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View Full Version : Local Woods for Tops... Eastern States US



Vic D
08-12-2010, 09:59 AM
The title pretty much says it all but here's the question. What local woods in the eastern US ( I'm in North KY / Cincinnati OH. area) can be used for uke tops. If you've used local woods that are out of the norm such as black locust etc., it would be really cool if you would give a brief rundown of the qualities (tone, strength, workability, volume, aesthetics).

Also, other than maple, what are good local replacements for fret boards and bridges (replacing rosewood and ebony). How about walnut? I use walnut for bridges I'm sure they'd make a nice fret board but are they dense enough to stand the test of time but would there be any adverse affects on tone or volume?

Before anyone says poplar I'm all about it already lol, I'm also into walnut, black locust and maple although I haven't built anything with the black locust and maple yet, I'm just really into watching it dry.

SweetWaterBlue
08-12-2010, 10:59 AM
I believe there is spruce in the Appalachian mountains, and I know there is some fir. I'm not sure how different it is than the Western stuff, but spruce sure works for the violin, guitar, and dulcimer makers for tops.

mzuch
08-12-2010, 11:12 AM
Check out this guitar (http://www.rsmuthguitars.com/model_s15americana.html) built exclusively from wood grown in New York State. I saw one of these at a guitar show in Woodstock and very nearly bought it. Sounds as good as it looks, and I thought it was the most breathtaking in a room full of amazingly beautiful instruments.

From the website: "This guitar features Adirondack Spruce soundboard and bracing, quartersawn black walnut back and sides, butternut/hard maple/black walnut neck, fumed pear fingerboard and bridge, hard maple binding, butternut linings and birdseye maple burlwood accents."

Matt Clara
08-12-2010, 01:46 PM
Screechy Cherry.
;)

Steiner
08-12-2010, 03:53 PM
I'm planning on using Osage Orange for a fretboard and bridge. It's insanely bright yellow orange, so it's not for everyone. I've seen a couple websites describe it as having tonal qualities similar to Brazilian Rosewood. I'm using it for fretboard and bridge because it's supposed to be harder than ebony and it looks crazy.

Steiner
08-12-2010, 03:59 PM
Here's a video of a guitar made with Osage

http://luthiertube.com/mediadetails.php?key=9e1c54fd8775b7236996

Matt Clara
08-12-2010, 04:53 PM
I'm planning on using Osage Orange for a fretboard and bridge. It's insanely bright yellow orange, so it's not for everyone. I've seen a couple websites describe it as having tonal qualities similar to Brazilian Rosewood. I'm using it for fretboard and bridge because it's supposed to be harder than ebony and it looks crazy.

I'm picking up a little osage orange next week. It's not really a midwestern wood, though. I'm thinking of making a Texas Uke out of it. (It'll be really big and more than a little opinionated.)

Sven
08-12-2010, 11:54 PM
"It'll be really big and more than a little opinionated."

Please build the Texas Uke Matt, I'd like to see that!

BobN
08-13-2010, 12:29 PM
Dogwood would work for fretboards. Dogwood was used in the past for making roller skate wheels and spindles for the woolen mills. It is very tough and wears smooth. Holly, hornbeam and persimmon would also work well for fretboards. Although the color is light on these woods for fretboards and may need to be stained to help hide dirt and oil. "Ebonized" maple was used for economy string instruments.

Butternut is very good neck wood. It is light and strong and carves nicely. Working with butternut is like working with cedro. Walnut and ash would also work for necks.

Ash, cherry, birch, locust, walnut would work for back & sides.

Sven
08-13-2010, 11:25 PM
I just finished an all ash uke, as seen in the other thread. It sounds amazingly good, I didn't have really high hopes for the ash soundboard. My conclusion after building 24 ukes is that construction matters at least as much as choice of wood. I won't use walnut as a soundboard again though. And when I used alder I modified my bracing pattern to stiffen it a bit. I really like mono-plank ukes where I get all the wood (except fretboard and lining) from the same piece.

Related example: not everyone loves Brüko ukes, but I've tried Brükos with soundboards of mahogany, maple, birch, alder, cedar, oak, etc. The sound has an unmistakable Brüko character in all of these, and they all sound surprisingly alike. Construction over wood.

Sven

erich@muttcrew.net
08-14-2010, 05:04 AM
Sven, what was the problem with walnut for the soundboard? We've been looking into walnut as an option for the "all dark" uke.

Sven
08-14-2010, 05:52 AM
I don't think it's responsive enough. It eats vibrations and gives very little back. I don't know, someone else might pull it off perfectly. But it won't be me.

olgoat52
08-20-2010, 06:48 AM
Check out this guitar (http://www.rsmuthguitars.com/model_s15americana.html) built exclusively from wood grown in New York State. I saw one of these at a guitar show in Woodstock and very nearly bought it. Sounds as good as it looks, and I thought it was the most breathtaking in a room full of amazingly beautiful instruments.

From the website: "This guitar features Adirondack Spruce soundboard and bracing, quartersawn black walnut back and sides, butternut/hard maple/black walnut neck, fumed pear fingerboard and bridge, hard maple binding, butternut linings and birdseye maple burlwood accents."

I have never worked with Pear wood. I thought it was more of a soft than a hard wood but if they used it for fingerboard and bridge it must be hard enough. I wonder how deep the color gets with the fuming process for the fingerboard. Ie I wonder if extended play would wear through the fumed layer and reveal lighter wood in the fingerboard after a while.

I also didn't care for the neck to headstock join. I would have carried the laminate through the headstock and used an overlay. It just looks confusing with the "V" joint.

ksquine
08-20-2010, 08:47 AM
Walnut makes a great uke! I guess it would make a fine fingerboard too. Cherry is also pretty sweet.