Spruce/Cypress finale.

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Spruce/Cypress finale.

Post by HNLim » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:05 am

I intend to build my final guitar with a spruce cypress combination. With all the talks about alternative to rosewood etc..... I am seriously considering using cypress for the back and sides. I have been "forced" to give up my present home of 25 years that I love so much which I have lived and raised all my 3 children to adults in, due to a collective sale (enbloc) of my estate.

I am expected to shift to my new home when the transection is completed expected before the middle of next year and I will most likely be spending a small fortune furnishing this new home. I have promised my wife no more woodwork in the new home.

I have a Spanish cedar neck complete with headstock carving waiting to find a body and a very nice set of spruce top waiting to be used.

I need the following feedback:
1. Where can I source for the best cypress tonewood?
2. What do I need to look out for in designing this guitar?
3. What bracing do you recommend?
4. How thin should the back and sides be thinned to?
5. My aim is to build a very light guitar.

I am basically a woodworker and not much of a luthier. So any advice will be taken very seriously as this is definately going to be the last guitar that I plan to make.

I am currently working to finish my 13-string classical harp guitar and hopefully this final spruce/cypress guitar before shifting out of this home.

Thank you for reading this post and even more thanks for advising.

Lim HN

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Re: Spruce/Cypress finale.

Post by vesa » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:47 am

What about Torres FE 04 ¨La Leona¨ replica or inspired.
It has cypress back and sides and cedar neck and it is very light, only 1200 gr.
You can listen Wulfin Lieske playing it at the Youtube and try also the beautiful sound sample of Gerhard Oldiges ¨La Leona¨replica at Kent guitar classics.
David La Plante ¨plans¨ and other info about it at least in these treads and in Romanillos book there is a whole chapter about ¨La Leona¨.
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=34059&p=355858&hil ... na#p355858
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=48174&p=932016&hil ... ns#p932016
I don´t know about the La Leona thicknesses but normally Torres sides are close to 1.0 mm, top 1.2 - 1.8 and back occasionally 2.0 but mostly 2.4 - 3.0 mm.
Sorry to hear that this is going to be your last one.
Thank you for your company and good luck with the other challanges in your life.
Vesa Kuokkanen

Antonio Marin nr. 813 1995 (Bouchet)
Vesa Kuokkanen 2016

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Re: Spruce/Cypress finale.

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:24 am

Or you could purchase the 1888 GAL Torres plan by Elliott which is highly detailed. I prefer the plantilla over La leona but it is a larger guitar. Using cypress is almost certainly going to result in a pretty lightweight guitar. If you want a lightweight balance to the head then use geared pegs or even wooden pegs if you can use them.
Cypress grading is a little like spruce grading, largely done on cosmetics. You tend to get better colour and less blemishes. I wouldn't be too concerned about sourcing the 'best cypress', you just need a good grade without blemishes or swirly grain. Fairly straight grain quarter sawn material. Apart from that there is no 'best', it's just cypress, won't sound any different.

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Re: Spruce/Cypress finale.

Post by HNLim » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:01 pm

What kind of cypress to use? Where can I find them?
Last edited by HNLim on Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Spruce/Cypress finale.

Post by mqbernardo » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:43 pm

if you want the "best" cypress you could use alaskan yellow cypress, those trees have a grain so fine you can barely see it, plus it is usually straight, light,s tiff and stable. apart from the botanical debate, it is for all practical purposes a cypress. but i suspect you must be looking for the Mediterranean/"spanish" variety (cupressus sempervirens) - its golden color under finish, fine texture and poignant smell make for a truly beautiful instrument IMO. Plus it has that hsitorical allure. i was lucky enough to score a big board of mexican cypress (cupressus lusitanica) that is just perfect, but i haven´t seen it for sale anywhere and haven´t bult with it yet.

A good place to buy some good (and inexpensive) Mediterranean cypress is a turkish seller - google akustik wood. Last time i bought stuff from them they sent me the goods and asked me to pay only when i got the items on my door! They sometimes take a while to answer mails, though.
The 1st grade and special sets of cypress i got from madinter and maderas barber have always been nice, i don´t think you can go wrong with them. IMO you should go for the higher grades with cypress because: 1) lower grades sometimes are knotty (or have knot "shades" inside the plantilla) making them harder to work, less stable and less stiff along the grain; 2) higher (quartered) grades show the beautiful ray fleck - it´s really conspicuous and lovely in cypress

on my last guitar i ended up with the sides at 1,8 mm (because it was tough to bend) and the back at 2,5 mm (because it was not very stiff). I´ve noticed that cypress varies quite a lot in density so thickness numbers are definitely not written in stone.

good luck with the change! regarding the woodwork, your wife and your lungs will thank you.

all the best,

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Re: Spruce/Cypress finale.

Post by simonm » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:22 pm

You can "kill two birds with one stone" by doing a multi-piece back. Sides will generally be less "swirly" (as Michael N say) and easier to work so get an extra set and use some of that with a back set or even instead of one. Put in ebony strips between the pieces and a 3, 4 or 5 piece back will look really nice. Romanillos did at least one cypress guitar with a strip of satinwood right down the back. I put a picture in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=42&t=105106#p1118353 The courtnall book also shows a Cypress (Santos Hernandez) with a multi-piece back. Somehow Cypress and ebony just seem to go together.

Romanillos suggests 2.5 mm for Cypress backs but I didn't see any specific side thickness mentioned. I would be thinking of about 1.8 mm but to be honest I don't measure it very precisely - I do it by feel but "bendy enough" it generally turns out to be around 1.8.

Beware that Cypress sometimes has areas that "break out" so be diligent about picking a "good side" (both for back and sides) and protecting it once it is nice and smooth. The waist can burn easily enough when bending. Thin sides bend easier so another reason to go thinner. I am not brave enough to go down to 1.2 or whatever Torres is reputed to have done on some guitars.

I think pretty much any decent classical plan will work well: Torres, Santos Hermandez, Ramirez 1912, Romanillos and no doubt lots of others. If you already have a nice plan you are familiar with just use that again. Understanding the plan you use is probably more important that the specific plan.

For sources I have also used Madinter and Barber and also Espen in Germany. Due to funny German customs issues I have not bought from Turkey. As this is an "urgent" project I would suggest asking if the supplier has some older stock. Or even approach a luthier who might have some older sets available. By older I mean something that has be stored for 5-10 years as opposed to a year or two since harvest. I would stick with the so called Mediterranean cypress as it is the tried and tested traditional option. Beware that the smell when working it is very pungent. "Stealth mode" work would be impossible. :-)

Good luck with your house move too. I hope the new place is to your liking.

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Re: Spruce/Cypress finale.

Post by Jabberwocky » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:12 pm

Might also wish to consider Japanese Hinoki Cypress and Hokkaido Spruce.

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