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mariegan7
10-12-2014, 05:44 PM
I was wondering if anybody could help me or offer their input on curly (flamed) redwood as a tonewood. I have my first custom uke on order (so excited!) My luthier is going to build me it for me at a VERY reasonable price. He has a stash of aged ancient curly redwood so it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get in on this amazing wood but from reading past threads on this forum as well as on other guitar related forums I am beginning to wonder if curly redwood is a good choice for a tonewood. Opinions vary widely - some say it is makes sounds wonderful and is their favorite but others say it has poor projection and is very fragile. So, I don't know what to believe. I love how beautiful it is but don't want to "listen with my eyes". Any thoughts/opinions are welcome.

Doc_J
10-12-2014, 06:05 PM
I've got a curly redwood topped tenor, it sounds great. Yeah, I was told the wood is more floppy, more prone to initial cracks. But a luthier who has experience with it will know how to successfully build with it.

Here a look and a sound sample of mine.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?94711-Grafted-Pistachio-and-Curly-Redwood-tenor-nearing-completion/page4&highlight=Curly+redwood

https://app.box.com/s/3u2aeqlf5h957xinvtw2

mariegan7
10-12-2014, 06:14 PM
I checked out your sound sample. Your uke sounds great. I wonder if the top side soundhole helps with projection.

mariegan7
10-12-2014, 07:35 PM
Hey Doc, I'm confused, you recently got a curly redwood uke which you like but in this post below you said you had a redwood uke before but didn't like redwood. Perhaps the build quality affected its sound? What made you decide to get another redwood uke? How is your new one different than your old one? I'm just curious.

" I had a redwood top uke that quite frankly I did not enjoy. Redwood seemed to be way too soft and affected the treble end of the sound in an unflattering way, but it did have some nice bass and low frequency harmonics. It also dented very easy. I had a good luthier talk me out of redwood once in favor of spruce, early in my uke playing. Glad I listened to him, as the resulting uke was excellent."

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?73265-Soft-wood-tops-thoughts-experiences-favorite-type&highlight=flamed+redwood

dsummers
10-13-2014, 02:48 AM
I have 2 curly redwood top custom ukes (Koolau walnut b/s tenor and a Talsma vita concert cuban mahogany b/s). Not only do they look great, the sound is excellent! Depending on your builder, I think you are making a great choice!

Dan Uke
10-13-2014, 03:33 AM
Hi Mariegan7, I think Hodge's most recent acquisition is what he believes as its 2014 and the other comment is 2012. I'm sure you'll see many contradictions from me within the same year, as we are all learning and evolving. All luthiers are different but if you trust your Lurhier, I'm sure you'll get a wonderful uke regardless of what wood they choose.

BlackBearUkes
10-13-2014, 05:04 AM
The main issue with this type of wood is that it is some what brittle and easy to crack, especially because of the runout in the large curl. It can sound fine but you have to be careful with it, more so then other woods.

Doc_J
10-13-2014, 07:31 AM
Hey Doc, I'm confused, you recently got a curly redwood uke which you like but in this post below you said you had a redwood uke before but didn't like redwood. Perhaps the build quality affected its sound? What made you decide to get another redwood uke? How is your new one different than your old one? I'm just curious.

" I had a redwood top uke that quite frankly I did not enjoy. Redwood seemed to be way too soft and affected the treble end of the sound in an unflattering way, but it did have some nice bass and low frequency harmonics. It also dented very easy. I had a good luthier talk me out of redwood once in favor of spruce, early in my uke playing. Glad I listened to him, as the resulting uke was excellent."

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?73265-Soft-wood-tops-thoughts-experiences-favorite-type&highlight=flamed+redwood

Yes, the first redwood topped uke I had (a plain jane, wide grain, straight redwood in 2010), I did not care for. It might have been the build and not the wood, come to think of it. That was a couple years ago, and built by a different luthier than the redwood topped ukes I now I own. It also could have been the particular piece of wood that didn't work for me. Hard to say. I shouldn't generalize on 1 data point. :o

My opinion on redwood has changed over the years.

In addition to the new curly redwood tenor, my other two redwood topped ukes are sinker redwood. Sinker redwood seems to be a great top material.
I really liked the builder's design of the 2nd redwood topped uke, it's sinker redwood and sounds great. Still have it. I guess the quality of the builder gave me confidence in getting the second one, and third. The 4th, the new curly redwood tenor, was purely based on looks and seeing Ko'olau, DeVine, Mya-Moe ...... do well with curly redwood tops.

So, I guess the bottom line is that redwood can work well as a top, but as usual it depends on the builder.


The main issue with this type of wood is that it is some what brittle and easy to crack, especially because of the runout in the large curl. It can sound fine but you have to be careful with it, more so then other woods.

Good advice.

mariegan7
10-13-2014, 09:24 AM
Thanks for your response, Doc. I think I'm over thinking all of this. I have an obsessive personality. If I spent more time practicing and less time researching ukes I'd be a much better player!! BTW who is your new builder? You can PM me if you prefer it to be confidential.

Doc_J
10-13-2014, 11:36 AM
Thanks for your response, Doc. I think I'm over thinking all of this. I have an obsessive personality. If I spent more time practicing and less time researching ukes I'd be a much better player!! BTW who is your new builder? You can PM me if you prefer it to be confidential.

Fred Kroner at Leeward Lounge Ukuleles built it for me. Sent you a PM.

gspears
10-13-2014, 12:25 PM
After building a couple kit ukulele's, I started building scratch builds and began with redwood tops. I have built three so far, all with redwood sound boards. Being an amateur builder, I have to say that the redwood tops sound better then most expensive commercial ukuleles I have played... (not talking about the custom builder) more of the production line ukulele's. I love that wood. Sounds amazing. It can scratch easy so be carful. I use a clear Mylar pick guard material to protect it from when I get a little strum crazy. Good luck with you new uke!

mariegan7
10-13-2014, 12:45 PM
Thanks for all the replies. I'm gonna take the plunge and go with the curly redwood top. I'll post pics and sound samples when it comes.

Kekani
10-13-2014, 05:45 PM
I agree with Duane, who gives a builder's perspective, rather than a player's in this thread.

I have a stash of curly redwood. Mostly wide curl, but "deep" curl, almost three dimensionally wavy looking. I gave a bunch away, and will probably toss the rest - I don't think I'll find a build for it that I wouldn't rather use Spruce. I can't say how it sounds, because I'm not too confident in using it.

mariegan7
10-13-2014, 07:50 PM
I asked my builder what he thought about curly redwood. This is his answer. I probably should have asked him to begin with. I really should stop believing everything I read on the internet:

"First, 90% of talk about tone woods is BS. Why? Because every single set of tone woods is different! Even from the same board. Generalizing about them is is just that. My opinion is that any good, quarter-sawn top of redwood, plain or curly, has a tone that is brighter than mahogany or Koa and about the same as cedar. Figure affects the way a plate must be cut and braced, but has little if any effect on the tone. What is most important is how well seasoned the wood is - age plus moisture content - and how the builder fashions it. My flamed redwood is about as good as you will ever find, and I know how to use it."