Life after rosewood

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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eno
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by eno » Thu May 25, 2017 4:44 pm

Elman Concepcion wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 4:11 pm
Look up Trevor Gore interview by Robert O'Brian
Yes, I saw that interview before but he did not say anything positively or negatively on how the material of sides/back affects the timbre (not the loudness, that's obvious). He talks about importance of the wood strength and hard lining so the sound waves get reflected back to the soundboard. But still some amount of sound penetrates and travels throught the sides and back (again, depending on the hardness of the material). Also, half of the radiated sound energy travels from the soundboard through the air to the backboard and gets reflected back where it interferes with the soundboard again. Now, the backboard is another drum, even though made of much harder wood, and has it's own freq reponce and resonant modes, so the the reflected sound is shaped in frequency domain by the frequency-dependent impedance of the backboard.

Sorry, again, I'm not a luthier, but I'm a physicist, so I find it unlikely that the material of the back/sides does not affect the sound. But I would be interested to know if it is true or not based on the real-life data. And most interesting - how the type of the back/sides wood affect the sound and what are the sound characteristics of different types of wood? And is it true that the BRW produces the best sound?
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Rokutaru Nakade 1967
Masaru Kohno 1967
Sakazo Nakade 1973
Mitsuru Tamura 1969
Takamine C136S and C128S
Yamaha SLG200S silent

Elman Concepcion
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by Elman Concepcion » Thu May 25, 2017 6:58 pm

Hi eno.

I'm not a physicist, but I'm a luthier. lol ;-)

Trevor talks about this in the interview video.

You can have thin or thick sides.
Thin sides absorb some of the energy from the top.
Thick sides not so much.

You can have live backs or non live backs.
Live backs interact with the top by air coupling.
Non live backs not so much.

One aesthetic comment Trevor made is that live backs are more interesting to him (more partials)
But not as loud.
Non live backs are louder but not as interesting to him (less partials)
At least that is what I understood.
I personally like live backs, but you have to be careful be cause live backs can introduce unwanted interactions with the top.

About BRW. BRW ( which can no longer be use ) has low damping and that's a very attractive feature of the wood.

But does BRW make the best sounding guitars?
That is very subjective.
I don't think there is any data you'll find that answers that question.
Is there a lot of opinions? Yes. Objective data, no. AFAIK.

eno wrote: “I find it unlikely that the material of the back/sides does not affect the sound.”
Yes, it affects the sound, but judging whether one wood is better than another wood, is personal preference.

Some double blind tests might help to shed some light on this topic.
But as far as I remember, some double blind tests have already been done and the subjects could not detect any difference between Cedar and Spruce tops. And if they could not even do that. I doubt they could differentiate between BRW and any other wood for back and sides.

The best way I’ve found to answer that question for myself is to hear a lot of guitars.
In person, in my hands or in live concerts.
You cannot make any judgment on sound quality from recordings. IMHO.

OTOH - I do love BRW and my opinion is that BRW or any of the hundreds of Dalbergia sub species, make beautiful sounding guitars as long as the luthier knows what he or she is doing. That being said, I believe that beautiful sounding guitars can be made with any wood ( within reason ) as long as the luthier knows what he or she is doing.

BTW - Trevor is a physicist as well. I don’t have his books yet but I think you might find a lot of answers in his Books.

Hope that helps.
Elman

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eno
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by eno » Thu May 25, 2017 7:37 pm

Thanks a lot Elman, good answers!

But:
Some double blind tests might help to shed some light on this topic.
But as far as I remember, some double blind tests have already been done and the subjects could not detect any difference between Cedar and Spruce tops. And if they could not even do that. I doubt they could differentiate between BRW and any other wood for back and sides.
Inspite of failed double blind and objective tests people "subjectively" know the difference between spruce and cedar "on average" from their playing experience, although once in a while you can find a spruce guitar sounding like cedar and cedar one sounding like spruce.

So I would still be curious to know some "subjective" opinions (with understanding that those can be very controversial, ungrounded and opinionated) on the sound differences between BRW, IRW, maple, mahogany, walnut, bamboo and what not back/side live-back guitars. Just to know what to look for in my next guitar among other things. For example, based on my limited experience, maple back/side guitars that I tried tend to sound more "ringy" at higher pitches (or may be becasue most of them were Torres-like models rather than because of maple). Although I can't tell an "objective" difference between BRW and IRW because BRW guitars are usually higher grade/price and they sound better just becasue thay are made better (and which part of thise better sound comes from BRW I do not know). But I've never tried any guitars with other than BRW, IRW and maple, that's why I'm curious.
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Rokutaru Nakade 1967
Masaru Kohno 1967
Sakazo Nakade 1973
Mitsuru Tamura 1969
Takamine C136S and C128S
Yamaha SLG200S silent

Elman Concepcion
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by Elman Concepcion » Thu May 25, 2017 8:46 pm

eno

eno wrote: “Although I can't tell an "objective" difference between BRW and IRW because BRW guitars are usually higher grade/price and they sound better”
Yeah, must be careful with that placebo effect :-)

BTW - 98% of claims that a guitar is made with Dalbergia Nigra are false. 98% of the guitars in the market today are Dalbergia spp.
And I have subjective evidence on this. :-)

I only work with Dalbergia spp. and Dalbergia latifolia.

In my subjective opinion.
The Dalbergia spp, similar to Dalbergia Nigra give “sparkle” to the trebles and growl to the basses.
I have no idea how to quantify that.
Probably more partials ?
Dalbergia latifolia has a more mellow spectrum imo.
Once again - I have no way to proof any of this.
You see what I mean by subjective ?

When shopping for a new classical guitar.
You can’t go wrong with Dalbergia spp. or Dalbergia latifolia.
But once again. I would say that your best bet is to listen to lots of guitars and find a maker that appeals to your sensibilities.

Sorry - I know that was not very helpful but it was as honest an answer as I could come up with.

Here is another thought - If you can affort it.
Just fly over to someone that has many guitars in stock, like Guitar Salon International in California or Guitar International in Cleveland or others, and try lots of guitars.

And just pick out something you fall in love with, by playing, and not by some preconceived notions of what woods ought to be better.

Elman

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eno
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by eno » Thu May 25, 2017 9:36 pm

Elman Concepcion wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 8:46 pm
BTW - 98% of claims that a guitar is made with Dalbergia Nigra are false. 98% of the guitars in the market today are Dalbergia spp.
And I have subjective evidence on this. :-)
Forgive me my ignorance, but what is Dalbergia spp? Google seems to have no clue.

I thought that a lighter and reddish with erratic patterns is Nigra while darker brown with plain pattern is latifolia so it's pretty easy to distinguish visually. Am I wrong?

And thanks for your "subjective" insight, that's what I was looking for.
If anyone else would give a similar "subjective" insight abouth other types of wood from their experience that would be much appreciated!
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Rokutaru Nakade 1967
Masaru Kohno 1967
Sakazo Nakade 1973
Mitsuru Tamura 1969
Takamine C136S and C128S
Yamaha SLG200S silent

Elman Concepcion
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by Elman Concepcion » Thu May 25, 2017 10:10 pm

eno

Dalbergia Spp = Dalbergia Sub species.
Dalbergia Spp represents all related species that are not Dalbergia Nigra.
Meaning all Dalbergias Spps are not Dalbergia Nigra, but close relative cousins.
Nobody can distinguish Dalbergia Nigra = BRW - from all the Dalbergia Spp. - from all the hundreds of Dalbergia sub species.

Only way to tell the difference is to do a water extraction test.

Dalbergia Nigra has no fluorescence in water extraction.
All the other Dalbergias show fluorescence in water extraction (AFAIK)

There is a powerpoint presentation somewhere on this, but I can’t find it right now.
If I find it I’ll post it here in a few days

Cheers.
Elman

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eno
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by eno » Thu May 25, 2017 10:20 pm

Interesting, thanks a lot!
Paulino Bernabe 'India' 2001
Rokutaru Nakade 1967
Masaru Kohno 1967
Sakazo Nakade 1973
Mitsuru Tamura 1969
Takamine C136S and C128S
Yamaha SLG200S silent

Elman Concepcion
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by Elman Concepcion » Thu May 25, 2017 10:25 pm

I found the powerpoint but Delcamp won't let me post it.
I'll PM it to you.

Elman Concepcion
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by Elman Concepcion » Thu May 25, 2017 10:29 pm

Sorry man - Pm did not work either - Delcamp makes you go through so many hoops :-(
I'll see if I can post a link.

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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by Elman Concepcion » Thu May 25, 2017 10:35 pm


MartenFalk
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by MartenFalk » Fri May 26, 2017 6:43 am

More subjective input...
I have been a professional concert and recording classical guitarist for the past twenty years, I personally own more than twenty guitars and I have tried several hundred guitars of high quality. My impression is that a good luthier will know how to make a good guitar from any wood - a good Santos or Fleta or Romanillos can be made of either rosewood, cypress or maple (I haven't seen any Santos maple guitars though). By this I mean to say that I do not think that it is wise to be overly concerned about the type of wood. If it is a guitar that sounds well, plays well and looks beautiful it is a good guitar - that is all that matters. Of course when it comes to the looks, I have some preferences (in this case my favorite is maple) but the sound, dynamics, timbral resources and playability is the chief concern.
Although I have never tried it, I am quite certain that despite my experience, I could never tell a maple back guitar from a rosewood guitar in a blind test. And I am as certain as I can be that no-one could tell the difference between different kind of roseweood in a blind test.

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Krokmou
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by Krokmou » Fri May 26, 2017 8:07 am

Elman Concepcion wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 4:05 pm
Nice ! Where can I get some bamboo that will work for building ?
Love to experiment with it.
Thanks
Elman
The bamboo was supplied to Bastien Burlot by another French luthier Jean-Yves Alquier through his company Ethiq.

I guess you could contact him via his website : https://www.alquierguitar.com/ethiq-philosophy
Olivier Pozzo - French luthier - Spruce double-top guitar

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Krokmou
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by Krokmou » Fri May 26, 2017 8:17 am

MartenFalk wrote:
Fri May 26, 2017 6:43 am
By this I mean to say that I do not think that it is wise to be overly concerned about the type of wood. If it is a guitar that sounds well, plays well and looks beautiful it is a good guitar - that is all that matters.
Actually the main point of the subject was that it does matter. I get your point on the sound aspect, that make it even more relevant to chose alternative unendangered species to build a guitar.
Olivier Pozzo - French luthier - Spruce double-top guitar

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Michael.N.
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by Michael.N. » Fri May 26, 2017 10:36 am

eno wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 7:37 pm
Thanks a lot Elman, good answers!

But:
Some double blind tests might help to shed some light on this topic.
But as far as I remember, some double blind tests have already been done and the subjects could not detect any difference between Cedar and Spruce tops. And if they could not even do that. I doubt they could differentiate between BRW and any other wood for back and sides.
Inspite of failed double blind and objective tests people "subjectively" know the difference between spruce and cedar "on average" from their playing experience, although once in a while you can find a spruce guitar sounding like cedar and cedar one sounding like spruce.

So I would still be curious to know some "subjective" opinions (with understanding that those can be very controversial, ungrounded and opinionated) on the sound differences between BRW, IRW, maple, mahogany, walnut, bamboo and what not back/side live-back guitars. Just to know what to look for in my next guitar among other things. For example, based on my limited experience, maple back/side guitars that I tried tend to sound more "ringy" at higher pitches (or may be becasue most of them were Torres-like models rather than because of maple). Although I can't tell an "objective" difference between BRW and IRW because BRW guitars are usually higher grade/price and they sound better just becasue thay are made better (and which part of thise better sound comes from BRW I do not know). But I've never tried any guitars with other than BRW, IRW and maple, that's why I'm curious.
Of course one of the problems is that it is subjective. There is no such thing as 'the best guitar', only guitars that appeal to you yourself. This is so blatantly obvious, otherwise everyone would be playing or buying the exact same type of guitar, be it lattice, double top or trad.
Then you have to be mindful that when you walk into a dealers the number of guitars that are not some type of rosewood is going to be very few (less than 10% by my calculations). In the face of such shock and awe the numbers game doesn't favour the non rosewood guitars. That lone little maple guitar is really going to have to stand out for it to beat the competition. That's unlikely even though it may not be any worse than the rest. Throw in a healthy dose of the rosewood mantra, the feeling of security that it gives and it's hardly surprising that over 90% of folk opt for rosewood. There are always a few mavericks though.
Historicalguitars.

Aaron Green
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Re: Life after rosewood

Post by Aaron Green » Fri May 26, 2017 12:12 pm

MartenFalk wrote:
Fri May 26, 2017 6:43 am
More subjective input...
I have been a professional concert and recording classical guitarist for the past twenty years, I personally own more than twenty guitars and I have tried several hundred guitars of high quality. My impression is that a good luthier will know how to make a good guitar from any wood - a good Santos or Fleta or Romanillos can be made of either rosewood, cypress or maple (I haven't seen any Santos maple guitars though). By this I mean to say that I do not think that it is wise to be overly concerned about the type of wood. If it is a guitar that sounds well, plays well and looks beautiful it is a good guitar - that is all that matters. Of course when it comes to the looks, I have some preferences (in this case my favorite is maple) but the sound, dynamics, timbral resources and playability is the chief concern.
Although I have never tried it, I am quite certain that despite my experience, I could never tell a maple back guitar from a rosewood guitar in a blind test. And I am as certain as I can be that no-one could tell the difference between different kind of roseweood in a blind test.
A good builder will retain the characteristics of their sound regardless of the materials but thats not the same thing as different materials bringing different aspects of sound to the table. I've played a maple Romanillos which was excellent and very austere sounding in comparison to the rosewood ones I've played. And that would also apply to the cypress Romanillos I represented. Excellent and definitely Romanillos but definitely _not_ a rosewood guitar. I had my hands on a maple Santos once and a very good client of mine is the owner of the famous 1930's maple Fleta that GSI borrowed for the historic guitar cd they did a few years back. That guitar btw was sold to my client by R.E Brune back in the 90s. But I digress.....


I don't think we should have to accept "life after rosewood" simply due to regulations that require paperwork for international transactions. I personally have no plans not to use my stockpiles of legally harvested rosewood. That being said, for the sake of evolution of the instrument it is definitely going to be incumbent upon luthiers present and future to start looking elsewhere. Sadly just moving onto other woods is not necessarily the answer. I say this because I simply do not believe these international restrictions are going to stop with rosewood. I think a far more productive use of our collective energy is to lobby for consistent unified policy between all CITES recognizing countries that take our existence and extant instruments and stockpiles into account. That part is not the hard part...getting governments to work side by side with industry is. And IMO this would be to the benefit of conservation, not to it's detriment. We spend way too much time spinning our wheels looking for easy fixes, like bans, rather than more long term solutions that address the underlying and much larger problems.
Aaron Green, Luthier

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