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freackykit
01-03-2011, 02:21 AM
If this is a subject already answered elsewhere then I apologise in advance, but curious for the comments from you uke makers 'in the know'.

All koa fretboards are here on certain ukes. From a common sense point of view koa doesn't appear the most durable of woods for this purpose...what do you guys think?

Thanks,

Chris

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-03-2011, 04:31 AM
The answer is.........it depends. You are correct, most koa probably isn't usually the best wood to use as fret board material but if chosen correctly it'll be fine. One of the curious things about koa is that it's physical properties are all over the place and it's not hard to find the exact piece of koa to suit any of your needs form fret boards to sound boards, even bracing and necks.....All from the same species of wood. There's lots of koa I would never think about building an ukulele with, but it could be just fine as fret board material. I've built a few all koa ukuleles and when I've done so I've chosen the densest koa I could for the fret board. Some of this is probably harder than the Indian rosewood I use for other fret boards. When I do so, I also saturate the fret board with thin ca. While this may further strengthen it, I do it primarily to fill the pores.
Neither of the woods I mentioned are going to be as durable as either ebony or cocobolo, which I also use.

Allen
01-03-2011, 09:10 AM
The closest relative to Koa is Australian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) (http://www.anzlf.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=88). In fact I've got pieces of both that I need to keep separate and labelled as it can be very difficult to tell them apart at times. And as Chuck said, its not usually the best for fret boards though some pieces can be very hard. Fortunately Australia is blessed with some of the hardest and prettiest woods in the world, and at least for us locals are all reasonably priced and available.

Kekani
01-03-2011, 09:41 PM
From a common sense point of view koa doesn't appear the most durable of woods for this purpose...what do you guys think?

Simply, I think koa is not the best wood for this purpose. Of course, I don't particulary think koa is the best tonewood either, so take that with a grain of salt, if that.

On the other hand, I have a Kamaka and a couple of KoAloha's with Koa fretboards. My Standard Kamaka from 1975 is still holding up very well - course, it doesn't get played like the tenors I have. . .

So, koa for `ukulele (tonewood and fretboards) is how it started, and they're still around after 100 years. If you really think about it, its only 4 nylon strings, traditionally. Of course, now, with wound strings, its a different story, so materials (and science and knowledge) change and adapt.

Unless you play with nails on your left hand and really dig into the fretboard, its not likely you'll see the end of a well selected koa fretboard.

freackykit
01-04-2011, 02:27 AM
Thank you all for your very informative and illuminating replies,

Take care,

Chris

freackykit
01-05-2011, 05:41 AM
Simply, I think koa is not the best wood for this purpose. Of course, I don't particulary think koa is the best tonewood either...



Had to reply and ask...what do you consider the best tonewoods for a uke?

Chris

Kekani
01-05-2011, 05:27 PM
Depends on what sound you're looking for, and for you, who's building it.

First note: I tend to like Spruce tops.

My personal best is Milo. One of my favorites is Maple, especially after it breaks in, but admittedly, Myrtlewood generates a sound that, well, hard to explain. Of course, if you talk to Ramon Camarillo, his African Mahogany (including soundboard) is without question the best one.

I also liked a Rosewood/Spruce that Paul Okami built in the past - I'm waiting for him to do a Milo one (that'll be interesting with his style of build).

Second note: Tenor.

Aaron

zwwizard
01-06-2011, 05:05 AM
Has anyone ever use wood that has been stabized for a fretboard? If so how did it work out?

freackykit
01-07-2011, 02:10 AM
Depends on what sound you're looking for, and for you, who's building it.

First note: I tend to like Spruce tops.

My personal best is Milo. One of my favorites is Maple, especially after it breaks in, but admittedly, Myrtlewood generates a sound that, well, hard to explain. Of course, if you talk to Ramon Camarillo, his African Mahogany (including soundboard) is without question the best one.

I also liked a Rosewood/Spruce that Paul Okami built in the past - I'm waiting for him to do a Milo one (that'll be interesting with his style of build).

Second note: Tenor.

Aaron

Thanks for that...I'm not a builder but good to know I can ask for laymans advice here when needed,

THanks,

Chris

Kekani
01-07-2011, 06:26 AM
Let me respond by again by saying "depends what sound you're looking for".

My Spruce top Tenors are not what most mainland players look for, so the combinations of woods that I (and my clients) prefer are probably not in alignment with anyone looking to play a Standard or Concert.

Aaron

freackykit
01-07-2011, 06:33 AM
Honestly I recognise the spirit in your answers...there is no dogmatism here just sharing...yep I have a spruce top and willow and know about the high attack and like it but of course we all need variety as well...

Got a mahogany as well which is lovely...both are great but of course different...

Thanks for the time in chatting,

Chris



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