question about wood

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by fish78, May 24, 2008.

  1. fish78

    fish78 Member

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    I was down in my basement...my parents old house...My father fooled around with wood working...I found several blocks of walnut....plenty for a guitar body, but would need to be ripped...its thick and narrow...and pieced...also a piece of maple that might be enough for a very small body...its around 2'' thick....this stuff is at least 30 years old...what tones am I looking at, also what are the implication of a very small body...regarding getting bridge, pickups properly placed?...does piecing detract from tone?
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    Walnut is one of my very favorite tonewoods. The only real downside is the weight. It's denser than mahogany usually, but the only domestic wood that I've used that can hold it's own with Honduras mahogany in bass response. You can rip it and glue-up a body, certainly.

    The maple could be resawn into a bookmatched top, if you have that capability. It would add a little 'snap' to the attack of the notes, as in a Les Paul or similar. If you're on the West coast, it would probably be Bigleaf Western maple, which generally (not always) has a slightly mellower tone than 'Eastern' maples (red, sugar, black, silver, etc.) I like both - depends upon what kind of tone I'm going for in the finished guitar. With a back of walnut it might be nicer to have a hard maple top to give a little boost to clarity and 'cut' in a live band situ.

    Have fun!
     
  3. sfarnell

    sfarnell Gold Supporting Member

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    I love the tone of walnut and my new Soloway Swan has a claro walnut top. I also have a custom Boogie head cab made of walnut.

    I think that walnut sounds more like maple than it sounds like mahogany. I have several maple cabinets and guitars and was surprised at the great bass response because I always thought that maple was a very bright sounding wood. The quilted maple that I like is not too bright.

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  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    When walnut is a top it tends to lend less to the overall response of the guitar. As a back it is more like mahogany than maple. Walnut can have plenty of brightness tonally, but in general it's a warm sounding tonewood.

    True, quilted maple is less bright than other maples.

    Nice Swan, BTW.
     
  5. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I'm thinking walnut would have a nice long bright sustain. It should make for a great rock guitar.
     
  6. in a little row

    in a little row Member

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    Walnut with a maple cap would pretty much rock too...what is the figuring like in each piece...that could help you decide

    Remember that you might consider making a headstock veneer to match the body, so save some wood
     
  7. fish78

    fish78 Member

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    Thanks guys, a lot to think about here...If I get a chance, I will pull them up and take some photos and maybe get some more suggestions...
     
  8. groovy daddy

    groovy daddy Member

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    Sounds like you got some good seasoned wood there. My Dad worked wood also. Me & my buddy found an "old" slab in his shop and hogged it out for an Epiphone neck off a wrecked guitar. Turned out it was an exotic piece of teak or something. Boy was he p.o.!
     
  9. alltone

    alltone Member

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    Speaking of Teak.. I rescued a couple of Westlake H.F. teak horns from a studio in Toronto years ago. They were replacing the control room monitors and had no further use for them.I was able to cut some of the wider sections up and glue em' together.....

    Sorry about the pic. quality.
    I only have a low res.still shot function on the digi.camcorder!:horse
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  10. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    Nice! What kind of pickup is that?
     
  11. alltone

    alltone Member

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  12. groovy daddy

    groovy daddy Member

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    Douglas- very nicely done. Mine probably ended up in a wood stove.

    fish78- how 'bout a maple center block with walnut wings? I think you would have

    good sustain and resonance.
     
  13. alltone

    alltone Member

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  14. jeffrey827

    jeffrey827 Member

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    walnut is usually used as a back wood. the maple should be used as the top. With the textured woodiness of Mahogany and the rich depth of Rosewood, Walnut is an excellent all-purpose back wood. If it's really good wood it should be dark brown and highly figured. There should be some depth into and warmth. It has a low frequency and it should have a breathy, pusly feeling.

    Maple is pretty much the exact opposite. It's bright sounding and crisp. You should be able to hear each string ring clearly. There should be great balance, clarity, and string-to-string separation that Maple is known for, but with the added dimension of a rich, warm low end response. It should have a bell-like sound and should have a high frequency.
    (got this stuff from breedlove)
    Yea but maple can also be used as a backwood or vice-versa.
    So you should have a guitar right in the middle leaning toward a high frequency and a woody pulsy sound.
     
  15. alltone

    alltone Member

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    You may want to think about a neck through design, if you have a nice piece that would be long enough....with an alternate species of wood on either side of the center/neck piece.
     
  16. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    Fish, if you're not into building bodies regularly, I'd encourage you to build a number of bodies out of available ash and alder, to work on your chops, so to speak, as opposed to trying your hand out cold on what sounds like really choice wood.

    Another possibility is having the wood sent to Tommy Rosamond or Brian Poe and let them use their existing skills to get the optimum out of what might be some precious stuff. Tommy would certain let you know straight if the wood wasn't everything we might hope for; not all old wood is good wood.

    As for precisely what the one piece of wood or the other might sound like, I don't know how useful a general answer is. Piecing a body together from wood from a single source should work out fine, and I think that maple might make a lot of nice caps; the biggest challenge with both species is is it as light as we'd like?

    Bubbanov
     
  17. Gary Ladd

    Gary Ladd Member

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    I find Walnut to sound like a darker Mahogany...definately works well with maple though!
     

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