Substitutes for rosewoods

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Jose Marques
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Jose Marques » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:24 am

I have done this one classical with Ambrosia Flamed Maple

Is a softer maple but i have done with double sides and with a structure in the back i´m just waiting to do a small video and of course if anyone, musician or luthier , wishes to test it will be welcome

I believe we must try and it was i did, not regret i love the sound :casque:

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Trevor Gore
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Trevor Gore » Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:20 pm

There are lots of alternatives to the rosewoods. Whilst few look like the rosewoods, the alternatives can be very attractive nonetheless, and can be made to sound much as you want them to sound. Associating a particular sound to a particular timber is one of the myths of the guitar world, because it is a lot easier to assign a sound to a species than explaining Young's modulus, density, mobility, impedance and modal tuning.

Here are a few of the alternatives that I've used recently:

Nothofagus cunninghamii:
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Pterocarpus indicus
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Acacia cambagei
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Acacia melanoxylon
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Acacia koa
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There are plenty of others...
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David Norton
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by David Norton » Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:12 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:51 pm
I have found American Black Walnut Juglans nigra to have properties very similar to those of soft maples, such as European maple Acer pseudoplatanus, but walnut guitars are usually said to sound 'dark', while maple sounds 'bright'. I'd love to do some blind tests of that one!
I'm solidly onboard the Black Walnut wagon for back/sides. My "main guitar" is a 2007 Johnny Walker 650 cedar/BW. For those who followed the "Dream Guitar" thread about the instrument Andy Culpepper just finished for my granddaughter, it's a 640 spruce/BW. A major difference between them is that the BW on the Walker is slab-cut, highly figured but IMO maybe not so attractive. The Culpepper has dead-straight quartersawn BW, aged 40+ years. It's a very fine instrument.

I just saw on Matthew Chaffin's page that he has a 640 spruce/BW flamenco available, the grain and coloring of which looks much like the Culpepper does. He also has a 650 spruce/sapele classical available as well. And -- to let the kitten out of the bag -- rumor has it that Travis Snyder is building me a 640 cedar/BW which will be done in mid-2018.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:33 pm

Simon Ambridge has used satinwood in at least one case and I had a go on the one that was bought by 'Camper and there is a thread;
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=78383&hilit=satinwood+ambridge
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
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Intune
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Intune » Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:49 pm

I just ordered a guitar with ziricote back and sides. Some say it looks and sounds like a highly figured rosewood, but strictly speaking it's not a dalbergia and should be CITES-legal, as far as I can tell.
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Marcus Dominelli
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:23 am

Intune wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:49 pm
I just ordered a guitar with ziricote back and sides. Some say it looks and sounds like a highly figured rosewood, but strictly speaking it's not a dalbergia and should be CITES-legal, as far as I can tell.
Yes, it's not on the Cites list yet. I've been using it a lot in recent years and no special permits are needed for ziricote.

Rosewood substitutes, by definition, should be woods that look and sound like the rosewoods, IMO, or they are not really a substitute.
Maple and walnut, are not really rosewood substitutes, as they do not in my experience sound anything like woods in the dalbergia genus. Nor would acacia melanoxylon or acacia koa be rosewood substitutes, even though they might be, like walnut and maple, great (but different) sounding woods.

So if a client called me and asked for a good rosewood substitute (for international shipping purposes) I would not say "Hey, you gotta go with maple then!" I think this would be bad advice. It would be better to choose a wood with similar weight, properties, appearance, etc.

Like most makers, I've been using the rosewoods for a long time and I have certification for most of my wood. But due to necesity, I am doing some experimenting with other woods. Ziricote is a great substitute for dalbergia. I have purchased a bunch of beautiful sets of Bocote, but have not had a chance to use it yet, as many people are skeptical of woods hitherto unknown. Pau Ferro is very promising, and has been working great as a rosewood substitute for bridges. It is pretty much identical to a rosewood in weight, stiffness and appearance. It's often called Santos rosewood or Bolivian rosewood.

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adamjohnson
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by adamjohnson » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:38 pm

The dark red variety of ipe makes a very good fret board, gets quite dark after a few years and a coat of oil. Nearly black but still noticeably red. It would be a simple wood to dye black or may fume well. I would not try the brown/yellowish/greenish ipes, they are not fun to work. Long wearing stuff.

Jarah up there as one of my favorite fretboard woods, gets quite dark with age and close up you see lots of nice grain going from black to a very dark red.Great fingerboards but I could see it going CITES

Alan Carruth
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Alan Carruth » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:36 pm

I keep thinking back to the time, not so long ago, when Madagascar rosewood was the 'in' and 'green' substitute for BRW. I'm going to source my substitutes as locally as possible.

Brian M
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Brian M » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:03 pm

Trevor Gore wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:20 pm
Do you know if the Acacia cambagei and Acacia melanoxylon are more readily available, i.e. less scarce, than A. koa which if I'm not mistaken is restricted to certain fairly small islands which, as we have now learned, are "Surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water."?

They certainly look beautiful, and I can imagine they would sound beautiful.

The angle of Acacia wood having been used in Solomon's Temple (I imagine because of its beauty) might be a selling point for religiously oriented buyers.

Laudiesdad69
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:41 pm

Has anybody tried to make bridges out of Myrtle wood?

I asked because I think it's used for back and sides sometime, and it grows in my state.

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Trevor Gore
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Trevor Gore » Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:32 am

Brian M wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:03 pm
Do you know if the Acacia cambagei and Acacia melanoxylon are more readily available, i.e. less scarce, than A. koa...
A. cambagei and A. melanoxylon are both common woods in Australia. A. cambagei is generally a small tree usually growing in desert type environs. Stuff big enough for a two piece back is pretty rare and the figured stuff is very difficult to work. It is also very high density (1300kg/m^3) which means making a live back instrument is problematic. The straight grained material is excellent for fretboards. It's both very smooth and very hard. On the other hand, A. melanoxylon is very wide spread across Australia, has been planted in many places other than Australia (including California) where it is often regarded as a weed. A. melanoxylon can be very similar looking to A. koa, but much more plentiful. It works well, bends well and sounds great. It has very variable properties, with the density ranging about a factor of two (~500kg/m^3 to ~ 1000kg/m^3). Some is also very low damping. Chosen well, it is suitable for just about any type of guitar. If it was the only wood left for guitar building, I don't think too many people would complain.

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Contreras
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Contreras » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:02 pm

I hope Cuban mahogany is not attracting any attention from the CITES police.

Anyone had any trouble clearing Australian customs?

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jim watts
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by jim watts » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:06 am

Pretty sure Cuban Mahogany is on cites appendix II.

Ramon Amira
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Ramon Amira » Thu Oct 05, 2017 3:57 am

Maybe I missed it, but it seems that nobody mentioned Cocobolo, which an incredibly beautiful rosewood. Francisco Navarro has used it. Take a look on his website - under "Grand Concert Classical" - there is a photo of a guitar with a stunning Cocobolo back. I don't know if Cocobolo is on CITES or not, but to me it looks even better than Brazilian rosewood.

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Paul Micheletti
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Re: Substitutes for rosewoods

Post by Paul Micheletti » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:30 am

adamjohnson wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:38 pm
The dark red variety of ipe makes a very good fret board, gets quite dark after a few years and a coat of oil. Nearly black but still noticeably red. It would be a simple wood to dye black or may fume well. I would not try the brown/yellowish/greenish ipes, they are not fun to work. Long wearing stuff.
I've had a couple of sticks of Ipe, and it was all the green stuff. It has all the working properties of a concrete block. It will instantly dull even the hardest japanese blades. I sure would never want to plane a fingerboard from that stuff. I didn't know there were other types of Ipe.

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