A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

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tateharmann
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A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by tateharmann » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:16 pm

I'm thinking specifically as back and sides wood:

1. Did A. Torres ever use it? I thought he did but can't find the example..
2. What species is "Spanish Walnut"? I don't see it come up in database that I use (claro and black are in there though)..
3. Most average walnuts are lighter in weight that most average rosewoods - if a builder made two identical guitars (to specs of a plan) with one walnut and one rosewood back and sides - would the weight difference be enough for the player to feel?

Thanks!
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Michael.N.
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:30 pm

1. He did, just the one that we know of. It's SEU01 in the Romanillos.
2. Presumably European walnut, juglans regia.
3. Yes.
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tateharmann
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by tateharmann » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:40 pm

Perfect, thanks Michael!
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Alan Carruth
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Alan Carruth » Thu Jun 21, 2018 7:20 pm

The walnut species that I have encountered have all been pretty similar in properties, and very much like European maple. It's interesting that people tend to think of walnut as making a 'dark' sounding guitar, while maple is said to be 'bright'. In terms of measurable properties walnut and maple guitars are usually quite similar. I have to attribute the difference in perception of tone as another example of 'listening with the eyes'.

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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by GuitarsWeB » Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:57 pm

I have to attribute the difference in perception of tone as another example of 'listening with the eyes’.

Alan..remember in life, "perception IS reality.” The News People have proven that.

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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by rojarosguitar » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:25 pm

One of the recent guitars made by Sebastian Stenzel was made from Californian Walnut back and sides, and it is in my feeling one of the very best guitars he ever made. Because his quality and sound characteristics are quite close to each other across the different back and sides woods, as long the top stays the same wood (spruce or cedar), I would attribute the outstanding qualities for some part to the walnut (a thought he shared).
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Euan Hannah » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:29 pm

I saw a steel string guitar today with top back and sides all made of highly figured "claro walnut". It was a fine instrument and the first time I had seen walnut used as a soundboard wood.

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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Michael.N. » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:17 pm

It's my most used wood although maple is close. A lot of American black walnut can look a bit grey and insipid. Having said that the nicest stuff that I've had is black walnut but grown in Kew gardens, London. Not figured but lovely grain and really nice colour. Must have been the local soil conditions. Here it is as a cut out back. The piece on the left is more typical of black walnut, the one in the centre is my attempt to warm the colour up a bit, probably taken a bit too far. Unfortunately I've run out of the Kew stuff and now I regret not buying 100 sets of it.
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tateharmann
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by tateharmann » Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:23 am

Very nice! I love Black Walnut...I got this interesting piece for free and thought it could make and interesting back with that sapwood.
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by printer2 » Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:21 am

I used some scrap walnut and mad a 0 sized steel string. Rounded the edges and found it did not look like much, the lack of a rosette and the colorful bridge and fretboard did not help. But where it lacked in looks it sounded great. I need to reglue the bridge though, now if I could only find it, it's somewhere around here.

Image
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tateharmann
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by tateharmann » Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:41 pm

I think it looks great! Simple and understated - the beauty of the wood shines through ;)
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Alan Carruth » Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:28 pm

Most of the walnut you get has been dried in a steam kiln. The steam dissolves some of the color and helps distribute it around in the wood more evenly, so it ends up being less interesting. Air-dried black walnut can have all sorts of interesting color variation.

I forgot to mention that walnut tends to be one of the easier woods to work with. It's hard enough to carve well, but not so hard as to be a chore. It's also one of the easiest woods to bend. All the walnut I've run into has been quite stable, too.

California 'claro' walnut is, I believe, English walnut grafted to American black walnut roots. It can have some wild grain due to the graft.

Curly grain black walnut is not too uncommon. Much of the walnut I get here in the States comes from Pennsylvania, where they hunt with shotguns. It's not unusual to find shot marks in the wood: bullet tracks with a pitch pocket at the end. The lead seems to dissolve fairly quickly: I've only ever found one piece of metallic lead in walnut. Often the walnut (and cherry) that has shot in it has some characteristic figure, which can be quite pronounced, and the wood will tend to be harder and denser as well. I call it 'enriched' walnut.

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Michael.N.
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Michael.N. » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:29 pm

Touch of dragons blood and alkanet in the shellac is enough to tilt the shade to a warmer hue, assuming it's the bland stuff. Go crazy on the alkanet and you can get it looking almost like Indian rosewood, not that you should. Of course Al is correct in saying that it's one of the easier woods to bend. Yet another plus point for it. In fact I can't remember having to scrap a piece due to it corrugating badly. The only thing to watch out for is creasing at the waist, usually down to not enough heat and/or trying to make the bend too soon. There's also plenty of straight up and down well quartered walnut around. A bit boring visually but easy to work and very stable.
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tateharmann
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by tateharmann » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:00 pm

Really?! Even easier than Ash? I was planning on using ash for my first build for just that reason ;)

But, yes, I can definitely concur that it works easily - it shaves like butter on a July day with hand planes :)
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by tateharmann » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:02 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:28 pm
Much of the walnut I get here in the States comes from Pennsylvania, where they hunt with shotguns. It's not unusual to find shot marks in the wood: bullet tracks with a pitch pocket at the end. The lead seems to dissolve fairly quickly: I've only ever found one piece of metallic lead in walnut. Often the walnut (and cherry) that has shot in it has some characteristic figure, which can be quite pronounced, and the wood will tend to be harder and denser as well. I call it 'enriched' walnut.
That is interesting and terrifying all at the same time lol.
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