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hoosierhiver
01-14-2015, 05:09 AM
Is spruce underrated?
It's a great tonewood, but doesn't seem as popular as it could or should be.
Does anyone think it's because of the color?, do people naturally want a darker colored ukulele?
Just curious to hear some opinions on this.

RichM
01-14-2015, 05:14 AM
I love a spruce-topped ukulele, and I have a few. And there do seem to be quite a few made, although probably not as many as the hardwood-topped ukes. I think the reasons are pretty simple:

1. The earliest ukes were made of koa, and the next generation, led by Martin, were made of mahogany. Therefore, there is a lot of history around hardwood-built ukes, both in terms of appearance and in terms of tone.
2. Many people identify the spruce top as a "guitar thing," and gravitate away from it with ukes, because they don't want a "little guitar"
3. The spruce-topped tone tends to be deeper and more resonant, which I think some people feel isn't "uke-y" enough.

I doubt the color has much to do with it, except to the extent, perhaps, that people feel it makes a uke "guitar-like."

hendulele
01-14-2015, 05:24 AM
I own two solid spruce top Ohanas: a TK-70g tenor (laminate maple back and sides) and the Vita replica (laminate mahogany back and sides). The spruce top really boosts the projection of the sound, and I think they're lovely instruments. (I bought the tenor from Mim, who said something along the lines of "it makes you look like a televangelist," but I really like it.)

Somewhere on my wish list is a cedar-topped uke. Those guys are gorgeous.

kissing
01-14-2015, 05:35 AM
I really love spruce and cedar. Great woods for ukes!

SteveZ
01-14-2015, 05:47 AM
Certain instruments get associated with certain tonewoods. Ukuleles have been historically linked with Koa and koa derivatives for sound, and appearance goes hand-in-glove. It seems like most uke-makers have gone to other tone woods for economy, and tried to keep the historical appearance via cosmetics to the tonewood.

Personally, I love spruce , cedar and maple for the sound. Almost all my stringed stuff is one of those woods for the brightness and bark, as I play mainly R&R. Sometimes it seems folk buy instruments mainly for appearance with no understanding or appreciation of what different tonewoods bring to the party, and thus are sometimes disappointed when the sound they get is not what they anticipated it to be.

dirtiestkidever
01-14-2015, 05:54 AM
Yeah. I love softwood tops too. In fact I like a uke to sound like a little guitar. These woods certainly seem definitely popular among professional players. James Hill, Craig Chee, Herb Ohta Jr, etc. I will admit that when i first started playing I was also drawn to more interesting looking tone woods (mango, walnut, koa). They look great and sounds delicious compared to a straight grained spruce top. But after buying and selling too many ukes I realized that ones I kept always had soft wood tops. Certain songs and styles do sound best on a jangly little koa or mahogany soprano. But my favorite all around ukuleles always have softwood tops.

UkeInTW
01-14-2015, 06:11 AM
I thought Spruce tops are fairly popular on ukes, as I see a lot around, but maybe also my view is skewed because I have a lot. Out of my 6 ukes, 4 are spruce tops. 2 are Koa. Since I had so many spruce, I wanted to try at least get a different look and sound in some of my uke collection, so tried the Koa's, and enjoy them and their sound. But, I guess that a lot of the ukes that I like the sound on, just happen to be spruce, so guess I like the sound spruce gives. And I do like some more of the guitar sounding ukes, so that is also why I prefer the tenor size. I am buying 2 more custom ukes, one more in a spruce top, and another one trying in a cedar top.

DownUpDave
01-14-2015, 07:08 AM
I love a spruce-topped ukulele, and I have a few. And there do seem to be quite a few made, although probably not as many as the hardwood-topped ukes. I think the reasons are pretty simple:

1. The earliest ukes were made of koa, and the next generation, led by Martin, were made of mahogany. Therefore, there is a lot of history around hardwood-built ukes, both in terms of appearance and in terms of tone.
2. Many people identify the spruce top as a "guitar thing," and gravitate away from it with ukes, because they don't want a "little guitar"
3. The spruce-topped tone tends to be deeper and more resonant, which I think some people feel isn't "uke-y" enough.

I doubt the color has much to do with it, except to the extent, perhaps, that people feel it makes a uke "guitar-like."


I am sorry RichM but you stole my answer........give it back. ;)

This is every point I could think of that had validity. When I came to the uke I did not want a spruce top because it made it look like a mini guitar. But then I heard a spruce top and all that went out the window, love them.

I think the general buying public associates ukes with a dark wood because ukes have been like that for over a century.

coolkayaker1
01-14-2015, 07:34 AM
It's because buyers are about the bling, whether they (we) admit it or not.

Words like "figured" and "curly" sell ukes. Words like "spruce" sell Christmas trees.

Telperion
01-14-2015, 07:44 AM
It's because buyers are about the bling, whether they (we) admit it or not.

Words like "figured" and "curly" sell ukes. Words like "spruce" sell Christmas trees.

You just need to add things like "bear claw," "Adirondack," "German," or even "moon," in front of "spruce" to make it marketable. Anyone here ever try a moon spruce ukulele?

-Steve

hoosierhiver
01-14-2015, 07:52 AM
You just need to add things like "bear claw," "Adirondack," "German," or even "moon," in front of "spruce" to make it marketable. Anyone here ever try a moon spruce ukulele?

-Steve

or Corinthian, remember "with the finest Corinthian leather" ?

coolkayaker1
01-14-2015, 07:55 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_HMIN0nGl0

Ricardo explains Corinthian leather.

Man, no one..I mean no one...forgets their first Chrysler.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corinthian_leather

Debby
01-14-2015, 07:57 AM
I'm saving up for a new uke...and a Mainland Spruce top Concert is the one I'm leaning towards. I think it's beautiful and I've heard that ukes that have a spruce top with the mahogany back and sides sound awesome.

DownUpDave
01-14-2015, 07:58 AM
or Corinthian, remember "with the finest Corinthian leather" ?

Another one was "Kit leather gloves". What the heck is "Kit" ...........short form for kitten. That should get me some hate mail. Relax folks, long time cat owner. They are nice and soft though.

mds725
01-14-2015, 08:13 AM
Another one was "Kit leather gloves". What the heck is "Kit" ...........short form for kitten. That should get me some hate mail. Relax folks, long time cat owner. They are nice and soft though.

I don't mean to drift off-topic, but I found this on the Internet: "The term 'kit gloves' refers to physical gloves. They are used when carrying out repair work and are offered supplied within kits that include other tools to help repair any physical damages. They are often made with fine cloth which aims to keep human oil of the parts that need to be repaired. Others are sometimes made of latex or vinyl which allows the hands to work intricately but prevents contact from any human oils that may contaminate the substances you are working on."

http://www.blurtit.com/164644/kit-gloves-or-kid-gloves

The same article also describes "kid gloves," which were made from young goats, producing a softer and more elegant leather. "Kid gloves" has become a metaphor for handling a situation or person gently.

spookelele
01-14-2015, 08:28 AM
I think it's unreasonable to inject why other people buy something or don't.
And really in the end it doesn't matter unless you're selling something.

You're going to pick what you like. Whether thats because of the look, the sound, the reputation, or the price.

Delivery guy literally just brought me a Pono ATD. It can accurately be described as not fancy. I liked the sound over the mahogany, and the spruce top versions. But that's just me.. and really that's all that matters right?

Photojosh
01-14-2015, 08:30 AM
I've actually been thinking a lot about Spruce (and cedar and other non-traditional woods) as I'm looking to round out my collection with some different configurations that don't step on each others toes sound-wise as much. Variety = spice of life and all that.

As far as the larger ukulele market, it's hard to say why people might or might not want to stay traditional. Marketing works in many ways. What are the popular players playing, what personal history does someone have with ukulele, did they land here first or youtube first or a local music store first, and so on. I tend to think that having traditional options while evolving in non-traditional ways (carbon fiber anyone?) is the sign of a healthy and mature hobby/industry/culture (whatever you want to call it).

RichM
01-14-2015, 08:32 AM
I think it's unreasonable to inject why other people buy something or don't.
And really in the end it doesn't matter unless you're selling something.

You're going to pick what you like. Whether thats because of the look, the sound, the reputation, or the price.

Delivery guy literally just brought me a Pono ATD. It can accurately be described as not fancy. I liked the sound over the mahogany, and the spruce top versions. But that's just me.. and really that's all that matters right?

People guessing about what other people are doing is what the internet is for! Besides, I'm pretty sure the guy who started this threat is selling something... and, I've bought a few of what he's selling, too! :)

RichM
01-14-2015, 08:33 AM
Hello, spruce!


http://youtu.be/_f_p0CgPeyA

Paul December
01-14-2015, 09:04 AM
I'm not a fan of it...
...IMO does not sound good for strumming, and many sound very twangy when picked.
That being said, I've heard some beautiful finger-style on them, but they were always very expensive models.

OregonJim
01-14-2015, 09:08 AM
I've seen both of these statements more than once:

1. I don't like spruce for ukulele - it looks like a tiny guitar.

2. I don't like spruce for ukulele - it sounds like a tiny guitar.

If there is any prejudice against spruce in the ukulele world, it has no musical basis. Spruce is not a "guitar thing" - it's used as the primary tonewood in not only guitars, but violins, violas, cellos, double bass, mandolins, and many others. It's also used for the soundboard in pianos and harps. Obviously, spruce does not make an instrument "sound like a guitar", though I have seen some people suggest that. If it did, then all these other instruments would sound like guitars! Silly.

As far as looks go, consider this - violin and cello are constructed exactly the same way, look identical (except for scale), yet no one confuses the two. Why the bickering between ukulele and guitar? It's the same thing!

There are a few people who just need to get over it. The ukulele is a tiny guitar, whether you like it or not - just as the violin is a tiny cello. Or a cello is a tiny bass. Who cares - each has its own unique voice.

pluck
01-14-2015, 09:23 AM
Is spruce underrated?
It's a great tonewood, but doesn't seem as popular as it could or should be.
Does anyone think it's because of the color?, do people naturally want a darker colored ukulele?
Just curious to hear some opinions on this.

Mike, You've been out-of-stock on spruce tenors for a little while now. Thinking about restocking?

Tigeralum2001
01-14-2015, 09:25 AM
I have 3 Spruce topped ukes, so I enjoy them and think they are great! I have them paired with Rosewood, Milo, and Cocobolo. My favorite combo is Spruce with curly Koa... So maybe I need a 4th?

When I think "ukulele" I think of Koa top, back, and sides. However, I think that Spruce is a great tonewood. Thinking about trying otheqr softwoods, too, like Cedar and Redwood. My ears tell me softwood top, hardwood back and sides is a great combo. However, if I could only own one Uke, it would be all Koa.

Down Up Dick
01-14-2015, 09:51 AM
I have two spruce top Ukes. They both sound good, especially the baritone, but I don't like the look. I think I like mahogany better. It looks nicer and sounds bigger, deeper.

Light colored wood shows the dirt too. :old:

Recstar24
01-14-2015, 09:57 AM
I will say as a relative newbie to the scene, my googling and the marketing that I am bombarded with leads me to believe that spruce is secondary to red cedar, redwood, and port orford cedar as a top, in terms of their ability to effectively function as the primary "pump" for air and vibration. I will add there isn't necessarily any merit to that when it comes to sound.

When looking at my first mainland, the red cedar based on reviews was "better" than the spruce. My custom is port orford and there is much literature that espouses the magical quality of POC.

SteveZ
01-14-2015, 10:22 AM
The link provides more data about tonewoods than many folk will ever need - http://tonewooddatasource.weebly.com/species--attributes.html

As far as ukuleles sounding like small guitars, that's exactly what I want. Certain tonewoods are better for certain genres, and that for me is an important consideration when looking at an instrument. Just as resonator size/shape/holes affect the sound, tonewood choice can make a whale of a difference.

That's all part of the fun, especially when seeing-hearing what skilled luthiers can produce with woods grown in their regions. It's all art (the instrument) being used to create more art (music).

hoosierhiver
01-14-2015, 10:55 AM
Mike, You've been out-of-stock on spruce tenors for a little while now. Thinking about restocking?

in the works, maybe a spruce top baritone at some point too.

kohanmike
01-14-2015, 10:58 AM
My best sounding ukes are a Kala solid cedar top, an acacia koa two hole laminate and an acacia koa glossy black mandolele, but my solid spruce Lanikai with quilted ash body just opened up after a year and sounds pretty good now too.

hoosierhiver
01-14-2015, 11:01 AM
I'm not a fan of spruce tops for ukes, mainly for RichM's point #2: the sound is too guitarry. I disagree with his point #3: I think most other popular tonewoods are deeper, more resonant and more balanced; spruce seems to favor higher frequencies (hence its "brightness"), though I know well-"tuned" higher-end ukes easily put the lie to my generalization.

I also disfavor spruce because it's so light-colored, adding too much contrast with the woods it's normally paired with (notably rosewood). Of course, the color could easily be altered with a nice stain, but few makers do this. Spruce is also dully uniform in appearance, unless viewed close up; I like the aesthetic character of more prominent wood grains.

Despite that spruce isn't my favorite topwood, I do own two spruce-topped ukes and they're both boomers with nice tone, guitaricity aside. I also own a spruce-top dulcimer, fortunately stained to match the side/back wood (cherry)—its tone pleases me greatly. Overall, I prefer the warmth and balance of cedar to the brightness of spruce, so my guitars (one classical, one dreadnought) and my last-acquired uke all have cedar tops. Still, I wouldn't kick if gifted a nice spruce-top guitar or uke—any offers?

RichM, when I got my spruce-topped baritone, I named it Bruce with that sketch in mind, and I always pronounce it with a slight Aussie accent. I supposed I could have taken a tip from Wodehouse and named it sBruce, with a silent "s".

I've wondered if a stained top would be popular.

DownUpDave
01-14-2015, 11:23 AM
I've wondered if a stained top would be popular.

It would be popular with me. I do not like spruce that is so white it looks like melamine. Just a nice light honey colour, just enough to take the edge off that snow white colour.

OregonJim
01-14-2015, 11:39 AM
I do not like spruce that is so white it looks like melamine. Just a nice light honey colour, just enough to take the edge off that snow white colour.

To me, it makes a nice canvas for a beautiful, contrasting rosette. Unadorned, though, I tend to agree with you.

DownUpDave
01-14-2015, 12:07 PM
To me, it makes a nice canvas for a beautiful, contrasting rosette. Unadorned, though, I tend to agree with you.

That is a great point, a stunning rosette really does shine on bare spruce. Some spruce, especially bearclaw, has a yellower or more golden colour and that is what I like the look of best.

Debby
01-14-2015, 12:23 PM
I think the rosettes look good on the whiter spruce since it provides the most contrast.

Is spruce the loudest??

Dan Uke
01-14-2015, 12:33 PM
It would be popular with me. I do not like spruce that is so white it looks like melamine. Just a nice light honey colour, just enough to take the edge off that snow white colour.

Give it time and it'll yellow.

GASguy
01-14-2015, 12:55 PM
Of course you can always add a nice sunburst!

dickadcock
01-14-2015, 02:45 PM
Give it time and it'll yellow.

Air and light exposure yellow the wood as it ages. The finish slows down the effect. So more time out of the case in a bright room -- but not direct sunlight-- should speed up yellowing.

Dan Uke
01-14-2015, 02:47 PM
I don't want to be in the grave before it does. My five-year-old spruce-top bari still looks pretty spry. How does gloss finish take George Hamilton spray-on tan?

Refering to the "white" spruce, which is usually newer instruments. With oxidation and sunlight, it will change color.

Maybe your five year old has very thick poly finish from China? :p If you want to do a test, put a pick guard on it and see what happens 5 years from now.

Katz-in-Boots
01-14-2015, 02:51 PM
If there is any prejudice against spruce in the ukulele world, it has no musical basis. Spruce is not a "guitar thing" - it's used as the primary tonewood in not only guitars, but violins, violas, cellos, double bass, mandolins, and many others. It's also used for the soundboard in pianos and harps. Obviously, spruce does not make an instrument "sound like a guitar", though I have seen some people suggest that. If it did, then all these other instruments would sound like guitars!

Absolutely! I have been wondering about why ukuleles are made out of hardwoods mostly. Orchestral string instruments traditionally have maple back, side, neck & scroll and a spruce top. Surely this says a lot about the properties of these woods (and I know it depends on what wood is available to the maker and on tradition). I wonder why ukuleles aren't maple & spruce.


It would be popular with me. I do not like spruce that is so white it looks like melamine. Just a nice light honey colour, just enough to take the edge off that snow white colour.

Again, violins, violas, cellos & basses are stained, and varnished. Lots of layers. I believe the stain is contained within the varnish. Can't see why it wouldn't work for ukuleles.

Doug W
01-14-2015, 03:54 PM
My daughter is drawn to the slotted headstocks. It would be nice while at UWC this year to compare a concert slotted headstock spruce top with a mahogany top.

Jeffelele
01-14-2015, 05:18 PM
I pretty much agree with everybody. Just about all my opinions on how I like the sound of different woods have changed back and forth.

And I really like the word "guitaricity" which my speech to text app insists on reproducing as "guitar is city".

OregonJim
01-14-2015, 05:27 PM
Air and light exposure yellow the wood as it ages. The finish slows down the effect. So more time out of the case in a bright room -- but not direct sunlight-- should speed up yellowing.

In my experience, it is the finish that yellows more rapidly than the underlying wood - especially shellacs and polyurethanes. The finish absorbs UV, while protecting the wood, but that UV combined with oxygen eventually breaks down the finish and causes discoloration...of the finish.


I don't want to be in the grave before it does. My five-year-old spruce-top bari still looks pretty spry.

Exactly. At this point, the only aging I worry about is my own. :)

chenx2
01-14-2015, 05:43 PM
For look reason I would prefer a spruce top uke with maple back and sides. Spruce has a sweet "ding" sound quality but I personally think it lacks undertone like mahogany.

kkimura
01-15-2015, 07:03 AM
Although half of my uke inventory is not even wood, I've never tried a spruce top uke that I didn't like the sound of. Maybe someday my ears will overcome my wallet.

CJay
01-15-2015, 07:29 AM
Although half of my uke inventory is not even wood, I've never tried a spruce top uke that I didn't like the sound of. Maybe someday my ears will overcome my wallet.

I would love to see you post about your ukes that are made from materials other than wood. I've been getting the itch for a plastic uke to take to the beach this summer and would be interested In your experiences with alternate materials.

Uke Republic
01-15-2015, 07:29 AM
I love spruce for a lot of reasons. Great projection, great clarity and the way the tone changes over time wearing in nicely to an almost cedar like tone.
Everyone needs some spruce in their uke stable.

IamNoMan
01-15-2015, 08:48 AM
I would love to see you post about your ukes that are made from materials other than wood. I've been getting the itch for a plastic uke to take to the beach this summer and would be interested In your experiences with alternate materials.Umm, a Hawaiian Steel Ukulele?


or Corinthian, remember "with the finest Corinthian leather" ?(Drift)LOL. Corinthian Leather was a marketing ploy used to sell the Chysrler Cordoba. Corduban or Cordovan Leather is made of horse hide and is used for fine gloves and shoes. Remember the Tom Paxton song, "I'm changing My name to Chyrsler"? Yeah buy a Cordoba with fine Corinthian leather and walk... on shoe leather.(end Drift)

Martin started making ukuleles of pine. It didn't work to well. Starting in 1916 or 1922, depending on who you believe, they went to Mahogany. I think early dissatisfaction with soft tone woods may be carried over into the present, at least subconsciously.

I like Spruce, and Cedar as tone woods. I would like to try Redwood as well. If I ever bought a guitar, unlikely, too many strings for my fingers: It would have a Spruce top. I don't think I'm interested in Spruce for a ukulele though. I like the Red Cedar, Does Mainland use the cedar from the mahogany family or the juniper family? Whichever, it sounds and looks good.

I'm pretty sure this is personal prejudice. I like Maple for banjos. Mahogany, Cedar, Acacia for ukuleles. Oak for drums and tamborines. Its not only tone though, Strength of materials comes into play as well.

Recstar24
01-15-2015, 09:16 AM
Do you consider port orford cedar to be a softwood? Or is its stiffness to weight ratio so great that it should be considered something else?

kkimura
01-15-2015, 10:04 AM
I would love to see you post about your ukes that are made from materials other than wood. I've been getting the itch for a plastic uke to take to the beach this summer and would be interested In your experiences with alternate materials.

Don't want to hijack the thread so I'll keep it short. I only have 2 ukes, 1 hog and the other HPL (a.k.a. Formica).

SO, I need a softwood top uke (spruce?) to round out my modest collection.

drmosser
01-15-2015, 10:05 AM
in the works, maybe a spruce top baritone at some point too.

I vote, "Yes", for a spruce topped baritone. I would also be sorely tempted by a solid mango baritone with that lovely rope binding.

OregonJim
01-15-2015, 10:15 AM
I like the Red Cedar, Does Mainland use the cedar from the mahogany family or the juniper family?

Cedar from the Mahogany family? Can you expand on that?

Cedar and Juniper are softwoods, mahogany is a hardwood. Mahogany Cedar is an alien concept to me. :)

Congi
01-15-2015, 10:34 AM
I have several spruce top ukulele. Yes, they looks like tiny guitars, but doesn't sounds like a guitar until you have have a low-g setting or baritone DGBE.

IamNoMan
01-15-2015, 10:46 AM
Cedar from the Mahogany family? Can you expand on that?

Cedar and Juniper are softwoods, mahogany is a hardwood. Mahogany Cedar is an alien concept to me. :)

I never considered red cedar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Cedar) as a hardwood either. See also cedar wood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedar_wood).

Debby
01-15-2015, 11:09 AM
Which is louder? Red cedar or spruce?

SweetWaterBlue
01-15-2015, 11:13 AM
I have a cedar topped guitar, and several spruce topped guitars. Cedar is definitely not a hard wood, since all you have to do is breath on it to dent it. The cedar has a more mellow sound than the spruce on guitars. On guitars, spruce is loud and cuts through the crowd, which is probably why most bluegrass guitarists prefer it. I also have a cedar topped Mainland baritone (currently tuned DGBE), and an all laminate baritone (tuned dGBE), as well as a spruce topped Lanikai STEQ, with a low G. On larger instruments, I like the tone and projection that spruce and cedar gives. The only time my baritones sound like a guitar is if I only play the top four strings of my guitar, and even then they don't really sound like guitars, because my guitars have steel strings. People tend to strum the baritone quite differently than they would a guitar, and that also makes them sound different. Its pretty hard to strum a guitar like you do a baritone, since the top two strings get in your way. I used to have a mahogany soprano and a spruce topped one. In that size, I could not tell much difference in the sound. I love the red spruce top of my Mainland baritone, and would probably not add a spruce top one to my stable, but thats just me. I would also never buy a Mainland without a rope binding lol.

IamNoMan
01-15-2015, 11:28 AM
Which is louder? Red cedar or spruce?I took my new Mainland red cedar soprano to the monthly song swap last Sunday. It is loud! I couldn't compete withe the banjos and hammered dulcimer. But I could punch through to the otherside of the room. Right good jamming last Sunday.

OregonJim
01-15-2015, 01:07 PM
I never considered red cedar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Cedar) as a hardwood either. See also cedar wood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedar_wood).

Classification of woods as either "hard" or "soft" has nothing to do with relative hardness or softness of the wood itself. Balsa is a hardwood. Softwoods all come from evergreen trees, hardwoods come from deciduous trees. That's why I was confused by the term "Cedar from the Mahogany family" in an earlier post.

SteveZ
01-15-2015, 01:14 PM
I took my new Mainland red cedar soprano to the monthly song swap last Sunday. It is loud! I couldn't compete withe the banjos and hammered dulcimer. But I could punch through to the otherside of the room. Right good jamming last Sunday.

I have a cedar mandolin made by a Kentucky luthier. It has a unique voice and is a work of art to me. Got it as an experiment and love it. The luthier kept the wood natural instead of coloring it into a standard "sunburst" or other pattern. As a result, every mandolin he makes looks and sounds a bit different. Nothing wrong with cedar at all.

75081

Paul December
01-15-2015, 01:25 PM
Classification of woods as either "hard" or "soft" has nothing to do with relative hardness or softness of the wood itself. Balsa is a hardwood. Softwoods all come from evergreen trees, hardwoods come from deciduous trees. That's why I was confused by the term "Cedar from the Mahogany family" in an earlier post.

Really?!
Most common examples of hard & soft woods seem to describe well how easy/difficult they are to cut.
...Just coincidence :confused:

OregonJim
01-15-2015, 01:32 PM
Really?!
Most common examples of hard & soft woods seem to describe well how easy/difficult they are to cut.
...Just coincidence :confused:

Yes, really. The terms originated with how the trees reproduce. "Hardwood" trees (angiosperms) reproduce by dropping seeds with a hard covering, while "Softwood" trees (gymnosperms), drop cones with a soft covering. The actual hardness or softness of the wood has nothing to do with the classification.

The "softest" wood known (Balsa) and the "hardest" (Lignum Vitae) are both hardwoods.

Doug W
01-15-2015, 05:05 PM
Yes, really. The terms originated with how the trees reproduce. "Hardwood" trees (angiosperms) reproduce by dropping seeds with a hard covering, while "Softwood" trees (gymnosperms), drop cones with a soft covering. The actual hardness or softness of the wood has nothing to do with the classification.

The "softest" wood known (Balsa) and the "hardest" (Lignum Vitae) are both hardwoods.

Yeah but...but...but... Oh dang another thing I didn't know! Well I know it now and somehow I will use this fact to my advantage at work tomorrow.

OregonJim
01-15-2015, 08:09 PM
Yeah but...but...but... Oh dang another thing I didn't know! Well I know it now and somehow I will use this fact to my advantage at work tomorrow.

If you want another fun fact....

Lignum Vitae is so hard that it was used for the main propeller shafts in large ships. It can handle the huge torque and torsion forces, and is impervious to salt water. If it wasn't so ugly and hard to work with, you could build a beach uke that lasts for a millenium!

iDavid
01-15-2015, 08:53 PM
Never played a spruce-top uke that I really cared for, however I love cedar. When I played guitar, I preferred an all mahogany.

Andy Chen
01-15-2015, 10:30 PM
If you want another fun fact....

Lignum Vitae is so hard that it was used for the main propeller shafts in large ships. It can handle the huge torque and torsion forces, and is impervious to salt water. If it wasn't so ugly and hard to work with, you could build a beach uke that lasts for a millenium!

There's always carbon fibre.

geetee
01-16-2015, 12:57 AM
Since we've drifted off Spruce, I was fascinated to find this in the Wiki link as it cleared up what had been a mystery to me. When attending the Ukulele Guild of Hawaii exhibition I saw many instruments made from a wood unfamiliar to me referred to simply as Toon.

Red Cedar may refer to:
Trees

Toona ciliata, an tree in the mahogany family native to Asia and Australia
Toona sureni, a tree in the mahogany family native from South Asia to Papua New Guinea
Juniperus virginiana, an eastern North American juniper
Thuja plicata, a western North American tree in the cypress family

I'm guessing the Mainland red cedar ukulele is made from one of the first two. Maybe the OP could confirm?

Also there is Spanish Cedar, often used in making necks. Again courtesy of Wiki:

Cedrela odorata is a very important timber tree, producing a lightweight fragrant wood with very good resistance to termites and other wood-boring insects, and also rot-resistant outdoors. The wood is often sold under the name "Spanish-cedar" (like many trade names, confusing as it is neither Spanish nor a cedar), and is the traditional wood used for making cigar boxes, as well as being used for general outdoor and construction work, paneling and veneer wood. It is also used for the necks of "classical"-style guitars, as well as the linings (interior strips of wood that attach the top and bottom of the guitar to the sides).

And apparently Cedar could refer to any of thirty different types of tree. At one time even mahogany was considered to be a cedar:

In 1671 the word mahogany appeared in print for the first time, in John Ogilby's America.[19] Among botanists and naturalists, however, the tree was considered a type of cedar, and in 1759 was classified by Carl Linnaeus (17071778) as Cedrela mahagoni. The following year it was assigned to a new genus by Nicholas Joseph Jacquin (17271817), and named Swietenia mahagoni.

Spruce seems to be a lot less ambiguous, as there are only 35 species but they are all basically Christmas trees.:)
My last purchased ukulele is a spruce top Ko'olau. It sounds amazing.

hoosierhiver
01-16-2015, 05:03 AM
Western Red Cedar. I think the Asian aromatic cedars are endangered from poor management and over cutting.

sam13
01-17-2015, 04:39 AM
Is spruce underrated?
It's a great tonewood, but doesn't seem as popular as it could or should be.
Does anyone think it's because of the color?, do people naturally want a darker colored ukulele?
Just curious to hear some opinions on this.

Perhaps the lighter colour is somewhat a little less attractive to some. But let's face it. Ukuleles are like potato chips. You can't just have one!

I have two cedar tops and a spruce top Pro Classic Tenor ... and really love the difference in tone.

The Cedar/Macassar offers rich over tones mid and lower range. The Spruce delicious over tones mid to high ... and getting nicer all the time. I am not a traditional Uke player ... so I like the way it sounds more guitar like.

tangimango
01-18-2015, 12:11 AM
out of all the spruce, englemann is my favorite.

ichadwick
01-18-2015, 03:20 AM
Is spruce underrated?
No, it's great for larger bodied instruments like a guitar, but because it has a propensity for the higher tonal range, it can make ukuleles a bit too brash, in my humble opinion. Perhaps not as much on a baritone, but certainly on smaller scale ukes.

I prefer cedar, mahogany, koa/acacia and mango. But that's a personal choice...