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Ebony availability.

yanquii

Member
Messages
235
I really wany something dark. African Blackwood would be prime, but Nathan Sheppard quoted me 1,000 GBP just for a top. I am not sure about the prices for ABW, but that just seems insane.

Here is a sample of gaboon ebony that is exactly what i am wanting:



or:



I really dig the dark red and light brown highlights.

Heres some African Blackwood that I really like:




Btw, Saul, that guitar above is amazing.
 

Jack Briggs

Member
Messages
1,610
African Blackwood is rarer than Brazilian rosewood. And it's not even endangered. The trees are so small that 2-pc. backs are seldom seen and as such command very high prices.

Tone wise I have found ABW to be superior to any ebony, and many rosewoods. World-renowned classical builders Jeffrey Elliott and Cynthia Burton have stated:

" African Blackwood is to Brazilian rosewood as Brazilian rosewood is to Indian rosewood."

Some pieces have a ring that can seem to go on for days!
 

Jim Soloway

Member
Messages
14,672
I really wany something dark. African Blackwood would be prime, but Nathan Sheppard quoted me 1,000 GBP just for a top. I am not sure about the prices for ABW, but that just seems insane.
Are you after the look or the sound? If it's the look, then there are probably much less expensive (and possibly better sounding) ways to get there.
 

yanquii

Member
Messages
235
Are you after the look or the sound? If it's the look, then there are probably much less expensive (and possibly better sounding) ways to get there.
Looks, and nothing else. Nathan Sheppard wont even do a veneer. Solid, carved tops only from him. He actually just built a guitar out of a solid block of Ebony. It looks killer, although Im not sure how that would sound.

What other options would there be?
 

Jim Soloway

Member
Messages
14,672
Looks, and nothing else. Nathan Sheppard wont even do a veneer. Solid, carved tops only from him. He actually just built a guitar out of a solid block of Ebony. It looks killer, although Im not sure how that would sound.

What other options would there be?
I would expect that to be one of the heaviest guitars of all time. I would also expect it to be incredibly bright. But that's just a guess. I've never encountered a guitar with that much ebony.

You could probably use a dye to ebonize a rosewood. Done well, it can be quite convincing and with a clear gloss finish there's no way to exaine the texture of the wood.

I've only had one request for an ebony top. He was also after the look rather than the tone and I convinced him to go with a black motif on a swamp ash body. Here's what it looked like when we were done.

 

Paulpuck68

Member
Messages
180
I have a closet full of lovely looking wood that we're probably not going to use. I'm determined to cut way back on the variety of exotic woods that we use for our tops. We've experimented enough to have a pretty good idea of what works best and, sadly, what sells best, and that's where we're going to put our focus. We'll still offer some of the more exotic and lesser known woods for custom orders, but otherwise, we're going to keep it a lot simpler than it has been in the past.

I haven't made a firm decision yet, but I'll probably be selling off a few of the really cool pieces soon. Some of it's way too nice to just be sitting here collecting dust and if we're not using it, it should go to someone who will.

Hi Jim. You comments about what works best versus what sells best really caught my attention. What exactly do you think works best that doesn't exactly sell well? I have been considering a Soloway for a while now and am curious about any particularly good wood combination I may not have considered.
 

Jim Soloway

Member
Messages
14,672
Hi Jim. You comments about what works best versus what sells best really caught my attention. What exactly do you think works best that doesn't exactly sell well? I have been considering a Soloway for a while now and am curious about any particularly good wood combination I may not have considered.
Hmmm, I didn't mean to hi-jack this thread, but since you ask...We've experimented with a lot of different woods and each has a unique tonal quality. We've got a few more coming almost immediately with exotic tops, but after that, some top woods that I like a lot but I'm thinking of phasing out (or at least limiting to custom orders) are Bolivian Rosewood, Shedua, Redwood, Bubinga, Mahogany, Lacewood, Sapelle, and maybe even Spruce. We've alreay pretty much finished with Cocobolo and we're just finishing up our last piece of Oregon Myrtle.

The rosewoods are invariably the warmest and darkest. Bolivian Rosewood, which is not a real rosewood, has a wonderful warm burnished tone. Tonally, it's our darkest top, also one of our most beautiful. Shedua was wonderful, warm but with good clarity and just enough high end sparkle. Redwood has a really nice acoustic zing but with a bit less sustain than some of the other woods. Bubinga is personal favorite: warm but not nearly as dark as rosewood. Sapelle, Limba, Lacewood and Mahogany all fall into the same general category when combined with Swam Ash. They tame the highs a bit, and add a bit of warmth.

BTW, my personal favorite is almost always straight swamp ash, top and back. It seems to have the least sex appeal, but they're always the loudest, with the most piano like voice and it's really the classic Swan body. Toss in a maple fingerboard and I think you have the most musical combination we make. It's what I'm playing these days and I've never been happier with a guitar than I am right now.

For non-custom order guitars, I'm also probably going to cut back on bodies with the sound hole. Rock players usually seem to think that it makes it seem to much like a jazz guitar and most jazz players have trouble accepting the idea that a guitar with a long upper horn can be a credible jazz guitar.

We're also about to bring out a new production model. The working name is the Swan Contour 392. It's basically all of my favorite features rolled into one guitar: an all ash chambered Contour body; maple neck and maple fingerboard; our newer larger neck profile; three Lindy Fralin P92's (hence the name 392), all chrome trim, and a 5 way switch with modified strat style controls. The only options will be hardtail or trem, the color and those will be mostly metalics and candys, and possibly the fingerboard. That guitar in either candy apple red or burnt orange would probably be my ideal Swan.
 

EunosFD

Member
Messages
2,186
Black Machine uses Ebony quite often for the tops of their guitars and they look quite stunning IMO. I particularly dig this top:

 

r9player

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,867
Is ebony really that much heavier? I've never gotten beyond just an ebony fretboard, but how thick of a top would it have to be to be significantly heavier then other top woods? Compared to like Maple.
 

Saul Koll

Member
Messages
883
Is ebony really that much heavier? I've never gotten beyond just an ebony fretboard, but how thick of a top would it have to be to be significantly heavier then other top woods? Compared to like Maple.
Oh yeah! It is a totally different animal. Maples can be all over the map in terms of hardness and weight. Especially if you mix in the big leaf varieties. The softest and lightest west coast stuff works almost like a dense alder and the hardest stuff is much more heavy takes a lot of energy to machine. But any ebony is going to be more dense, heavier and harder to work than the hardest maple. Almost like a soft stone. (well, not that bad...)
Here is a chart I found that compares different varieties. Sort of interesting!
http://www.simetric.co.uk/si_wood.htm
 

EunosFD

Member
Messages
2,186
I really dig the look too. Raw yet warm. Another angle:



They use ebony for a lot of guitar tops which is cool, but as others mentioned it probably has an affect on the overall tone of the guitar. Even more so considering how thin their designs are. A fellow TGP'er just got a BM guitar very recently with an ebony top which he posted pics of. Very nice looking piece.

www.blackmachine.net
 

Jack Briggs

Member
Messages
1,610
I've had a couple of picks made from lignum - they both cracked in half with ease. The stuff's awfully brittle.
 

r9player

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,867
oh never knew that. I see them advertised here and there now and then. Thanks for the info!
 

yanquii

Member
Messages
235
That Blackmachine top is exactly what I am looking for, and that very guitar is what got me onto an ebony kick.
 




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