hardwood cabinets

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by PB Wilson, Aug 5, 2005.


  1. PB Wilson

    PB Wilson Member

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    I've admired the Trainwreck/Alessandro/Bruno hardwood cabinets and heads I've seen and was considering building some for my gear. I've read what seems like volumes about pine, MDF, particleboard and Baltic birch plywood and how each contributes (or doesn't) to the sound of the amp, but I'd like to hear from those who have or have played through hardwood cabinets and get their impressions.

    I've got plenty of air-dried black walnut, birdseye maple and lots of exotics (cocobolo, wenge, ziricote, padauk, pau ferro etc.) to choose from, but am leaning toward the walnut as the boards are plenty wide (less gluing) and I love the look of walnut (it goes back to my Grandfather's shotgun collection). Thanks!
     
  2. 908SSP

    908SSP Member

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    Wood doesn't sound as good as Metal baby.....:dude :dude


    [​IMG]
     
  3. PB Wilson

    PB Wilson Member

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    Shipping might be a problem because the boards are pretty stout. Almost all of the black walnut is 2" thick and at least 9' long. It has been air dried for going on seven years and has been in a reasonably stable indoor environment for the past three years. The wood is from two trees that came out of my parent's yard. I figured that it was my duty to save it from the fireplace or chipper. :) I feel my karmic balance is in order if the wood is put to good use one day. What sizes would you be looking for? Let me know and I can see if some of the wood might be useful. It might take a little time since it isn't in my basement shop at this time.

    I really don't want to part with the birdseye maple though. I had to search through many piles of boards to find the ones I have in my shop. They don't have as many birdseyes as some of the guitar tops you might see, but they are free from dark stain and are destined to be an L-5-type jazzbox and some other musical instruments one day. :cool:
     
  4. PB Wilson

    PB Wilson Member

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    Dude! Let the hamster out of there!

    ;)
     
  5. PB Wilson

    PB Wilson Member

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    Bob- Just wanted to say that I love your work and it would be pretty cool to have some of my lumber eventually end up as a beautiful cab crafted by you. Gorgeous stuff! I envision a wheat grillcloth or maybe cane.:cool:
     
  6. Boomer

    Boomer Member

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    Black Walnut? Hmmmm
     
  7. gulliver

    gulliver Member

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    My 2 cents, the volume of a sealed cabinet makes a huge difference (up to a certain size). The shape makes some difference, but will not effect much given that it's guitar use. The thickness and type of the wood makes very little Difference past 3/4" of anything.

    Many argue this, but few experiment. Play through your speaker and feel the vibrations of the 3/4" or more wood sides, it ain't going anywhere! Yes, it vibrates, but even if it's acting as a 3/4" passive radiator, it's not going to effect the guitar frequencies to a noticable extent IMHO.

    Of course, the wood used for open cabinets makes even less of a difference, since there's no internal pressure ... it's just used to isolate the vibrations to delay them as to when they make their way to the front of the speaker cabinet to mix with the front pressure.
     
  8. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Thank you, I now have to clean coffee out of my keyboard :D.



    I built a little cabinet years ago out of a piece of 1/2" thick English Oak - I just had it lying around and figured I could do something useful with it... but the piece wasn't very long. So I built the world's smallest 1x15" cab for an old JBL M30 I had - the cab is only 17" square externally :). It sounds really nice too - much more jangly and 'tuned'-sounding than a normal ply cab. I have a smaller, narrower piece left over which I'm going to build a head box from one day, and make some sort of amp for it.

    I'd post pics but the cab is up at my drummer's house, I'm currently using it for acoustic guitar with a little Peavey PA head when we practice there.
     
  9. aeolian

    aeolian Member

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    Back to the original question, is a subtle, gear pager, kind of way. The wood even a head cab is made of affects the sound. There are enough microphonic elements in an amp to react to their environment. Harder woods have higher resonant frequencies. Very hard woods will accenuate frequencies in the upper midrange right where is does make a noticible difference in a guitar's sound.
     
  10. gulliver

    gulliver Member

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    But if a tree falls in the forest and nobody's there...

    :rolleyes:

    I don't think anyone has done an A/B comparison with their amp head in different cabinets, or no cabinet at all, but I'm certain the difference would not be noticed by the human ear.

    When I did this speaker comparison, I was so disappointed in the small sealed enclosures I agreed never to use them again. a 15" speaker in a 17" square cabinet sounds pretty small. It may sound okay, but A/B compare it to something more typical and I think you will find it is missing a lot of tone.

    Speaker comparison
     
  11. Boomer

    Boomer Member

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    So I buy this premise. Bob's making me a matching 2x12 and headbox. What wood would you suggest and why? The gloves are off on wood choice unless it's hundreds of dollars a board foot. Which cab of his? The V-12? The vertical 2x12? The traditional rectangular box? It isn't going to travel much, if at all. It's for Madison Square Livingroom for blues and classic rock. What would you have both pieces made from?
     
  12. PB Wilson

    PB Wilson Member

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    Yeah, I'm in upstate New York. It would probably be too expensive to be worth it. Keep looking out for some good lumber in your area. Maybe a local woodworker's organization could help you get in touch with local guys who have stashes that their significant other is trying to get rid of. You could be doing them and yourself a favor.

    Also, with all of the tropical storms that blow up around you, old trees have to fall down on a semi regular basis. Get in touch with the cleanup crews and see if you can find some rare Cuban Mahogany or other treasure before it gets chipped into mulch. A few calls to the telephone company or local highway crews might be worth it.
     
  13. PB Wilson

    PB Wilson Member

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    This was sort of the way I was approaching it. I know that thinner pine in old Fenders had an effect, but thicker, denser woods that approach the weight and density of plywood shouldn't make using hardwood a bad idea.

    My original idea is to use 3/4" wood fingerjointed for strength with some removeable back panels to allow me to have it aas an open back, semi-closed back and fully closed. I'll probably keep the dimensions close to a THD or Avatar cab for a 2X12 and hope for the best. Thanks.
     
  14. PB Wilson

    PB Wilson Member

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    Mahogany is very classy and would look great with a cane front similar to a Boogie. It's not too heavy and it'll look like fine furniture. :cool:
    Cherry looks fantastic with a satin finish, but how about quartersawn white oak for a Mission furniture look?
     
  15. aeolian

    aeolian Member

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    Actually I have. A few years ago a buddy had a MkIIC+ in a nice maple cab. I had one in a regular cab. His sounded kind of brighter and harder. Of course all the heads are different, and this guy had been an engineer at Mesa. So being engineers we did the logical thing and switched cases. There was a noticable difference in the sound. His amp was still harsher and dryer than mine, but less so in the plywood cab. And mine took on more presence in his hardwood cab. This was though the same speaker cabs and in one of the test sound rooms when we both worked at Dolby. Couldn't ask for a much better test environment.

    As I said, it's subtle, but noticable.
     
  16. gulliver

    gulliver Member

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    Quote above...

    My cousin's good friend is an audiophile, who did several A/B comparisons on a new subwooofer he recently installed. He and another friend determined the best results and agreed on it ... only to find out the next morning that the subwoofer wasn't even connected.

    Sorry, I'm not buying this one, dolby or no dolby. I've sold SCSI storage to Pro Tools users for six yeas, and have worked with Grammy award winning sound engineers ... and will say most people in the music industry are a bunch of coo coos. No offense, maybe we will have to agree to disagree, but I cannot see there being a difference picked up by human senses.
     
  17. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Wrong. I have A/B'd it, and there is often a clear difference. I've often noticed it when testing amps I'm working on, out of the head box. I haven't tried different boxes on the same chassis, but I'm sure there would be a difference, even if it's fairly subtle, for exactly the reasons posted earlier.

    So leave out the rolling eyes please.

    Firstly, it's an open-back cab - you just assumed it was closed, which nothing I posted indicated at all - and secondly "missing a lot of tone" is your opinion without hearing the cabinet. Personally I think it sounds wonderful. I have no idea whether it's the cab, the speaker or the combination of the two. I have no interest in whether it would have more of anything in a larger cabinet, since it sounds good in a way that no larger cab I've heard does. There is no "missing" tone, only "different" tone.

    Also wrong. The wood used for an open-back cabinet makes a big difference. Compare ply vs. pine on a Fender Bassman-type amp and you'll hear it very clearly.

    I think you need to listen more and assume less about what other people have and have not tested, and what they might both be able to hear and also prefer.
     
  18. gulliver

    gulliver Member

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    Good topic for debate, and I respect all ideas ... but I don't want to turn into a troll and will change the topic to, let's say kittens.

    :D
     

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