Cedar top question

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Cedar top question

Post by LBrandt » Thu Mar 07, 2019 5:57 pm

When choosing a cedar top guitar, is it preferable to choose a darker cedar or a lighter cedar (assuming that one has a choice between two otherwise identical guitars)? Or is this a silly question? And does darker cedar indicate closer grain?
Last edited by LBrandt on Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cedar top question

Post by Mollbarre » Thu Mar 07, 2019 5:59 pm

Personal preference. Pick which ever you find more appealing.
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Re: Cedar top question

Post by souldier » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:46 pm

Not a luthier, but I doubt the tint of the cedar will tell you much. It all depends on the individual piece of wood and what a luthier can do with it. In otherwise identical guitars, choose the one that looks better to you, unless you can play them both and choose the one that sounds better.
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Re: Cedar top question

Post by Beowulf » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:52 pm

I would recommend choosing by sound...two otherwise identical guitars will not sound identical. Cedar has varying color. AFAIK the color tone is not related to the closeness of the grain. Cedar may darken slightly with age and exposure to sunlight.
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Re: Cedar top question

Post by Chris Sobel » Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:03 am

Agreed, for sure.

One interesting random thing I’ve noticed on cedar is that a much higher percentage of darker colored cedar has a stronger aroma of cedar/eucalyptus. Almost always the darker stuff is more aromatic.

I don’t see a lot of farm grown cedar that’s dark in color. Could just be the samples I see. It tends to be lighter normally. I’ve gone through a lot of boards and logs of old growth stuff and it’s more of a mix of dark and light.

Don’t get me started on “even color” cedar either. Very little is...
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Re: Cedar top question

Post by khs » Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:54 am

If all other properties are the same, I would choose darker one. It seems to be harder to get 'chocolete' cedar where I live.

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Re: Cedar top question

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:17 am

It's harder to get the darker cedar, AKA the "chocolate" cedar as it's often called.

There is lots of it in the forests, but the big tone wood buyers are calling the shots as to what colored logs the tone wood suppliers are choosing to source. Since the big factories want the most uniform looking color they can get, this is what ends up at places like LMI and other wood sellers, unless they are sourcing from the smaller tone wood sellers, who tend to sell more to luthiers than factories, and we tend to like wood with some character...

It's unfortunate that the big factories are so stuck in this aesthetic vise grip. I have talked to two salvage loggers lately who where selling really nice wood to the factories, and they decided to get out of it and just sell the cedar blocks for shake blocks instead. Nowadays, because Old growth cedar is getting harder to source, they can get just as much money selling the cedar as shake blocks, and they don't have to deal with the picky guitar factories who will not accept any color variation in the wood.

It did not used to be this way. Shake blocks have traditionally been a lower grade than luthier wood, but the shortages of wood, and other factors, have driven the demand for shake blocks up. In 20 years when the cedar is commercially done, those big companies might be regretting they did not buy the colorful wood.

But the color will not affect cross grain stiffness, which is very closely correlated to the amount of perfect quarter. 10 or 15 degrees off quarter and you'll see a big reduction in cross grain stiffness.

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