Pine for top of guitar?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Alan Hamley
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by Alan Hamley » Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:58 pm

Hi there,
I'm about to start a Torres FE17 inspired build and will be using a Tasmanian King Billy Pine top set. This King Billy set is fine grained and very stiff and is the same weight as a AAA Englemann top set I have in the stash. I am still in the research stage but I will be posting a build on here soon.
Some information on King Billy for those of you who are not familiar with the musical instrument quality wood.

King Billy Pine Athrotaxis selaginoides

King Billy pine is a Tasmanian endemic softwood tree found in cold and wet sub-alpine forests.  Timber from King Billy pine trees is light pink - brown in colour, soft, fine grained and light in weight.   King Billy pine timber is very durable and freshly milled or dressed timber has a resinous aroma.  Straight grained logs split remarkably well and until the mid 20th century were widely to build huts for walkers, miners, trappers and shepherds; Weindorfers residence at Cradle Valley is probably the best known such building.  An early use for King Billy pine sawn timber was in boat building, especially for dinghies and rowing shells, where its light weight was advantageous.  When the timber was plentiful it was the preferred building material for window frames and also for doors etc.  Clear grade, quarter sawn King Billy pine timber is now highly sought after by musical instrument makers for the acoustic pieces in guitars, violins, ukeleles and banjos. 
Some pics for you of the set.
Cheers
Alan
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Doug Ingram
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by Doug Ingram » Sat Sep 16, 2017 2:51 pm

looks super, Alan

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tateharmann
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by tateharmann » Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:07 pm

King Billy, eh?! Looks amazing :)
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

Alan Hamley
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by Alan Hamley » Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:03 pm

Hi Doug and tateharmann,
Yes it is a super set alright but its well know there are King Billy tops out there that are very floppy and tap like a wet blanket. Just the matter of selecting the right top, back and sides to try an achieve your aim.
cheers
Alan

Brian M
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by Brian M » Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:43 am

Tim522 wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:16 pm
Edmund Blochinger just made 2 pine guitars. The pine is 500yrs. old! There are vids up on utube.
The videos of it I saw, with Pepe Romero talking about it and playing it (and it sounds beautiful, and not only because it's Pepe playing it!) say that pine needs to be very old to be as good as the best spruce, because of the high resin content in the pine.

Two thoughts:

Maybe not quite 500 years old, but there must be a lot of old pine around in old buildings being torn down or refurbished, as was the case with the Blochinger guitar.

Or, if as it's claimed, "torrefaction" accelerates the aging process, it would be interesting to try this on pine tops. Would this accelerate the aging process enough to make it as good as spruce?

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tateharmann
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by tateharmann » Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:49 am

I took that with a grain of salt and was thinking along the same lines as you as far as old pine in barns/buildings.
Doug Ingram wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 2:51 pm
looks super, Alan
Doug - how long had the pine sat drying that you used for your FE17?
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

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tateharmann
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by tateharmann » Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:53 am

Alan Hamley wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:03 pm
Hi Doug and tateharmann,
Yes it is a super set alright but its well know there are King Billy tops out there that are very floppy and tap like a wet blanket. Just the matter of selecting the right top, back and sides to try an achieve your aim.
cheers
Alan
I would bet the same goes for white pine too. I just took a look at king billy images on Google - what an awesome looking tree...like something out of Jurassic World haha! Isn't radiata pine from down there too? A lot of that gets sold up here as "select" clear pine.
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

Alan Hamley
Amateur luthier
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by Alan Hamley » Sun Sep 17, 2017 10:00 am

Yes there is some Radiata Pine grown in plantations here in Oz but New Zealand is where it is big business.
The King Billy set I have was bought from a Luthier in Sydney who retired and a mate of mine here in Oz offered me a set to try for my Torres build.
Cheers
Alan

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tateharmann
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by tateharmann » Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:58 pm

Excellent, I look forward to seeing some of the build!
"One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

Jim Frieson
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by Jim Frieson » Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:02 am

In Spanish , spruce is also called Pino Abeto . Pino means Pine . Spruce is called Picea Abies , botanical nomenclature . It is a confusion .

Maybe I would like Tasmanian pine .... have heard good things about it .

I only made one guitar with a pine top , it was Canadian pine from an old casting dye , structurally perfect .
Sabicas played it and he said " how does he make it so sweet ? " ... but really it was too mild a sound for my satisfaction .

astro64
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by astro64 » Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:15 pm

Jim Frieson wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:02 am
In Spanish , spruce is also called Pino Abeto . Pino means Pine . Spruce is called Picea Abies , botanical nomenclature . It is a confusion .

Maybe I would like Tasmanian pine .... have heard good things about it .

I only made one guitar with a pine top , it was Canadian pine from an old casting dye , structurally perfect .
Sabicas played it and he said " how does he make it so sweet ? " ... but really it was too mild a sound for my satisfaction .
Interesting comment. My first reaction to the sound that Pepe Romero gets from the pine top instrument at GSI was also that: lovely but definitely on the warm/mild side. Very pleasing to listen too, but would it be too polite in the long run? A guitar can do with a bit of an edge to the sound. But tastes vary, including my own at different times.

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fast eddie
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by fast eddie » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:57 am

I bought a Hernandis classical guitar around 1974 for about $700. According to the label inside the body, it is made of pine. I compared it to my Ramirez this past year (before I gave the Ramirez to my son) and was very surprised to find the Hernandis compared very well. I have never heard of Pine used for a guitar top.
Fast Eddie
Cordoba C 10 Cedar
1974 Hernandis

cattanarts
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by cattanarts » Tue Dec 26, 2017 6:43 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Mon Mar 07, 2016 12:11 am
Hey! The very first guitar I made had a pine top, salvaged from an old door. Unfortunately (perhaps fortunately) it went on a bonfire a few years later. One day I might try and recreate that guitar, if only for the sake of nostalgia.
The 'solid pine top' you mention may well have been spruce. Sometimes people interchange the terms. Then again it may well have been a pine top.
Bouchet's very first guitar had a pine soundboard. It does seem to sound a little different but not in a bad way. I quite like the sound of it.
Visually the soundboard certainly has the look of pine, wide grain. What we would call a grade C soundboard. Tonewood dealers stop at grade B.

http://www.guitarsalon.com/store/p4893- ... uchet.html
What a wonderful guitar, I did not know it existed, but for the recording it has a beautiful and lovely sweet sound. Marianto Tezanos Sr built his first guitars with pine for the neck and top, and cypress or coral for the back and sides, and those guitars made Ramirez III bringing him into his workshop, but there are very very few of those guitars from the 1940s-1950s, this one really surprised me and made me just want to make one!

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fast eddie
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by fast eddie » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:13 am

My 1974 Hernandis has a pine top and cost a little over $700 new at that time. Still have it and I play it daily. In my opinion it has a very beautiful sound and since I did not play for the past 40 years, it is essentially like new. I am really enjoying my new found guitar obsession.

One last thing. I never see these guitars on e - b a y or Reverb or in music stores. I did accidentally find a history of the Hernandis somewhere on the internet (don't recall where) and evidently they were fairly good guitars.
Fast Eddie
Cordoba C 10 Cedar
1974 Hernandis

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Michael.N.
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Re: Pine for top of guitar?

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:59 am

First two guitars I made were built with a pine soundboard cut from a Victorian door. That was back in '77 so I can assure everyone that it's been used before. Probably been used a few hundred years prior to '77 too.
Historicalguitars.

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