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Thread: Figured Ebony Guitar.......Acoustic Tone Dream? Wishful Thinking?

  1. #1

    Figured Ebony Guitar.......Acoustic Tone Dream? Wishful Thinking?

    Greetings,

    I am the Semi-Tone Scientist.

    My mission is to find the ultimate exotic tone wood combination that will unleash the rich sound of a Sirens' call, mesmerizing all listeners as if the pied piper came to town after completing Homer's Odyssey.

    I would like to know what you guys think about tone and tone wood combos. But specifically, what are the thoughts on an "All Ebony Guitar"? Is the idea, just foolishness? Tom foolery? Naivety?

    Please share with me.


    SemiTone

  2. #2
    If I'm not mistaken, there have been some done in Private Stock with ebony back and sides, but I believe the tops were spruce. They certainly look spectacular, but I haven't heard them.

    Since the top acts like a speaker on an acoustic guitar, and ebony is pretty stiff, I'd imagine that an ebony top would have to be pretty thin to be able to vibrate enough.

    Then again, the modulus of elasticity of ebony is not my specialty..
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  3. #3
    Senior Member 11top's Avatar
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    My soon to be delivered PS has striped ebony backs and sides and a macassar neck. When I first ordered this guitar, it was to have a top matching the ebony back, but I chickened out and went with a Sitka bearclaw top.

    Last edited by 11top; 05-06-2013 at 10:20 AM.
    Sh*tter's full

  4. #4
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    If I'm not mistaken, there have been some done in Private Stock with ebony back and sides, but I believe the tops were spruce. They certainly look spectacular, but I haven't heard them.

    Since the top acts like a speaker on an acoustic guitar, and ebony is pretty stiff, I'd imagine that an ebony top would have to be pretty thin to be able to vibrate enough.

    Then again, the modulus of elasticity of ebony is not my specialty..
    I agree 100% with this. I really don't think ebony would work as a top. The fact that those really dense woods are never used on the top of an acoustic has to mean something more than nobody ever thought of it before.
    I seem to recall seeing a guitar where some ebony was used in the bracing for the top to 'tune' its acoustic properties.

  5. #5
    chief Shawn@PRS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11top View Post
    My soon to be delivered PS has striped ebony backs and sides and a macassar neck. When I first ordered this guitar, it was to have a top matching the ebony back, but I chickened out and went with a Sitka bearclaw top.

    That's a good looking guitar Steve!

  6. #6
    Senior Member 11top's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn@PRS View Post
    That's a good looking guitar Steve!
    Thanks Shawn. I'm always excited about what leaves your shop, but this one has me especially so.
    Sh*tter's full

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by 11top View Post
    Thanks Shawn. I'm always excited about what leaves your shop, but this one has me especially so.
    I'd say it's pretty spectacular!
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by veinbuster View Post
    I agree 100% with this. I really don't think ebony would work as a top. The fact that those really dense woods are never used on the top of an acoustic has to mean something more than nobody ever thought of it before.
    I seem to recall seeing a guitar where some ebony was used in the bracing for the top to 'tune' its acoustic properties.
    The scientist in me has compelled to me to embark on my own personal quest for the "Figured Ebony Guitar"....

    I'm thinking:

    Curly marbled bridge, finger board, & peg head veneer.. or maybe solid?

    Considering that the density of some figured Ebonies is lower than 1.2 and even some as low as 0.95, using one of the sub-species for the tops could allow for adequate if not excellent vibration and increased resonance from the geometry complimented by the curly and marbled figuring.

    I have contacted my colleagues and we begin our research later this morning.....

    Please share your thoughts with me as your input has given me more detailed considerations for my studies

    Semi-Tone

  9. #9
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    There is nothing wrong with an experiment, and I wish you luck and am interested in your findings.
    If you look at the charts of wood densities, you will note that even the extremely low 0.95 you mentioned is twice as dense as the spruce that is the most common top for an acoustic: it is 0.45. Red cedar is 0.38. The most dense top I see with any regularity is mahogany which has a very wide range of 0.50 to 0.85 - I strongly suspect the less dense sources are used for guitar tops.

    Off the top of my head, if you ended up with a guitar you liked the sound of, you would find that it projected much less than a typical acoustic.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by veinbuster View Post
    There is nothing wrong with an experiment, and I wish you luck and am interested in your findings.
    If you look at the charts of wood densities, you will note that even the extremely low 0.95 you mentioned is twice as dense as the spruce that is the most common top for an acoustic: it is 0.45. Red cedar is 0.38. The most dense top I see with any regularity is mahogany which has a very wide range of 0.50 to 0.85 - I strongly suspect the less dense sources are used for guitar tops.

    Off the top of my head, if you ended up with a guitar you liked the sound of, you would find that it projected much less than a typical acoustic.
    Thank you, that is good information to consider. I will input theses considerations into our formula......

    .....So we have begun. Here is Figured Gabon Block #1, sanded on the side not shown, just re-sawed and ran over the jointer once. Needs 2 or 3 more passes, but even through the rough you can see the heavy quilting and great contrast.


    This second one is big slab 3-5/8" x 9-1/4" x 75". Very curIy with a gold marbled splotch that has some cool details. I think we will get one good 13-14/4 block out of the center and good quarter sawn bridge blanks.


    If anyone is interested, we will report back from the laboratory throughout the coming days & weeks.


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Update: The Figured Ebony Guitar (Day 1: Selection Process)


    Planed down to 2-7/8" x 9-3/4" x 25"


    Figured Gabon Block #1
    Marbled Fiddleback Curl/Quilt?


    Figured Gabon Block #2 (to be cut from slab)
    Black w/Sapwwod Heavy Curl + Marble Cluster


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Semi

  11. #11
    Nameless Here Forever More-

    Thanks so much man! The link on how to post pics helped me out!

    Cheers

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Figured Gabon Block #2 (to be cut from slab)
    Black w/Sapwwod Heavy Curl + Marble Cluster

    Awesome board..... but this one ended up having to many cracks and checks to make backs.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I appreciate all the feedback,

    Semi
    Last edited by SemiToneScientist; 05-15-2013 at 10:27 AM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    I am very interested.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by veinbuster View Post
    I agree 100% with this. I really don't think ebony would work as a top. The fact that those really dense woods are never used on the top of an acoustic has to mean something more than nobody ever thought of it before.
    I seem to recall seeing a guitar where some ebony was used in the bracing for the top to 'tune' its acoustic properties.

    We have also decided to cut binding strips as you suggested. Thanks for all the feedback guys. Keep it comin when you find time. My science is mostly theory and deduced logic from listening, listening, and learning.

    ......Blanks for sides and fretboards were selected and cut this morning and afternoon.....So far so good.

    Tried posting pics but they wouldn't load on to the page. Try again later.


    Semi

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by SemiToneScientist View Post
    Tried posting pics but they wouldn't load on to the page.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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  16. #16

    Update: The Figured Ebony Guitar (From- Day 1: "Selection Process")


    Planed down to 2-7/8" x 9-3/4" x 25"

    Figured Gabon Block #1
    Marbled Fiddleback Curl/Quilt?


    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

    Backs, Potential Sides, Fretboard and Peg Head Material

    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

    Will post more from Day 1: "Selection Process" and Day 2: "The Mill" later today

    Semi

    Last edited by SemiToneScientist; 05-19-2013 at 07:31 PM.

  17. #17

    Day 2: The Mill- Curly Marbled Mania meets Curly Black & White Hybrid

    Day 2: The Mill- Curly Marbled Mania meets Curly Black & White Hybrid





    Uploaded with ImageShack.us






    Uploaded with ImageShack.us






    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

    Curly Back & White Hybrid




    Uploaded with ImageShack.us




    Uploaded with ImageShack.us




    Not the best pics... Clouds couldn't decide on rain or shine then in finally poured. All in all, I think we ended up with some great sets.

    All are rough sawn, fresh off the mill, stickered, braced, and sent to the kiln same day. All are 25", 35"-35" length so we have ample clear material for the actual backs.

    We will be removing all the component material from the kiln before the end of the week. Then I will have pics of the backs, sides, and other components together, illuminating our vision for the actual prototypes. I will update this post then and detail the process as we advance.

    What you guys think?

    Semi
    Last edited by SemiToneScientist; 05-29-2013 at 06:46 AM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    I love the wood choices. Every piece looks great.

  19. #19

    Wood cleaner & a few more back up sets in case of problems drying....

    Wood cleaner & a few more back up sets in case of problems drying....

    Wood Cleaner: hard to get the crazy quilted curly grain in the shot without sanding the board, scared to sand it until completely dry for fear of checking, but a lil' wood cleaner helps distinguish the curly quilt from BS Blade chatter.

    All the sets I bought are marbled, curled, quilted or all three at once. I am happy with them.

    Uploaded with ImageShack.us


    Few more back up sets in case of problems drying.... (2 more to post later today)

    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

    Close Ups (both sets)-

    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

    Uploaded with ImageShack.us



    Uploaded with ImageShack.us



    Opinions? Advice?



    Semi
    Last edited by SemiToneScientist; 05-31-2013 at 10:01 AM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SemiToneScientist View Post
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    I like these pieces. It is particularly interesting to see the lighter wood on both edges of the wood.
    I think most builders would have placed the one on the right a bit lower on the wood to get the more common sap wood in the centre look - not saying your placement is wrong, just atypical.

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