#1
I'm looking for a $300-$400 acoustic that has a trebly sound.
I've researched a bit and found that koa and walnut acoustics have the sound that I am looking for.
Most of these guitars though are out of my price range.
Are there any more common tonewoods that have a similar sound to koa or walnut?
#2
Whatever you choose for the soundboard will have the overwhelmingly greatest bearing on final sound, Torres proved this over 160 years ago. Koa and Walnut are generally considered very poor choices for a sound board.
#3
Majority of soundboards are made of spruce because it's both strong and bright-sounding.
#4
Quote by R.Christie
Whatever you choose for the soundboard will have the overwhelmingly greatest bearing on final sound, Torres proved this over 160 years ago. Koa and Walnut are generally considered very poor choices for a sound board.


I've never seen a walnut top guitar, but koa is definitely not a poor choice for a topwood. I've tried one. It's actually relatively bassy an extremely warm. Taylor has a few all koa guitars. Both koa and walnut are good side/back woods though. Walnut is actually one of George Lowden's favourite side/backwoods to work with.

Anyway, at the $300-$400 price range, you aren't going to find much more than the usual solid top and laminate back. There are still plenty of sounds to choose from though. The best way to find out is to actually try them. Koa as a side/back wood isn't actually that trebly. It's a VERY warm and smooth sounding wood with a decent amount of bassiness to it.
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#5
Try out some different body shapes -- that will have a bigger impact your guitar's sound than your choice of tonewoods. Walnut is a great tonewood, but Claro Walnut is in high demand from furniture companies so is a little hard to come by for luthiers.
#6
Logically can't anything be a topwood as long as it has the correct amount of stiffness right? If it can handle the tension of the strings, couldn't it be a topwood?
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#7
Quote by Baby Joel
Logically can't anything be a topwood as long as it has the correct amount of stiffness right? If it can handle the tension of the strings, couldn't it be a topwood?

As long as it is strong, stiff, and light, sure. Carbon fiber and other composites come to mind.

Call me old fashioned, but I still wouldn't be caught dead playing a guitar with anything but a wooden top (except for resonators, of course).
#8
In terms of sound, I don't think wood can really be beaten. However, carbon fibre guitars have their place as well. If you want an extremely durable workhorse of a guitar and don't mind the bright, bell-like sound then carbon fibre may be the right place to look.

A Rainsong carbon fibre guitar is actually on my list of guitars to acquire in my lifetime... along with a Lowden, and a more classic Martin such as a HD-28 or something along those lines.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
#9
Quote by captivate
I've never seen a walnut top guitar, but koa is definitely not a poor choice for a topwood. I've tried one. It's actually relatively bassy an extremely warm. Taylor has a few all koa guitars. Both koa and walnut are good side/back woods though. Walnut is actually one of George Lowden's favourite side/backwoods to work with.

Anyway, at the $300-$400 price range, you aren't going to find much more than the usual solid top and laminate back. There are still plenty of sounds to choose from though. The best way to find out is to actually try them. Koa as a side/back wood isn't actually that trebly. It's a VERY warm and smooth sounding wood with a decent amount of bassiness to it.

I've also seen Koa tops, usually laminates on low end guitars designed to appeal to beginners. I'm surprised that Taylor produces them and wonder if it appears in any of their premium instruments. I repeat my opinion that Koa is a poor choice for a soundboard in terms of tone, certainly so when compared to traditional choices such as German spruce (and other varieties), and over the past 60 years W Red Cedar. Aethetically Koa is very attractive and that may account for its ocassional appearance on tops as some people buy with their eyes. As back and sides it is perfectly acceptable, even desirable.
It may function marginally better in the higher physical tension world of the steel string acoustic guitar in comparison to lower tension classic guitar with its nylon strings. As a choice for a professional classical instrument it wouldn't even get a look in.
Carbon fibre tops, at least the experimental one I have heard sound as you'd expect, synthetic.
Edit: I've just been in contact with my luthier over another matter and ran the question past him. He believes Koa will give satisfactory performance for steel string instruments but will lack a certain degree of high end. When asked about 'brightness' he argued it is a matter of perception and that some might perceive a koa top as actually sweeter because of the lack of high end, a bit like cedar vs spruce. He did volunteer that its adoption by makers probably has more to do with its look than its tone.
So there we go, it's OK for steel string guitars but if anything is less bright than spruce and variants.
His comments are supported by informtion found in this article http://www.guitarnation.com/articles/koa.htm
Last edited by R.Christie at Mar 22, 2009,
#10
^ Actually, I may be wrong about Taylor being the one to use Koa as a top(I can't find it on their website). I think I might have been thinking Breedlove?
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
#11
^ No you're right about Taylor -- or at least they used to. Susanna Hoffs plays a beautiful all Koa Taylor.
#12
Taylor actually has a couple of all-Koa guitars. And might I add...they look amazing. Now that I think about it, most major acoustic manufacturers have at least 1 all-koa guitar. Takamine, Martin, and Alvarez come to mind immediately. Mmmm....koa.....

Anyway, if you want a bright, trebly sound, you definately want at least a spruce top. If possible, a maple top, because it is a much brighter tonewood than spruce. If you can find a maple guitar in this price range, it will be all maple and very, very bright sounding. There are also some spruce guitars with maple back/sides (I think) which will have a much more balanced tone. FYI, koa and walnut are very warm sounding tonewoods.
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#13
I don't think anyone uses a maple top except for the cheap laminate guitars. I can't imagine maple as a top wood. It's so stiff that I don't think it would vibrate very well. As well, maple as a back/side wood accents the top wood's true sound. If it's all maple then I can't imagine it having much tone.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
#14
I like Koa as a top. Hell, I'd even want it in an electric. You won't find it in this range though, the best you'll find is probably a solid Spruce top/lam Rosewood or lam mahogany back/sides combo.
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Quote by Anonden
You CAN play anything with anything....but some guitars sound right for some things, and not for others. Single coils sound retarded for metal, though those who are apeshit about harpsichord probably beg to differ.
#15
Quote by captivate
I don't think anyone uses a maple top except for the cheap laminate guitars. I can't imagine maple as a top wood. It's so stiff that I don't think it would vibrate very well. As well, maple as a back/side wood accents the top wood's true sound. If it's all maple then I can't imagine it having much tone.

I agree, good for bright solid body electrics though.
#16
Yeah, great for when you need that biting tone. Good for Hair metal!
Current Gear:
LTD MH-400 with Gotoh GE1996T (EMG 85/60)
PRS SE Custom 24 (Suhr SSH+/SSV)
Ibanez RG3120 Prestige (Dimarzio Titans)
Squier Vintage Modified 70s Jazz V
Audient iD22 interface
Peavey Revalver 4, UAD Friedman BE100/DS40
Adam S3A monitors
Quote by Anonden
You CAN play anything with anything....but some guitars sound right for some things, and not for others. Single coils sound retarded for metal, though those who are apeshit about harpsichord probably beg to differ.
#17
Quote by captivate
I don't think anyone uses a maple top except for the cheap laminate guitars. I can't imagine maple as a top wood. It's so stiff that I don't think it would vibrate very well. As well, maple as a back/side wood accents the top wood's true sound. If it's all maple then I can't imagine it having much tone.

Actually, I've seen quite a few higher-end maple top guitars. I don't know what makes you think there wouldn't be maple topped high end guitars.
Quote by necrosis1193
As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

Quote by Silverstein14
man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear


Quote by gregs1020
plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
#18
Quote by Natrone
Actually, I've seen quite a few higher-end maple top guitars. I don't know what makes you think there wouldn't be maple topped high end guitars.


Really? I've never seen a maple top guitar in my life, to be honest. Acoustic guitar, anyway.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
#19
I've never seen a maple top acoustic either, if they exist they are certainly not common.
#20
Does anyone have suggestions of guitars in my price range?
I'm a bit lost in all the discussion and can't really make up my mind.
Of course,I'm going to try the guitars in the shop but I want to have some models I can look out for
#21
Just go and get a solid spruce top guitar, best you can afford..
Even if it has crappy hardware go for a solid top guitar over a ply one with better hardware. Hardware you can change later.