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View Full Version : Cedar as tonewood, a favorite soft wood top?



Doc_J
08-30-2015, 09:09 AM
Up until a few weeks ago I thought Sinker Redwood may be the best softwood top out there (if you like warm sound + clarity). The literature shows redwood right between WR cedar and Sitka spruce in qualities such as elasticity, warmth, and strength.

But a couple recent Western Red Cedar-topped acquisitions have me questioning what my favorite soft topped wood may be. A WR cedar/koa and a WR cedar/rosewood combinations have really hit the mark for me sound-wise.

I realize that much of the sound comes from the luthier in the design and build ( I have a maple uke that is as warm as it gets). But having played redwood and cedar topped models from the same builder, I'm starting to lean towards cedar as a softwood top.

WR cedar/rosewood : https://app.box.com/s/q71r9ho4x61ymf178by5817eg525p5ld

WR cedar/koa :https://app.box.com/s/m09ir2zbuzv7jflv1hkdm9mst04tlt0m

Any cedar top fans out there?

RichM
08-30-2015, 09:13 AM
Yes. I think cedar makes a fabulous ukulele top.

chuck in ny
08-30-2015, 09:14 AM
that koolau is a keeper that's for sure.

hawaii 50
08-30-2015, 09:36 AM
Cedar tops sound nice...but I am not a fan of it..had a uke with a Cedar top but when I got it already had a pushed up grain on(it would turn into a crack in a few years) i think it was damaged in shipping so i let that uke go....

then I had ordered a top of Alaskan Yellow Cedar for my R. Scheurenbrand uke but while sitting here in my house it cracked....bad luck so did not want to use the wood so I will be using a Adirondack Spruce that Rollo had in his supply...this uke shoud be ready in a few weeks African Blackwood back and sides...

I will have 4 different ukes with 4 different types of spruce...so far I like the Carpathian Spruce top the best...it will stay white and does not yellow at all....it has deep tones and the clarity and note separation hard to beat....but it is the builder that gets the tone right on each uke.IMO

i have heard some great cedar top uke though....just my 2 cents on the topic.....

dirtiestkidever
08-30-2015, 10:23 AM
I am a huge fan of soft wood tops. And cedar is definitely my favorite. So warm, woody, and full sounding. As much as I love them, ukuleles can be a bit thin and grating at times. Cedar is the perfect antidote. Spruce is a close second (I think spruce is warmer sounding than people give it credit for). I really want to love Redwood since it is prettier than the other two. I have only played a few redwood top ukes but they didn't impress me (even compared to Spruce from the same builder).

Icelander53
08-30-2015, 10:24 AM
Up until a few weeks ago I thought Sinker Redwood may be the best softwood top out there (if you like warm sound + clarity). The literature shows redwood right between WR cedar and Sitka spruce in qualities such as elasticity, warmth, and strength.

But a couple recent Western Red Cedar-topped acquisitions have me questioning what my favorite soft topped wood may be. A WR cedar/koa and a WR cedar/rosewood combinations have really hit the mark for me sound-wise.

I realize that much of the sound comes from the luthier in the design and build ( I have a maple uke that is as warm as it gets). But having played redwood and cedar topped models from the same builder, I'm starting to lean towards cedar as a softwood top.

WR cedar/rosewood : https://app.box.com/s/q71r9ho4x61ymf178by5817eg525p5ld

WR cedar/koa :https://app.box.com/s/m09ir2zbuzv7jflv1hkdm9mst04tlt0m

Any cedar top fans out there?

Huge fan of cedar top. I have two and they are both my go to ukes right now. Both Pono, A cedar/ebony strung with southcoast (the best thing I've ever played) and a cedar/hog strung with Worth Brown and both in Low G. Would never sell the cedar/ebony.

DownUpDave
08-30-2015, 11:47 AM
Hodge.....that is a sneeky way of introducing two new ukes. When did you get a LfdM cedar top. We want pics and details ;)

I have the twin brother to Icelanders Pono cedar ebony. We literally bought them days apart from Andrew at HMS. I love mine, warm and full sounding yet still crisp clear and articulate when fingerpicked. There in lies the beauty of cedar, multi dimesional in sound qualities.

When speaking to Luis of LfdM he said something interesting. Although sitka spruce is his favourite tone wood he is REALLY big on cedar. He said if you get a really premium cedar top, say paying extra for it like sinker and adirondak spruce, you'll have the ultimate uke.

Guess what my next LfdM will have for a top?

hollisdwyer
08-30-2015, 12:04 PM
When speaking to Luis of LfdM he said something interesting. Although sitka spruce is his favourite tone wood he is REALLY big on cedar. He said if you get a really premium cedar top, say paying extra for it like sinker and adirondack spruce, you'll have the ultimate uke.

I think paying a little extra for a premium grade top; whether it be cedar, sinker, red spruce or what ever, pays off greatly in better tone and looks.

Compared to the amount of extra charge for various master grade woods for back and sides, getting a premium top is great value for money IMO.

Doc_J
08-30-2015, 12:13 PM
Hodge.....that is a sneeky way of introducing two new ukes. When did you get a LfdM cedar top. We want pics and details ;)

I have the twin brother to Icelanders Pono cedar ebony. We literally bought them days apart from Andrew at HMS. I love mine, warm and full sounding yet still crisp clear and articulate when fingerpicked. There in lies the beauty of cedar, multi dimesional in sound qualities.

When speaking to Luis of LfdM he said something interesting. Although sitka spruce is his favourite tone wood he is REALLY big on cedar. He said if you get a really premium cedar top, say paying extra for it like sinker and adirondak spruce, you'll have the ultimate uke.

Guess what my next LfdM will have for a top?

Hi Dave,

This cedar/rosewood LFdM is the one Nuprin listed in UU Marketplace a couple weeks ago. I missed my redwood LFdM that I sold earlier this year. So, I couldn't resist. :o I think the cedar top sounds just a bit better to me than the sinker redwood version.

DownUpDave
08-30-2015, 01:28 PM
Hi Dave,

This cedar/rosewood LFdM is the one Nuprin listed in UU Marketplace a couple weeks ago. I missed my redwood LFdM that I sold earlier this year. So, I couldn't resist. :o I think the cedar top sounds just a bit better to me than the sinker redwood version.

I was thinking that might have been the LfdM, glad Nuprin sold it to you. I now have three spruce top ukes. I have Engleman, Sitka and Adirondack. But Cedar.......only one, I better do something about that :o

Camsuke
08-30-2015, 01:52 PM
I'm a big fan of WRC tops, I have a couple of ukuleles and guitars built this way and just love them. The only drawback is that they are prone to damage very easily.

Doc_J
08-30-2015, 02:57 PM
I'm a big fan of WRC tops, I have a couple of ukuleles and guitars built this way and just love them. The only drawback is that they are prone to damage very easily.

True, the WRC does seem to dent or scratch easier than spruce. But it's worth being a bit more careful to have cedar.

Ukulele Eddie
08-30-2015, 03:05 PM
BIG cedar fan here. I had my Kinnard commissioned with a cedar top because I previously owned a cedar (WRC) top that I adored and several of the best sounding (to my ears) ukes I had heard were cedar-topped (also WRC). My Ono, which is being built now, will have an Alaska Yellow Cedar top (and myrtle body).

But I do share a love for spruce, too. Both my Collings UC3MSB (my avatar) and my Hive have spruce tops (sitka and Adirondack, respectively) and they're both lovely.

E

Nickie
08-30-2015, 03:14 PM
I almost bought a cedar top Ohana last year, a friend bought it instead. The top developed a real long, wide crack in it, that didn't affect the sound at all. That uke sounded awesome. It just looked bad. She just sold it, so I guess even if cedar has a crack, it's still a prized tonewood.

Recstar24
08-30-2015, 04:07 PM
Cedar fan here too. I have the mainland red cedar which is nice, owned the concert now the tenor and both are great.

My current #1 uke is my stansell custom. It has an incense cedar top which is a little different from WRC. It's a very soft wood but it's part of the cypress family and i believe it shares some characteristics with port Orford cedar. Incense cedar is known as pencil cedar as that is what pencils are made of.

My stansell has an incense cedart top with POC Back and sides. Very loud but very full woody tone, extremely resonant.

Rakelele
08-30-2015, 10:33 PM
I have both a Cedar top LFdM and the Pono Ebony/Cedar combo that Dave and the Icelander were raving about, and wow, do they sound warm and deep! Loooong sustain and very clear note separation.

From what I've seen so far, I prefer Cedar over Spruce, but overall, I guess I'm still in my "Redwood Phase". I have been constantly impressed with the sound samples from Redwood ukes, and my Ko'olau CS Sinker Redwood/Milo is as good as they'll ever get.

Icelander53
08-31-2015, 01:39 AM
I love those dents and scratches. Like some silly boy I wrote a message on top of one of my Pono's and I can still read it there today. :shaka:

SteveZ
08-31-2015, 02:40 AM
Cedar is great. Have a cedar mandolin and it has been the only keeper out of a slew of mandos that have been part of the stable. Made in Kentucky, it's a favorite. Now, if only I can get the fellow to build ukes, too.

82900

Ukejenny
08-31-2015, 04:53 AM
I don't have any hand made ukuleles, but the cedar rosewood that I do have produces beautiful tone and sustain. It's just a lovely sound.

iDavid
08-31-2015, 04:53 AM
My Kinnard is Cedar and it is as good as it gets.

One day I hope to have a soprano cedar top Kinnard.

Andy Chen
08-31-2015, 04:36 PM
Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes again.

Andy Chen
08-31-2015, 04:38 PM
As much as I love them, ukuleles can be a bit thin and grating at times. Cedar is the perfect antidote.

My exact sentiments!

Plus, I have a redwood Hive tenor coming my way, completing my collection of ukes with the major tone woods: Spruce, koa, cedar and redwood.

Hippie Dribble
08-31-2015, 05:05 PM
My exact sentiments!

Plus, I have a redwood Hive tenor coming my way, completing my collection of ukes with the major tone woods: Spruce, koa, cedar and redwood.
Don't forget mahogany, Andy! That means you'll need just one more. :)

stevejfc
08-31-2015, 05:05 PM
I prefer the look of cedar over spruce, but prefer the tone and toughness of spruce. My Kamaka Ohta-san and Boat Paddle are both spruce topped and have a nice warm tone, but with a bit more punch than the cedar tops I've owned.

Hippie Dribble
08-31-2015, 05:07 PM
I too, love cedar. It is a very dynamic wood, more so than redwood, I think. It combines the best qualities of spruce and redwood but magnifies them. Very responsive; sweet clear highs but depth and warmth and you can coax sounds from it all points in between

Andy Chen
08-31-2015, 08:56 PM
Don't forget mahogany, Andy! That means you'll need just one more. :)

Thinking seriously about the mahogany :)

Rakelele
08-31-2015, 09:35 PM
I have a redwood Hive tenor coming my way, completing my collection of ukes with the major tone woods: Spruce, koa, cedar and redwood.

Oh Andy, that quest for major tonewoods won't end anytime soon...

There are several different kinds of Spruce, each with specific qualities (Sitka, Engelmann, Adirondack, Carpathian/German, to name just the most commonly used ones), then there are Mahogany, Maple, Myrtle, and Mango. And don't forget the hardwoods, with several species of Rosewood, Ebony, Walnut etc.

All good reasons to fuel further acquisitions... :)

Andy Chen
08-31-2015, 09:59 PM
Oh Andy, that quest for major tonewoods won't end anytime soon...

There are several different kinds of Spruce, each with specific qualities (Sitka, Engelmann, Adirondack, Carpathian/German, to name just the most commonly used ones), then there are Mahogany, Maple, Myrtle, and Mango. And don't forget the hardwoods, with several species of Rosewood, Ebony, Walnut etc.

All good reasons to fuel further acquisitions... :)

Had a myrtle (Mya Moe) - didn't like it.

Maple - too bright.

Mango - not really too my liking, either, and not really a major tone wood?

Spruce - While I like my Boat Paddle, I have realised spruce is too punchy in a uke for my taste.

Ukulele Eddie
09-01-2015, 02:40 AM
Had a myrtle (Mya Moe) - didn't like it.

Maple - too bright.

Mango - not really too my liking, either, and not really a major tone wood?

Spruce - While I like my Boat Paddle, I have realised spruce is too punchy in a uke for my taste.

Andy, you know that an awful lot depends on the luthier. I am admittedly a maple fiend AND I strongly prefer a warm tone. They're not mutually exclusive, despite it being something I seem to read here with regularity. In the right hands maple sounds warm and wonderful. And you know you agonized over the maple Hive, so to say "Maple is too bright" just adds fuel to a complete misnomer.

Same is true for the other woods. In the right hands...

Captain America
09-01-2015, 03:55 AM
Absolutely love my cedar Kala LaSalle. . .its a tenor and benefits from this top; not a fan of spruce; love mahogany for smaller ukes.

guitharsis
09-01-2015, 10:07 AM
Yes, really like cedar top ukes. Love the warm tone. Don't presently own a cedar top; all of my ukes are gorgeous curly koa, but I do see a cedar top uke in the near future.

Andy Chen
09-01-2015, 05:27 PM
Andy, you know that an awful lot depends on the luthier. I am admittedly a maple fiend AND I strongly prefer a warm tone. They're not mutually exclusive, despite it being something I seem to read here with regularity. In the right hands maple sounds warm and wonderful. And you know you agonized over the maple Hive, so to say "Maple is too bright" just adds fuel to a complete misnomer.

Same is true for the other woods. In the right hands...

Thanks for the tip, Eddie. Unfortunately, I don't really want to spend money to find out which hands are the right hands to handle maple.

Dan Uke
09-02-2015, 07:11 AM
Hodge, your cedar ukes sound good! Thanks for sharing