Regarding tone wood...

Texas07R8

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Don't freak, hopefully this thread won't turn into one of "those" Brazilian VS the World or My mahogany is better than your mahogany threads...

Anyway, I was at my local hardwood lumber yard a few weeks ago and picked up some more soft curly maple boards and found a really nice 8/4"plank of African mahogany at a great price. The grain is super straight, it should make some nice bodies once I get it planed down and cut to size. I have to join it but it should look seamless with this board.

I was in the office waiting for my lumber bill to be processed and I was checking out some wood samples they had on the counter top. The had Ash, Maple, various Walnut, African Mahogany, various Oaks, Cedar, Cherry, etc.

I was amazed at how lightweight the Dark Mexican Walnut was compared to the African Mahogany which was next to the walnut. The samples were all the same exact size, maybe 6" x10-12" by a half inch thick or so. I loved the look and color of the natural dark Walnut wood. I thought it'd make a killer looking LP top with some nicely grained walnut and clear gloss nitro top coat. I wondered briefly if Walnut would sound good either as a cap replacing maple or as a body replacing mahogany.

Is Walnut considered a tone wood? If so, how does it compare to Mahogany, Maple, Alder and Ash for example. I'm guessing not too well as I don't recall seeing it being used on a guitar except perhaps Ovation and I think either Fender or Martin used Walnut just for the acoustic bridges on some models. I was just surprised that it was noticeably lighter than the mahogany next to it. My first thought was man, that'd make a light LP body!

This morning I picked up a Guitar Player magazine (Skynyrd was on the cover, I had to buy it) at the airport news stand right before I hopped on a jet to Phoenix for the week. I was looking at some acoustic guitars and thinking about them. I know most have a Spruce top but I've seen some cedar tops as well. I know Ovation has and may still be using cedar tops on some of their acoustic/electrics. I know at least one other acoustic brand that uses cedar tops but don't recall the company name.

I thought about Korina, Koa, Redwood and other exotic woods used by a few luthier made Les Pauls and they looked great and the ones I heard/watched the video of sounded great too. I don't recall seeing anything made from Walnut, Spruce or Cedar.

Has anyone ever made a solid body guitar out of Cedar, a solid cedar body or one laminated with maple or whatever.

Seems like cedar should be as good as Alder or Ash and we all know that wood is used in a lot of guitars.

While on the subject of acoustic tone woods, I ask the same question about Spruce, it's one of the best top tone woods in the acoustic world. Is Spruce any good for a solid guitar body or maybe Maple capped Spruce top? Anyone?
 

C Squared

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spanish cedar has worked well on a few guitars I've played over the years. Similar warmth and sustain to mahogany, the ones I played maybe a tad darker.

I've played two guitars made with walnut.
One was just a walnut top over mahogany. Didn't have all the bite of maple, ut it did have a bit more top end then just a mahogany body

Sadly the solid body walnut was pretty dead.

Wood being wood I'm sure others here may have had different experiences.
 

'59_Standard

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Is Walnut considered a tone wood?

My first thought was man, that'd make a light LP body!

The Paul


Vigier Guitars are using French Walnut for Tops. I've probably seen more Acoustic & Bass guitars using Walnut, than Solid Electrics.

Personally I like the look of some Walnut. But I'm guessing, how many people really want a Brown Electric Guitar - using a Maple Cap would give far more finish options - IMHO - which may be a reason it is used more.


The Pro's would know more than I.
 

bfcg

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One of my first solid body guitars was a Black Walnut strat. I sold that guitar many years ago but I do remember that it sounded good.
Sorry but that is the best tone report that I could give.
I never did build another one because I do remember that the wood was a pain to work with and it was a bit heavy.
Spanish cedar should make a fine guitar body but it will ding very easily.
Most of the major guitar factories stick mainly to the same wood for ease and consistancy in manufacturing. There are many other fine tone woods that you could be using aside from Mahogany and Maple.
The advantage you have over the big companies is that you can experiment with different woods and designs with out worring about the "bottom line".
 

pinefd

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I don't have any personal experience working with any of the woods you mentioned, but I hope to some day. I bought a nice piece of figured walnut recently that I plan on using for a LP type build. Here is a glimpse of it hiding under some inlays:

IMG_0742_800.jpg



Frank
 

Hyper

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Found this a while back while researching Wood types for guitars.

"
Walnut:
A darker wood with Ash-like grains, but like mahogany, the density is uniform. It is harder and denser than Mahogany so the tone is brighter, but the open grains make for a complex midrange that seems to be compressed in some frequencies, but dynamic in others. There’s a nasal response to rhythms, while solo notes jump out. It has a lot of advantageous features of the other main guitar woods. It has a snappy attack and solid lows like Ash, but with smooth highs like Mahogany, and textured mids like Alder. The drawbacks are that it’s heavier, and more stubborn in its sound. It doesn’t respond to random pickup changes. The pickups have to be well suited to the guitar. A Walnut body will dictate the tonal signature of the guitar more than the other main woods. A heavy piece will dampen the mids to produce an overly nasal and lifeless sound, so it needs to be light and open grained enough to resonate the main guitar frequencies.

Production notes: Again watch for heavy pieces. The extra weight adds nothing good to the sound except perhaps more sustain. But sustain is abundant in Walnut already.
"

http://www.jemsite.com/jem/wood.htm
 

nuance97

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I've always thought walnut was heavy in relation to mahogany.:hmm: I had a friend who built a Les Paul out of walnut capped with maple and a maple neck. It is heavy as hell.
 

Texas07R8

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thanks for the input guys. Like the last post, I was under the impression that walnut was a harder wood than mahogany for example, denser too so one would assume it's heavier. However this sample piece of nice figured dark walnut felt much lighter than the African mahogany next to it. I don't know if it was a rare piece that happened to be lighter than normal or maybe the African mahogany blank next to it was heavier than usual???

I do know that the wood was beautiful, Frank posted a beautiful example of some premium walnut and I think that's the first piece of Walnut that has flame! Frikkin sweet Frank!

The stuff I looked at reminded me of some rosewoods that have light streaks as well as the trademark chocolate brown walnut color.

Honestly, the walnut was just a passing thought when I was there waiting to pay my bill and checking out the woods.

I'm actually more interested in Cedar than Walnut but that flamed Walnut Frank has makes me really want to find some of that curly walnut.

I've seen some beautiful figured cedar with that wonderful reddish tint mixed with blonde streaks and sometimes large swaths of blonde mixed in with the normal reddish cedar look. It's just a beautiful wood!

Like I said in the OP, I've not really seen any guitars that I recall were made with walnut. The only time I've seen it is on nicer acoustics and used for the bridge block and that was mainly for decoration, my Custom Legend has a carved walnut bridge block and I doubt it was used only for it's tonal qualities. I think they use it for its strength and density and the visual appearance of it more than the tonal qualities but I may be wrong. I know there are some people who only want Brazilian rosewood for acoustic bridges, does it make the guitar sound better????

Cedar is used in place of Spruce on some acoustic tops and it just makes sense that it's a resonant tone wood otherwise I doubt any manufacturer would bother with a cedar topped acoustic. So in my warped little brain it makes me think that cedar would make a decent electric body. Granted it's a little soft but crap isn't mahogany soft too? I know all my guitars dent pretty easy and I've got mahogany from 1959, 1969, 1987 as well as Honduran mahogany on my 2007 R8 on my Les Pauls.

I think a flat top LP Jr. type body would make a nice cedar solid body test. I'd love to find an 8/4" blank of cedar with some nice figure and color and polish it down nicely and give it a thin glossy nitro finish. I bet that would be one sweet looking guitar, don't know how it would sound but I can't imagine it sounding any worse than some cheap guitars out there today made of either solid or multi-piece Alder, Ash or Basswood.

And what about Spruce? Anyone with any experience with this wood on a solid body guitar? It's a beautiful blonde wood and I've had countless guitars with AAA Spruce and the wood looks great natural and also looks great stained or sprayed. I've got an Ovation Custom Legend that's a Cherry burst with Sitka AAA Spruce top and it's one of the prettiest guitars I've ever owned and it sounds incredible.

I don't know the density or weight range of Spruce so I don't even know if it's doable for a solid body blank. I'm sure it would be expensive if you can even find a blank of spruce that's 8/4 thick and at least 7 inches wide much less a 14" wide blank that would allow a one piece body.
 

Hyper

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And what about Spruce? Anyone with any experience with this wood on a solid body guitar? It's a beautiful blonde wood and I've had countless guitars with AAA Spruce and the wood looks great natural and also looks great stained or sprayed. I've got an Ovation Custom Legend that's a Cherry burst with Sitka AAA Spruce top and it's one of the prettiest guitars I've ever owned and it sounds incredible.

I don't know the density or weight range of Spruce so I don't even know if it's doable for a solid body blank. I'm sure it would be expensive if you can even find a blank of spruce that's 8/4 thick and at least 7 inches wide much less a 14" wide blank that would allow a one piece body.

From the same link that I posted above.

Spruce:
Very soft to the touch, it is extremely stiff for it’s overall density. Like Alder, it’s another wood with a hard skeleton and soft meat. So in a solid body, it will produce tremendous resonant, open midrange, while retaining high frequency attack, and having good low end breath. Because of the low density overall the sound wouldn’t be perceived as having less midrange than Basswood. The mids will be just as powerful and dynamic amidst the addition of clear highs and lows. Probably the most full frequency body material accepted.

Production notes: Rarely used because its softness requires a heavy finish, or a composite “shell” like the Parkers. The Parker isn’t the best representation of the sound of a Spruce body since there are many other unique construction methods and synthetics used in the Parker. Would work well with veneer caps or a top, and would offset some of the compressed sound you get with neck through construction.
 

MRJ5

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This summer, there was a discussion here: http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/luthiers-corner/52955-walnut-guitar.html regarding walnut.

There is more input from others and John Catto offers up some his own builds as examples and a finishing tip for filling walnut to boot.

I have a 5 string banjo that has a beautiful walnut back and I have heard nothing but good things (except maybe weight) about walnut as a solid body wood.
:thumb:
 

79standard

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I have 2 guitars made of aromatic cedar: one of them is solid cedar and the other is a cedar/alder/cedar sandwich. They both sound great!
 

valvetoneman

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Try limba too.
We've just got a set neck strat done with a mojo pickups paf in the bridge and 60's style middle and neck, sounds really good.

I'll get some demos done and I've got a tele coming soon.
 

archey

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I have been under the impression that Spanish cedar isn't truly cedar. Is this incorrect?
 

pshupe

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You are correct. It is not cedar and it is not Spanish. It's the same species as Honduran Mahogany, actually!. It's part of the Meliaceae family, as is Honduran mahogany.

Cheers Peter.
 

DRF

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Damn near anything is a go now so long as it's stable and considerations are addressed. I recently bought some Sitka spruce for future planned semi-hollow projects.

I might even do a full on hollow but plays easy like an electric...everyone says acoustics are more difficult to play...I dunno why if they have a truss rod?. Anyway imo I want to give it a go. Maybe a hybrid.
 

Archer

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I made an LP with black walnut back and as part of the neck laminate. It actually sounded incredible, and I regret selling it. Had a Dimarzio Steve's Special in the bridge which might have made quite a bit of difference too.

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Archer

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Cruising through my photobucket account, I am reminded that I also made a Tele body, Ric copy and a neck out of black walnut. That's how it goes when you get a log or two I guess.
 

ARandall

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Acoustics almost always are more difficult to play. A wound 3rd is harder to bend than a plain, so thats pretty much 100% proof there.

What you can do is to familiarise yourself more with playing them, so the jump is much less.......upskilling yourself to reduce the increase in difficulty.
 

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