Acoustic Guitars with Mahogany sides and backs

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Echoes, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

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    they are dull and weak compared to the rosewoods, maples and exotics...

    I have owned 2 acoustics with mahogany sides and back (Larivee and Martin) and my other acoustics simply stomped them in tone and rich sound...
     
  2. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    Thanks for your opinion. Bracing and finishing might also contribute to the sound. Mahogany lacks the projection that rosewood provides, but also has a warmth to it that rosewood lacks. A contest between mahogany and rosewood with amplified acoustics might be a fairer contest.
     
  3. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Were they Brazilian?
     
  4. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    Tell that to my Collings 000-2Hm 12 fret...with mahogany back and sides. I A/B'd it with a regular rosewood version, and far prefered the more balanced sound that the mahogany guitar produced. To me, the rosewood seemed to be lacking some midrange. Maybe the rosewood guitar was a little louder...but that didn't matter to me, as I bought this guitar for writing and recording.

    Cheers

    Kris
     
  5. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Interesting opinion. Doesn't exactly line up with how I would describe the differences in the few thousand acoustics I've played with, but everyone's experience is different. Be careful of confusing correlation with causation though.
     
  6. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

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    One Indian and one Brazilian.
     
  7. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

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    You would have to admit that the mahogany for sides and back is more extensively used on the lower end guitars, yes?
     
  8. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

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    are you flat pick or finger style?
     
  9. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Yes, it is. This is one reason to emphasize the chance of the inferior tone you found to be simply correlation with mahogany, rather than caused by it. The mahoganies you've owned may have sounded bad simply because they were built bad. I personally tend to prefer mahogany over rosewood, but it's not because I feel one is "better" than the other. Each guitar is different, and if they're built well they each have their strong points. A nice mahogany 00-18 or L-00 style is hard to beat for my tastes though.
     
  10. Grun

    Grun Member

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    Really interesting. My D1A rings like a bell. All other things being equal, mahogany is known to be brighter than rosewood with 'more pronounced mids'. The mahogany D18 is a bluegrass standard.
     
  11. Rotten

    Rotten Silver Supporting Member

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    "Dull and weak" versus "rich" sound also depends on context. I used to play a Lowden with a lush, harmonically vibrant tone. If I played that particular one in a Norman Blake context it would sound goofy; like Yanni playing with Son House. Currently, I prefer a traditional sound and feel like my Martin D-18A more than does the trick.
     
  12. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

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    I guess it also depends on whether you are playing with another acoustic that has the more punchier and brighter tone that seems to overshadow the mahogany IMHO. When I gig with my buddy, he sings lead and plays a Taylor 314 which sounds fine...but when I come in with the Taylor 714 it completely outclasses the mahogany guitar in almost every category (again my opinion, but everyone else hears it too..."that guitar sounds WAY better man" etc...) it is just obvious...another thing is that the 314 has to have almost double the gain on the board to keep up volume wise...and this is the same with another buddy's Martin guitar 000-16 or therebouts with mahogany....sounds weak and dull in comparison.
     
  13. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    I have an all-mahogany 1959 Martin 0-15 that has proved out to be a workhorse and a utilitarian guitar over the last 9 years or so.It does darn close to everything,but the bluegrass stuff without a mic...It has the tone of choice.
     
  14. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

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    maybe it takes a bit longer for the mahogany to settle in and produce the goodies...I don't know...
     
  15. stephenT

    stephenT Member

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    No. mahogany is for folks who want separation of notes, balance and clarity. That's why blues and bluegrass players want mahogany. Strummers LOVE rosewood.
     
  16. in a little row

    in a little row Member

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    Have had a Yairi DY61 (burled mahogany) which easily outperformed Giannini, Gibson and Guilds Ive owned, all with rosewood...all solid wood

    Consider the difference between laminated sides vs. solid as well, particularly when talking about lower end guitars with mahogany

    I certainly respect your opinions, but to make such a blanket statement about a tonewood without considering design, construction and aging is sort of ignorant...



    j
     
  17. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    I agree quite well with Stephen's summary. One thing you will find with recording is that studio engineers are much more likely to be happy to see you show up with a mahogany guitar than a rosewood one. Rosewood tends to have a certain beautiful complexity of overtones, but not as clear a separation and also a bit less power and low end. That's an extremely broad generalization of course, and you won't have a hard time finding some rosewood guitars that will overpower some mahogany ones. In general though, a D-18 does a better job of keeping up with a banjo and mandolin than a D-28 does.

    I would say that though mahogany is used more in less expensive instruments, it's a result of market factors other than quality. It's not that rosewood is better than mahogany, but that it's more exclusive, boutique, less common, more bling. Or at least that's how marketing has shaped the pricing over the years. In the late 19th century rosewood was the standard, with maple the more common step down. When Washburn started selling mahogany back and sides instruments around this time, they sold that as a premium option priced above rosewood. As it became a much more plentiful import however, it took little time to drop back to second.

    In short, companies need to have distinctive levels of decoration and prestige to differentiate models and price brackets. Mahogany guitars are resigned to the bracket below rosewood because it's a more common wood and usually less aesthetically stunning. Companies like Matin or Taylor need something to fill each price bracket.

    If you get the chance to play some nice mahogany instruments like a Collings, Huss and Dalton, an old Gibson J-35 or 45, and plenty of others, you may be surprised what they can deliver. I get the impression you may have had the misfortune of picking on several lemons in a row. It's easy for this to sour your palate toward a style, but it may be worth it to keep listening to others and your opinions may change.
     
  18. localmotion411

    localmotion411 Member

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    Depends on a lot of factors, IMO, not just the tonewood being used. I have played mahogany and rosewood versions of several acoustics and prefer some in mahogany and some in rosewood.

    I don't understand why blanket statements such as this, single coils are better than humbuckers, etc. etc., are made; but when I think about it, they do incite though and discussion very well.

    Your thread, though, so rock on with your opinion. That's what makes this forum and threads like this great, IMO.
     
  19. Beagle1

    Beagle1 Member

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    You can't really compare a 714 to a 314 or the Martin 000-16...of course the 714 is a much better guitar. A more apt comparison would be a 514 and a 714 as they are both cedar-topped guitars of about the same build quality, one with mahogany b/s and the other with rosewood.

    If you want to hear what a GREAT guitar made with mahogany back/sides sounds like, go play a Collings OM1A or a Martin OM-18GE. Personally, I like the acoustic sound of my Martin OM-18 Laurence Juber signature (Adirondack/mahogany) way more than my 714, but I keep the 714 around for band gigs.

    Also +1 on what stephenT said...mahogany is better for clarity and note definition (no ringing overtones), whereas rosewood is better for strummers or open-tuned fingerstyle. I also think guitars with mahogany b/s tend to be easier to record with and fit better in a mix.
     
  20. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    Though not a Taylor fan these days, I used to have a mahogany/cedar limited edition Taylor that was one of the best sounding guitars I have heard. It was built back in 1995. Unfortunately it was stolen. I think Taylors have declined precipitously since. I have played many Gibsons, Martins, Santa Cruz and Collings with mahogany b & s, that stand up to or better the best rosewoods. (including Brazilian) I would broaden my experience with different guitar makers, and not condemn mahogany based on a few mid-level guitars.
     

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