Back and side wood types...
What do you prefer?
I know there are seemingly a ton of people who like rosewood or cocobolo best. Even prior to PRS beginning to manufacture acoustic guitars, I tend to feel like something is missing when I play rosewood back/sides. Not sure if it's a midrange thing or what. I feel like I'm nuts, because it seems to be the wood of choice for many. For a long time, I liked maple back/sides...I had a decent Guild that ended up getting stolen, but I liked that guitar a lot. Odd, because you'd think the maple would have the least midrange of all.
I went a couple years with no acoustic at all, since I mostly play electric. When I started out on my search of a new acoustic(several years back), my thoughts were similar where I found myself gravitating toward mahogany or something else. I ended up with a walnut back and sides. I played exact same models with hog, rosewood and walnut. I felt the walnut had some of the rosewood complexities but still had that big punchy sound of mahogany. I like big and loud sounding acoustics with some nice beef to the bottom end, I'm not a very delicate or overly intricate player
It's been awhile since I've seriously demoed any acoustics since I'm not much in the market. But I played Gian's SE Angelus std the other day and really enjoyed it. I'd really like a Tonare Grand someday, but I'm hard press to justify(or afford) spending that kinda $ on an acoustic. It would be interesting to A/B the hog and rosewood models in a new quiet rooms sometime just to really hear the differences...throw Les' maple monster in there as well...and Jamie's hog top(which I loved at EXP).
Speaking of my maple monster...
I've owned two Tonare Grands. One is my current model with the Maple back, neck, and sides, and an Adirondack Spruce top; the other was a Cocobolo back and sides with a 'hog neck and an Adirondack top. Both guitars have ebony fingerboards.
Because of the design of the PRS acoustics, both guitars sound huge and punchy. They both absolutely fill the room. These are not quiet acoustics.
I've also owned Rosewood, Mahogany and Walnut Taylors, Rosewood and Mahogany Martins, an all-Hog Guild (including top), and Two Maple Collings. And I've had both cedar and spruce topped acoustics.
And recorded them all going back to the early 70s. So hopefully I have some basis of comparison.
First, the overall design and size of the guitar make the biggest difference. Second comes the quality and material of the top. This makes sense, since it is the top that is designed to vibrate and act like a speaker cone/soundboard. Cedar or mahogany tops compared to spruce make more of a difference than back/sides/neck woods. Dreadnoughts from two builders often sound more alike than, say, a dreadnought and a 000 from the same maker, simply because they're pushing the same volume of air, etc.
PRS acoustics are designed to facilitate movement of the top, and to stiffen and reduce the movement of the sides and back. This gives them a huge volume and projection, and at the same time, it means that the differences between the back and side woods are more subtle than with some makes.
Honestly, play a rosewood fingerboard dreadnought and then a more traditional ebony fingerboard dreadnought, and you'll discover that the fingerboard material makes a surprising difference. So none of this stuff is predictable in a vacuum! Everything involved affects the outcome of the sound of the guitar.
My walnut Taylor (based on the 914) was my least satisfying high end acoustic. It was quiet sounding, by comparison to some of the more traditional woods. I actually owned two of these, because my first one had the paint peel off, so Taylor replaced it. Both sounded very similar.
The guitars that were the "most me" before getting my first PRS acoustic were the Collings SJs, with maple back, neck and sides, Sitka tops, and ebony boards. They were bright, articulate and projected very well into both the room and a mic.
My Cocobolo PRS Tonare Grand was phenomenal, warmer sounding than the Collings, but just as big sounding. The Maple one I now have is the same as the Coco one in terms of loudness and punch, but maybe a little clearer sounding, as maple tends to be.
I tend to be less into mahogany back/sides acoustics lately. They're neither here nor there for me; I guess I like the extremes of rosewood or maple, and 'hog is a bit in-between. But I did like the ones I had when I had them.
Some maple acoustics don't float my boat; the ones that do are the Jumbos and Small Jumbos. Maple sounds too thin for me with anything smaller.
Dunno of any of this rambling helps, but there's my experience boiled down to one post of LS BS.
Bobble Head Moderator
I have a '76 Martin D-35 (IRW/Spruce) that is an absolute cannon. I sold a Taylor BRW/Adirondack that was lifeless. No bottom end. My Taylor Cocobolo/Cedar was a wonderful guitar, but when I got my Tonare all Mahogany, it just sat there. The Tonare has a huge sound, incredibly balanced...
I'd Love a Maple Guild 12-String one day... And if I can come up with the scratch, I'd love to pick up one of the BRW Angelus APs that are still floating around...
My favourite acoustic is my classical: Brazilian rosewood with a cedar top. It has a big rich sound. I do feel rosewood favours deeper tones, which I think is perfect for a classical guitar.
For steel string, my most unique sounding guitar has pernambuco back and sides. It is a bit of an obscure combination, but the notes ring so pure that it is hard not to love. The note decay makes it most suitable for melody playing rather than strumming.
For all purpose use, I tend to stick with the traditional mahogany back and sides with a spruce type. I really like the Englemann top I have and if I could only have one steel string this might be it.
I've never found a maple that I really bonded with. I've tried a few times, but it hasn't worked out for me - though I hope to one day visit Les and compare our Tonares - just so I know that maple can be excellent.
I also like my little 12 fret all mahogany. It is a very mellow sounding guitar and as such, for me is a bit specialized in its use. I feel much the same about koa. The two sound different, but both have a soft side that makes them a bit specialized.
I think you'd like the one I have, and it would sure be fun to get together and play!
Originally Posted by veinbuster
For years, I wanted a SJ-200. I played one in a store in the mid 90's, likely around the same time I ordered my 1st PRS. I haven't picked one up in forever so no idea whether it would strike me the same. I just remember the hugeness of the sound, it kind of sucked you in and surrounded you. I was enamored with the CU22 and that acoustic. Obviously got the PRS but never the SJ-200.
Originally Posted by LSchefman
Yeah, I'd love to find a Tonare somewhere close that I could really spend some time with. I feel acoustics are so much more personal and intimate between the player and guitar. I'm not sure I'd order one online(besides a PRS maybe). For whatever reason, I've never owned a jumbo body - even though I know it's what I prefer. Maybe because they aren't as common in stores around here as other body styles and I've just limited myself to stock local to me. I've always owned dreads.
Odd, the Taylor walnut was quiet. Was that they're biggest body? I can never keep track of they're models. My Larrivee walnut is pretty damn loud.
Yeah, your Tonare is incredible. I should've been more selfish with it when I got my grubby little mitts on her.
Originally Posted by JMintzer
I have an older jumbo and I feel like that there are builders who are getting really big sound out of smaller guitars these days.
Originally Posted by vchizzle
I like that because I find the jumbo a bit unwieldy.
They are getting a lot out of small bodies, but there are limitations because...well...physics...the guitar body is a resonator, and a larger resonator will give you more low end than a small resonator.
Originally Posted by veinbuster
The Tonare is an SJ size, not a true jumbo.