PDA

View Full Version : Difference between Solid Mahogany and Solid Koa?



Pikachuplaystheukulele
12-04-2010, 03:04 PM
I just want this question to get off of my heard. :p I heard that Solid Mahogany sweetens when as it matures is it true? Also, when solid koa matures does the sound change too? :confused:

itsme
12-04-2010, 03:34 PM
I can't address mahogany or koa specifically, but typically solid tops (like spruce or cedar for classical guitars) do tend to "open up" from the continued vibrations and sound better over a period of time.

haolejohn
12-04-2010, 03:41 PM
I just want this question to get off of my heard. :p I heard that Solid Mahogany sweetens when as it matures is it true? Also, when solid koa matures does the sound change too? :confused:

I have both mahogany and koa ukes. One of the best sounding ukes I had was a 6 year old koa uke. Really all solid woods mature as they are played. something to do with tht e vibrations.

JoeOahu
12-04-2010, 07:35 PM
I have both mahogany and koa ukes. One of the best sounding ukes I had was a 6 year old koa uke. Really all solid woods mature as they are played. something to do with tht e vibrations.

Just adding onto you John.

Solid Tops over time will indeed "sweeten" in sound. This is due to the constant vibrations from the strings, which then "open up" the wood, and allow it to resonate fuller and longer as the instrument is played more and more. Being played, however, is key. Just because an instrument is aged, does not constitute an improved sound. It must be subject to vibrations for the wood to develop its sound.

bazmaz
12-04-2010, 11:03 PM
As with guitars, solid tops "may" (note, may) change with time. Whether they sweeten or not is down to your own ears. Some old guitarist folks say they reckon the change can go both ways.

I personally find it to be something of a myth. I think there may be slight changes, but some folks obsess about it so much their brains convince them there are changes that aint really there.

By way of example, I have a solid acoustic guitar (cedar top) that is approaching 20 years old and has been played to death. I cant honestly say it sounds better worse or even different from when it was new - partly because I cant honestly remember exactly how it sounded new so I have no reference point. What I would say is that a change in strings and occasional tweak of the truss rod will have more dramatic change in sound than the wood supposedly opening up will do.

Just my two cents - this sort of post on a guitar forum would put my life at risk!

Ingrate
12-05-2010, 06:06 AM
Solid Tops over time will indeed "sweeten" in sound. This is due to the constant vibrations from the strings, which then "open up" the wood, and allow it to resonate fuller and longer as the instrument is played more and more. Being played, however, is key. Just because an instrument is aged, does not constitute an improved sound. It must be subject to vibrations for the wood to develop its sound.

Is there any actual proof of this statement?

Dane
12-05-2010, 06:15 AM
I aim to find this out with my next purchase, just contact me again in 20 years and we will have our proof!!... or not... if there is no proof

haolejohn
12-05-2010, 06:21 AM
Solid Tops over time will indeed "sweeten" in sound. This is due to the constant vibrations from the strings, which then "open up" the wood, and allow it to resonate fuller and longer as the instrument is played more and more. Being played, however, is key. Just because an instrument is aged, does not constitute an improved sound. It must be subject to vibrations for the wood to develop its sound.

Is there any actual proof of this statement?

Maybe but I'm not a scientist. I remeber reading an article about it and there is a company that made a product that was tested here on UU. It was designed to vibrate the strings or something when you weren't playing your instrument to simulate years of playing. I believe what the concept was is that over years as the instrument is played it causes the wood to become more flexible thus producing more sound quicker or making the top more responsive. Of course I am just throwing this out there as my memory remembers. You can do some research on the topic. I'm too lazy to do it and it isn't that big of a deal to me. So I find no need to "prove" the research. Some of the more technical ukers here might be more inclined to give you a more technical answer but me...I just pretend like I play and know what I am talking about:)

JoeOahu
12-05-2010, 06:54 AM
As with guitars, solid tops "may" (note, may) change with time. Whether they sweeten or not is down to your own ears. Some old guitarist folks say they reckon the change can go both ways.

I personally find it to be something of a myth. I think there may be slight changes, but some folks obsess about it so much their brains convince them there are changes that aint really there.

By way of example, I have a solid acoustic guitar (cedar top) that is approaching 20 years old and has been played to death. I cant honestly say it sounds better worse or even different from when it was new - partly because I cant honestly remember exactly how it sounded new so I have no reference point. What I would say is that a change in strings and occasional tweak of the truss rod will have more dramatic change in sound than the wood supposedly opening up will do.

Just my two cents - this sort of post on a guitar forum would put my life at risk!

You're right! Sweeten in sound might not be the best term, but yes the sound WILL change over time, now improvement is debatable. However, it will cause it to improve in sustain and resonate longer and louder. I already explained why. The tone will achange, but tone is a subjective matter so that is up for you to decide if it is good or not. There are so many factors to the changing tone and all of this is a debatable matter which will always be debate due to personal preference. If you like a static laminate with a good sound by all means buy it, I would too. If you want a tonally dynamic instrument that also sounds good, then buy a solid top.

An example of my own is that I have a Seagull Rustin Entourage CW and my Local Guitar center has two copies of the smae model. Neither of them sound remotely close to my own, and in my honest opinion they do not sound as good. Again subjective, but they just don't have that drawn out resonance or volume like mine. In my own experiences, my solid tops have improved for the better, and I feel they give your instruments a sense of individuality even though they may be the same model as another. I feel the instrument picks up on your own style and really becomes your own.

Solid tops are indeed more expensive, but this should not be confused for them being better. Laminates are cheaper because they simply cheaper to make. They are made out of three pieces of wood usually glued together and so it is much easier to produce. Solid tops is a more extensive process and the work put into them causes them to be more expensive. You can argue again either process, it's a matter of preference. In my own opinion, solid tops just make me happy and so I stand by them. Myth? I'm not so sure about, but a personal preference, for sure.

Heres some links as for proof/explanations:

http://www.seagullguitars.com/seagullstory.htm
http://ezinearticles.com/?Acoustic-Guitars---Laminated-Wood-Versus-Solid-Wood&id=80958

Hope that helps.

OldePhart
12-05-2010, 10:34 AM
Hmmm, I have a picture of a can of worms around here somewhere... :)

You'll find some people who swear up and down that all solid instruments get better with time, others that it's completely mythical. Myself, I think it falls somewhere in between. I know for a fact that it sometimes happens, because I had a cedar-topped dreadnaught guitar that just opened up amazingly in the first few weeks. It was such a transition that it almost seemed like it sounded better every time I played it for the first few weeks. On the other hand, both of the Taylor guitars I've owned have changed little if at all while I owned them, and I've had the current one and played it pretty regularly since 2002.

There's also a lot of disagreement and not much proof on the cause for why some instruments, at least, "open up" as they are played. Some think it's changes in the wood itself, others think it has more to do with construction and bracing and the fact that instruments with solid tops are far more likely to be premium instruments to begin with.

My personal opinion is that some instruments "open up" and others don't. It's quite likely, maybe almost certain, that some instruments actually get worse with age and use. I think some of the idea that "solid instruments get better with age and use" is simply the fact that the majority of the sample of older instruments that we have are around because they had a good "voice" to begin with. Instruments that sucked or got worse with age tended to wind up in basements and attics and the local city dump.

BTW, in the example I cited above, the guitar that "opened up" so amazingly in the first few weeks or months was a fairly inexpensive guitar that started with a voice that was decent, but not stunning, to begin with, while both of the Taylors had amazingly good tone from the beginning.

John