Help with wood identity

dcomiskey

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Curious if anyone here can help me figure out what kind of figured wood this is, as I absolutely love it. I asked the builder (who is in Italy) and he says it’s figured Italian Poplar. No matter how much I search, I can’t find any mention of such a wood or find any lumber anywhere.
 

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endial

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Finding figured poplar is likely extremely uncommon.
 

SlingBlader

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It could be something local to the builder, but It looks like flamed birch to me.
 

cmjohnson

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If it's poplar I'd avoid that guitar like the plague if I couldn't try it before buying it.

Poplar, in my experience, is about as much a "tonewood" as a chunk of lead. Very non-resonant, a true source of tone suck and cause of a guitar that is dead with no sustain at all. It absorbs vibration so much that it could have been the inspiration for "Vibranium" in the Marvel comic universe.

Not saying that there isn't some resonant poplar out there. But I have yet to find a piece that gives a tap tone that would cause me to think it doesn't suck as a tonewood.


Walnut, same comments. Pretty wood, not usually a tonewood.

That photo looks to me like flamed birch. And it's a very striking look.
 

dcomiskey

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If it's poplar I'd avoid that guitar like the plague if I couldn't try it before buying it.

Poplar, in my experience, is about as much a "tonewood" as a chunk of lead. Very non-resonant, a true source of tone suck and cause of a guitar that is dead with no sustain at all. It absorbs vibration so much that it could have been the inspiration for "Vibranium" in the Marvel comic universe.

Not saying that there isn't some resonant poplar out there. But I have yet to find a piece that gives a tap tone that would cause me to think it doesn't suck as a tonewood.


Walnut, same comments. Pretty wood, not usually a tonewood.

That photo looks to me like flamed birch. And it's a very striking look.
It's def not birch, as flamed birch typically has larger, very gradual curves, not the erratic, straighter figuring in the guitar above.

Also, it's just a top wood. I don't believe it's solid poplar. Regular poplar ,itself, has been used quite a bit by a lot of manufacturers, so not so sure about the tone suck. IMO, the biggest complaint about it is how soft it is and a pain to work on since it dents very, very easily.
 

cmjohnson

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That top looks like magnified cross-silking seen in a perfectly quartersawn piece of hard maple. Sycamore shows the same character on a slightly larger scale. Not sure what it is if it isn't birch.
 

tnt423

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Hard to tell once its been dyed and finished, but it I had to make call I'd guess Red Gum or Eucalyptus. Beeswing figure like that shows up in all kinds of trees but it's pretty rare in woods that normally show rounder curl.
 

larryguitar

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If it's poplar I'd avoid that guitar like the plague if I couldn't try it before buying it.

Poplar, in my experience, is about as much a "tonewood" as a chunk of lead. Very non-resonant, a true source of tone suck and cause of a guitar that is dead with no sustain at all. It absorbs vibration so much that it could have been the inspiration for "Vibranium" in the Marvel comic universe.

Not saying that there isn't some resonant poplar out there. But I have yet to find a piece that gives a tap tone that would cause me to think it doesn't suck as a tonewood.


Walnut, same comments. Pretty wood, not usually a tonewood.

That photo looks to me like flamed birch. And it's a very striking look.
One of my favorite guitars I've built is American Tulip (poplar); poplar has a strong fundamental with a great focus, and makes a great 'rock' guitar, in my experience. Now, I've only built 8-9 poplar guitars, but none have been 'dead' in any way.

Larry
 

cmjohnson

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Your experiences apparently vary from my own. I've never yet found poplar that I'd consider for guitar usage. Nor am I looking for any. I see no reason to when there are better, more attractive woods readily available. We all make 'em the way we want to make 'em. As it should be. It'd be boring if we all had the same exact tastes. We'd all build the same exact thing if we did.
 

ARandall

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As soon as I searched Italian Poplar, Populus nigra came up in the first results.........
 

fatdaddypreacher

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wow. that's nice looking. i've seen a lot of poplar here in louisiana, but has all been pretty unimpressive in appearance...except some that turn dark purple...almost black...in the middle. the closed grain should make for easy paint prep, though
 

redking

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"Italian Poplar" might be a nickname given to something that is not really like the poplar we see in North America. Given how warm the climate is in Italy, could be significantly different than North American poplar, especially from the higher up states and Canada.
 

jvin248

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.

Poplar is a lot like maple, tight cells with great machining properties and smooth paint finishes. A 'popular' choice for wooden chairs or architectural moldings. I have a stick of flame poplar in the stash, found it at the hardware store in the general project lumber, so nice examples can easily exist.

walnut is challenging due to open pores and the tendency for fibers to bend into the pores when sanding that pop back up when finishing and need more sanding. Which is why it's found less often on guitars.

Most of the woods used on guitars were originally chosen for their consistent workability/machining not that there were more or less magical tones. Tone marketing is a rather recent phenomenon.. In the old days it was the craftsman who made the instrument sound good, not a quirk or accident or special magical properties of exotic materials. Sell the builder as that is unique. Everyone buys the same 'hand selected lumber'.

.
 

ARandall

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Don't know how much of it is figured......or if it even does come with figure.
But the search for that common name came up with the tree that I've seen every time when I've been in Tuscany.
So unless you can ask your Italian luthier for botanical latin, then this species would be the obvious guess.
 

Fret Hopper

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Is it possible that it is Avodire? Avodire is kind of a blonde mahogany, but I have seen some pieces that have that figure. Was hoping to buy some a while back from a local guy, but things didn't work out.
 


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