Please share your first-hand experience on Okoume tonewood

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Meteor Hammer, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. Meteor Hammer

    Meteor Hammer Member

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    With the limited supply of lightweight Mahogany nowadays, it seems Okoume tonewood is a inevitable trend as alternative to Mahogany.

    As far as I know, China guitar manufactures have been using Okoume to produce cheap LP copies and low-cost acoustic guitars for a very long time because of the huge availability and low-cost of Okoume. Okoume also has been used on Epiphone guitars extensively, for example:
    http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Les-Paul/Les-Paul-Special-II.aspx?platform=hootsuite

    I assume in the near future, we may have to order high end custom guitars with Okoume due to the shortage of lightweight Mahogany.

    In this thread, I hope guitar players and luthiers could share you valuable first-hand experience on Okoume's tone characteristics, as well as the tone comparison between Okoume, Genuine Mahogany, African Mahogany and Spanish Cedar.

    Thank you very much in advance!
     
  2. Whitecat

    Whitecat Member

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    The Fender Custom Shop has been using okoume for several years at least. It usually gets paired with figured tops. If it’s working for them...

    Also, Nik Huber is using Spanish Cedar a lot. Not only does it result in lighter-weight guitars (on average) than his mahogany builds, but I think he charges a little bit less too. I've got a Huber with a Spanish Cedar body and it's great. As resonant as you'd expect and lots of "mojo" for want of a better word.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
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  3. vachterm

    vachterm Member

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    Iirc the new "single cut" Suhr guitar (Aura?) Is made of okoume.
     
  4. Da Geezer

    Da Geezer Supporting Member

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    Yes, that specific guitar is why the OP is asking for experience… He's very upset and concerned about it
     
  5. beorn

    beorn Member

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    It's also called gaboon. Look that up.
     
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  6. Husky

    Husky Gold Supporting Member

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    I love the stuff for body woods. We use it on our modern satins as well. That guitar gets many tone compliments from our artists who use it and I’m using it on the Aura. Lightweight and resonant.
     
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  7. Husky

    Husky Gold Supporting Member

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    Who is “upset”
     
  8. Whitecat

    Whitecat Member

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    Looks like the person who posted this thread is...

    https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?posts/25717168/

    He's clearly unaware that a) you and other high-end builders (eg Fender Custom Shop, as above) have been using Okoume for a long time already and b) Other high end builders are also using Khaya with great success (literally every non-Private Stock PRS guitar made in the past decade or longer, for example, and quite a few PSes as well).
     
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  9. Meteor Hammer

    Meteor Hammer Member

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    Based on my brief homework, it seems PRS Private Stock is also using Okoume now, maybe Gil Yaron too...that's the reason why I think Okoume could be a trend for high end guitars.

    As a long-time Honduras Mahogany addict, I am gathering the first-hand opinion especially from luthiers to evaluate cons and pros of Okoume. If Okoume is a good alternative to Honduras Mahogany, it's the time to go after the trend.
     
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  10. Da Geezer

    Da Geezer Supporting Member

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    Yes...the OP of this thread.
    He obviously believes you have made a wrong decision in using this wood for your new single cut guitar
    Edit: according to the post above, it seems the OP is reconsidering his strong feelings against your choice of woods
     
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  11. Meteor Hammer

    Meteor Hammer Member

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    John, your input always hits the bull's eye...lightweight, resonate, harmonics-rich body wood is crucial to the singing tone.
     
  12. Whitecat

    Whitecat Member

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    It's just time for new woods. Reclaimed or sustainably harvested, I'm good with either - I think the way it's seasoned and then cut/constructed is far more important than the species name. I trust the guys making them.
     
  13. sedawkgrep

    sedawkgrep Supporting Member

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    I always figured that our common body woods: mahogany, alder, ash, were chosen because they were the best of what was readily available. Not necessarily because they were the best tone woods in the world.
     
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  14. ur2funky

    ur2funky Supporting Member

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    I have a PRS Private Stock guitar with a Okoume body, and I highly recommend it.
     
  15. Patrick Bubien

    Patrick Bubien Supporting Member

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    Okoume is a cheap silica filled mahogany that moves a lot. Cheap acoustic guitars' necks are made of this junk. I am a high end wood craftsman for the past 30+ years (oh my tone wood collection!). And yes i build high end instruments and wood never use it, when you shape it and the grain freys, you are in sanding hell. Shaper bits do not last long at all. Throw me your comments, I'm cool.
     
  16. Meteor Hammer

    Meteor Hammer Member

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    Thanks for the comments. We definitely need to open our mind to embrace the innovation.

    China guitar manufacturers and Epiphone have been making mass production guitars with Okoume, the tone is thin and muffled, which could be caused by lower-quality Okoume wood or by poor craftsmanship or by thick finish... I am a bit cautious on the Okoume.

    I hope luthiers could share the 360-degree opinion of tone comparison of Okoume, Spanish Cedar, Genuine Mahogany, African Mahogany and Sapele in terms of:

    1. Frequency response assessment: such as clear, bright airy trebles...
    2. Resonance
    3. Sustain
    4. Harmonics
    ...

    Thanks!
     
  17. Meteor Hammer

    Meteor Hammer Member

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    Good to know! Would you share the information of the neck wood and fretboard wood on your PS that complement Okoume body?
     
  18. Meteor Hammer

    Meteor Hammer Member

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    Have you compared tone of Okoume, Spanish Cedar, Genuine Mahogany, African Mahogany and Sapele? Any inputs would be highly welcome.
     
  19. Mr Fingers

    Mr Fingers Member

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    Builders pretty much praise whatever they have to work with, and they're driven by supply, cost, consistency, and other issues that are major for them -- but not for the buyer. I've grown reasonably cynical of the promotion of new tonewoods that are in fact not new and which have virtually never, ever been introduced fundamentally for tonal (or other) reasons. It's self-serving praise. Of the woods mentioned above, only Spanish Cedar has been talked about as a positive tonal/structural option. All the others are substitutes. I'm sure good guitars are made out of them. I prefer good mahogany, which is a superior material, but it's pretty much gone, so we're getting this other stuff. That's fine; it's the real world. But let's not present it as an improvement. How 'bout that baked maple?
     
  20. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    What kind of music do you play on your guitars? Can you compare your style to some well-known players? Any clips of your playing? That will help us understand what your definition of a good-sounding guitar is. Thanks
     

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