mahogany-spruce if I was singing as well.

11top
02-21-2013, 08:50 AM
While, I'm not sure anything sounds any better than mahogany, there are some pretty great sounding woods in my opinion. I have two PS acoustics on order right now. One of them will have ebony sides and back with a bearclaw spruce top. Years ago, I had John Greven build an acoustic out of mccassar ebony and it rings "like a piano" (in Greven's own words). I don't have a photo of the Greven on this computer, but here is one that I had made by Larrivee (and it sounds excellent as well):

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c395/11top/FIGURED%20WOOD/MALASIANBLACKWOODLARRIVEE.jpg

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c395/11top/ACOUSTICS/GUITARS007.jpg

And here is the wood for my upcoming Angelus PS:

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c395/11top/ACOUSTICS/PRSANGELUSSTRIPEDEBONY.jpg

Rango
02-21-2013, 10:59 AM
That's just amazing. :D

How about some sound samples when you get it?

veinbuster - I noticed the old Bluesmen seems to favor Mahogany too. My 814ce is "piano" like but the my "beater" 310e is warmer and I just love the tone from it. One of the guitars "that got away" was a 514ce ... I'd spent a hour playing it. Told a friend about it, he played it and agreed it was a special one... I went back to buy it the next day and it was gone!

veinbuster
02-21-2013, 03:58 PM
I had a brief listen and try of an ebony Tonare in a visit to the vault. It sounded wonderful.

38Roars
02-22-2013, 12:46 PM
http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c395/11top/ACOUSTICS/PRSANGELUSSTRIPEDEBONY.jpg

I cannot wait to see the finished Guitar!!

Daniel
02-25-2013, 02:46 AM
I had a brief listen and try of an ebony Tonare in a visit to the vault. It sounded wonderful.

What top wood did that one have?

veinbuster
02-25-2013, 06:42 AM
What top wood did that one have?

I'm not certain, but I think it was Englemann.

SemiToneScientist
05-06-2013, 08:05 AM
Hello All,

I am the Semi-Tone Scientist. I have been infatuated with the look and sound of pretty much all types guitars for most of my life. My big interest is in acoustic sound and how it can be affected or manipulated by different tone woods. For this reason I want to know why I cant seem to find an "Ebony Guitar" that is not made of Macassar Ebony. African Ebony is such a great tone wood, how come I cant seem to find anyone who is making guitars out of African Ebony?
Anyone here have any thoughts on the subject?

Egads
05-06-2013, 02:02 PM
My favorite combination so far is BRW and cedar, though my current (Irish) build is IRW and cedar. I just love the quiet subtlety yo the cedar top, and the rosewood sides add a great preciseness to the sound. When you really jump on it, it breaks up beautifully. I'd love to hear the ebony sides and back.

veinbuster
05-06-2013, 03:11 PM
Hello All,

I am the Semi-Tone Scientist. I have been infatuated with the look and sound of pretty much all types guitars for most of my life. My big interest is in acoustic sound and how it can be affected or manipulated by different tone woods. For this reason I want to know why I cant seem to find an "Ebony Guitar" that is not made of Macassar Ebony. African Ebony is such a great tone wood, how come I cant seem to find anyone who is making guitars out of African Ebony?
Anyone here have any thoughts on the subject?
I think part of the problem is availability. Bob Taylor has spoken frequently over the last year about how ebony was harvested in Africa and how much of it was wasted (a frightening percentage). He is starting to use some now and if they are well received I would expect it to spread. I played one on the weekend and it was a very nice guitar. I didn't spend enough time on it to comment more than that.


My favorite combination so far is BRW and cedar, though my current (Irish) build is IRW and cedar. I just love the quiet subtlety yo the cedar top, and the rosewood sides add a great preciseness to the sound. When you really jump on it, it breaks up beautifully. I'd love to hear the ebony sides and back.
My classical is BRW and cedar and very few guitars can come close to it for sound. I agree that it is an excellent combination and I could see using it on a steel string one day.

pondsnorkeler
05-06-2013, 05:24 PM
Hello All,

I am the Semi-Tone Scientist. I have been infatuated with the look and sound of pretty much all types guitars for most of my life. My big interest is in acoustic sound and how it can be affected or manipulated by different tone woods. For this reason I want to know why I cant seem to find an "Ebony Guitar" that is not made of Macassar Ebony. African Ebony is such a great tone wood, how come I cant seem to find anyone who is making guitars out of African Ebony?
Anyone here have any thoughts on the subject?

Taylor is doing a limited run of ebony bodied guitars according to the latest issue of Wood and Steel. http://www.taylorguitars.com/

SemiToneScientist
05-07-2013, 12:19 AM
I think part of the problem is availability. Bob Taylor has spoken frequently over the last year about how ebony was harvested in Africa and how much of it was wasted (a frightening percentage). He is starting to use some now and if they are well received I would expect it to spread. I played one on the weekend and it was a very nice guitar. I didn't spend enough time on it to comment more than that.


My classical is BRW and cedar and very few guitars can come close to it for sound. I agree that it is an excellent combination and I could see using it on a steel string one day.


I checked out the Taylor video on youtube. Interesting stuff. Africa is a pretty big place... Kinda of crazy thinking about all the wasted wood, but even crazier to imagine how long it took for industry giants to consider the possibility that non-all-black Ebony could be considered as beautiful/useful/valuable lumber. No matter how you slice it, the wood is rare, hard, sands to an unbelievable polish, and unique among all woods in my opinion.

I have bought Gabon Ebony that was not all black and the stuff has always been gorgeous. Some striped, marbled, curly, even quilted. I love it all.

SemiToneScientist
05-07-2013, 12:26 AM
Taylor is doing a limited run of ebony bodied guitars according to the latest issue of Wood and Steel. http://www.taylorguitars.com/


Checked out the Taylor limited edition Ebony backs and sides.... Awesome! Can't wait to see what the others look like.

The scientist in me has compelled to me to embark on my own personal quest for the "Figured Ebony Guitar"....

I wonder how a curly marbled bridge, finger board and peg head would affect the tone.... maybe using a less dense black and white ebony for the tops, with curly striped backs and sides.....

I must contact my colleagues and begin my research immediately!!!!!!

Semi

veinbuster
05-07-2013, 05:35 AM
Taylor is doing a limited run of ebony bodied guitars according to the latest issue of Wood and Steel. http://www.taylorguitars.com/

That is what prompted me to go and try one out.

SemiToneScientist
05-07-2013, 11:52 AM
That is what prompted me to go and try one out.

Makes sense my friend. Getting the lab together and we are jumping in pocket protectors first, no regrets, no goggles....

Hoping I have enough material to put together 2-3 guiars and possibly use that material as barter to have the guitar made. Don't know if it will work out that way but I'm giving it a try.

Semi

Danerada
05-07-2013, 11:55 AM
My favorite combination is OM body style all hog 12 frets to the body.

veinbuster
05-07-2013, 01:20 PM
My favorite combination is OM body style all hog 12 frets to the body.

I like that too and play mine quite a bit. I find it quite mellow sounding so it is often played early in the morning.

pondsnorkeler
05-14-2013, 01:49 PM
Checked out the Taylor limited edition Ebony backs and sides.... Awesome! Can't wait to see what the others look like.

The scientist in me has compelled to me to embark on my own personal quest for the "Figured Ebony Guitar"....

I wonder how a curly marbled bridge, finger board and peg head would affect the tone.... maybe using a less dense black and white ebony for the tops, with curly striped backs and sides.....

I must contact my colleagues and begin my research immediately!!!!!!

Semi

Although tone is subjective, if you email Taylor, they can give you some kind of description to answer your question. For example, they said using Adirondack Spruce bracing s on my BTO is as effective as if the top were Adirondack. All I know is that guitar is the acoustic guitar GAS killer. Although, I haven't tried an ebony bodied guitar yet.:laugh:

veinbuster
05-14-2013, 05:49 PM
Although tone is subjective, if you email Taylor, they can give you some kind of description to answer your question. For example, they said using Adirondack Spruce bracing s on my BTO is as effective as if the top were Adirondack. All I know is that guitar is the acoustic guitar GAS killer. Although, I haven't tried an ebony bodied guitar yet.:laugh:

I have Adirondack bracing on an Englmann top and it is the boss.

pondsnorkeler
05-14-2013, 07:22 PM
I have Adirondack bracing on an Englmann top and it is the boss.

I definitely agree with your statement.

blaren
05-31-2013, 02:02 AM
I've had a couple of customs built this past year or so.
When you go to "acoustic guitar forums" ;-) a lot of people ALWAYS say...meh..wood is nowhere NEAR as important as the build.
Well..the build IS important but so is wood and there isnt a whole lot of stuff you can do thats more fun than designing an acoustic. Well ok...it's really fun though.

Thee first one I wanted to be a cannon with HUGE bottom end so I decided on a size/shape based on an Advanced Jumbo. I wanted it VERY lightly and very forward shifted-ly(?) braced. I decided to go with a 25" scale. I tune down half a step. I knew I was in danger of creating a boomy, muddy, undefined tub of MUSH.
I still wanted rosewood B&S for it's overtonal content and shimmer and sparkle but again...was in danger of being real boomy so I went with a snappy adirondack top to hopefully bring some definition and headroom and some projection.
Well I lucked-out and ended up with the perfect bonecrushing howitzer that is ceilingless but also has a strong and musical voice when tickled (lightly fingerpicked).

I decided that I HAD to try it again but I needed (lol) a small body in my arsenal..oh..that's electric guitar talk..I mean in my stable and I didnt have a mahogany B&S guitar. Nor did I have a 12 fret so I got the same guy to build me a 12fret 000. Same 25" scale, ebony board and bridge...
This time I was going with dryer more focused and "fundamental" sounding mahogany for the B&S...a very sweet set of quilted Honduran hog, so I knew I could get away with more livlieness in other areas like the 12 fret neeckjoint and...I got the top made of Lutz Spruce which they say sounds and has properties somewhere between sitka and adi.
BINGO again!!
It's a lively fingerpicking MACHINE that is as loud and punishing (when it wants to be) as the AJ almost. The Lutz is SO sweet sounding but also projects and has huge headroom. It's kinda like cedar..but really hard cedar..like if there was such thing as adirondack cedar lol.

Acoustic guitars are where you can really HEAR the WOOD. I mean compared to electric guitars..not compared to violins or cellos...but maybe?? I don't know.
And you CAN "hear" different woods on an electric but yeah...great OP.

BTW, I just finally got to take an SE Angelus Custom for a spin. Awesome value, great guitar. GAS inducing.
I would have taken it home but I was there to get an electric guitar and the blazing white fretboard binding in the Angelus almost blinded me. If it isnt a third custom built Halcyon for me, my next acoustic WILL be an SE Angelus.

Sage
06-25-2013, 11:46 AM
I have learned that to my ears, mahogany back/sides/neck and spruce top are the winning combination. To me, it's what a well-recorded bluegrass guitar always sounds like. I don't play bluegrass myself, don't have the chops, but that tone, especially from single-note melodies, is so earthy-sounding that I've just got to have it. Because I'm used to the pronounced midrange of mahogany, I have always found acoustics with rosewood backs and sides to be hollow-sounding. To my ears it sounds cheap. Which is crazy, I know, because so many people love that sound and will pay a premium. But give me mahogany every time.

A more interesting, lesser-used combination is the cherry back/sides and cedar top that you'll find on some lower-priced guitars. I have a Seagull S12+ that is probably the best 12-string I've ever heard. And at a sub-$500 price point, that's really saying something.