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escee
08-22-2010, 04:35 AM
... than non-figured koa? Just wondering ....
It looks better, that's for sure!

Any thoughts?

Stephen

Kanaka916
08-22-2010, 05:22 AM
My dos centavos, I think it's just eye candy. I don't know if it'll sound better but it may sound different.

thomas
08-22-2010, 05:59 AM
In my very limited building experience the highly figured woods sound rounder and have a more enveloping sound. The straight grain ones seem more direct and seem to have better projection and volume. Depends on the sound you are after, really. I personally like the rounder, enveloping sound when I am playing by myself at home. And again, this is based on the very few instruments I have built.

Take care,
Thomas

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-22-2010, 06:23 AM
I find that the more simple the grain pattern is, the stiffer the wood is likely to be. That's a good thing when choosing a good tone wood. Highly figured wood tends to be "floppy" and somewhat less responsive. The grain in a piece of curly wood looks like a sound wave, or a roller coaster, with as much end grain as straight grain showing. That's what gives it it's unique chatoyancy, but it's not as strong or as stiff as straight grain. Many times a very curly piece of koa, for instance, will have to be slightly thicker to overcome it's lack of strength. A good builder will know how to compensate for it. I think curly wood can sound as good as more plain wood, but seldom, if ever, better. Even the color can give me a clue as to how a piece of koa will sound and I have found that my most lively, responsive koa ukes tend to be lighter in color with minimal figure. Generally, a good tone wood should be strong, stiff and light weight. Unfortunately everyone seems to want the most curly koa available. I always recommend people settle for a balance between form and function when it comes to wood selection.
One caveat, I find that extremely tight fiddle back is quite a bit stiffer than more randomly wider spaced curly koa, such as you'd see in "crotch" or "compression" curl. Of course it's the most expensive as well. These are all generalities of course and there are exceptions to everything I've mentioned, especially when it concerns koa.

KevinV
08-22-2010, 02:31 PM
That was very informative, Chuck. Thanks for the explanation.

Ronnie Aloha
08-22-2010, 03:27 PM
I find that the more simple the grain pattern is, the stiffer the wood is likely to be. That's a good thing when choosing a good tone wood. Highly figured wood tends to be "floppy" and somewhat less responsive. The grain in a piece of curly wood looks like a sound wave, or a roller coaster, with as much end grain as straight grain showing. That's what gives it it's unique chatoyancy, but it's not as strong or as stiff as straight grain. Many times a very curly piece of koa, for instance, will have to be slightly thicker to overcome it's lack of strength. A good builder will know how to compensate for it. I think curly wood can sound as good as more plain wood, but seldom, if ever, better. Even the color can give me a clue as to how a piece of koa will sound and I have found that my most lively, responsive koa ukes tend to be lighter in color with minimal figure. Generally, a good tone wood should be strong, stiff and light weight. Unfortunately everyone seems to want the most curly koa available. I always recommend people settle for a balance between form and function when it comes to wood selection.
One caveat, I find that extremely tight fiddle back is quite a bit stiffer than more randomly wider spaced curly koa, such as you'd see in "crotch" or "compression" curl. Of course it's the most expensive as well. These are all generalities of course and there are exceptions to everything I've mentioned, especially when it concerns koa.

Great information Chuck. And this coming for a builder who uses some of the most curly Koa I've ever seen. Another custom builder had mentioned that, in general, the lighter the color the better the sound.

mm stan
08-22-2010, 07:05 PM
I've always heard the tighter and straighter the grain is the way to go for sound preformance....

Pippin
08-22-2010, 08:23 PM
Chuck, that was a great post. Thanks for the detailed analysis.

escee
08-24-2010, 01:50 AM
I find that the more simple the grain pattern is, the stiffer the wood is likely to be. That's a good thing when choosing a good tone wood. Highly figured wood tends to be "floppy" and somewhat less responsive. The grain in a piece of curly wood looks like a sound wave, or a roller coaster, with as much end grain as straight grain showing. That's what gives it it's unique chatoyancy, but it's not as strong or as stiff as straight grain. Many times a very curly piece of koa, for instance, will have to be slightly thicker to overcome it's lack of strength. A good builder will know how to compensate for it. I think curly wood can sound as good as more plain wood, but seldom, if ever, better. Even the color can give me a clue as to how a piece of koa will sound and I have found that my most lively, responsive koa ukes tend to be lighter in color with minimal figure. Generally, a good tone wood should be strong, stiff and light weight. Unfortunately everyone seems to want the most curly koa available. I always recommend people settle for a balance between form and function when it comes to wood selection.
One caveat, I find that extremely tight fiddle back is quite a bit stiffer than more randomly wider spaced curly koa, such as you'd see in "crotch" or "compression" curl. Of course it's the most expensive as well. These are all generalities of course and there are exceptions to everything I've mentioned, especially when it concerns koa.

That makes sense ... it's just kind of interesting how people usually consider figured woods better, hence the more expensive prices. Thanks for explaining!

Skitzic
08-24-2010, 02:51 AM
That makes sense ... it's just kind of interesting how people usually consider figured woods better, hence the more expensive prices. Thanks for explaining!

They're pretty, so I imagine more people want them which makes it more expensive.

JM2C

lindydanny
08-24-2010, 02:58 AM
Better is a matter of opinion. Like it's been said, you are going to get different sounds on straight versus figured.

If you are running it through an amp with a pickup, your sound is going to depend as much on the grain as it is on the pickup and amp (and their settings). You can color a sound quite a bit even if you are only miked (as opposed to directly plugged in).

Another thing that I haven't seen yet (may have been in a longer post) is the action of laminates opposed to solid woods. In some cases where you get a straighter core in the laminate with a more ornamental veneer on top you can achieve the best of both worlds. Plus, you don't have near as much movement in the wood since the laminate layers will pull against each other to help keep shape. (I'm not saying they can't bend, I'm just saying they have less tendency to.)

I'll take the question a bit further and maybe it should be another thread: What types of sounds come from different woods (maple, koa, mahogany, etc)?

~DB

Sambient
08-24-2010, 03:14 AM
I find that the more simple the grain pattern is, the stiffer the wood is likely to be. That's a good thing when choosing a good tone wood. Highly figured wood tends to be "floppy" and somewhat less responsive. The grain in a piece of curly wood looks like a sound wave, or a roller coaster, with as much end grain as straight grain showing. That's what gives it it's unique chatoyancy, but it's not as strong or as stiff as straight grain. Many times a very curly piece of koa, for instance, will have to be slightly thicker to overcome it's lack of strength. A good builder will know how to compensate for it. I think curly wood can sound as good as more plain wood, but seldom, if ever, better. Even the color can give me a clue as to how a piece of koa will sound and I have found that my most lively, responsive koa ukes tend to be lighter in color with minimal figure. Generally, a good tone wood should be strong, stiff and light weight. Unfortunately everyone seems to want the most curly koa available. I always recommend people settle for a balance between form and function when it comes to wood selection.
One caveat, I find that extremely tight fiddle back is quite a bit stiffer than more randomly wider spaced curly koa, such as you'd see in "crotch" or "compression" curl. Of course it's the most expensive as well. These are all generalities of course and there are exceptions to everything I've mentioned, especially when it concerns koa.

Another example of some of the impossibly great info that can be found on these boards. I feel like this information should be in some sort of a stickied thread that's an info catch-all resource.

ukecantdothat
08-24-2010, 12:51 PM
I find that the more simple the grain pattern is, the stiffer the wood is likely to be. That's a good thing when choosing a good tone wood. Highly figured wood tends to be "floppy" and somewhat less responsive. The grain in a piece of curly wood looks like a sound wave, or a roller coaster, with as much end grain as straight grain showing. That's what gives it it's unique chatoyancy, but it's not as strong or as stiff as straight grain. Many times a very curly piece of koa, for instance, will have to be slightly thicker to overcome it's lack of strength. A good builder will know how to compensate for it. I think curly wood can sound as good as more plain wood, but seldom, if ever, better. Even the color can give me a clue as to how a piece of koa will sound and I have found that my most lively, responsive koa ukes tend to be lighter in color with minimal figure. Generally, a good tone wood should be strong, stiff and light weight. Unfortunately everyone seems to want the most curly koa available. I always recommend people settle for a balance between form and function when it comes to wood selection.
One caveat, I find that extremely tight fiddle back is quite a bit stiffer than more randomly wider spaced curly koa, such as you'd see in "crotch" or "compression" curl. Of course it's the most expensive as well. These are all generalities of course and there are exceptions to everything I've mentioned, especially when it concerns koa.

I was hoping you would weigh in on this, Chuck. Now I have a new word to look up... chatoyancy...

FrankB
04-27-2014, 07:08 AM
Resurrected:

My wife's Martin and my Kamaka are worlds apart in terms of figuring. The Kamaka is without figuring, and I thought that was either really good, or somewhat bad (bad in terms of aesthetics). They don't even look like the same species, but they both sound nice. As a lover of spruce top classical guitars, I've always been suspicious of anything but tight and straight grained tops.
66256

OTOH, there are some really stunning looking sets of Koa coming from top luthiers....and even Mexican Martins.

P.S. Having played both instruments since 7am, I decided to measure their top thickness around the soundhole. Neither has an inlaid rosette, and the Martin is between .5-1mm thicker depending on where the calipers are placed. The Martin might sound tight and bright, but it does equal the Kamaka's volume in a strum. The Kamaka sounds better finger picked, both in tone and volume. The Martin sounds nice when strummed, but its resonance can cause it to sound less defined than the Kamaka. I'm not going to say one is better than the other, but they are certainly different.

janeray1940
04-27-2014, 07:30 AM
I find that the more simple the grain pattern is, the stiffer the wood is likely to be. That's a good thing when choosing a good tone wood. Highly figured wood tends to be "floppy" and somewhat less responsive. The grain in a piece of curly wood looks like a sound wave, or a roller coaster, with as much end grain as straight grain showing. That's what gives it it's unique chatoyancy, but it's not as strong or as stiff as straight grain. Many times a very curly piece of koa, for instance, will have to be slightly thicker to overcome it's lack of strength. A good builder will know how to compensate for it. I think curly wood can sound as good as more plain wood, but seldom, if ever, better. Even the color can give me a clue as to how a piece of koa will sound and I have found that my most lively, responsive koa ukes tend to be lighter in color with minimal figure. Generally, a good tone wood should be strong, stiff and light weight. Unfortunately everyone seems to want the most curly koa available. I always recommend people settle for a balance between form and function when it comes to wood selection.
One caveat, I find that extremely tight fiddle back is quite a bit stiffer than more randomly wider spaced curly koa, such as you'd see in "crotch" or "compression" curl. Of course it's the most expensive as well. These are all generalities of course and there are exceptions to everything I've mentioned, especially when it concerns koa.

Thanks Chuck, this really confirms my experience specific to koa. With the exception of my Ohta-San, all of the Kamakas I own or have owned in the past have been really plain-Jane, straight grain. A couple of times in the past I've tried out Kamakas with upgraded koa and never felt that the sound quite measured up to my plainer ones and have passed on all of them as it never made sense to me to spend more on looks alone. My Ohta-San is moderately figured but still has the sound I like.

And, chatoyancy - awesome word, I can only hope that I have occasion to use it some time :)

janeray1940
04-27-2014, 07:33 AM
The Kamaka is without figuring, and I thought that was either really good, or somewhat bad (bad in terms of aesthetics).

FWIW, the grain of your Kamaka is pretty consistent with those that I have found to sound best. Of the five that I've owned, these are the keepers.

66257

Skinny Money McGee
04-27-2014, 08:23 AM
FWIW, the grain of your Kamaka is pretty consistent with those that I have found to sound best. Of the five that I've owned, these are the keepers.

66257

Nice quiver of K's there Marielle:D

janeray1940
04-27-2014, 08:47 AM
Nice quiver of K's there Marielle:D

Thanks Bruce!

FrankB
04-27-2014, 01:55 PM
FWIW, the grain of your Kamaka is pretty consistent with those that I have found to sound best. Of the five that I've owned, these are the keepers.

66257

I searched this forum for figured Koa before posting today, and saw that your Kamakas were as plain as mine. You called two of them "unsightly", so I figured I was in good company. :D

Figured or not, my Kamaka has really come to life since Friday. There isn't anything about it that I can find fault with. After reading Chuck Moore's comments, the lack of figuring is fine with me. Thanks Chuck! Actually, the cruddy plastic nut and saddle have to go, but there's time for that.

Skinny Money McGee
04-27-2014, 02:12 PM
I searched this forum for figured Koa before posting today, and saw that your Kamakas were as plain as mine. You called two of them "unsightly", so I figured I was in good company. :D

Figured or not, my Kamaka has really come to life since Friday. There isn't anything about it that I can find fault with. After reading Chuck Moore's comments, the lack of figuring is fine with me. Thanks Chuck! Actually, the cruddy plastic nut and saddle have to go, but there's time for that.

Those are not cruddy plastic nut and saddles. They are high quality Tusq brand nut and saddle

FrankB
04-27-2014, 02:29 PM
I don't mind micarta, but this stuff has a melted appearance from nut files:
66272

I have a batch of very dense bone nuts and saddles, and actually enjoy making them. I'll wait a while for the saddle, as I don't want to release the tension on the soundboard just yet. ;)

coolkayaker1
04-27-2014, 02:47 PM
Those are not cruddy plastic nut and saddles. They are high quality Tusq brand nut and saddle

Skinny, aren't Tusq nuts and saddles used by KoAloha on every uke they make, including the ultr-expensive, limited edition Black and Red Label models?

FrankB
04-27-2014, 02:54 PM
Yikes! The Tusq vs bone issue....LOL! All of my guitars and ukes have bone nuts and saddles. I've replaced several that already had bone, when the string spacing wasn't what I wanted, or the bone looked like it had been bleached in gasoline. Having said that, my wife's Martin C1K is really bright already, and there are no plans to replace its micarta nut and saddle.

Ukulele Eddie
04-27-2014, 04:42 PM
And, chatoyancy - awesome word, I can only hope that I have occasion to use it some time :)

If I was going to have another kid, I might use that for a birth name. ;-) (kidding, of course)

Ukulele Eddie
04-27-2014, 04:46 PM
Those are not cruddy plastic nut and saddles. They are high quality Tusq brand nut and saddle

And some excellent luthiers strongly prefer Tusq over bone. Beau Hannam being one case in point.

FrankB
04-27-2014, 05:14 PM
I know pro guitarists that wouldn't be caught dead without a bone nut and saddle. Carnegie Hall classical guitarists....
I'm not an acoustic/electric type, but it's my understanding that under saddle pickups work better with Tusq/micarta/ plastic's more uniform density. I visited a Sam Ash and a Guitar Center this weekend, and it seems 90% of acoustic guitars are actually A/E, so that might explain the widespread use of Tusq.

hawaii 50
04-27-2014, 06:23 PM
I know pro guitarists that wouldn't be caught dead without a bone nut and saddle. Carnegie Hall classical guitarists....
I'm not an acoustic/electric type, but it's my understanding that under saddle pickups work better with Tusq/micarta/ plastic's more uniform density. I visited a Sam Ash and a Guitar Center this weekend, and it seems 90% of acoustic guitars are actually A/E, so that might explain the widespread use of Tusq.



I must of gotten lost...but I thought this thread was about Curly Koa vs Standard Koa...wow :)
it has been said that standard Koa is better for sound...

but I have seen and played at least 10 Moore Bettahs with super curly Koa, and they are the best sounding ukes I have seen..
it is more about the builder...IMO

FrankB
04-28-2014, 01:16 AM
it has been said that standard Koa is better for sound...

but I have seen and played at least 10 Moore Bettahs with super curly Koa, and they are the best sounding ukes I have seen..
it is more about the builder...IMO

That's what Chuck Moore said earlier in the thread (and a few years ago), and it made me feel much better about my straight grained Kamaka. ;)

ichadwick
04-28-2014, 01:38 AM
I...chatoyancy...
Love that word! Thanks, Didn't know it. Now I do. A New Word Day for me!

wickedwahine11
04-28-2014, 02:50 AM
I must of gotten lost...but I thought this thread was about Curly Koa vs Standard Koa...wow :)
it has been said that standard Koa is better for sound...

but I have seen and played at least 10 Moore Bettahs with super curly Koa, and they are the best sounding ukes I have seen..
it is more about the builder...IMO

Ditto. I think I heard someone at KoAloha say they use straighter grain for the same reason.

But yep, Chuck's ukes are some of the best sounding out there - and he often uses crazy curly koa. Check out the Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee performance on his South Seas ukes, or the Peacock or Tiki ukes played by HMS. All sound amazing, all are very curly.

So for a general rule, straight grain may well be preferable, but in the hands of a master artist and luthier, you can get the best of both worlds - eye and ear candy.

hawaii 50
04-28-2014, 06:21 AM
Ditto. I think I heard someone at KoAloha say they use straighter grain for the same reason.

But yep, Chuck's ukes are some of the best sounding out there - and he often uses crazy curly koa. Check out the Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee performance on his South Seas ukes, or the Fairy or Tiki ukes played by HMS. All sound amazing, all are very curly.

So for a general rule, straight grain may well be preferable, but in the hands of a master artist and luthier, you can get the best of both worlds - eye and ear candy.


Haha Staci

I was there when Andrew recorded Sarah and Craig on the 2 Moore Bettah show ukes....they both have some of the nicest Curly Koa I have seen and the sound/tone unreal!!...

and I got to see the ukes you are talking about above... :)
Chuck is the best at what he does....IMO

etudes
07-29-2018, 09:00 AM
I had been trying to find info on this very topic and stumbled into this old thread. Chuck Moore's comments in particular are fascinating.

Kenn2018
07-29-2018, 09:22 AM
Chuck's explanation makes a lot of sense. Very intuitive when I think about it.

Is there any place that explains the different kinds of wood grains. I read many descriptions for different ukuleles and they sometimes contradict, even for the exact same instrument! Curly, quilted, stripey, tiger, etc.

I mean "curly" I think of a spiral shape. Yet in the wood it is more of a wavy pattern. And yet a straight curly vertical grain with a cross more tiger stripe pattern is still called curly.

Quite confusing.

etudes
07-29-2018, 09:54 AM
I see I was confused as well. I used to think of "curly" and "tiger stripe" as being different but this article explains they refer to the same thing- "compression grain perpendicularly crossing the face of a board".

https://www.woodmagazine.com/materials-guide/lumber/wood-figure/curl

Joyful Uke
07-29-2018, 10:47 AM
Thanks for reviving this thread. Very interesting & helpful.

Spicysteve
07-29-2018, 12:27 PM
Excellent link etudes. It provides a simple strait forward explanation.
Appreciate you sharing.