View Full Version : Help Identifying This Wood Species- Big Rusty ResoUke

05-19-2016, 01:32 PM
I'm rebuilding one of Russ Morin's Ipu Reso tenors and can't figure out the wood species he used for the back and sides. The top and head plate are a nice figured walnut but the rest of the body has me baffled. I went thru his wood room yesterday looking for clues and there were some persimmon planks that were close, but not close enough for a match. A little bit of back story: Russ gave me the uke maybe six months before he passed away. Apparently he built the uke (his last reso) in a "chemo-fog" and got the neck on crooked and the finish was some experimental epoxy goop that ended up dull and runny. I removed the neck, realigned it and put in anchors for a bolt-on fit. I also stripped the body and neck, sanded and applied 8 coats of TruOil. This is a really special uke to me and I'm sure it'll be a great player like all Big Rusty ukes. I've just got to figure out what it's made of. Thanks for any help or ideas y'all may have.

05-19-2016, 01:43 PM
Still kinda looks like walnut to me, with the sapwood included. Otherwise, pecan?


05-19-2016, 01:47 PM
Still kinda looks like walnut to me, with the sapwood included. Otherwise, pecan?


05-19-2016, 08:05 PM
I also thought "pecan" when I first saw the picture, but that doesn't mean it is pecan. Identifying woods can be difficult even by experts. Could be persimmon too... Walnut I don't see... Hard to tell. Nice stuff anyway. Does it matter?

05-20-2016, 01:31 AM
Thanks for the replies. In the end no, it doesn't matter. It's just really got me curious, as Russ used lots of unconventional reclaimed and locally salvaged woods. I don't see walnut either, or at least any similarity to walnut I've worked with. His wood room is stacked with local walnut, sycamore, pecan, mimosa, persimmon, maple, myrtle, ash, cherry, fir and dogwood as well as the more traditional woods, so there are lots of possibilities.

Michael N.
05-20-2016, 04:22 AM
Looks like AB Walnut to my eyes, although it is true that identifying wood with just a picture is hardly definitive. The sap wood also looks typical of AB Walnut sapwood.
Personally I like to put a bit of red into the varnish with AB Walnut. Just warms it up a touch. One of my favourite woods to use, always seems to behave when bending sides. Figured stuff can be attractive, if you like that kind of thing.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
05-20-2016, 06:14 AM
I've seen BRW that light before, but i dont think this is BRW.
The best way i find to identify woods is the smell as that is always the same.

05-20-2016, 07:54 AM
I immediately thought black walnut when I saw the photos. I've been making a few furniture pieces with black walnut over the last year or so, and while a lot of black walnut is darker in color, I have had some boards that are lighter and look very near your uke body. The sap wood on the sides gives a nice contrast too. Great ukulele!


05-20-2016, 09:32 AM
Mystery solved! I went way back in Russ's blog and got a positive ID. It's air dried black walnut. Thanks for all the comments.