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Thread: Acoustic woods

  1. #1
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    Acoustic woods

    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

  2. #2
    I really love the way a maple bodied acoustic with a maple neck and spruce top sits in a mix.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Sage's Avatar
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    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.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Rango's Avatar
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    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.

  5. #5
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rango View Post
    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.

  6. #6
    Senior Member 11top's Avatar
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    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):





    And here is the wood for my upcoming Angelus PS:


    Last edited by 11top; 02-21-2013 at 09:25 AM.
    Sh*tter's full

  7. #7
    Senior Member Rango's Avatar
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    That's just amazing.

    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!
    Last edited by Rango; 02-21-2013 at 11:06 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    I had a brief listen and try of an ebony Tonare in a visit to the vault. It sounded wonderful.

  9. #9
    Bless the Blues 38Roars's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11top View Post


    I cannot wait to see the finished Guitar!!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinbuster View Post
    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?

  11. #11
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel View Post
    What top wood did that one have?
    I'm not certain, but I think it was Englemann.

  12. #12
    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?

  13. #13
    Happy Egads's Avatar
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    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.

  14. #14
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SemiToneScientist View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Egads View Post
    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.

  15. #15
    Older getting younger
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    Quote Originally Posted by SemiToneScientist View Post
    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/
    PRS electrics and bass, Taylor BTO GS Cocobolo, K26e Koa, 2012 FLTD 412ce-N and GS mini mahogany acoustic guitars; Bad Cat Cub IIR, Carr Rambler, Fender Supersonic 22, Univox, Fishman Loudbox 100, Loudbox Mini and Mark Bass amps
    In music, one must think with his heart and feel with his brain.
    I was joeprs on BAM

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by veinbuster View Post
    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.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by pondsnorkeler View Post
    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

  18. #18
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pondsnorkeler View Post
    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.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by veinbuster View Post
    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

  20. #20
    Goatee Practitioner Danerada's Avatar
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    My favorite combination is OM body style all hog 12 frets to the body.
    - Dane

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