Why is oak not used in guitars?

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

  1. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    Wrong. I know someone who owns an oak Martin, but cannot contact him presently for more info. Here's this:

    http://www.talaricohardwoods.com/instrument.htm
     
  2. Drak

    Drak Supporting Member

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    Actually I believe 2HBStrat is absolutely right on the money.

    2HBStrat meant as a production-line feature with some history behind it, with hundreds or thousands of them out there over a 40-year period, which I agree with.

    One-offs here and there mean nothing in the context of the OP's question.

    There may not even be an answer, why does there have to be an actual answer besides they chose Alder Ash Mahogany and Maple?

    I mean, the exact same question could be asked for Walnut, Basswood, Beech, Birch, Cherry, Cyprus, Cottonwood, Elm, Pecan, Poplar, ...the list of American hardwoods NOT typically used for guitars goes on and on...and it's not necessarily because of any particular defect with the wood, it's just the way history went down, that doesn't seem so hard to comprehend, and it has less to do with the 'tone' of the wood than you think...it's usually more economically decided.

    What wood types can be locally sourced nearby with a reasonable price, good widths, and a dependable supply?

    Those are the parameters used for wood choices throughout history, not whether it has a great tone or not.

    Acoustic guitar builders do concentrate more on the tonality, but they are still acutely aware of local sourcing possibilities, pricing, sizing, and supply.

    With Oak, I would probably agree with the 'difficult to finish' objection more than anything else, that fact alone would have slowed down production probably, other woods were simply easier to deal with.

    ...I'm building a chambered Oak and Purpleheart guitar right now actually, ...the tone is good, the weight is good, no problems, no objections at all.
     
  3. Guitarworks

    Guitarworks Member

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    Guitars can be made using Oak in some capacity (see Brian May's Red Special). However, it's more time and work to make anything out of Oak. The grain is very coarse and deep - it takes a lot of grain filler and time to fill it. It's customarily very heavy, and it's tough on tools. Sharp bits and blades get dull faster with oak.
     
  4. otterhound

    otterhound Senior Member

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    There is a set of photos over on the UMGF right now . One beautiful Oak guitar . I am not sure if it is an Arts & Crafts II or not .
     
  5. XKnight

    XKnight Member

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    Because it's used for toilet seats, although I have seen some oak top Gibsons that remind me of toilet seats.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Steve Dallas

    Steve Dallas Supporting Member

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    Lots of misinformation in this thread. Not all oak is hard to fill. I've made quite a bit of furniture from Red Oak and never needed filler. All of my bedroom furniture was made in my garage from Red Oak. No filler. No shrinkage. No finish problems. Mirror gloss on top. Then there is the matter of the Peavey T-60 I owned (my first guitar) made of Oak. Oak isn't a popular tonewood, but many great sounding guitars have been made with it. It is really hard on tooling, though.


    This is almost exactly what mine looked like except it had blade pickups:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  7. Drak

    Drak Supporting Member

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    I also agree with the 'hard on tools' comment, I actually was going to add that into the economic viewpoint, but it is completely correct, Oak is a hard muthu on tools.

    Alder is like the chicken of woods. Good supply, indistinct grain, easy on tools, easy to source, sounds good...it simply doesn't have any detractions really.
     
  8. sahhas

    sahhas Supporting Member

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    i will agree: it's mainly that it hasn't been used in classic constuction by the big co's in mass quantities. i've seen plenty of WARPED maple necks, but most long pieces of oak that i've seen are straight as can be-which was the reason i decided to try it. it has worked fine for my guitar. but i kept the neck pretty chunky.
    there are a few guitars out there that use unique woods in construction:
    -original danelectro necks use poplar w/ steel bar for support (& from what i've read, randy rhoads original black polka dot V was made w/ a modified version of a danelectro neck)
    -original parker flys use basswood necks w/ glass/graphite skin
    -some carvin allan holdsworth guitars have alder necks
    -teuffel niwa also has an alder neck...

    i think people have to think outside the box for how woods can be used in guitars....
     
  9. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    If you've ever split firewood, oak, while quite strong, seems to split easier than most woods. The last thing you'd want to use in a guitar is a wood that splits easily ;).
     
  10. R13D

    R13D Member

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    Exactly. I have ordered old growth quarter sawn white oak from them in the past. I used it to make a chambered Telecaster. Great sounding guitar.
     
  11. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I could be wrong but I believe the main reason oak isn't used more for guitars is because it's extremely hard. And because of this it will dull tools very fast. And it takes a long time to work and shape etc.
     
  12. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    I recognize that there are different varieties of oak, but my considerablle experience splitting oak is that it is very stringy and not particularly "easy" to split.

    Conversely, many traditional gtr woods do split quite easily (spruce at the top of the list), so I cannot accept this as a detriment to gtr application.

    I would say the combination of weight (every Peavey T-60 I have ever tried to lift has been a boat anchor!), and butt-uglyness keep it out of general gtr building circulation.
     
  13. G Man

    G Man Member

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    I've played one of the Martin Arts and Craft 2 guitars that is made from white oak, and that guitar was surprisingly light and had a very sweet tone. So, in the right hands it can be made into a decent tone wood.
     

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