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chenx2
10-14-2014, 04:41 AM
Hi I am new to UU.

I have read a lot of specs of different ukes when I was picking my beginner uke.

Koa seems like the most recommended / sought after tonewood, and there is a grading system of some sort. It seems that the grading is related to the wood pattern rather than its sound quality, but I cannot find much information about it.

Would a ukulele using higher grade of Koa has a better sound than the lower one, or it affects the look only?

Rick Turner
10-14-2014, 04:50 AM
This has kind of been beaten to death in years past here, but the general consensus among luthiers is that at least for tops the plainer koa sounds better because the grain is straighter and more consistent and thus has more structural integrity which makes it stiffer at a given thickness. This allows making a top a bit thinner and thus more responsive. This is not to say that good sounding ukes cannot be made with fabulously curly koa, but all things being equal, if you listen with your ears and not eyes, a well made uke with a plain koa top will probably sound better than the same uke with a curly koa top.

coolkayaker1
10-14-2014, 04:56 AM
This has kind of been beaten to death in years past here, but the general consensus among luthiers is that at least for tops the plainer koa sounds better because the grain is straighter and more consistent and thus has more structural integrity which makes it stiffer at a given thickness. This allows making a top a bit thinner and thus more responsive. This is not to say that good sounding ukes cannot be made with fabulously curly koa, but all things being equal, if you listen with your ears and not eyes, a well made uke with a plain koa top will probably sound better than the same uke with a curly koa top.

As a player, not a luthier, what Rick said is the upshot of past threads on this subject (it's fine to ask again). I agree with Rick.

chenx2
10-14-2014, 05:01 AM
Thank you for clearing that up. I ended up buying an acacia uke, which is a very good value buy IMO.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-14-2014, 06:05 AM
The variety of koa that is grown is amazing, much of it having to do with the elevation and climate conditions that the tree is subjected to. Along with want Rick said, the darker koas, especially those with a lot of striations in it, can have a much higher specific gravity that the lighter, blonde koas. These differences in density, stiffness and weight can by itself have a significant affect on the tone. It's up to the builder to consider these differences and build according to whatever sound he/she is trying to achieve. It's easier for a builder to start with a wood that favors the desired response rather than to try to work around it's deficiencies.

stevejfc
10-14-2014, 08:02 AM
The variety of koa that is grown is amazing, much of it having to do with the elevation and climate conditions that the tree is subjected to. Along with want Rick said, the darker koas, especially those with a lot of striations in it, can have a much higher specific gravity that the lighter, blonde koas. These differences in density, stiffness and weight can by itself have a significant affect on the tone. It's up to the builder to consider these differences and build according to whatever sound he/she is trying to achieve. It's easier for a builder to start with a wood that favors the desired response rather than to try to work around it's deficiencies.
There goes the plywood theory.......................

Rick Turner
10-14-2014, 08:35 AM
And what Chuck just said can be further extended to a koa relative that some of us use, Acacia melanoxylon, aka Tasmanian blackwood or black acacia. The wood is not black, but the bark is quite dark. It is originally from South Australia and the island of Tasmania and was brought to California as an ornamental in the 1880s or so. I have literally a ton of this wood that came from a large tree (38" to 40" diameter at about 4 foot height) that was cut down up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This particular wood has the longitudinal striations of koa, but no flame figure, and to a luthier's hand, it is much more like good Indian rosewood than a lot of koa. Yet a lot of Acacia melanoxylon has flame figure and can be virtually indistinguishable visually from Acacia koa. So there's a lot of overlap in characteristics both mechanically and visually. This black Acacia that I have has been great for both ukes and guitars, though unfortunately, most of it was cut too short for guitar sides.

The Big Kahuna
10-14-2014, 08:45 AM
Having seen some of the highly flamed Tasmanian Blackwood pieces that Beau has been using, I'd have to say it's at least equal to Koa from a purely aesthetic point of view. Some of them put me in mind of the type of highly figured Koa that Ko'olau seem to be able to get their hands on.

The Big Kahuna
10-14-2014, 08:47 AM
I'd be very interested to find out what a solid chunk of figured Tassie Blackwood would cost, purely for the purposes of having a 6 string solid body electric built. One good thing about solid electrics, you can use anything, the type of wood makes exactly 0% difference to the sound.

Rick Turner
10-14-2014, 09:02 AM
In my experience, particularly with the Acacia melanoxylon that I have, you're going to have one heavy guitar if it's a relatively normal solid body. I'm using the stuff for semi-hollow body guitars where the plate thickness is about normal for acoustic guitars @ .110" or so. This stuff is a good 25% denser than mahogany, for instance.

The Big Kahuna
10-14-2014, 09:36 AM
I'm used to Les Pauls and Yamaha SG2000s, so heavy isn't an issue, up to a point. Maybe have a chambered body made, or a basswood body with a carved Acacia cap.

The Big Kahuna
10-14-2014, 09:39 AM
Then again, if I'm going to spend that much cash, and having seen a bunch of Lindsey Buckingham live stuff recently (easily the most underrated and overlooked guitarist of his generation IMHO), one of your planks would be a better option.

Incidentally, there was one for sale in England a month ago. Didn't have the cash unfortunately, and I've also spotted the fact that Brian May has his own company, selling damn good replicas of his "Red Special".

So many guitars, so little time.

Anyway, thread hijack over...for now.

Nickie
10-14-2014, 09:57 AM
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?101242-I-think-it-s-more-the-builder-than-the-wood-comparison

The Big Kahuna
10-14-2014, 10:05 AM
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?101242-I-think-it-s-more-the-builder-than-the-wood-comparison

?

Ok, it appears I need 10 characters, so...

?????????

Nickie
10-14-2014, 10:10 AM
That's a discussion about wood. Some good answers in there. The skill of the luthier makes more difference than the wood itself....or course, wood selection is an important part of luthiery. (oh god did I spell that right?)

Rick Turner
10-14-2014, 10:10 AM
We've actually been making more and more of our Model 1 guitars (the Lindsey Buckingham "model") with fancy wood tops including very figured koa.
We book match what are essentially small guitar backs, sand them down to about 3/32" and laminate them onto chambered mahogany bodies with WEST epoxy. Works great, and we can use extremely figured wood that might not make it for acoustic instruments. I just started doing finish on a koa topped one today.

kissing
10-14-2014, 04:25 PM
.. unfortunately, most of it was cut too short for guitar sides.

Fortunately* (for ukes) :D

Kamanaaloha
10-15-2014, 10:52 AM
what the luthiers said...

Koa is the preferred wood if you truly want a "hawaiian" wood based ukulele...that also goes for Milo and Kou...although Milo and Kou are much rarer than the already rare Koa. Curly...that is higher grade "eye candy" is purely for the eye...as many have said...the sound depends on the instrument...but since higher grade...or more curly koa is rarer...you will pay more for it...and it is not always better sounding...bottom line...play before you buy...especially when it is at a higher price point...if that is possible...custom guys do not sell bad ukuleles...or their business would fold...just saying...which means it is unlikely you will get to play a custom before buying it.

happy hunting!

chenx2
10-18-2014, 11:26 PM
what the luthiers said...

Koa is the preferred wood if you truly want a "hawaiian" wood based ukulele...that also goes for Milo and Kou...although Milo and Kou are much rarer than the already rare Koa. Curly...that is higher grade "eye candy" is purely for the eye...as many have said...the sound depends on the instrument...but since higher grade...or more curly koa is rarer...you will pay more for it...and it is not always better sounding...bottom line...play before you buy...especially when it is at a higher price point...if that is possible...custom guys do not sell bad ukuleles...or their business would fold...just saying...which means it is unlikely you will get to play a custom before buying it.

happy hunting!

Well I saw some factory solid Koa tenors price around USD600 (and seem really well-constructed), and wonder how much does the quality really differ from those with fancy looking Koa with premium price.

The Big Kahuna
10-18-2014, 11:41 PM
The figuring has an effect on price. People will pay a premium for highly figured curly koa (myself included, when I bought my Kanile'a). Chuck and others maintain that highly figured Koa has a slightly detrimental effect on tone, and I'm certainly not about to argue with these folks when it comes to acoustic instruments.

hawaii 50
10-19-2014, 06:47 AM
Well I saw some factory solid Koa tenors price around USD600 (and seem really well-constructed), and wonder how much does the quality really differ from those with fancy looking Koa with premium price.

what brand of ukes are you talking about....a 600.00 Koa uke may not be built with Hawaiian Koa...but Acacia...which may not make a difference in tone/sound but how the uke is built will be the most important in uke at this price....

some of these factory ukes sound nice...but many still want a Hawaiian Koa production(factory) uke built in Hawaii...

my 2 cents

wayfarer75
10-19-2014, 09:21 AM
what brand of ukes are you talking about....a 600.00 Koa uke may not be built with Hawaiian Koa...but Acacia...which may not make a difference in tone/sound but how the uke is built will be the most important in uke at this price....

some of these factory ukes sound nice...but many still want a Hawaiian Koa production(factory) uke built in Hawaii...

my 2 cents

Good point. More than one person has assumed acacia=koa. They don't realize that koa is only one kind of acacia; most acacia is not koa.

Tigershark
10-19-2014, 11:31 AM
It can be really easy to overthink this stuff. Koa is beautiful and sounds great. Plain koa and figured koa. There may be some difference in sound that scientists could determine but it's not something I have ever noticed. I also love how mahogany sounds. Every instrument is unique and I have found that I get the best sound by learning how to play that particular ukulele. I take the time to find the sweet spots and what attack and strumming techniques bring out that pretty sound.

mm stan
10-21-2014, 02:07 PM
since you are a newbie to the uke world.... wood patterns or koa grades would not be much good to you except asthetically, there are other factors that apply as builder and design... you wont be able to distinguish the minimum difference anyways concentrate on buying a nice sounding uke that you like and if it feels comfortable...my motto is...Try before you Buy... and no buy with the Eyes
I am sure even some ukers who have played for years cannot even tell the difference...No one knows how a uke will sound until the strings are on for the the first strum...even the builder due the
many variations in the building process....Good Luck and Happy Strummings...

Kamanaaloha
10-21-2014, 02:36 PM
try before you buy... #totallyagree!

The most consistent ukulele [same model/same strings] come from Kamaka, imho<caveat - I have not demo'd two custom models like Ko'o'aus or DeVines or MooreBettahs or Hives etc.>. I sampled two K1TP [Kanilea 1 Tenor Premiums] and the sound was very different as was the koa and the look of the wood. The one I bought was super bright [almost KoAloha bright] and the other one was more warm.

chenx2
10-24-2014, 06:39 AM
Originally Posted by hawaii 50

what brand of ukes are you talking about....a 600.00 Koa uke may not be built with Hawaiian Koa...but Acacia...which may not make a difference in tone/sound but how the uke is built will be the most important in uke at this price....

some of these factory ukes sound nice...but many still want a Hawaiian Koa production(factory) uke built in Hawaii...

my 2 cents

Well there are some relatively unknown Asian brands (eg. Uluru, A'ama), Martin TK1 & Kelii within the USD600 price range. But yes, luthiery is a big concern. I 've got an Kala acacia travel concert it is real nice so far.:o

Will save my bucks for a Hawaiian Koa/ custom built tenor when I learn fingerstyle in future.

IamNoMan
10-24-2014, 07:05 AM
I have the opportunity to purchase a beautiful "curley koa" at a very modest price. It is made in Indonesia so I suspect it is another acacia than Koa. What kind of acacia available to the Indonesians might this be. The uke is highly figured.

One poster indicated that Curley Koa is rare. I understand Koa is very common in Hawaii. What size/age of tree is harvested and what environmental conditions favor high grade decorative curley koa? What size/age of tree is harvested and what environmental conditions favor plain tonal guality Koa?


what brand of ukes are you talking about....a 600.00 Koa uke may not be built with Hawaiian Koa...but Acacia...which may not make a difference in tone/sound but how the uke is built will be the most important in uke at this price....

some of these factory ukes sound nice...but many still want a Hawaiian Koa production(factory) uke built in Hawaii...

my 2 centsThe CF Martin Co. standards of craftsmanship are Ne Plus Ultra whether made in Nazareth or Mexico.

hawaii 50
10-24-2014, 07:50 AM
I have the opportunity to purchase a beautiful "curley koa" at a very modest price. It is made in Indonesia so I suspect it is another acacia than Koa. What kind of acacia available to the Indonesians might this be. The uke is highly figured.

One poster indicated that Curley Koa is rare. I understand Koa is very common in Hawaii. What size/age of tree is harvested and what environmental conditions favor high grade decorative curley koa? What size/age of tree is harvested and what environmental conditions favor plain tonal guality Koa?


I think all Koa is called Acacia Koa....

but to be called Koa...it has to be grown in Hawaii.....many other types of Acacia Koa come from many countries....Indonesia,Australia....
most of the Koa used in Hawaii are from fallen trees...not sure they harvest Koa anymore....but I am guessing....

my 2 cents

The Big Kahuna
10-24-2014, 07:55 AM
Pretty sure curly koa comes from trees that have grown under stress, such as growing out from the side of a mountain. I imagine "tension" and/or "torsion" would be better adjectives.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-24-2014, 08:20 AM
While koa is genetically disposed to being curly, only a small percentage of trees have a good degree of curl. The prettiest stuff will be grown at elevations higher than 6000 feet.

Rick Turner
10-24-2014, 09:38 AM
Hawaii 50...not quite.

There are dozens and dozens of Acacias around the world; do a Google search. The one native to the Hawiian islands is "Acacia koa", but it could be grown elsewhere if anyone wanted to. We have several Acacias here in my area, Santa Cruz, and the one of note for me is Acacia melanoxylon...aka black Acacia which came to California from Southern Australia and/or Tasmania where it's called Tasmanian blackwood.

Acacias grow quite quickly; the black Acacias typically have a life span of 75 to 100 years, and they grow quite large. I have about a ton of log quarter sections from a tree that was about 38" in diameter when it was cut down (to keep it from falling on house). Sometimes the black Acacia develops nice curl, but usually it's pretty straight but nicely striated. I find it to be a bit harder and more like Indian rosewood than a lot of the Acacia koa I've had, but that does vary quite a bit.

One acacia known as "shittem" (yes, the real name) was the wood from which the Ark of the Covenant was made...that chest supposedly currently residing at a monastery on an island in Ethiopia. Yeah, look that up, too...fascinating.

Uk3player78
10-24-2014, 05:05 PM
I'd be very interested to find out what a solid chunk of figured Tassie Blackwood would cost, purely for the purposes of having a 6 string solid body electric built. One good thing about solid electrics, you can use anything, the type of wood makes exactly 0% difference to the sound.

Really? Put premium electrics and bits in a cheap strat and it wont sound premium. Not knocking your comment but as a guitarist since a teen i think in a guitar forum this comment would make a never ending thread.

Eg, Les Paul, mahogany & maple cap. Why bother?

Strat, alder. Cheaper ones can be basswood. Why waste alder?

SG, mahogany, why not a cheaper wood?

etc etc.

Rick Turner
10-24-2014, 06:11 PM
I am sadly amused by Big Kahuna's utterly incorrect assessment of what goes into a good electric guitar. That is ignorance at it's height. Pickups are just windows into the sound and soul of an electric guitar. Wood and construction style are the heart of these instruments. I have a lot of experience in this, by the way, having been directly involved in making at least 4,500 solid and semi-hollow amplified instruments as well as making acoustic ukes and guitars.

The Big Kahuna
10-24-2014, 08:25 PM
Tonewood makes no difference to the sound of a solid body electric guitar. Construction does. Scale length does. Pickups do. Bridge design does. The actual wood that is used in the manufacture of a solid body electric guitar body, neck and fingerboard, makes absolutely zero difference to the sound. I don't care how many guitars you've built Rick, the opposite viewpoint to your own is also held by people who have built considerably more, collectively. You might want to google the many videos and discussions on the subject.

The Big Kahuna
10-24-2014, 08:50 PM
Here, I'll do some of the work for you:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mH5hwLkxCI

This is just one of many, and there are also several which discuss the scientific reasoning behind this. There are a handful of videos by people claiming that tonewood does affect the sound, but these are almost exclusively people with a financial interest in getting the suckers to believe it.

Uk3player78, you've been playing guitar for 16 years. I've been playing for 37, including a bunch of years in the business, as the guitarist for a large branch of Carlsboro Sound Centres. None of which makes a damn bit of difference, it's irrelevant.

The theory is proven many times over, despite the people who need you to believe it makes a difference, in order to sell their instruments.

Rick Turner
10-25-2014, 03:12 PM
Nope. I'm not going for it. I've made my Model 1s in mahogany, koa, basswood, and alder as well as ones with a Western red cedar body core with various caps for tops and backs. They all sound a bit different with exactly the same pickups and electronics in them. One outstanding version had Brazilian rosewood for top and back over cedar; it was my favorite of all of them. Tap tones differ in frequency and Q, and thus the effect on the strings changes. If pressed to describe the plugged in tone of my "featherweight" models...redwood or cedar body core...as opposed to my mahogany ones, I'd say they are a little more open and acoustic sounding...maybe more transparency in the upper mids and highs.

Les Paul was adamant about having the Gibson Les Paul Standards be mahogany with a maple top and having the Les Paul Customs ("Black Beauties") be all mahogany, though in the dreaded Norlin years, Gibson cheated and just painted maple topped ones black. Les and I talked about this when I visited him in Mawah when I was (for a brief time) Gibson's technical rep to Les.

A mahogany bodied Strat does not sound like an ash or basswood one. Basswood and alder sound close. At Westwood Music, we were putting together spruce bodied Strats and Teles. They did not sound like factory instruments.

The two major sonic issues with different woods are attack and sustain. Other effects are in the frequency response and susceptibility to going into feedback easily.

All the same issues that affect just how the strings vibrate (it's a mechanical feedback loop from strings to neck and body and back to strings) that are present in acoustic instruments are there in solid and semi-hollow body instruments. In short, to a great degree the strings vibration signature is determined by what they're attached to. The body and neck act as a kind of 3D tone control on the strings affecting both frequency response and phase response. At the highest level of understanding acoustics and the physics of stringed instruments, the same rules apply all the way across with the possible exception of whether the instrument is connected to a Helmholz resonator or not. I've been through this with everyone from Prof. Michael Kasha, to one of the top harpsichord makers in Paris (Hubbard Atelier) to some of the best minds in music physics research at Stanford, and everyone understands that if you change what's at the end of the strings, the strings' vibration pattern will change. This even gets down to the size of frets and the material the fingerboard is made of. Any decent Strat player knows that a maple 'board sounds different from a rosewood 'board, for instance.

And back to Les Pauls, Paul Reed Smith believes that the early maple topped mahogany bodied instruments sound better because the glue joint was hot hide glue...known to be very hard, very thin (it shrinks as it dries, literally pulling the wood tighter in the joint), and acoustically transparent...as opposed to the more modern ones...Titebond...kind of like a thin (but not as thin) layer of semi-hard rubber.

If all wood sounded the same in solid body guitars, then it would all sound the same in acoustic instruments. And it doesn't. Same rules, just different ways of exciting the air.

The Big Kahuna
10-25-2014, 08:27 PM
The sheer amount of ridiculous statements in that post has given me a headache. You carry on spouting this nonsense if you want to, there are obviously enough gullible idiots who think you're the oracle to keep your order book full.

Nickie
10-26-2014, 01:26 PM
My, my there is certainly a lot of lively exchange here. I don't think anyone here is wrong, we're not here to make each other wrong. As far as who I'll listen to about tonewoods, I beleive a guy who has had his hand in 4500 instruments, and is still doing it. It's silly to discount any real evidence or proof.

Rick Turner
10-26-2014, 02:52 PM
To the tone deaf there is no difference among woods or anything else that guitars, basses, or ukes are made from.

I rest my case.

rustysmith3
10-26-2014, 03:23 PM
Tonewood makes no difference to the sound of a solid body electric guitar. Construction does. Scale length does. Pickups do. Bridge design does. The actual wood that is used in the manufacture of a solid body electric guitar body, neck and fingerboard, makes absolutely zero difference to the sound. I don't care how many guitars you've built Rick, the opposite viewpoint to your own is also held by people who have built considerably more, collectively. You might want to google the many videos and discussions on the subject.

I am no ukulele expert. I only have 2 good ones, a Mya Moe and a Collings. I do have experience playing and comparing acoustic guitars extremely similar in design, build and woods. Many pre-war Martins and copies of them. The variance in acoustic instruments is very noticeable. Of course we are talking solid body electric in a uke forum. I have little experience in the electric world. It should be easy for you to quantify this with a simple test. Buy two necks, pickups and wiring components. No switches or pots to keep it simple. Then cut out and route your favorite electric, i.e. Les Paul or Tele or Strat. One from Basswood and one from Ebony. Bolt on the necks and string up. I am not a luthier but something tells me they wouldn't sound identical. It would be interesting to hear your results. If they sound the same then lots of manufacturers could build cheap import guitars with cheap woods and they would sound just like the hand built models people spend so much money on.

Rick Turner
10-26-2014, 04:08 PM
Rusty, if you'd like to buy me a chunk of ebony big enough to build a Strat, I'll do it! I'll supply the basswood... Or would a Tele be OK? Much easier to build...

saltytri
10-26-2014, 04:23 PM
That YouTube comparison is thoroughly bogus. It proves nothing except that the author has an opinion. While it may be possible to use an audio spectrum analyzer and other lab-quality equipment, fixtures and instrumentation to compare two instruments, it would take a much more rigorous approach to produce reproducible, scientifically valid work.

Rick Turner
10-26-2014, 04:54 PM
FFT analysis based on direct or derived impulse response testing is the best "scientific" method for doing that kind of testing. That's what we used at D-TAR in analyzing acoustic guitars to develop DSP "signature" algorithms for our "Mama Bear" acoustic guitar modeling preamp. The thing is that none of this is a simple EQ curve as can be gotten with either a graphic or parametric equalizer. It involves a great deal of time domain information and thus transforms as different frequencies (or call them harmonics if you like) are bounced around in the wood and are released as acoustic waves and also reflect back into the strings through the bridge and the neck via nut and frets.

The easiest way to understand that the vibration signature of the wood is different for different instruments is to take a magnetic pickup...any you choose...which is sensitive to string vibrations rather than wood and air, and first put it on an acoustic guitar and then move it over to a solid body guitar. That is the extreme, but everything between is different, too.

saltytri
10-26-2014, 04:57 PM
I knew you'd say it better than I possibly could. :)

Uk3player78
10-26-2014, 06:04 PM
Interesting. I watched the video. Its kind of cheap vs cheap. I am acoustic dedicated these days, guitar and ukulele but... i do keep a cheap Squier bullet Strat that comes out 1 or 2 times a year. I see no point in having anything 'better'. I did have the good stuff before so for the hell of it i'll post my experience.

Early days.. dream guitar... Les Paul. Epiphone then Gibson. Scratch them off as no modding was done.

Then i discovered Pink Floyd and the strat! I got a sage green mexican strat before the huge number of variants came out. I played it for years then fancied a 57/62 AVRI. I bought all the parts required to mod it into the guitar i wanted... the 57/62 which was in UK money over 1K. I ordered from all over the globe so i got the best prices. The end result was good but something was missing. Traded it. At point of trade as in in store i A/B'd it against many strats. It was better than the cheap stuff but even a USA standard beat it... Far cry from a 57/62. Can't remember what i left with but i know i miss that guitar STOCK and should have left it that way and kept it. Lost interest after doing all the work and losing.

Many many strats passed through my hands then i gave up and was an acoustic guitar only guy for several years.

I then picked up a Squier strat and decided to make it into an 'American standard'. I got a loaded pickguard, changed the bridge and nut... etc etc. it sounded good but still a little dead, no resonance to the notes and it still had the cheap sound?? Yeah i should have learned.

I gave up on that malarky and got a actual USA standard. It was heaven. Maybe there is fairy dust sprinkled on them as they end production but they sound amazing. I took it with me when we visited relatives, staying for 2 weeks with a Orange micro crush amp. I think its 2W (still have it) it STILL sounded amazing.

I can be very easily pleased or insanely fussy. I have had Martin acoustic guitars which have fell short of expectations. I have had Yamaha acoustic guitars which i couldn't put down. Solid wood ukulele's which have sounded meh and laminate yup laminate ukulele's which pleased me no end. I started with ukulele's 3 years ago for only months before selling and trading for an acoustic guitar which i still have. Only returning very recently. I'm sticking with them this time the bug had bitten harder this time. I am a real hobbyist and easily sidetracked. :P

If its cheap but sounds good i'm happy. If its expensive and falls short its gone.. even just a little short. These days the market is saturated its hard to pin down something that ticks all the boxes. Too much choice. Also at least with ukulele's its hard to get a shop with a good range. It's all mail order and pot luck, forums helping a bit, youtube too. But i'm rambling as a multiple forum user for many years i have never seen a thread starting with a difference in opinion ending in, "so were all agreed then?". :D

rustysmith3
10-26-2014, 06:11 PM
Rusty, if you'd like to buy me a chunk of ebony big enough to build a Strat, I'll do it! I'll supply the basswood... Or would a Tele be OK? Much easier to build...

Being an acoustic guy, except for some lap steel and pedal steel, I have no horse in this race. I was hoping one of the dissenters would pony up the wood. :) That's one reason I chose ebony for the denser wood, extremes in density and cost. If you make it a Tele, after the tests you can put in a Parsons string bender for a little extra router fun with hard wood.

chenx2
10-26-2014, 06:51 PM
I didn't expect this thread (of patterned Koa as a ukulele tonewood) to become a heated stew of arguments about electric guitar, esp it is my first post on this forum. There are already some very good answers to my questions, so I am going to close this thread (well I just found out about this function) in a day or two, before things get worse. If you have any final say about the replies please post it within today.

The Big Kahuna
10-26-2014, 08:45 PM
Well, I'm sorry that your thread turned out the way it did. All I did was make a passing comment, with no reference to any specific people, and a certain person who is known for this type of behaviour jumped in with his usual insulting and arrogant comments and name-dropping. Of course, when all his pals turn up to [phrase removed by moderator], that kinda gets forgotten.




I'd be very interested to find out what a solid chunk of figured Tassie Blackwood would cost, purely for the purposes of having a 6 string solid body electric built. One good thing about solid electrics, you can use anything, the type of wood makes exactly 0% difference to the sound.


I am sadly amused by Big Kahuna's utterly incorrect assessment of what goes into a good electric guitar. That is ignorance at it's height.


To the tone deaf there is no difference among woods or anything else that guitars, basses, or ukes are made from.

I rest my case.

buddhuu
10-27-2014, 12:33 AM
Niq, please chill out a little.

To all:

Although we are pretty tolerant of cursing, it is possible, if one tries hard, to abuse that tolerance. Please don't.

Also, it is against the rules to insult your fellow members, and it is against the rules to be a jerk.

buddhuu
10-27-2014, 12:49 AM
For what it's worth (probably nothing), while I know from experience that the choice of woods makes a huge difference to acoustic instruments, I believe it makes minimal difference with electric guitars. Not zero difference, but much less difference than pickups, electrics and amplifier.

At the end of the day, plug the same axe into two different amps and you soon realise that that acoustic ring you heard when you played it before you plugged it in means almost nothing.

Similar arguments have raged for years about set neck vs bolt-on. Well, my bolt on electrics perform as well as the glued neck axes I've had, and my bolt-on Taylor acoustic sustains beautifully.

It's very hard to make declarations of fact as perceptions vary and some people will believe what they want to regardless of what scientific instruments may measure.

consitter
10-27-2014, 12:59 AM
For what it's worth (probably nothing), while I know from experience that the choice of woods makes a huge difference to acoustic instruments, I believe it makes minimal difference with electric guitars. Not zero difference, but much less difference than pickups, electrics and amplifier.

At the end of the day, plug the same axe into two different amps and you soon realise that that acoustic ring you heard when you played it before you plugged it in means almost nothing.

Similar arguments have raged for years about set neck vs bolt-on. Well, my bolt on electrics perform as well as the glued neck axes I've had, and my bolt-on Taylor acoustic sustains beautifully.

It's very hard to make declarations of fact as perceptions vary and some people will believe what they want to regardless of what scientific instruments may measure.

It's funny you should say this, considering Brian May's Red Special was mentioned earlier.

The wood it's made from was an old fireplace mantle. But the electronics is like something I've never heard of, and was something he and his dad concocted as they went along in the build. I don't know if any of this means anything, but I thought I'd throw it in for good measure. :)

buddhuu
10-27-2014, 01:29 AM
It's funny you should say this, considering Brian May's Red Special was mentioned earlier.

The wood it's made from was an old fireplace mantle. But the electronics is like something I've never heard of, and was something he and his dad concocted as they went along in the build. I don't know if any of this means anything, but I thought I'd throw it in for good measure. :)

Mr May's whole rig is unusual. A bunch of AC30s, treble boost, light strings and a coin for a pick. Combine that with his ability and style... It's not surprising that he has a very recognisable sound. :)

consitter
10-27-2014, 02:25 AM
Mr May's whole rig is unusual. A bunch of AC30s, treble boost, light strings and a coin for a pick. Combine that with his ability and style... It's not surprising that he has a very recognisable sound. :)

And not to mention his doctorate in astrophysics. ;)

buddhuu
10-27-2014, 03:12 AM
And not to mention his doctorate in astrophysics. ;)
Indeed. I'm pretty sure that's the real source of his sound.

IamNoMan
10-27-2014, 03:35 AM
Blessed are the peacemakers. I unfortunately have succumbed to the UAS disease. I am looking at one of two curly koa ukes. They sound right to my ears. They are both beautiful in their grain and construction. One is laminated koa top the other may be solid top, IDK -yet. I live in a cold climate with winter coming on. Any comments that may ease my dilemma? - I will only buy one of them wiseguy.

DownUpDave
10-27-2014, 04:03 AM
Blessed are the peacemakers. I unfortunately have succumbed to the UAS disease. I am looking at one of two curly koa ukes. They sound right to my ears. They are both beautiful in their grain and construction. One is laminated koa top the other may be solid top, IDK -yet. I live in a cold climate with winter coming on. Any comments that may ease my dilemma? - I will only buy one of them wiseguy.

I live in a cold climate........Canada.......and it is very dry in the winter time, below 15% humidity. I just keep my ukes in their cases with a sound hole humidifier when they are not being played.

Buy the one you love the sound and look of the most, easy peasy.

consitter
10-27-2014, 05:40 AM
Indeed. I'm pretty sure that's the real source of his sound.

His playing is out of this world...

Rick Turner
10-27-2014, 05:58 AM
So let me get this straight. Some of your folks believe that all Strats with the same electronics sound the same, right? Ditto Les Pauls, right? No difference between, say, a mahogany bodied Strat and an alder one, or an all mahogany Les Paul custom and one of the Norlin era ones with a maple cap on a mahogany body, right? For the sake of argument, let's say you had all these guitars with sequentially made Seymour Duncan Alnico II pickups...single coils in the different Strats, humbuckers in the Les Pauls. Is this a firmly held belief?

How about the difference between a guitar or electric bass with a mahogany or maple neck vs. a carbon fiber neck?

Do you think that adding carbon fiber to a neck changes the sound of the instrument?

And upon what experience or evidence do you base your beliefs?

consitter
10-27-2014, 07:09 AM
So let me get this straight. Some of your folks believe that all Strats with the same electronics sound the same, right? Ditto Les Pauls, right? No difference between, say, a mahogany bodied Strat and an alder one, or an all mahogany Les Paul custom and one of the Norlin era ones with a maple cap on a mahogany body, right? For the sake of argument, let's say you had all these guitars with sequentially made Seymour Duncan Alnico II pickups...single coils in the different Strats, humbuckers in the Les Pauls. Is this a firmly held belief?

How about the difference between a guitar or electric bass with a mahogany or maple neck vs. a carbon fiber neck?

Do you think that adding carbon fiber to a neck changes the sound of the instrument?

And upon what experience or evidence do you base your beliefs?

Heck, I don' know. I just thought it was cool that the Red Special was made out of the wood from a fireplace mantle, and that Brian May had a doctorate in astrophysics. ;)

Uk3player78
10-27-2014, 07:19 AM
Blessed are the peacemakers. I unfortunately have succumbed to the UAS disease. I am looking at one of two curly koa ukes. They sound right to my ears. They are both beautiful in their grain and construction. One is laminated koa top the other may be solid top, IDK -yet. I live in a cold climate with winter coming on. Any comments that may ease my dilemma? - I will only buy one of them wiseguy.

I will leave the solid body argument for the sake of the OP and move on having added my little input.

I would go with the solid top and humidify. With laminate the sound will bounce off and reflect the internal wood. The outer veneer could be any wood.

Case in point, The Kala mahogany laminate series mahogany veneer and... They have a more expensive exotic mahogany series which sounds the same.

buddhuu
10-27-2014, 09:54 AM
So let me get this straight. Some of your folks believe that all Strats with the same electronics sound the same, right? Ditto Les Pauls, right? No difference between, say, a mahogany bodied Strat and an alder one, or an all mahogany Les Paul custom and one of the Norlin era ones with a maple cap on a mahogany body, right? For the sake of argument, let's say you had all these guitars with sequentially made Seymour Duncan Alnico II pickups...single coils in the different Strats, humbuckers in the Les Pauls. Is this a firmly held belief?

How about the difference between a guitar or electric bass with a mahogany or maple neck vs. a carbon fiber neck?

Do you think that adding carbon fiber to a neck changes the sound of the instrument?

And upon what experience or evidence do you base your beliefs?
Well, speaking for myself, I never said "all Strats with the same electronics sound the same" or "No difference between, say, a mahogany bodied Strat and an alder one, or an all mahogany Les Paul custom and one of the Norlin era ones with a maple cap on a mahogany body", and that's not what I believe.

What I do believe is that with all the other variables - especially the electronic ones, both on the axe and on the amplifier - the choice of "tonewood" on a solid body electric guitar doesn't make the most audible difference.

IMO the amplifier is possibly the biggest shaper of sound after the player. Believe it or not, I've heard a guy with a Gibson 335 reproduce the solo tone of Peter Green's playing on "Need Your Love So Bad" (which I believe was recorded with a Strat). I've heard awful, featherweight, hollow-bodied Danelectros sing with sustain with a little electronic assistance.

What experience? No professional building experience, certainly, but I've been playing guitar for over 40 years.

There are plenty of electric guitar builders who also think that the woods are not the primary shaper of the axe's tone: Ron Kirn, for just one example.

Physics dictates that every aspect of the instrument will affect the sound to some degree. Where we all argue is just over what that degree is, and whether the human ear can perceive it.

Allegedly, there are some guys at Fender who think that their finishes affect sound by letting the wood of a Strat breathe. I don't buy it, but people are free to form their own opinions.

Rick Turner
10-27-2014, 12:01 PM
If you actually bother to take the time to listen to the sounds coming off of a solid body guitar unplugged, and then plug into a clean system and play without relying on effects, overdrive, and distortion (I know, that's probably asking too much...), then the effects of the wood and other materials that go into making the foundation of that guitar's tone will become apparent. If all you're doing is using the guitar as a tool to distort effects and amps, then you just won't understand why so many guitar makers and players know that not all electric guitars are created equal (discounting pickups...). Does a 335 sound like a Les Paul? No. Why not? Same pickups, same scale length, completely different woods and construction of the body. Does a Les Paul sound like an SG? No. Different densities, somewhat different woods, different flexibility in the necks. Does a maple topped Les Paul sound like an all mahogany one? No. But if all you do is crank everything to 11, then the guitar may not matter; you're not playing a guitar, you're playing an amp. Not every electric guitar player buries the tone of the instrument in distortion.

buddhuu
10-27-2014, 12:31 PM
If you actually bother to take the time to listen to the sounds coming off of a solid body guitar unplugged, and then plug into a clean system and play without relying on effects, overdrive, and distortion (I know, that's probably asking too much...), then the effects of the wood and other materials that go into making the foundation of that guitar's tone will become apparent. If all you're doing is using the guitar as a tool to distort effects and amps, then you just won't understand why so many guitar makers and players know that not all electric guitars are created equal (discounting pickups...). Does a 335 sound like a Les Paul? No. Why not? Same pickups, same scale length, completely different woods and construction of the body. Does a Les Paul sound like an SG? No. Different densities, somewhat different woods, different flexibility in the necks. Does a maple topped Les Paul sound like an all mahogany one? No. But if all you do is crank everything to 11, then the guitar may not matter; you're not playing a guitar, you're playing an amp. Not every electric guitar player buries the tone of the instrument in distortion.
Is this a general comment or are you assuming that I bury the tone of my guitars in distortion? My band plays mostly Stax-style soul and blues - a lot of Cropper stuff. 75% of the time I'm straight into the clean channel with just a little reverb.

dusty
10-27-2014, 02:14 PM
My Martin is Hawaiian Koa and less than $600....


what brand of ukes are you talking about....a 600.00 Koa uke may not be built with Hawaiian Koa...but Acacia...which may not make a difference in tone/sound but how the uke is built will be the most important in uke at this price....

some of these factory ukes sound nice...but many still want a Hawaiian Koa production(factory) uke built in Hawaii...

my 2 cents

hawaii 50
10-27-2014, 02:16 PM
My Martin is Hawaiian Koa and less than $600....

Congratulations!!!:)

dusty
10-27-2014, 02:20 PM
Having owned a 1982 LP Custom (mahogany - bought new, special ordered from Gibson) and played a later LP Studio (alder) plenty and recorded with both, I can assure you that the electronics make a much bigger difference than the wood. The mahogany had a bit more sustain, and that's about it.

IamNoMan
10-27-2014, 03:01 PM
I live in a cold climate........Canada.......and it is very dry in the winter time, below 15% humidity. I just keep my ukes in their cases with a sound hole humidifier when they are not being played.

Buy the one you love the sound and look of the most, easy peasy.I did. A new Lanakai CKC at 55% of list. It does have a laminated Koa top, so there should be less humidification concerns. But since it was made in Indonesia it may just be acacia. The losing candidate had slightly better intonation; but my ears loved the Lanikai.

consitter
10-27-2014, 07:01 PM
My Martin is Hawaiian Koa and less than $600....

Holy cow! You got one heck of a bargain! Congratulations!!

(Pics or it didn't happen....:pics:)