Super light weight mahogany, where to get, what to look for?

Satellitedog

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Hey guys!

I've had an epiphany of sorts.
I went to a high-end guitar shop selling boutique stuff to have a feel of various lacquer finishes to decide on what kind of refinish I want on my SG.

Among other impressive guitars, I was handed a Fano Alt De Facto RB 6
http://www.fanoguitars.com/products/alt-de-facto/alt-de-facto-rb6/
a goldtop with a mahogany body and P90s, and I couldn't believe my hands...
This guitar must weigh between 5-6 lbs, and it is the size of a Les Paul, with a bulky German carve body and a big headstock, and made of mahogany, with an aged and weathered finish that isn't super thin. Yet it felt like holding the suddenly embodied idea of an electric guitar, that is there, but seems to defy gravity. It was an utterly fantastic experience and since the guitar is about $3500, the next best thing to buying it is to build myself a guitar out of the lightest weight mahogany I can find.

Disclaimer: I know I'll have to learn a great deal before turning in an acceptable piece of woodworking craftsmanship, I'm not naive, but I'm quite excited about the possibility of achieving such perfection. I'm not going to waste mahogany, or any expensive or rare tonewoods on my first projects, but I want to get there.


So the question is: How can mahogany be so light? This was way lighter than any electric guitar I've ever laid hands on.
What kind of mahogany (regardless of price and availability) should I be looking for?
Is it in the drying of the wood, allowing plenty of time to pass?
Is it in the part of the tree cut for the planks?
Is it just an extremely lucky coincidence?
What is one to look for when looking for the lightest possible tonewoods?
 

fatdaddypreacher

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according to their site, they only offer alder, swamp ash and maple. swamp ash can be quite light in weight, but the grain is no where near hog. did they specifically tell you it was mahogany?
 

Murkar

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.......is it chambered? Those ones do have a cap.....

Edit: Googled it, some of the SP-6's are chambered, would not surprise me if the RB is as well. Air is considerably lighter than mahogany :p
 

ARandall

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Yep, superlightweight mahogany still gives you an +/- 8lb LP if solid.

5-6lbs (even assuming your guess was correct) will be fully hollow and doublecarved top too. From raw wood you add in 1.5-2lbs with finish and hardware.
To give you any idea, my fully hollow tele build (using similar woods to a LP) with hollowed out top is 6lbs 6oz. I left the top at about 5-6mmthick apart from where it met the neck tenon, bridge area and sides.
 

Satellitedog

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Thanks for all your replies!

according to their site, they only offer alder, swamp ash and maple. swamp ash can be quite light in weight, but the grain is no where near hog. did they specifically tell you it was mahogany?

Hey Fatdaddy! Hope everything's well in your neck of the woods. Thanks for dropping by!
It is mahogany, that's part of the reason I was so surprised. It was lighter than the wonderfully light Strat I was handed prior to it. Here's the listing, but it reads like google translate. The vertical spec.list below the bracketed blurb may be less atrocious.
http://stageshop.hu/fano-alt-facto-rb6-light-distress-gold-top-build-11459-p-3896.html?language=en

.......is it chambered? Those ones do have a cap.....

Edit: Googled it, some of the SP-6's are chambered, would not surprise me if the RB is as well. Air is considerably lighter than mahogany :p

I'm always humbled by true wisdom. Thank you master Murkar! :)

It wouldn't surprise me if it were chambered either, but I didn't tap the body, nor did I play the guitar. I was in a shock, and a bit of a hurry (I went to the store with my girlfriend), and also it is bloody expensive piece of awesome, so it didn't occur to me to just rap on the back.

Yep, superlightweight mahogany still gives you an +/- 8lb LP if solid.

5-6lbs (even assuming your guess was correct) will be fully hollow and doublecarved top too. From raw wood you add in 1.5-2lbs with finish and hardware.
To give you any idea, my fully hollow tele build (using similar woods to a LP) with hollowed out top is 6lbs 6oz. I left the top at about 5-6mmthick apart from where it met the neck tenon, bridge area and sides.

I think I remember your build thread, you did a great job with that design. Did it have the spalted/mineral streaked maple cap with the F holes?

My guess should be ballpark correct (as it is a ballpark estimate) because it was the comparative lightness with the SG I dropped off by the luthier right before I went to check out these guitars that was shockingly impressive.

My SG is a bit heavy for an SG (part of the reason I wanted it refinished and re-sculpted), it is 7.6 lbs, made of mahogany (probably African) and the Fano was a LOT lighter than that, I mean it weighed in closer to my Rosewood/Spruce mahogany necked OM acoustic, so even allowing for a 1 lb margin of error, the Fano was probably closer to 5 lbs than 6.

I will ask the luthier working at the store whether he knows if it's chambered or not.
 

Open_Book

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Maybe the mention of a "Maple Body" is a mistake -now that could be heavier! - instead of saying mahogany. I say this because under the 'options' heading a Lefty comes as a mahogany option...

Theres a review : Here weight is given as 6.8lb. I don't think its chambered - he has thin-line model.
 

Satellitedog

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Maybe the mention of a "Maple Body" is a mistake -now that could be heavier! - instead of saying mahogany. I say this because under the 'options' heading a Lefty comes as a mahogany option...

Theres a review : Here weight is given as 6.8lb. I don't think its chambered - he has thin-line model.

Yeah, I've read this review, and it also mentions the guitar is lightweight, although the one that shocked me was lighter than 3 kg (my brother's basswood SG is 3 kg and that feels normal for it's dimensions and type), and an all mahog guitar.
Also Fano offers various neck and body wood sorts for the buyer to mix and match.
 

valvetoneman

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I just can't find any lightweight honduran over here

I recently went to 2 luthier wood suppliers and all the mahogany they had would have produced a Lp body blank 6lb or over apart from one blank from one supplier

I simply do not believe a non chambered full mahogany body Lp is going to be much under 8lb despite the fact that Gibson somehow produce 7lb ones non chambered

I feel we're getting a **** deal over here with honduran mahogany because the USA seems to be in plentiful supply, there's always some on eBay too, nothing over here

Hey Bob would you fancy sending some over
 

pshupe

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Could it be weight relieved? It would be hard to tell by tapping whether there were multiple holes drilled in the body. I do this with heavier S.A. Mahogany and African. That's the nice part about building a LP style with a cap.

Cheers Peter.
 

Satellitedog

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I'm not sure. I stumbled upon a one man luthier's workshop in Berlin this October, and he had some finished and mid construction mahogany electrics there, that also weighed next to nothing, albeit these were slightly smaller than LP size, and the lightest was a V style build without any hardware at that point (so that didn't seem out of the ordinary). He was drying the woods in his shop too, don't know how much weight is lost during the process.
 

Satellitedog

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Could it be weight relieved? It would be hard to tell by tapping whether there were multiple holes drilled in the body. I do this with heavier S.A. Mahogany and African. That's the nice part about building a LP style with a cap.

Cheers Peter.

It's an all mahogany guitar, the description didn't mention a cap, and the top where the aged/distressed finish let the wood show through looked like mahogany too.

But I've just written to the luthier from the store, maybe he knows more about these. I can't imagine he had no reaction to that guitar.
 

pshupe

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If you haven't played it, I wouldn't say light guitars are any better than heavy ones tone wise, unless you are getting old like me and gigging a lot, unlike me.

IMO some of the best tone comes from LPs with a hard maple cap. It's the combination of the lighter / less dense mahogany with that hard maple cap that contributes to a nice crisp tone without sounding to harsh.

Cheers Peter.
 

Satellitedog

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I'm not saying it sounds better than any other guitar, but it was resonant and if these are selling for their asking prices, they probably aren't bad.

This said it was the sheer joy of being surprised by something seemingly so familiar, a solid mahogany guitar that doesn't look lightweight at all, was the fresh impetus to kick in my interest in luthiery.

I have two guitars, a semi-hollow, that is around 3-3.2 kg and the SG which is 3,4 or thereabouts, and my dream guitar is a super resonant, featherweight SG, so now I know it is possible to build a full size solidbody that's not heavier than 5,3 lbs.

Anyway, the guy from the store got back to me and says he thinks it's a non-chambered body.
 

valvetoneman

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Spanish cedar is a mahogany and is lighter in weight, unless you know where he got it you'll never really know what it is

I've heard of another mahogany that is light and I cant remember the name of it but it's an African type if I recall
 

Satellitedog

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Wow thanks for the tip. Spanish cedar. I remember liking its look in builds.
 

Satellitedog

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"the scent of cedar, I can still see her, you can't return to the place you've never left..."
 

Baylin

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Not sure what type of mahogany this is...

1267805_10201852693335524_2034411389_o.jpg


Its from my first kit build and was sold as 3 piece mahogany body with maple cap but it is very light. All together it weighs 7lb 8oz which is 2lb lighter than my weight relieved Gibson!
 

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