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Pete Howlett
10-27-2015, 12:03 PM
After the post last month on body depth I have decided to build a whole bunch of instruments 3/8" shallower than the usual depth. My first one off the bench is hard to evaluate because I haven't made an all flame myrtle one before. However this one sounds so sweet and pure. Any all myrtle owners out there shed light on the 'sound' you get from this lovely looking wood? Here's a CWD of our sound...


https://youtu.be/9OuHKvXopyI

The next one to come off the bench will be flame makore, similar style. I am also making up two in koa - one shallow the other my usual depth to compare but that is anyone's guess as to how that is gonna go :) Some spruce top models are also in the works but they are going to have a tonavus rosette which I suspect is going to boost bass response - just what you need for a low G instrument :)

I am enjoying playing with this idea of the shallower body :)

sequoia
10-27-2015, 01:45 PM
I am also exploring the thinner profile ukulele, but have not completed one yet but getting closer. It will have a myrtle top... How does myrtle sound? I find it near impossible to describe the "sound" in words, but I will say it sounds quite different than spruce to my ear. Not as bright, a little more balanced, sweet, complex... I thin the tops to about ~0.070 (1.75mm) as a target. Myrtle seems to sound best in my hands when it is pretty thin. I treat it like a hardwood which it is.

ksquine
10-28-2015, 07:20 AM
Sounds nice. Going with a thinner body can have nice results. I did a few concert bodies that were about 5/16" shallower than the standard Martin. I was using mahogany guitar sides and going a bit shallow meant I could get 4 uke sides out of one board. (I'm just too much of a cheap old yankee to not do something like that.)
They sounded a bit brighter than usual for mahogany...about like koa sounds. Definitely worth being cheap sometimes

chuck in ny
11-02-2015, 01:39 PM
another thin build with no apparent loss of resonance. you might have something there with the 3/8" dimension. this is a good area for inquiry and experimentation.

Pete Howlett
11-03-2015, 08:52 AM
Our second one, an all Makore model was equally fantastic. Don't think I'll be doing any more conventional depth bodies on my tenors or concerts...

aaronckeim
11-04-2015, 01:35 PM
We use all myrtle quite a bit. I think it is more balanced in all ways than koa and mahogany ukes. Maybe its just because its our most popular wood choice so we have the most practice with myrtle! I also like that it comes from our state and I buy it straight from the guy who cuts and mills it. Lastly, it has an amazing diversity of aesthetics, with many colors, figures and visual embellishments. Here are a couple of recent ones:
http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/uketracker.php?trackingNumber=1735&submit=Track
http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/uketracker.php?trackingNumber=1729&submit=Track

sequoia
11-04-2015, 05:09 PM
I love working with this wood. The sound I'm getting is everything I want. What I have found: This stuff likes to be, to me at least, scary thin but not too thin if you know what I mean (+/- around 70). I love the figure too. What is not to like about this wood? And plus, there is plenty of it around and it is in no way endangered or scarce... Sorry Aaron, around here we call it California Bay Laurel even though my best sets are out of Oregon.

I have posted these pictures before of my latest, but I will shamelessly do so again. The stuff looks great and it really, really sounds good.

85004

85005

gerardg
11-05-2015, 05:24 AM
My 2011 own design Hibiscus soundhole, mapple - mango slim body.
Grand Concert.
406 mm. scale, 14 th. fret neck joining.
Sound realy "costaud avec du sustain".
85018
85019

Pete Howlett
11-05-2015, 09:35 AM
With it becoming almost economically impossible to import wood from the US it is gratifying to know I have at last found the exotic replacement for koa ( the workaday one is English cherry but good quartersawn is getting harder to find).

The makore I have comes from the Gabon in Africa and is a complete revelation. Apart from being relatively easy to work and finish, we have managed to work it (despite it being heavier than koa or mahogany) into an incredibly versatile and dynamic instrument.

Bearing in mind this cell phone video is the poorest way to present sound, I think you get the idea of how great this little used wood is as a 'tonewood'. My assistant Tommy is playing the new demonstration piece to show case its range.


https://youtu.be/4fTPMmiY_lA

I strongly advise you to hunt this wood down before it goes the way of pomelle sapele and walnut and starts to reach the idiotic price levels of koa and those new, untried rosewoods coming out of central and south America.

aaronckeim
11-05-2015, 02:57 PM
Sequoia- Yes, its also called California Bay Laurel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbellularia#Distribution Although it's not endangered, it grows slow and only in a small area. It is rare for trees to get big enough to be useful for us. Luckily there are a couple of good folks who keep their ears to the ground about this wood. I just checked our site and we have done 505 instruments from this wood! http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/gallerySearchResults.php?backParent=Myrtle

It is truly "our" koa and is part of my lifetime process of trying to use as much N. American wood as possible.

sequoia
11-05-2015, 04:09 PM
Actually, there might be a lot more myrtle coming onto the market soon. Apparently California Bay Laurel has been identified as the carrier tree for Phytophthora ramorum or the organism that causes Sudden Oak Death (SOD) which is becoming a huge problem and is spreading fast. In an effort to control SOD, it is recommended that you take out all the bay laurel around your oak trees. I think this is a sort of goofy idea, but some arborists believe it and are taking out a lot of bay laurel. So all that bay laurel has to go somewhere right? But you are right, most of it around here are small understory trees and of no use. However, not 5 miles from my house on Big River there are some massive trees of better than 3 foot diameter. The big ones seem to grow right next to the river and in a flood plain. They have to be many hundreds of years old. They are growing on a protected rivershed, but if there is a big enough flood, they might go over and then could be up for grabs. This could be the winter as we are expecting massing flooding, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Those trees have stood against a lot of big floods.

Michael Smith
11-05-2015, 08:50 PM
There is a lot of bay laurel where I live. It's almost never used for anything but firewood. It grows fairly rapidly depending on conditions. The older trees that had a harder life seem to have more colors. It's like redwood you really can't kill it. If you cut it down new trees will come up from the roots. My friend has a pretty big one that went down. I should go billet some of it up before the bugs get it.

Recstar24
11-06-2015, 09:23 AM
For a tenor, what would you classify as being a shallow body depth? For example, my Hoffmann ML tenor looks shallower than my other tenors, and it measures at 2 3/4 in. My other tenors are around 3 inches. However, my ML tenor has a pretty big sound and is very deep and resonant, making me believe that an instrument's depth and resonant quality may not necessarily be about body depth, and more about soundboard area - does that sound like a somewhat valid hypothesis?

saltytri
11-08-2015, 10:02 AM
The big ones seem to grow right next to the river and in a flood plain. They have to be many hundreds of years old.


The old myrtles can be pretty magnificent. A couple of weeks ago, we took hike along the Rogue River about five miles upstream from the mouth and saw quite a few trees like this one. I was doing some fantasizing about the beautiful ukuleles that might be hiding in there:

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/765/22257611304_ecc9ff62bc_b.jpg

Pete Howlett
11-08-2015, 10:15 AM
Wow - great image. I can visualise better what my pile of myrtle really means now...

aaronckeim
11-08-2015, 05:15 PM
Those of you that know me know that I have several tattoos. Myrtle is so important to me and to my career that I have this image on my list for my next one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbellularia#/media/File:Umbellularia_californica_phyllum.jpg

A

saltytri
03-16-2016, 06:59 PM
The old myrtles can be pretty magnificent. A couple of weeks ago, we took hike along the Rogue River about five miles upstream from the mouth and saw quite a few trees like this one. I was doing some fantasizing about the beautiful ukuleles that might be hiding in there:

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/765/22257611304_ecc9ff62bc_b.jpg

Maybe this should be in a separate thread called "Tonewood in the Wild" but here goes anyway.

This is what a Spanish cedar tree looks like growing at about 4000' in the highlands of northern Panama. A local informant called it "cedro" and said that it is a wood that is used to make guitars, so there is a decent chance that it really is a Spanish cedar.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1556/25824392746_809993608b_b.jpg

sequoia
03-16-2016, 07:22 PM
Nope. The California bay laurel is not a cedar. The question is: Does cedar make a better sounding top? Probably. But what looks better on an uke?
B

Hluth
03-17-2016, 04:58 AM
For a tenor, what would you classify as being a shallow body depth? For example, my Hoffmann ML tenor looks shallower than my other tenors, and it measures at 2 3/4 in. My other tenors are around 3 inches. However, my ML tenor has a pretty big sound and is very deep and resonant, making me believe that an instrument's depth and resonant quality may not necessarily be about body depth, and more about soundboard area - does that sound like a somewhat valid hypothesis?

It’s valid to me. If you look at the scale length to body width ratio, you’ll find that the ukulele has a greater ratio (smaller body vs. scale length) than guitars, mandolins and many other stringed instruments. This is what gives the ukulele its traditional “Hawaiian” sound (less sustain and tonal range). I think body depth does affect sound to a lesser degree, especially when extremely thin (more bright) or extremely deep (more boomy). It’s always a struggle to bring out the trebles in a nylon string instrument, so I make my ML’s a little thin to tame bass end a little.