Alternate neck woods

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Matthew Masail
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Location: Israel

Alternate neck woods

Post by Matthew Masail » Tue Jan 08, 2019 4:53 pm

I have recently started to look for a locally available neck wood. I cut up some white Limba... feels good but the greenish color bugs me.
Today I was at a lumber yard and I found some really nice sapele boards, light in color and not as heavy as most sapele, I bought 4 boards but only two were good enough for necks so I got 6 neck blanks 95cm long for around 45$. the other two will go to furniture. While I was there I also noticed a possible treasure - 3" thick quatersawn Okoume for a good price,it looks and feels like light-medium density mahogany (rough sawn), I have never used this wood and it'll cost me about 150$ to buy a big board. I'm going back there in couple days anyway and I plan to take a plane with me to get a better look.

has anyone here used Okoume ? what do you think about the specs https://www.wood-database.com/okoume/

I know most consider sapele a bit too heavy, and I agree.I have some dark boards that are just way too dense compared to the spanish cedar I have. but the stuff I got today looks more like a light brown mahogany and is close in weight to the spanish cedar but still a bit denser. the grain pattern is for sure sapele I've used a lot of the stuff. so any thought on this woods properties as a neck aside from its density?

I will post pictures later when I get back in the shop. I'll also update on the Okoume if I do go for it, just looking for some tips. :discussion:

Alan Carruth
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by Alan Carruth » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:06 pm

Where is 'local' for you?

Matthew Masail
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Location: Israel

Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by Matthew Masail » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:10 pm

Israel. No tonewood suppliers and the Turkish ones do ship here but only top/b&s. Spanish cedar import is very expensive.

MessyTendon
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by MessyTendon » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:40 pm

If it's well seasoned and stable who cares what kind of wood it is :)

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Michael.N.
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:56 pm

Sapele is a good stable wood for necks, just a little harder to carve. The higher weight isn't really a problem.
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Alexandru Marian
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by Alexandru Marian » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:48 pm

Yes, why the hate for denser wood. A lot of cedro is really *too* light to make a long term, many years stable neck. If it comes from "awesome guitars are feather light" - this is not the only golden standard anymore. Same for the weight balance when playing, things tend to get blown out of proportion over the internet.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:08 am

Of course you can still have a relatively heavy neck and a very lightly constructed body. You could put a counterweight in the bottom block (if you must). It may not feel like a lightweight guitar but it's quite possible that it's as lightly constructed as they come, at least in terms of soundboard, sides and back.
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simonm
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by simonm » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:33 am

Matthew Masail wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:10 pm
Israel. No tonewood suppliers and the Turkish ones do ship here but only top/b&s. Spanish cedar import is very expensive.
You could try the Spanish ones. Spanish cedar needs cites paperwork. The Spanish dealers typically charge about 60 euros per species for this.

GuitarsWeB
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by GuitarsWeB » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:48 pm

I was just at Jose Oribe’s home. He showed me some of his instruments with Birdseye Maple necks, I’ve even seen other makers use rosewood for their necks.

RedCliff
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by RedCliff » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:10 pm

In my neck wood pile I have Spanish cedar, yellow cedar, mahoganies of different types, walnut, maple, padauk, wenge, afrormosia, satinwood, stuff I can't remember... All can work if used appropriately. If you can't get the more common accepted neck woods then I would go local. You can always laminate with a hard wood stripe or two. Isn't there good supply of cedar of Lebanon, olive, and cypress in Israel from memory? All would work.
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Sequoia
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by Sequoia » Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:44 pm

I've been using sapele for my last 3 guitars. I have no problems carving it, and no need for reinforcement. No clients notice the weight difference. Classical players tend to sit down when playing their guitars. I notice the extra sustain using heavier neck, IMO.
'' Yes, why the hate for denser wood. A lot of cedro is really *too* light to make a long term, many years stable neck. If it comes from "awesome guitars are feather light" - this is not the only golden standard anymore. Same for the weight balance when playing, things tend to get blown out of proportion over the internet.'' The need for traditional material will only drive up the prices and more destruction of the rain forest.

Alan Carruth
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by Alan Carruth » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:00 pm

Here's where a bit of research can help. I don't know what species are readily available to you, so I can't make any suggestions there. However, whatever woods there are somebody, someplace, has made measurements of samples of them, and compiled the information. Here in the US the Forest Products Laboratory publishes data, not only on 'local' woods, but on woods from all over. We can also send in samples of 'unknown' wood for identification. Does Israel have a similar agency? If not, I'd bet you could find information on line. This will be in the form of averages for things like density, Young's modulus in different grain directions, and stability, as indicated by relative rates of shrinkage for a given change in relative humidity, in the different grain directions. You can fairly easily look up data on the 'usual suspects', and then compare those with woods that you can get locally. There are also reasoaby easy ways to test samples of wood you have to find the stiffness and density properties.

Keep in mind that, until the modern transportation revolution most musical instruments were made of 'local' woods. Over time the makers homed in on the most suitable ones, and adapted the designs so that they could get the sound they wanted from the woods they had. Violins are made of spruce and maple because those woods are suitable, and the people who came up with the designs could get them. Over time they adjusted the designs so that they worked well. Meanwhile players and composers devised music that took advantage of the good features of the instruments, and avoided problem areas. The feedback loop between materials, instruments, and music, brought us to the point where it's almost unthinkable to make a violin out of anything other than maple and spruce. At this point, then, maple and spruce are not simply 'suitable' to make violins out of, they're practically required (especially if you want to sell them!). There are almost certainly woods available to you that will be 'suitable' for guitar necks; you just have to figure out how to find them.

ernandez R
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Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by ernandez R » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:19 pm

I have some Aspin I used for my first model and I like it for being light. I used birch for my second model, just strung up yesterday, and find it heavy... I think I will use the Aspin again for the next one.

My plane is to use locally a valuable woods exclusively for all the usual reasons.

At the same place I acquired the spruce for my tops there are about ten pieces of birch 3/8'thick, 15-20 feet long and full log width that I plane to try to make sides and backs. Sadly the gentleman who put up this wood passed away last summer so,I've not been able to ask about how and when he milled this wood. The house I'm living in now was assembled with wood he milled from the floor to the ceiling.

HR
I hate sanding wood or anything else for that matter I just happen to be good at it...

Matthew Masail
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Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:57 pm
Location: Israel

Re: Alternate neck woods

Post by Matthew Masail » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:17 pm

A lot of good true things were said, thank you everyone. I suppose the bottom line is not to over analyze and simple make guitars. each can decide for themselves what they prefer. heavy neck or lighter neck. I think it becomes much more important if you are selling to a conservative market but as such if it looks similar to mahogany or spanish cedar it'll probably be ok - so I did buy a board of Oukome - I'll post once its delivered and cut up.

Just as it happens I have an old Russian guitar like thing on my bench for repairs, it has a beech neck, I don't care for the look too much but it is the point.
simonm wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:33 am
Matthew Masail wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:10 pm
Israel. No tonewood suppliers and the Turkish ones do ship here but only top/b&s. Spanish cedar import is very expensive.
You could try the Spanish ones. Spanish cedar needs cites paperwork. The Spanish dealers typically charge about 60 euros per species for this.
Thanks Simon, the spanish charge about 175 euro shipping, add 65 for cites for a block of wood that cost 5$ in volume and we have a rather silly deal :? Honestly I don't see anything special with the Spanish Cedar I already have. Yes It's stiff for it's mass and smell gorgeous but nothing particularly amazing that could justify its current cost. I imagine the old spanish makers buying big boards at local prices, still seems like the best way to go.
ernandez R wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:19 pm
I have some Aspin I used for my first model and I like it for being light. I used birch for my second model, just strung up yesterday, and find it heavy... I think I will use the Aspin again for the next one.

My plane is to use locally a valuable woods exclusively for all the usual reasons.

At the same place I acquired the spruce for my tops there are about ten pieces of birch 3/8'thick, 15-20 feet long and full log width that I plane to try to make sides and backs. Sadly the gentleman who put up this wood passed away last summer so,I've not been able to ask about how and when he milled this wood. The house I'm living in now was assembled with wood he milled from the floor to the ceiling.

HR
The birch I have seem is much like maple could make a beautiful guitar especially if you find something with a slight figure in it. I wouldn't worry about the wood being too wet as long as it's not brand new, just mill it into guitar sets and sticker it and check on it monthly.
RedCliff wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:10 pm
In my neck wood pile I have Spanish cedar, yellow cedar, mahoganies of different types, walnut, maple, padauk, wenge, afrormosia, satinwood, stuff I can't remember... All can work if used appropriately. If you can't get the more common accepted neck woods then I would go local. You can always laminate with a hard wood stripe or two. Isn't there good supply of cedar of Lebanon, olive, and cypress in Israel from memory? All would work.
Hi RedCliff, I actually have some QS paduk and bubinga but didn't think to make a neck of it. Wild Olive is the last wood one would want to use as a neck.... makes ebony look as stable as MDF. I did cut up a random cypress log into qs neck piece, it's been drying for 2 years now, I might try it later down the road, its beautiful wood. Cedar of Lebenon are well gone... apparently they were huge and straight... but they were a softwood like western red cedars.... for guitar top would be amazing. Israel has some interesting rosewood too,I have a few logs might try to get some 3 piece B&S sets out of it.
Alan Carruth wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:00 pm
Here's where a bit of research can help. I don't know what species are readily available to you, so I can't make any suggestions there. However, whatever woods there are somebody, someplace, has made measurements of samples of them, and compiled the information. Here in the US the Forest Products Laboratory publishes data, not only on 'local' woods, but on woods from all over. We can also send in samples of 'unknown' wood for identification. Does Israel have a similar agency? If not, I'd bet you could find information on line. This will be in the form of averages for things like density, Young's modulus in different grain directions, and stability, as indicated by relative rates of shrinkage for a given change in relative humidity, in the different grain directions. You can fairly easily look up data on the 'usual suspects', and then compare those with woods that you can get locally. There are also reasoaby easy ways to test samples of wood you have to find the stiffness and density properties.

Keep in mind that, until the modern transportation revolution most musical instruments were made of 'local' woods. Over time the makers homed in on the most suitable ones, and adapted the designs so that they could get the sound they wanted from the woods they had. Violins are made of spruce and maple because those woods are suitable, and the people who came up with the designs could get them. Over time they adjusted the designs so that they worked well. Meanwhile players and composers devised music that took advantage of the good features of the instruments, and avoided problem areas. The feedback loop between materials, instruments, and music, brought us to the point where it's almost unthinkable to make a violin out of anything other than maple and spruce. At this point, then, maple and spruce are not simply 'suitable' to make violins out of, they're practically required (especially if you want to sell them!). There are almost certainly woods available to you that will be 'suitable' for guitar necks; you just have to figure out how to find them.
So true. Thank you for taking the time. I don't think Israel has such an agency, in fact I'm pretty sure not. aside from fine softwoods for tops I am sure I can get everything I need locally. maybe not everything I want :wink: I just got a big slab of Iroko for a student of mine making a chess table, this stuff looks like austrailian blackwood, if there is anything left I'll get a few B$S sets. bottom line I'm in the wood hording phase and possibly over thinking stuff. I did buy Gore a Gillet books... feels like I'm back in school.

here is a picutre of the light Sapele next do normal dark Sapele neck black, both bought locally. I like the feel on the light stuff, and I guess that counts as much as anything.
IMG_20190109_113127.jpg
IMG_20190109_113401.jpg
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