difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Phade
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difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by Phade » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:58 pm

I'm interested in trying out a couple of La Patrie's guitars. I've been doing a little research and their Concert and Presentation models seem to fit with in my price range. The concert has solid mahogany sides and back, while the Presentation has solid rosewood sides and back. It will ultimately come down to which one feels better to me, but I'm kind of a physics geek and was curious what I could or should expect from the different woods. For what its worth, I suffered a head injury a few years back, I lost a good chunk of my hearing in one ear, and what i do hear in that ear is kind of garbled and distorted. I can't really hear enough of a difference between a 300.00 guitar and 6000.00 guitar to justify the cost difference, and I can't ever see attaining a high enough skill level to justify it either. I just like to play. Although i am noticing I get a lot better tactile feedback on better made guitars and that seems to help my playing quite a bit.

Also, both models can be purchased with electronics built in. I will probably do 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% of my playing in my living room while the wife and kids are asleep, but having the ability to plug in would be nice, should the occasion arise. How much does having the pick up and all that mounted in the guitar affect the sound of the guitar when its not plugged in?

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Debussychopin
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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by Debussychopin » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:24 am

Not much sound difference really. If there is, I dont know if I can really attribute it to the wood. But For me , I like rosewood bc it has a better contrast with the top so it is prettier. Also sometimes I'm persuaded by the regard for it. Which to me just comes down to 'the emperor's clothes ', but i'm human so it does affect.

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souldier
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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by souldier » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:12 pm

It's really hard to say as it differs across different guitar brands/luthiers. If those back and sides are laminate, then it really makes no difference. If they are solid, then you might notice a bit more power and response with the rosewood, but mahagony can also make a great classical guitar. I played on a Cordoba C9 which has solid mahagony back and sides and it sounded great and quite comparable to the rosewood C10. Based on your needs and situation, I'd go with the cheaper one. If you have an itch to upgrade later, it's fine since you spent less on your first guitar.
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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by Number 6 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:16 pm

Sorry about your injury. Hope you are feeling ok. I don't think a pickup will make much difference in sound when the guitar is played unplugged. I would get the solid rosewood because it will look a lot nicer than mahogany.

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Beowulf
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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by Beowulf » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:59 pm

Torres once made a guitar with paper maché sides and back to demonstrate that this was not a significant factor in the sound of the instrument. However no one living has ever heard this guitar...so it was an experiment without conclusive results for today. Nevertheless, I think that the solidity of joints, fit and finish have much more to do with the sound. Choice can therefore be made on the basis of aesthetics and cost.
Last edited by Beowulf on Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Phade
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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by Phade » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:02 pm

Thank you for your input. I think its funny that a few of you mentioned you liked the look of rosewood more. I do too, but i didn't want to admit that I may make my decision at least partially based on looks.

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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by hatalap » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:46 pm

There is a lot of tradition in classical guitar, spruce or cedar top with rosewood back and sides. As Beowulf pointed out back is not a significant factor, and many luthiers will tell you that. I think the back and sides shade the notes with nuances. I have a cedar top and cherry back and sides that is great. It is also a luthier built guitar. In steel string guitars you will often see mahogany, and I like the sound of mahogany in general and have an all mahogany steel string. The Cordoba C9 is quieter in my opinion, but that could be a variety of factors including more importantly the finish on the guitar. Thick finish will tend to be quieter. Try to find a store that has a bunch of classicals and let your ears be your guide. You might be surprised. Guitar Works in Evanston had some pretty good selection when I was there and also some used inventory including some La Patries. You could take a trip over to Indianapolis and see David Conti at Reverie guitar. He's a good guy and you'd have a somewhat broader selection.

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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by simonm » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:51 pm

For 99% of players the wood in the guitar is totally irrelevant. In a blind test they would not have the slightest idea what timber the guitar was made of. Before anyone corrects me, let me point out that I made up that statistic myself right now so I know that it is 100% correct.

Buying based on appearance is perfectly valid. You have to live with the guitar and the more you like it, the better the chance you will actually use it.

Given what you have said about tactile feedback, I would recommend you use that as a major part of your buying criteria. If it doesn't feel right, you won't play it. Money down the drain and enthusiasm destroyed.

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joachim33
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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by joachim33 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:59 pm

I went into a shop in summer and bought a guitar. Below about 500€ they were mahagoni back above rosewood (they had the Alhambra and Salvador Cortez brand) . To me there was a noticeable improvement in sound with the more expensive models. The guy in the store said that the rosewood was a key ingredient here. I went with a rosewood guitar :D

Though if you have handled both and can't hear a difference, I am not sure what to recommend you.

From a purist point of view I would not buy a build in pick-up system. One can always use an external mic if the need arises.

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joachim33
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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by joachim33 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:06 pm

simonm wrote: Money down the drain and enthusiasm destroyed.
I really like the bit about enthusiasm. That is a lot of the real cost involved.

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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by dilettante1000 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:34 pm

Buy the guitar you like. If you enjoy playing and get better, eventually you will realise that there is a guitar which you NEED which is not the guitar you have. Then you will start the process again.

There is no such thing as a $300 guitar which sounds as good as a $6000 one. I have always been in the habit of spending a bit more than I planned, rather than a bit less, for a guitar I tried and liked, since it seems to work for me, I recommend this approach to others, whatever their level.

Back and side material do make a difference to the sound quality, in particular the depth and complexity of the resonance. This won't matter until you get to stage 2, as described above.

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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by guitarseller345645 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:57 pm

Beowulf wrote:Torres once made a guitar with paper maché sides and back to demonstrate that this was not a significant factor in the sound of the instrument. However no one living has ever heard this guitar...so it was an experiment without conclusive results for today.
hatalap wrote:I think the back and sides shade the notes with nuances.
dilettante1000 wrote:
Back and side material do make a difference to the sound quality, in particular the depth and complexity of the resonance. This won't matter until you get to stage 2, as described above.
I agree...even laminated backs...to ME. Of course, I was sternly told that it was actually the tops which were different. When I revealed that they were made the same way/configuration out of the same material by the same company, I was told it was due to molecular differences of the top but DEFINITELY NOT the molecular differences of the back veneers.

Acoustic players in the Acoustic Guitar Forum agree more that different sides and backs make a difference, even laminates. About half agree (hear a difference), while the rest do not ("it does not make sense - it must be the top").

Prof Peter Kun Friary believes even laminate back and sides make a difference...but he is little known so let us disregard that.

As for the paper mache experiment, it does prove that wooden sides and backs do not sound much BETTER than paper mache sides and backs, showing the importance of the top - but does it prove that they do not sound DIFFERENT, even a tiny bit?

Anyway I am glad to be so different...maybe it is because i have probably owned more laminate classical guitars than anyone else :)
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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by tom0311 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:46 pm

Play as many guitars as you can, and choose the one you like the most. If you pick a mahogany guitar over a rosewood guitar, then mahogany was the better one for you. Most likely it'll be the play-ability of the guitar that helps you get a better sound anyway, not the [insert random wood here] back and sides.
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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:28 am

I have had both mahogany and rosewood b/s guitars (solid woods) and I thought that the mahogany guitars sounded breathy and light sounding compared to the rosewood ones. They sounded more focused and deep. Let your ears decide for you, which kind you like.

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Re: difference between rosewood or mahogany back and sides?

Post by Philosopherguy » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:36 pm

The only difference you are likely to hear is the differences in the particular tops that have been put on those guitars and how they were braced, thicknessed, supported, and voiced by whoever put it all together. In this range of guitar, I would doubt the backs and sides make too much difference except for aesthetics. When you get into higher end guitars, you are more likely to get a subtle nuance from certain woods, but likely too subtle for most of us to notice, or care about in the ultimate scheme of things. People like and buy certain backs and sides more for the prestige rather than the the difference they make in the tone.

That being said, resale will be better on the rosewood if you ever choose to get rid of it to upgrade to something better.

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