'Super woods' almost twice as hard as Ebony and immune to weather are now available as guitar materials *electric guitar clips added*

lightningsmith

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EDIT: found a couple of electric guitar clips that used Sonowood for fretboards



A company called Swiss Wood Solutions had deviced a compression technology that makes real maple, walnut and spruce from sustainable trees almost indestructible in music instrument usage. They call it Sonowood.


"...convince some luthiers to work with the new material. They were enthusiastic about the result. It turned out that compressed spruce conveyed sound even faster than ebony and made the instrument sound purer and could be processed in a more precise manner. Musicians were also delighted by this new material that its inventors called «Sonowood». More and more violin and viola soloists had their worn ebony fingerboards and tailpieces replaced by compressed spruce or maple. There was an increasing demand and Swiss Wood Solutions could have sold more timbers than they were able to produce in their basement at ETH Zurich under laboratory conditions."

The Sonowood specs are listed in the second page of this flyer:

https://f.hubspotusercontent40.net/...ions_February2021/Pdf/Sonowood_Guitars_EN.pdf

They use brinell hardness instead of janka, but let's put it this way:
Ebony's janka hardness is 3220, which is 84 in brinell hardness.

Sonowood made of Maple or Walnut range from 90 to 140 in brinell. The hardness variety is a range of option of how hard you want the Sonowood to be.

Yes, the strength is customizable and the weakest Sonowood is stronger than Ebony.

Curiously, Sonowood made of Spruce can range from 100 to 150 in brinell, almost twice as hard as Ebony, if my understanding of the brinell scale is correct.

And you don't have the same issues you normally have with regular woods like cracking and warping. These things are supposedly scratch and weather resistant.

They're currently available as fingerboards, bridges and veneers for stringed instruments, including guitars. Violin and cello makers have already started using them.

 
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Brian N

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But how do they sound?
Harder = brighter.

More ways to produce pretty guitars for treble deaf = tone deaf general public to enjoy dentist drill tone.
These two replies kind of sum up how I feel anytime someone comes out with a "new wood" to build guitars with. There are tons of untapped woods out there, but I cringe anytime someone tries to market something like jatoba or east Bolivian yucatan wood as a tonewood. Yeah maybe it'll sound fine, but then why don't more builders use it? I'm not going to hand over my money just to try it.

On the other hand, Martin uses HPL on a lot of stuff and it sounds pretty dang good. And wood makes a much bigger difference on acoustics.
 

lightningsmith

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But how do they sound?
Like Ebony, allegedly.

Sounds tough to fret.
According to the flyer, it isn't.

why don't more builders use it?
Because it's new?

Harder = brighter.

More ways to produce pretty guitars for treble deaf = tone deaf general public to enjoy dentist drill tone.
I haven't been to a dental clinic in a while but I don't recall it sounding like this:

 
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7,076
Harder = more rigid. Brighter tone, but you pay for it with stiffer feel.

I like 'em warm and lively. I prefer rosewood to ebony for fretboards.
And I prefer mahogany or korina to maple for neck & body construction.

But that's just my own personal preference.
 

Rod

Tone is Paramount
Gold Supporting Member
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22,945
These two replies kind of sum up how I feel anytime someone comes out with a "new wood" to build guitars with. There are tons of untapped woods out there, but I cringe anytime someone tries to market something like jatoba or east Bolivian yucatan wood as a tonewood. Yeah maybe it'll sound fine, but then why don't more builders use it? I'm not going to hand over my money just to try it.

On the other hand, Martin uses HPL on a lot of stuff and it sounds pretty dang good. And wood makes a much bigger difference on acoustics.
Woods make as much difference on electrics as they do on acoustic guitars…
 

Khromo

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1,104
We use a process called stabilizing on bone nuts. The nuts are submerged in some proprietary resin, and a vacuum is created. The resin gets sucked into the hollow places in the bone, and they are then baked at a low temp to cure the resins. This strikes me as a similar process. The comments about closed pores and "...no synthetic resin..." push me in that direction.

The resulting bone is a lot harder than it is before the stabilizing process, but it is also much more dense. The weights on the Sonowood flyer bear this out in spades! Look at the weights! They are approaching twice the weight of untreated wood! Not a problem with a nut, but a fingerboard treated that way will likely perform a lot different than we are used to.

I suspect this process could get brutally expensive for larger pieces as well, due to the cost of the resin and a vacuum chamber large enough for the workpiece.

Still, the idea of a rigid, thin soundboard is intriguing. The stabilizing process we use creates bone that will withstand hammer blows with no ill effects, rather than shattering like normal cow bone.
 
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lightningsmith

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1,031
We use a process called stabilizing on bone nuts. The nuts are submerged in some proprietary resin, and a vacuum is created. The resin gets sucked into the hollow places in the bone, and they are then baked at a low temp to cure the resins. This strikes me as a similar process. The comments about closed pores and "...no synthetic resin..." push me in that direction.

The resulting bone is a lot harder than it is before the stabilizing process, but it is also as much as 20% more dense. Not a problem with a nut, but a fingerboard treated that way will likely perform a lot different than we are used to.

I suspect this process could get brutally expensive for larger pieces as well, due to the cost of the resin and a vacuum chamber large enough for the workpiece.

Still, the idea of a rigid, thin soundboard is intriguing. The stabilizing process we use creates bone that will withstand hammer blows with no ill effects, rather than shattering like normal cow bone.
Fascinating, I didn't know about stabilized bone nuts before this.

If you have time to read, some of the Sonowood-making process is mentioned here:

 

lightningsmith

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1,031
I'll take a Telecaster made of Sonowood.
Me too, but mine shall be hollow-body with chambered neck.

I wonder if a spruce top on an acoustic could be made much thinner with this process...
You could probably check with Jakob of Canna Guitars about that, he uses Sonowood and works directly with the company.
 
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MikeMcK

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5,684
These two replies kind of sum up how I feel anytime someone comes out with a "new wood" to build guitars with. There are tons of untapped woods out there, but I cringe anytime someone tries to market something like jatoba or east Bolivian yucatan wood as a tonewood. Yeah maybe it'll sound fine, but then why don't more builders use it? I'm not going to hand over my money just to try it.

On the other hand, Martin uses HPL on a lot of stuff and it sounds pretty dang good. And wood makes a much bigger difference on acoustics.
The reason more builders don't use more plentiful woods is because so many people think just like this, as if whatever wood Gibson used in 1958 is the only acceptable choice. Along the same vein, there are a lot of folks who automatically assume that cost = quality. If Gibson could buy Indian Rosewood cheaper in bulk in 1958 than Brazilian, we'd all "know" that Brazilian rosewood was crap. In the mid '70's, when a fingerboard blank's worth of Brazilian cost about $0.40, nobody cared... it was still just "rosewood".

Now people are hurriedly buying up ash-bodied bolt-ons because we all "know" that ash is the only acceptable wood for T-type and S-type bodies. Fender switched to alder in 1956 (with exceptions based purely on cosmetics). But no matter how many times people on TGP point this out, the average TGPer thinks, "no, that can't be right. I've known this forever."

So I'll type it out again:
Fender switched to alder in 1956.
 
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redgold

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Breedlove uses Myrtle, which sounds great. I wish there were more acoustics that used walnut…sounds a bit richer than mahogony. The Taylor Blackwood guitars are excellent as well.
 

wmachine

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1,273
What could be a very important question is whether or not there is such a thing as too hard? I think that is a very valid question for a number of reasons. A very hard bhn will also mean diminished yield. No yield means no neck adjustment? Extremely hard also bad for tone? If much harder is better why not use steel for boards?
All that said, this may have some promise. Results in use is everything.
 

Cheddar Kung Pao

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3,226
Harder definitely doesn't mean better when it comes to instruments. The Gittler guitar is made of metal and has its own sound. Also i assume this material is much more expensive than untreated wood so that alone might mean it has no useful place in instruments unless it has some significant improvement.
 

mysticaxe

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748
On my work (non-TGP) side, we have started interacting with ETH-Zurich a little bit (which sounds like the origin of this product). These guys are Material Science experts. In my opinion, this is a really good thing - have highly skilled scientists look to develop sustainable (and more controlled/consistent) alternatives to scarce resources. Maybe the first product doesn't end up being perfect, or maybe this doesn't end up being the final application for this development, but it is trying to identify what the critical attributes are for such a product to reduce our reliance on cutting down 100 year old trees.
 






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