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Old 02-17-2010, 09:42 PM   #1
metalwarrior40
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Ultimate Tone Wood Thread V2.0

New version of the tonewood thread, approved by the mods,etc
Will be added to for the next week or so. For links to many other great threads, check out the GB&C Central Hub.

General Layout:
Looks/appearance
figuring faq
Types of cuts, ie slabsawn, rift sawn, etc
sounds and weight
Finishing
Poisonous warning
links
faq section
Wood dictionary
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Quote:
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you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote:
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if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.

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Old 02-17-2010, 09:43 PM   #2
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Looks And Appearance
Each piece of wood is completely different from every other piece. Even within a species, no piece is ever the same. The grain pattern, color, shade, weight, and density are all subject to be different. However, this does not mean one piece is going to be better then another piece, it simply means they are different. Face with different boards of wood to choose from, first check for knots, defects, and other signs of weakness. If all pieces are structurally stable, chose the one that you find the most visually appealing. If you find a certain wood visually great, but donít like the tone it contributes to the instrument, consider using a top or veneer made of that wood. This will give you the looks you want, without the tone you hate.

Figuring
Quilted: Quilted wood happens because of the variable stresses being placed on the tree. This causes the wavy appearance in the wood.
Flamed: Flamed wood is similar to quilted, but instead the stress applied on the tree is in a single direction.
Birdseye
: The birdseyes in wood with a birdseye figure are cross sections from root growths
Spalted: Spalted wood is basically partially rotten wood, that is, wood that has a fungus infection. This is what causes the black lines in the grain.

Sound and Weight
The sonic properties of wood will vary dramatically between species, weight and density. Generally speaking, the heavier the wood the more sustain, as well as to have a bright and articulate sound which are all good attributes for a bass guitar. Extra light weight woods, while a great complement for a bad back, can sound indistinct or muddy especially with humbucking pickups. Medium weight woods fall in the middle and are the traditional preference. Compromises may be found by chambering or hollowing the heavier woods. These bodies remain stiff but light weight for that fat, rich tone with great sustain

Thing to consider when choosing a wood:
High density = fat sounding, better lows/mids
High silica content - usually helps bring out the edge of the treble, yet still adds to density. Will blunt tools quickly.
Open pore structure : usually contributes to lower frequency, requires more effort to finish properly.
Closed pore structure : easier to finish, usually contributes to high frequencies.
Tight growth rings - contributes to higher frequency
loose growth rings - contributes to lower frequency.
Please also remember also that it is not necessarily what TYPE of wood you have that you should base the tone off of, but the piece of wood itself.

Neck to Body wood tone ratio :
It is rather obvious that tone and sustain come from sheer mass. Therefore one can conclude that the neck does effect tone, but not as much as the larger mass of wood that is your guitar body.
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Quote:
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you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote:
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if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.

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Old 02-17-2010, 09:43 PM   #3
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Finishing
The finish will have a small impact on electric instruments. Acoustic guitars however will have a significant change in tone base on the finish used. Finishes such as tung oil or Danish oil are the easiest to apply and usually look great on darker woods. Brightly colored dyes only work lightly colored woods such as maple and holly. Transparent colors look best on woods with distinct grain lines such as ash. Clear gloss finishes can be sprayed on any wood but are one of the hardest to get right without proper equipment. Donít forget to take in account the pore structure of the wood when finishing, as it has a direct effect on the order of steps needed to achieve a proper finish.

Types of cuts

Plain sawn:
Plain sawn lumber is the most common form of lumber for one main reason, production efficiency. A slab is cut off first, then the boards are cut one after another until just before the pith (aka heart) is reached. The log is then rolled so that the opposite face is positioned for the next series of cuts. After the log is sawed down to the specific blocking thickness, it is then rolled 90 degrees and more boards are sawed.The board will show a terrific grain pattern when plain sawn. The annual rings of growth will be anywhere from almost parallel with the face of the board to about 60-70 degrees perpendicular to the face. This is the simplest, fastest, and most efficient way to saw a log into boards

Quarter:
The log is sawed into quarters, then into boards. The angle between the cut and the growth rings varies from 90 degrees to about 45 degrees. In such wood, the lines formed by the rings run with the grain. Again they will appear as relatively straight or as U-shaped, depending upon how much is cut off. Such lumber shrinks and swells less in width and warps less than plain-sawn lumber. This lumber is the most exspensive to buy, but best to use for instrument making.

Rift Sawn:
The logs are sawed at not less than 35 or more than 65 degrees to the annual rings, usually at about 45 degrees. In wood sawed this way, the rings appear as longitudinal lines. Rays always run longitudinally and are longer than lumber cut by the other methods

Which to use:
If you are buying your lumber kiln dried, then you will have less to worry about. But if you are buying green or air dried, then your main concern should be on stability. The quarter sawn boards will generally have less movement (shrinkage) when drying. The way the cells are aligned will cause the quarter sawn board to shrink a little bit in width and very little in thickness. Quarter sawn boards are also much less prone to warping. Plain sawn boards have grain in multiple directions, this will cause un-even drying and in turn cause the board to warp (cup, twist, and bow). The shrinkage rate is also much more pronounced in plain sawn boards. Due to the grain's orientation in the board, the board will shrink considerably in thickness as well as width. If you are buying kin dried lumber then you should be some what safe; the boards have done the majority of their movement and all you have to worry about is what they will due when they absorb moisture from their environment and swell.
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Quote:
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you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

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if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.

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Old 02-17-2010, 09:44 PM   #4
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Wood Toxicity
Irritation
Skin,respiratory tracts, and mucous membranes get irritated easily by any fine dust because dust absorbs moisture, thereby drying out the surface with which the dust is in contact. Itchy skin and sneezing are examples of basic irritation thanks to wood dust. The level of irritation is proportional to the exposure time to, and concentration of, wood dust. But irritation is not necessarily benign. Woods like walnut and rosewood emit pleasant odors with low levels of dust, which most woodworkers equate with being one of the benefits of working with woods. However, the natural substances in these woods that cause the scents are also potentially toxic with greater dosage exposure and concentration. Long term effects of exposure to wood dust can include developing an allergic reaction to the dust or possibly nasal cancer.

Sensitization
Substances in wood that cause an emerging (and potentially serious) allergic reaction after repeated exposure are called sensitizers. This type of toxicity is specific to individuals and takes time to develop Ė some people may experience a significant reaction to a wood while others do not. While sensitization typically takes time and repeated exposure to develop, it is possible for some individuals to have an allergic reaction to a wood upon their first contact. Even if you do not have any reaction to a wood (or its dust) the first few times you use it, itís still vital that you take precautions and avoid as much exposure as possible. Itís possible that your body will develop a reaction the more you are exposed.

Poisoning
Universally lethal chemicals are rarely found in natural wood thatís available on the commercial market. Most poisons in plants and trees are located in the bark and/or sap Ė there are some exceptions for rare woods. Sometimes poisonous chemicals are introduced to wood products, such as with pressure treated lumber. Hardwoods cut for cabinetry, flooring, and furniture are not pressure treated. Some common woods demand that woodworkers be aware of their own allergies. Those who have an allergic reaction to aspirin should avoid using woods from birch and willow trees (Betula spp. and Salix spp.) because these contain good concentrations of salicylic acid, the key ingredient in aspirin.

Prevention
You should limit your exposure to wood dust by doing the following things.
-Use vacuum dust collection in your shop, and keep your shop ventilated with fresh air.
-Use protective equipment while woodworking: dust mask, goggles or a full-face respirator, and a protective barrier cream on your arms or exposed skin.
-Immediately after woodworking change your clothes, wash them, and take a shower. This will prevent transferring wood dust to your house where you or your family may be repeatedly exposed to it.

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Quote:
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you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote:
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if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.

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Old 02-17-2010, 09:45 PM   #5
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Please note, the uses are not definitive, itís just the general consensus when building guitars.
Availability and prices are based on US as well as online averages
Pics of each wood will be added in a day or two


Alder (Alnus rubra)
Alder is light tan in color, used mainly for bodies. It has a closed grain, with little to no distinct grain lines, so it can be finished easily, most often a solid color paintjob. It has been said that the tone is mostly balance with equal amounts of low, mids, and highs. Fender has been well known to make their guitars from this wood. The wood is also very light, around 4 pounds for a standard body/
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- No
Fingerboards- No
Availability: Easy to get
Price:
4/4 5.99 B/F
8/4 6.99 B/f


Ash (Fraxinus americana)

There are two types of ash used in guitar building:

North Hard Ash
This wood is very hard, heavy and dense. Its density makes for a bright tone and longer sustain. It has a creamy color, with heartwood of pink and brown tints. The grain structure is of an open type.

Swamp Ash
This wood is much lighter then its counterpart. The grain is again open and creamy. The tone of the wood has a lot of balance and warmth to it.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- No
Fingerboards- No
Availability: Easy to get
Price:
4/4 3.99 B/F
8/4 5.99 B/f


Basswood (Tilia americana)
Basswood is often a white color, but can have green mineral streaks in it. It is a closed grain wood, however it does tend to absorb a lot of finish. Tone wise, it has a warm sound with good mids. This wood is the choice of wood for shredders from the 80ís.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- No
Neck- No
Fingerboards- No
Availability: Easy to get
Price:
4/4 3.99 B/F
8/4 4.99 B/f

Bubinga (Guibourtia demeusei)
Bubinga is a very strong and stiff wood, uses mainly for tops and neck laminations. Tone wise it has a bright midrange and a thick bottom. This wood will be very heavy, but a body made from it will likely have incredible sustain.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- Yes
Availability: Rare
Price:
4/4 11.99 B/F
8/4 12.99 B/f

Koa (Acacia koa):
This wood comes from Hawaii, and only Hawaii and thus is very rare and expensive. It has a warm sound like that of sapele, but brighter. The wood can range from medium to heavy, and beautiful pieces with a flamed figure are often sold for a very high price.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- No
Availability:Very Rare
Price:
4/4 23.99 B/F
8/4 24.99 B/f

Korina, (Terminalia superba):
This wood, also known as Limba, comes in two varieties:
Black Korina
It has a very nice olive color with black streaking, and is naturally very waxy. The tone is similar to mahogany, but with more mids. It can very from a light to medium weight wood.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- No
Fingerboards- No

White Korina
This wood is medium to heavy in weight, and also has a waxy feel to it. The tone is the same as black korina.

Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- No
Availability: Average
Price:
4/4 11.99 B/F
8/4 12.99 B/f



Lacewood (Cardwellia sublimis):
Lace wood comes from Australia. The weight is about medium for guitars. The grain can range from small spots to much larger ones. This wood is common for use as a top on a guitar, but can also be found in big enough quantities for a full body. Tone wise it is very similar to Alder. Lacewood must be finished with clear, you can not oil it.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- No
Availability: Semi Rare
Price:
4/4 9.95 B/F
8/4 14 B/f
__________________
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyElite
you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Invader Jim
if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.

Last edited by metalwarrior40 : 10-20-2010 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:46 PM   #6
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Mahogany (Khaya ivorensis):
This wood average from medium to heavy. There are 3 common types of mahogany being use in guitar building today, sapele, African, and Honduran. Honduran is said to be the best, but is becoming increasingly rare as well as expensive, and as such has been replaced by African mahogany. Sapele is also a good choice, specifically if you want a natural finish, as it has a very nice ribbon figure to it. This wood has a fine grain, with a warm, full tone. This tonewood is very common due to its popularity in Les Pauls.
red finish.

Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- No
Availability:
Honduras: Average
Others: Easy to get
Price:
Honduras
4/4 14.99 B/F
8/4 15.99 B/F
Others
4/4 7.99 B/F
8/4 8.99 B/F

Maple(Acer saccharum-Hard Maple)
There are several types of hard maple used in building.

Hard Maple
Hard Maple is a very hard, heavy and dense wood. It features a closed grain, with a very bright sustain, with a fair amount of bite to it. Most commonly used for building necks, or as a top on a Les Paul.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- Yes (requires a finish)
Availability: Easy to get
Price:
4/4 4.99 B/F
8/4 7.99 B/F

Soft Maple(Acer macrophyllum)
Lighter then hard maple, but features the same white color. Tone is very similar to hard maple, and is a great wood to dye
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- No
Fingerboards- Yes (requires a finish)
Availability: Easy to get
Price:
4/4 4.99 B/F
8/4 5.99 B/F

Flame Maple (Acer macrophyllum):
This is a variety of soft maple. Flame figure is explained in the figuring section.

Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- No
Fingerboards- Yes (requires a finish)
Availability: Average
Price:
Varies

Quilted Maple (Acer macrophyllum):
This is a variety of soft maple.Quilted figure is explained in the figuring section.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- No
Fingerboards- Yes (requires a finish)
Availability: average
Price:
Varies


Spalted Maple (Acer macrophyllum):
Again, this is another variety of soft maple. Spalted figuring explained in figuring section. Also note, very hard to finish, as it soaks up a ton of it.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- No
Fingerboards- Yes (requires a finish)
Availability: average
Price:
Varies


Birdseye Maple (Acer saccharum):
This is a variety of hard maple, most often seen in necks. Figuring explained above.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- Yes (requires a finish)
Availability: Average-Semi Rare
Price:
Varies


Padouk (Pterocarpus soyauxii):
This wood is a nice orange color, but oxidizes to a warm brown with exposure to sunlight. It is has a open grain. Tone wise, very similar to maple. The wood is heavy in weight and looks great clear.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- Yes
Availability: Average
Price:
4/4 7.99 B/F
8/4 10.99 B/F



Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera):
Tone wise, this wood is very similar to Alder. It has a closed grain, with a grey to green color to it. Because of this, it is most often finished in a solid color. It also dents and chips very easily, as it is a soft wood.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- No
Fingerboards- No
Availability: Easy to get
Price:
4/4 3.19 B/F
8/4 3.49 B/F
__________________
Just call me Bobby
Member of the official GB&C "Who to Listen to" list
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyElite
you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Invader Jim
if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.

Last edited by metalwarrior40 : 02-19-2010 at 12:31 AM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:47 PM   #7
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Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia):
This oily wood is a very heavy wood overall. Most often used as a fingerboard, but can also be found in other various aspects of the guitar. The tone is very warm, with a creamy high end
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- Yes
Availability: Average-Semi Rare
Price:
4/4 24.99 B/F



Walnut (Juglans nigra)
This wood is a open grained wood, that is most often in the heavy weight section. It is similar in tone to hard maple, but not nearly as bright. Looks great in a oil or clear finish.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- Yes (requires a hard finish)
Availability: Easy to get
Price:
4/4 8.99 B/F
8/4 11.99 B/F


Wenge (Millettia laurentii):
Wenge is made up of black and brown stripes. It is also a very heavy weight wood, but does offer plenty of sustain to it. Tone wise it is very balanced with a nice attack to it. A finish is always recommended, but is not needed on this wood.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- Yes
Availability: Average
Price:
4/4 23.99 B/F
8/4 24.99 B/F

Cherry (Prunus serotina)
This wood sounds more like maple then any other wood, though less bright. It finishes quite easily, with little filling required and is easy to work with. The wood will darken over time, so keep that in mind.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- No
Availability: Average
Price:
4/4 7.99 B/F
8/4 8.99 B/F

Ziricote (Cordia dodecandra)
This wood sounds very warm and rich, similar to Indian Rosewood. It has a very fine texture, very dense, and is difficult to work as it is a brittle wood.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- No
Availability: Semi rare
Price:
4/4 49.99 B/F


Bloodwood (Hibiscus tiliaceus)
A very dense hard tropical wood with a waxy smooth feel. No finish is required and may be used as neck or fingerboard wood. Similar in tone to Paduak.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- Yes
Availability: Average
Price:
4/4 8.99 B/F
8/4 10.99 B/F

Purpleheart (Peltogyne pubesens)
Generally this wood is used as an accent line in laminated necks. The purple like color is striking. A very hard dense wood. Similar to Bubinga in its good bass tone
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- Yes
Availability: Average
Price:
4/4 8.99 B/F
8/4 9.99 B/F


Ebony (Dispyrus melanoxylon)
Very hard, smooth and fast feeling that has a bright, long sustaining tone. Chocolate brown or dark gray streaks are not uncommon. Available primarily as fingerboards and occasionally for full neck construction. Very difficult to work with.
Gaboon, Macassar and Brazilian Ebony are all similar in tone, as well as weight. The main differences between the 3 are their color.
Uses:
Bodies- No
Top- No
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- yes
Availability: Average to rare
Price:
4/4 8.99 B/F
8/4 9.99 B/F

Snakewood(Piratinera guianensis)
It has a very "crisp" tap tone with good sustain. It is harder then ebony, thus it is more dense, heavier, and even harder to work.
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards- yes
Availability: Average to semi rare
Price:
4/4 8.99 B/F
8/4 9.99 B/F

Australian Blackwood
I feel that the tone is very very similar to Koa, which a woody, open tone somewhere between mahogany and rosewood. The heartwood is golden-brown taking on a glow when finished. It can display fiddleback as well as color variations
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- Yes
Fingerboards-No
Availability: Semi rare
Price:
4/4 16.99 B/F


Oak (Quercus rubra)
Straight grain with a coarse texture. Generally works and finished well but timbers from the Northern growing region will be more consistent in color and have a finer texture. Large open pores produce distinctive grain. Tone is similar to that of ash
Uses:
Bodies- Yes
Top- Yes
Neck- No
Fingerboards- No
Availability: Good
Price:
4/4 5.99 B/F
8/4 6.99 B/F
__________________
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyElite
you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Invader Jim
if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.

Last edited by metalwarrior40 : 02-20-2010 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:48 PM   #8
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Reserved for more woods.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyElite
you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Invader Jim
if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.

Last edited by metalwarrior40 : 02-17-2010 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:49 PM   #9
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reserved for more tonewoods.
__________________
Just call me Bobby
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyElite
you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Invader Jim
if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.

Last edited by metalwarrior40 : 02-17-2010 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:50 PM   #10
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-FAQ Section-

Will be updated as common/good questions are asked.
__________________
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyElite
you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Invader Jim
if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.

Last edited by metalwarrior40 : 02-17-2010 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:57 PM   #11
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this is awesome.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:06 PM   #12
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Thank You for making this!
The other one was absolute shit.
So disorganized!

Do you have the tone for oak?
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timbit2006
Thank You for making this!
The other one was absolute shit.
So disorganized!


Yup, no probs. Just doing my part

I plan on adding more woods as i go, that's just a general list for now. I also want to add a pic of each wood, to help make it easy to identify, but thats gonna take some time.

Edit: if i dont, i'll be sure to add it.
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Quote:
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you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote:
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if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:13 PM   #14
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You should add Cocobolo.
Its used for tops, and on acoustics.

Also, Mind posting the tone of oak?
I'm sure you've seen my thread. I searched all over the web, I'm hoping you know the tone.

EDIT: If it isn't too much trouble, Bolding the title of the wood would be very nice.
Just a tip. I find it a bit hard to read, on a skim in particular.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:15 PM   #15
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you should also add some builds of each wood =

great read sofar =]

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Old 02-17-2010, 10:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timbit2006
You should add Cocobolo.
Its used for tops, and on acoustics.

Also, Mind posting the tone of oak?
I'm sure you've seen my thread. I searched all over the web, I'm hoping you know the tone.

EDIT: If it isn't too much trouble, Bolding the title of the wood would be very nice.
Just a tip. I find it a bit hard to read, on a skim in particular.



Ah, sorry bout that. they were formatted, but i lost that from copy+paste. ill go back now.
Like i said, this is a short list so far, many more will be added, and yes, i can get the tone of oak put on there.

Jason:thanks, i'll correct that stuff.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:26 PM   #17
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Carvin made an Alder neck once I believe.

Add Bloodwood and Ziricote, please Bloodwood sounds a lot like maple from what I've heard, but feels like Ebony, and it most suitable for fingerboards and tops, or neck laminates.

I've heard than Wenge basically sounds like Rosewood on steroids, so I would imagine it would be warmer? I'll need to check on that. I also thought that a finish (or at least a sealer) was highly recommended on the wood because of its splintery nature?

Frikkin amazing thread so far though!
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:29 PM   #18
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Shin, i dont doubt you, but it was most likely reinforced, etc. Any wood can be used as a neck wood with enough work done to it
I'll look into it though.

Also, those woods, noted.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:35 PM   #19
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They changed the model (Allan Holdsworth sig) to have a maple neck recently. Incidentally I think I lost all my old issues of the Carvin Catalog that show it too

It could also be noted that Sapele tends to have more lows and highs than Honduras mahogany white retaining the same prized characteristics of Honduras.

I consider it a super-wood Along with Wenge (being a great substitute for Rosewood with extra warmth and a more satin-y feel) and Bloodwood (for people who want maple tone with Ebony feel... take note this is only what I've heard from Kyle about Bloodwood )
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:39 PM   #20
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How old would those issues be? I might have some old ones around here.
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