Why is oak not used in guitars?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by zosozep7, May 19, 2011.

  1. zosozep7

    zosozep7 Gold Supporting Member

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    Just wondering why I never see guitars made of oak? Too heavy? How about an oak neck? Too hard to work with? Does it sound crappy or too bright? Or are there guitars made of oak?
     
  2. dspellman

    dspellman Senior Member

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    There are probably a few out there. I've got one guitar with body wings (it's a neck-through) made of elm. Solid maple burl (now *that's* heavy). Plex. Aluminum. Probably no good reason why you couldn't do an oak guitar. Or Cherry. Or solid ebony. There are probably some constrictions where the neck is concerned, however -- it may be that oak simply isn't a great wood structurally when it comes to that. Dunno.
     
  3. Stike

    Stike Member

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    Huge pores, pita to fill. Usually really heavy.
     
  4. docfox

    docfox Member

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    Leo Fender made some early steel guitars out of oak and abandoned it when he found that the acidity of the wood caused his finishes to flake. So whatever nitro and sealer or lack thereof he was using didn't work well with oak back in the day. Don't know about modern catalysed finishes on oak.

    I do have an oak guitar however. A 1956 Gibson C520 double-neck console steel guitar. The finish has held up rather well, but the guitar is kinda like a piece of furniture:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Elias Graves

    Elias Graves Senior Member

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    Mostly weight and huge open grain that's difficult to fill well. The grain is so deep that any shrinkage of the filler becomes very apparent over time.
    Thin pieces can warp easily, also.
    Gibson did some oak top les Pauls at one time, I believe.

    EG
     
  6. lumco

    lumco Most of the roads I travel are muddy Gold Supporting Member

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    About as useless for necks as a loaf of bread. Oak is for floors.
     
  7. Mudder

    Mudder Member

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    Lowel Guitars uses oak for a body wood. It is heavy, but the tone is thick and warm. I had a Lowel melody maker that just rang and sounded so thick with a p90 and neck single.
     
  8. Trebor Renkluaf

    Trebor Renkluaf I was hit by a parked car, what's your excuse? Silver Supporting Member

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    Well I have perhaps another take on it. My son recently started taking drum lessons. he brought his practice pad to the first lesson and the teacher commented on how :"dead" sounding the modern practice pad is and how they often don't have the right bounce. She prefers the older wood block type that actually produce a tone and also have dynamics. She has a friend that makes them, for $60 bucks. I took a look at one and thought "I can make this" so I did. In face I made four out of different woods. Here's what I found:

    Oak - This is what she had. Pretty dead sounding.
    Lace Wood - Dead soudning.
    Zebrano - Dead sounding.
    Maple - Rang like a bell. Nice crisp pop, clean tone, nice dynamics, by far the loudest and most tonefull of the bunch. She liked it better than her Oak one.

    I suspect Oak isn't used for guitars because it would sound like doo doo.
     
  9. dcamp

    dcamp Member

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    Oak also emits a gas or something... that can corrode metal etc. It is advised to never store vintage knives, guns etc. in an oak display case.
     
  10. janosfia

    janosfia Member

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    Bob Taylor made a guitar out of pallet grade oak. In fact, I think he called it the "pallet guitar". Had an inlay of a forklift on the fretboard, too.
     
  11. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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  12. zosozep7

    zosozep7 Gold Supporting Member

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    Wow! Interesting posts! I figured oak had some problem with it. Strong wood but sounds like doo doo! Lol! Thanks for all your responses!
     
  13. kwaping

    kwaping Guitar payer Silver Supporting Member

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  14. Route234

    Route234 Member

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    I used to have a guitar with oak in the neck as a laminate. It was fine and the guy who built it also uses it for tops and body woods sometimes and he says it sounds fine. He does not use it a lot because its very heavy and apparently it is also harder to work with than other tonewoods used primarily in guitars. That was his take, but I can verify that my neck did not, nor did the other oak guitars sound like crap. The weight I think is the biggest problem.
     
  15. otterhound

    otterhound Senior Member

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    White Oak is not so porous . That is why it is used for barrels and guitars .
    Did someone say Cherry ?
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    This one is Cherry with a Cherry neck . Great feeling neck wood .
    [​IMG]
    Martin uses Cherry for acoustic bodies and necks in their sustainable series and recently did the Arts & Crafts II in German White Oak . I have never heard a Martin SWOMGT that I did not like .
     
  16. sahhas

    sahhas Supporting Member

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    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  17. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    Oak is similar to ash in density and porousity. The tannin is the wood is probably a detriment. Martin has issued an oak gtr I understand.
     
  18. adrinalino

    adrinalino Member

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    My experience with oak is that it has a lot of inner tension. I you have a perfectly straight shelf and saw it lengthwise in half you end up having 2 banana shaped pieces. No oak guitar for me.

    Cheers,

    Adrian.
     
  19. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Member

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    The truth is that nobody uses Oak because neither Fender, Gibson, nor Martin used Oak. There's no precident for using Oak, and the sound of Oak is not the sound that we have become accustomed to.
     
  20. Eric Pykala

    Eric Pykala Member

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    Other than the weight and grainfill issues, oak just plain doesn't sound very good. There's a reason certain tonewoods have retained their popularity over the years; they sound good.
     

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