Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
redmcq
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Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by redmcq » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:25 am

what do you guys think....
Is there a difference between the two? Which is better? There's some exclusivity with Brazilian rosewood as it's harder to get now im pretty sure but is it any better than Indian or are you paying for the exclusivity of it?
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James Lister
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by James Lister » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:44 am

Yes there's a difference, but it's pretty subtle, and neither is better than the other IMO. Few (if any) listeners would be able to tell a difference in a blind test. Brazilian rosewood is harder to get (particularly quarter sawn), much more expensive, and is more prone to cracking. You're paying for the rarity, the reputation, and the difficulty of obtaining it, and exporting it, legally (see the many threads here on CITES).

For all these reasons, Indian rosewood is a far more sensible choice than Brazilian, and there are many other alternative tonewoods that are also slightly different, but neither better or worse than rosewood.

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redmcq
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by redmcq » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:16 am

James Lister wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:44 am
Yes there's a difference, but it's pretty subtle, and neither is better than the other IMO. Few (if any) listeners would be able to tell a difference in a blind test. Brazilian rosewood is harder to get (particularly quarter sawn), much more expensive, and is more prone to cracking. You're paying for the rarity, the reputation, and the difficulty of obtaining it, and exporting it, legally (see the many threads here on CITES).

For all these reasons, Indian rosewood is a far more sensible choice than Brazilian, and there are many other alternative tonewoods that are also slightly different, but neither better or worse than rosewood.

James
Very helpful thanks!
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rinneby
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by rinneby » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:17 am

Often, but now always, guitars with BR are more expensive, meaning over all high build quality, not just the back and sides, So that might be a confusing/misleading factor as well. But as James says, it really doesn't matter. Today, I would say Indian is the way to go.

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souldier
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by souldier » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:20 am

Yup there is a difference, but you also have to account for the variances across each individual piece of wood. Over the years I've come to realize that one species generally is not better than the other and I am no longer particular with what woods a guitar is made of. I've played/tested guitars made from Madagascar RW, IRW, BRW, Amazon RW, Maple, Cypress, African Blackwood, Cocobolo, Wenge, and the list goes on... My conclusion? The design of the guitar and skill of the builder has FAR MORE influence on the end result than the species of wood used. Choose a guitar not based on what it is made of, but on its playability and sound.

With that said, I'd still go for IRW if I was having a guitar built for me simply because it is less expensive, more stable, less prone to cracks, not heavily restricted by CITES, and they can sound outstanding if built by the right hands. I've played some BRW guitars that were just mediocre or worse, but again it probably has nothing to do with the wood and more to do with design.
Last edited by souldier on Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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redmcq
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by redmcq » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:20 am

rinneby wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:17 am
Often, but now always, guitars with BR are more expensive, meaning over all high build quality, not just the back and sides, So that might be a confusing/misleading factor as well. But as James says, it really doesn't matter. Today, I would say Indian is the way to go.

/Jon
Cheers, I won't be fooled by the exclusivity of BRW.
.

John Ray
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by John Ray » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:36 am

+1 souldier

Dalbergia nigra is on Appendix I. Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. I think most of us don't want to see more species go extinct. Also Apendix I permits are very difficult things to deal with. As James says, there are plenty of non-threatened woods that sound great.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:47 am

The few times I've undertaken a closed eyes test of a few guitars, I've normally put them in price order and that has normally ended up with BRW at the top and as my preferred, but whether that is because of the back & sides alone or whether the luthier also put the best top and the most care and passion into the BRW build is another question.
Re IRW vs BRW specifically, none of the previous posts mentioned the beauty factor, that I noticed; Brazilian is normally far more lovely to look at, though I once had a Fischer whose BRW had no visual appeal at all - it was like gravy!
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HNLim
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by HNLim » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:11 pm

In my experience, BRW does have that slight edge over IRW.

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andreas777
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by andreas777 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:28 pm

In my view the differences are so small that no-one can doubtlessly determine whether a guitar is made of BRW or IRW just be hearing the sound.
Imagine all sports cars are red and all city cars are blue. If you ask now whether red cars are faster than blue cars then the answer is yes, but the reason is not the color. If IRW is used for guitars of all price levels and BRW is used exclusively for high-end luthier made guitars, then you might have the impression that the usage of BRW is an important factor for its good sound.
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UKsteve
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by UKsteve » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:11 pm

I've had plenty of luthiers tell me that BRW is the best B+S wood if you are simply considering its sonic qualities. I've rarely heard anyone say something else is better sonically?

However, James is right in that quarter-sawn stuff is extremely rare, the upcharge (especially in the steel-string world) is huge, and that it will crack, especially if it is pretty (i.e. flatsawn) stumpwood (if it hasn't cracked yet, it will do so soon...). Oh, and you can't ship it without losing sleep.

So, for those many reasons you may want to avoid it. However, if you want the very best guitar that you can have sonically then, all other factors being equal (and they rarely are), luthiers tell me it is the best stuff out there.

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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by gjo » Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:24 pm

UKsteve wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:11 pm
I've had plenty of luthiers tell me that BRW is the best B+S wood if you are simply considering its sonic qualities. I've rarely heard anyone say something else is better sonically?
Jeffrey Elliott mentioned African Blackwood (D. melanoxylon) and said something like "African BW relates to Brazilian RW as Brazilian relates to Indian RW" (just quoted from memory!)

Also in my experience there is a difference in sound that makes it worth to build guitars with BrazRW. It's not only the "hype" for precious, spectacular, rare, or very expensive, material that attracts experienced makers to use BrazRW, it still is the search for "sound"!

But I also have to admit that I agree to John Ray's opinion.

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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by Alan Carruth » Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:44 pm

If you measure the properties of the woods BRW runs about 20%-30% denser than IRW, and tends to have much lower damping: it 'rings' longer when tapped, and with a stronger impression of musical pitch. It is not generally much stiffer at given thickness, though. There doesn't seem to be a lot of overlap between the species.

It's interesting that ABW relates to BRW in density the BRW does to IRW, so Elliot is right in that respect. However, the ABW I've tested had higher damping than BRW. Morado/Pau Ferro tests very similar to ABW, and I've gotten some nice guitars out of it, but nobody seems to feel it's al that great. Curious.

It's really hard to say what all of that means in terms of the sound of the guitar. Many people think that low damping is desirable, but not everybody prefers guitars made from low damping woods such as Western red cedar or Redwood, or like BRW better than ABW. Many tests, most recently the 'Leonardo Project' have concluded that the B&S wood has little, if any, effect on the tone of the guitar in 'blind' tests. When I built a pair using oak and BRW for the B&S they were slightly different, but not much, if any, more than two guitars made from 'the same' wood with equal care. At the time I though the differences were significant; now I'm not so sure.

BRW can certainly be a pretty wood. As a maker I'm not impressed by stump wood: perhaps my vision is clouded by the knowledge of what a pain the stuff is going to be down the road. Even the straight grained old growth stuff I have can behave in odd ways from time to time. In this respect BRW really suffers by comparison with IRW, which is said to be one of the most stable woods. Good BRW can be a pleasure to work, though, particularly if you include the smell; they don't call it 'rose wood' for nothing.

I sound like a broken record by now, but if you insist that you need the sound of BRW, then the closest wood I've seen in terms of properties is Osage Orange. The Osage guitars I've made have turned out very nicely. It does not, however, look much like BRW, or smell like it, more's the pity. Osage is practically a weed where it's common, so there's not much danger of your getting stopped crossing a border with it any time soon. The color helps in that regard to

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:12 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:44 pm
..
BRW can certainly be a pretty wood. As a maker I'm not impressed by stump wood:..
Apologies if I've asked this before somewhere, but is stump wood literally wood taken from the stump of a felled tree?!
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Re: Brazilian rosewood vs Indian rosewood?

Post by Paul Micheletti » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:38 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:44 pm
I sound like a broken record by now, but if you insist that you need the sound of BRW, then the closest wood I've seen in terms of properties is Osage Orange. The Osage guitars I've made have turned out very nicely. It does not, however, look much like BRW, or smell like it, more's the pity. Osage is practically a weed where it's common, so there's not much danger of your getting stopped crossing a border with it any time soon. The color helps in that regard to
Broken record indeed. But influential. I just pulled the trigger and bought a nice Osage Orange set I found online.

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