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RPA_Ukuleles
09-29-2016, 03:44 AM
Just bought a lovely quarter sawn board of Monkeypod. Enough to build a half dozen sopranos, necks included. Pretty sure it's kiln dried but it is at about 7% mc now. The board rings beautifully.

It's not an often discussed timber here. Anyone have any experience or insights on building with Monkeypod ?

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Kevs-the-name
09-29-2016, 09:01 AM
I have built one dreadnaught concert ukulele and have 2 more sets of Monkeypod available. (One is flat sawn)
As a relatively new builder, I am unable to compare it to other woods as such. To me, all woods are tough to bend etc lol

To be honest though, I really enjoyed this wood. It seamed easy enough to work with and produced a lovely looking and sounding ukulele (in my opinion). Very pleased.

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Tommy Jimmy
09-29-2016, 09:07 AM
Jeffrey Yong gets outstanding results with Monkeypod.

http://www.jeffreyyong.com/

Allen
09-29-2016, 11:55 AM
I've used it for 2 guitars and HATED it. Burned the rest I had. I only tried using it because of Jeffrey Young's work.

The pores are enormous. So finishing is a nightmare. You could pore metho on one side and it would run through the other.

I think it's a hideous color and figure.....and some people are extremely sensitive/allergic to it. I am mildly so, but had a person visit that was severely so and was in a bad way just walking into my work shop on the day I was sanding.

southcoastukes
09-29-2016, 04:50 PM
I've used it for 2 guitars and HATED it. Burned the rest I had. I only tried using it because of Jeffrey Young's work.

The pores are enormous. So finishing is a nightmare. You could pore metho on one side and it would run through the other.

I think it's a hideous color and figure.....and some people are extremely sensitive/allergic to it. I am mildly so, but had a person visit that was severely so and was in a bad way just walking into my work shop on the day I was sanding.

Well!! Truly Amazing! Burned it??

Just goes to show how one man's meat is another man's poison. We've gone to Monkeypod (or Cenizaro as we call it) exclusively. It's a Central American native, though it's such a beautiful ornamental that it's been transplanted over the entire tropical world including East Asia (Jeffrey Yong) and Hawaii.

When I was in furniture manufacture, we shipped containers of it north for close to a decade mixed with pieces made with various other woods. With a couple of hundred folks working it, I never saw or even heard of allergy problems. I wouldn't doubt they could exist for some, though; everybody's allergic to something. While Kamaka built a bunch of budget priced instruments with it back in the ?40's?, in Central America, no one used it for instruments. It was all "negra" - rosewoods and similar for guitar backs and sides with Portuguese/Mexican Cypress for flamencos. The idea of wood that was "in between" those two in density wasn't looked upon with favour. But then apart from Cuatros (Spanish Cedar), there weren't many instruments of ukulele size built in our neck of the woods.

It seemed to me it might be worth a try, and to my ear it has some great tonal qualities, especially for an Ukulele sized instrument. People describe the flavour it gives as roughly between Mahogany and Koa. I don't know much about Koa, so I couldn't say how accurate that is, but what impressed me was that as time went on, it seemed that every instrument we built with Cenizaro had a smooth rich sound that nothing else seemed to produce. And there appears to be a devoted cult following in Hawaii. Even though now none of the "Big K" builders use it, you'll still see custom instruments from individual luthiers show up from time to time. Some of the Hawaiian folks, like me, apparently still love the "monkey flavour".

I've never used it for soundboards - most of what we've built has been on the big end of the scale, and we've liked semi-softwoods there. I'd guess for small sized instruments like a Soprano, it would be very nice as soundboard material as well. Jeffrey uses it for steel strung guitar soundboards.

In this review of Jeffery's guitars, the fellow playing uses that same sort of "smooth, rich" language to describe the sound:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMNCkhrA2Ig

And Jeffrey dominated the competition in a now famous Guild of American Luthiers "blind" sound competition, beating fellows such as Ervin Somogyi with his Monkeypod guitars.

It moves a bit more than some, though not to anything extreme; I know of one manufacturer who built tops and backs dead flat, and there were occasional splits as a result. Any kind of slight dome and you should have no worries. At 7% you should be good to go.

But Allan, you are not alone in hating it. I mentioned it once to David Hurd, and he said that in spite of those old Kamakas, he'd never use it. He hated the pores as well. Fortunately for us, the finish we like to use is friendly to "big giant" pores. We start with some "agua cola", charol (shellac) in suitable colour, and our last topcoats are matte. Give the superficie a final polish, and the dull pores don't stand out.

We never like to fill them all up in the first place, no matter the wood. As the violin makers call it, it's putting the wood "in a straightjacket". Jeffery does it, however, and it's hard to argue with those results. I do think (most importantly) steel strings and the sort of bracing he likely uses make it work for him. But we give it the "high satin" look we like to see and more importantly get that flavour we want in the sound using our native Cenizaro.

Finally, this is a truly sustainable wood. Fast growing, abundant, no restrictions, and not in short supply like a lot of other "guitar woods". That's worth a bit as well.

sequoia
09-29-2016, 07:47 PM
No opinion here. Never worked with it. Below some specs courtesy of the Wood Database. A soft wood. Picture shows knarly pores as discussed.

Common Name(s): Monkeypod, Monkey Pod, Raintree
Scientific Name: Samanea saman
(syn. Albizia saman, Pithecellobium saman)
Distribution: Central and South America
(Also planted/naturalized in many tropical regions of the world)
Tree Size: 100-125 ft (30-38 m) tall, 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 38 lbs/ft3 (600 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .48, .60
Janka Hardness: 900 lbf (4,010 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 9,530 lbf/in2 (65.7 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,149,000 lbf/in2 (7.92 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 5,790 lbf/in2 (39.9 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 2.0%, Tangential: 3.4%, Volumetric: 6.0%, T/R Ratio: 1.

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kohanmike
09-29-2016, 08:47 PM
I love the look a highly grained wood, so when I first saw a Lanikai solid monkey pod cutaway, I bought it. It was a good medium-low level uke, but when the weather got very dry, and before I could finish my humid control display shelf, it cracked at the book match seam from the bridge almost to the tail. I guess that's one of the consequences of highly figured wood. I gifted it to my cousin's son, who was very happy to have such a nice uke and didn't mind the crack at all. I immediately finished the shelf.