All North American wood guitar questions

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
printer2
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by printer2 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:59 am

I have a six string tenor ukulele going on right now where I am using white oak for the b/s and fretboard. The neck is spruce, I have used spruce a number of times on guitars for myself. The oak fretboard has a bit of live edge along the side and gives it a more interesting look. The top is a baked spruce. Speaking of, I baked some maple and rather than the whitish color it normally has it can take on a nice honey color, especially under finish. The one thing to note, it is better to bend the sides before baking.

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basso1956
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by basso1956 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:00 am

Not a luthier, but I own a guitar that has a fingerboard of desert ironwood (Olneya tesota). The wood is hard and quite beautiful, but apparently it's difficult to find in the required size. And it may be somewhat endangered.

The guitar also has a mesquite (Prosopis) neck, which is hard and by all indications extremely stable, but which I now feel is heavier than ideal. Mesquite would probably work as a fingerboard too. It's pretty common AFAIK, though getting long clear pieces may or may not be an issue. I think there are some Texas makers using it, for steel-strings anyway.

Texas ebony seems like it should work for FBs, and it is suitably dark, but I've heard it's hard to get in the right sizes.

Myrtlewood/bay laurel (Umbellaria californica) can makes a beautiful B&S set.

If I ever go the custom instrument route again, I'd seriously look at claro walnut for B&S and maybe neck too.

I also have a ukulele with a mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus) fingerboard. That wood is quite hard and even-grained, and seems functionally more than adequate, but the color is on the lighter side, and again it may not be so easy to get big enough pieces.

Pistachio might work too. Here in California there are a ton of those trees. It's often striking in appearance, especially when you can see the place where the tree was grafted.

I've heard of one guy in Oregon using Port Orford cedar for classical/flamenco necks.

So it seems as if there a number of NA options, at least from a functional perspective. But then there needs to be buyers willing to go for options like these. I would, and have, but I don't know how big the market in general might be.

Dirck Nagy
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by Dirck Nagy » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:03 pm

Sean Eric Howard wrote:
Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:48 pm
Wow, thanks to all for your thoughts and knowledge. It's certainly a lot to mull over. By chance, do any of you have, or know where I might find, pictures of guitars with native woods?
Here is one of American Spruce & Maple made by Randy Reynolds: (Osage Orange bridge) Pictures from his website.
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Alan Carruth
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by Alan Carruth » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:55 pm

I got a pretty good picture of the samples of Osage and Black Locust that I fumed with ammonia. Unfortunately, I don't use an online hosting service, and can't post a URL for it. Any suggestions?

Paul Micheletti
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by Paul Micheletti » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:09 pm

PM sent Alan. Email me the pics and I'll upload them for you.

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Andy Culpepper
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by Andy Culpepper » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:33 pm

hatalap wrote:
Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:05 am
Andy Culpepper wrote:
Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:00 pm
I built one with a Black Walnut neck and Hickory fingerboard. I also have two large logs of Persimmon wood (technically an Ebony) that are about two years old now and are waiting to eventually be sawn into fingerboards so I think that would work nicely.
Andy, any idea about the cherry in #75 or #84? You know I'm a fan...
You mean Cherry for fingerboard? I actually have a nice hard piece with interesting figure that I want to use as a fingerboard at some point.

Brian M
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by Brian M » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:49 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:17 pm

Two other NA woods I've used for fingerboards are American hornbeam (Ostyra virginiana) and soft shell almond (I don't know the botanical on that). Hornbeam is a local native, and is the hardest and densest local wood. It's also called 'lever wood', and 'muscle wood', both of which refer to it's growth habit. These are small understory trees, somewhat resembling beech, but the trunks look corded, as if they were emulating comic book super heros. The wood has strongly interlocked grain, which helps it resist splitting, and that's why it was sought after for use as tool handles and levers. When properly seasoned and well quartered it makes a very nice fingerboard. As it is white to light brown I normally stain it, and the fancy grain makes it interesting. I need to run some tests on the mechanical properties.
So that's what it's really called! There was a lot of it in our woods growing up in Connecticut. We called it "iron wood". It is indeed very, very hard to saw through. We used it for key structural parts of tree forts.

Marshall Dixon
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by Marshall Dixon » Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:49 pm

Sean Eric Howard wrote:
Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:48 pm
Wow, thanks to all for your thoughts and knowledge. It's certainly a lot to mull over. By chance, do any of you have, or know where I might find, pictures of guitars with native woods?
Here is a guitar I made from Southeastern red cedar that I cut down about 40 years ago.
guitar #24.jpg
Here is what the wood data-base has to say:
"Although Aromatic Red Cedar is included in the cypress family (Cupressaceae) which includes many species of cedar, it’s perhaps more closely related in junipers in the genus Juniperus. In tree form, it is more commonly called Eastern Redcedar, while the wood itself is usually referred to as Aromatic Red Cedar.
Though Eastern Redcedar trees are widely distributed throughout the eastern half of the United States, it is a very slow-growing species, and most trees harvested tend to be fairly small in diameter. Because of this, Aromatic Red Cedar boards tend to be knotty and narrow."
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Michael.N.
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by Michael.N. » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:00 pm

I think they also call that pencil cedar although that term probably applies to a few timbers. There's a good reason why it's termed aromatic cedar too. It's also used as a fipple block in recorders, probably because it handles moisture very well.
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Sean Eric Howard
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by Sean Eric Howard » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:47 pm

Nice!
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Marshall Dixon
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by Marshall Dixon » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:37 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:00 pm
I think they also call that pencil cedar although that term probably applies to a few timbers. There's a good reason why it's termed aromatic cedar too. It's also used as a fipple block in recorders, probably because it handles moisture very well.
Yes, it has a wonderful aroma.
Sean Eric Howard wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:47 pm
Nice!
Thanks. Here is the top of local sugar pine. This guitar was inspired by fellow member glassynails when he asked about guitars made of pine. I hadn't tried it yet. My late good friend and neighbor cut this tree down about 10 years ago. He was going to use it for decking and brought some over for me to plane. I tapped on a piece of cut off and it rang like a bell.
guitar #24 top.jpg
I recall reading somewhere that the Spanish have a term for guitars made of this resinous wood; "pimpled" guitars?
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tateharmann
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by tateharmann » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:48 pm

Sugar pine, eh? Beautiful! That's a new species for me. I think pine could make some great tops if chosen correctly. Where I live (Minnesota) there are some massive white pines that could work nicely. Many are protected as virgin old growth. But they do blow over occasionally. Check out this section from the north shore that I spotted in a museum last weekend:
whitepine.jpg
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tateharmann
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by tateharmann » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:53 pm

Another enticing North American wood that could work for back and sides is Louisiana "Cypress". I guess it's not a true cypress but can work into a lovely instrument. Check it out on these two flamenco blancas by Bruce Thompson:
42-louisiana_cypress.jpg
32-louisiana_cypress.jpg
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Alan Carruth
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by Alan Carruth » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:36 pm

One of my students is working on a Classical guitar using Black Locust for the B&S and white pine for the top. The pine came from a beam that was salvaged from an old mill building that was renovated some years ago, so it's well aged. Another student used some for the top of a steel string last year, and is currently finishing up another with the same wood. As far as I can see, the only drawback with white pine for a top is that it is quite soft and easily dented, but it's no worse than WRC in that respect. The newer pine that I've seen tends to have relatively wide ring spacing, but that doesn't effect the tone or durability of the top, just the cosmetics.

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tateharmann
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Re: All North American wood guitar questions

Post by tateharmann » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:34 pm

Awesome, do you have any pics of those white pine guitars?
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