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chuck in ny
11-22-2015, 12:40 PM
the recent cites discussion got me thinking about this. heavy wood species make great instruments, notoriously rosewood, certainly ebony, osage orange, the whole lot of them.
then on the other hand walnut has been used very successfully and walnut is a very medium weight wood.
my feeling is that the normal high density american woods should do quite well, beech, cherry, maple, ash, oak, birch. i don't see why any particular species would be a dog. people here on the east coast talk about koa as an hawaiian version of an oak tree, and koa does well.
the question(s) frame themselves. does ultra high density have an inherent advantage everything else being equal. are there any hardwood species that are real dogs. save the commonsense of it being less durable and a lousy consumer item, would a softwood instrument sound good. why are carbon fiber ukuleles and violins fine instruments while being light weight.
without thinking about it, and just from long tradition and acquaintance and my basic nature and instincts, i would lean towards higher density woods. even walnut is a bit suspect. on the other hand i wouldn't be surprised if the exact opposite is true.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-22-2015, 02:35 PM
Les Stansell makes all port orford cedar (a soft wood usually used for tops) ukes- I think he calls them flamenco ukes???- I've not heard one but I bet they sound great.

Recstar24
11-22-2015, 03:11 PM
Les Stansell makes all port orford cedar (a soft wood usually used for tops) ukes- I think he calls them flamenco ukes???- I've not heard one but I bet they sound great.

I have a tenor from les that is all cypress, which is the calls flamenca Blanca - port orford back and sides and an incense cedar top. It's pretty explosive sounding, very light and quick and the sound just explodes off the strings. It's got great tone but I wouldn't call it a sustain monster.

chuck in ny
11-22-2015, 05:12 PM
recstar 24

could you parse out the sound aspects on this, do the dense woods encourage sustain, and the softwood speaks clearly and with force? violin construction sort of bears that out.
without getting over analytical, i figure if i like a species, it has to bring something to the party. i might know more after i've actually made a bunch of instruments.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-23-2015, 04:10 AM
I have a tenor from les that is all cypress, which is the calls flamenca Blanca - port orford back and sides and an incense cedar top. It's pretty explosive sounding, very light and quick and the sound just explodes off the strings. It's got great tone but I wouldn't call it a sustain monster.

Yer- Flamenco guitars have no sustain as sustain isn't a desirable trait in a flamenco guitar do to that explosive hand strumming they do (which requires super quick attack)- if the guitar has sustain, the tone gets really muddy.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-23-2015, 04:15 AM
recstar 24

could you parse out the sound aspects on this, do the dense woods encourage sustain, and the softwood speaks clearly and with force? violin construction sort of bears that out.
without getting over analytical, i figure if i like a species, it has to bring something to the party. i might know more after i've actually made a bunch of instruments.

Violins are made from maple, a hard wood (with a spruce top)
talking back/sides:
Hard woods give reflection (mostly)
Soft woods absorb (mostly, when used for back/sides)
Soft woods on the top when braces act like hardwoods, ie they generate/reflect sound- (this isn't quite technically correct but it illustrates the outcome).

id advise that instead of asking about the properties of tonewoods, just but some traditional uke tonewoods and build something :)

Recstar24
11-23-2015, 10:51 AM
Yer- Flamenco guitars have no sustain as sustain isn't a desirable trait in a flamenco guitar do to that explosive hand strumming they do (which requires super quick attack)- if the guitar has sustain, the tone gets really muddy.

I would say that is pretty consistent with Les' flamenco-leles. They have solid sustain but nothing like my hoffmann ml tenor for example.

I would also agree with Beau in response to Chuck's request, I am definitely not as equipped as others to give solid wood impressions compared to an expert luthier. What I can say about this particular uke that I have with port orford back and sides and incense cedar top is that its got tons of jangly overtones in the sound, you can literally hear the air vibrating and buzzing, its got that much chime and jangle. At times, it can get pretty intense! Definitely cuts through a large mix though. Les told me that POC has a similar density to mahogany and because of its stiffness he feels it works well as a back and side wood. Incense cedar is also a cypress like POC and alaskan yellow cedar but I would say it is pretty soft just based on how easy I've marked it up. Incense cedar is also known as "pencil cedar" as they use it for making pencils.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-23-2015, 01:00 PM
I think (from memory) that Port Orford cedar rivals Sitka spruce in stiffness.

Also, engelmann is stiffer across the grain then sitka (if i remember my reading correctly).