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Pukulele Pete
09-29-2011, 02:50 AM
I was just wondering what woods? will be used in the future for rosewood and ebony ? If I want an instrument or even a piece of furniture
with these woods , will It have to be made in the country of the woods origin ? Rosewood seems to be the choice for fretboards, I've seen maple on some electric guitars but are all acoustic fretboards made from rosewood? I'm thinking about what has happened to Gibson and wondering what the future of instrument making (and woodworking) will be.

Pete Howlett
09-29-2011, 03:30 AM
Unless someone sensible is involved in international decision making, very bleak...

Michael N.
09-29-2011, 03:43 AM
Lots of possibilities, many that you will find in your own backyard. The making of musical instruments will NOT stop even if every single exotic species of wood were to be banned next week.
History tells us that instruments were being made of local (ie.European) woods long before exotics were being imported. The great historical Violins and Lutes of this world had either very little or (much more frequently) no exotic woods. Ash, Yew, Maple, Spruce, Walnut, Holly and Pear were extensively used.
I can quite happily use any of those woods in place of the exotics. It wouldn't worry me in the slightest. The problem is persuading players to think likewise. But we have all been brought up on a diet of Rosewood and Ebony. As far as Guitar players are concerned, those two are the Holy grail.
Fortunately, the early music and Uke lot seem to be much more accepting of alternatives.

Pete Howlett
09-29-2011, 03:50 AM
So what do you suggest for dark fingerboard material that is close grained, unstained and durable. I use laburnum but it is very hard to source. Bog oak is expensive and still very coarse grained.

Trinimon
09-29-2011, 04:06 AM
Would black walnut, Brazillian or Peruvian walnut or Wenge woods work?

Michael N.
09-29-2011, 04:18 AM
I use laburnum also. It's difficult to source because of the width issue, although if you opt for a centre joint things become much more possible.
Oak is a great alternative although I don't think it's any coarser grained than Rosewood, which does seem to be well accepted as a fingerboard material. I'm not quite sure why fingerboards have to be dark though. I understand that it hides the dirt and the grime but Fender seem to do OK with their Maple, even with steel strings.
Probably the nearest alternative to Ebony is the Bog Oak. What would be nice is if someone started pressure dyeing Oak, for fretboards and bindings. I've dyed Oak by soaking it for weeks in iron acetate and the colour is certainly dark enough, near Black. In fact it turned out darker than some Ebony. Being a metal based chemical reaction also means that it's a pretty permanent dye. Unfortunately it's almost impossible to get it to penetrate much more than 0.2 mm's, which might be problematic.

Pete Howlett
09-29-2011, 04:29 AM
Dark tropical woods are used because they take crisp lines when inlaying and are very durable. Ahem... pay attention Trinimon - we are talking local hardwoods here. Walnut despite it's gorgous looks is 'soft' in comparison to ebony and rosewood and does not make duarble fingerboards. Maple fingerboards have to be lacquered to be durable... There really is no simple answer to this question.

Michael N.
09-29-2011, 04:40 AM
Pete. Why can't we lacquer Maple? or Oak for that matter. Why not oil it, to be renewed each time the strings are changed. Wind instrument players Oil the bore of their instruments on a regular basis. Some of them even cut their own reeds! I just don't see the problem.

Michael Smith
09-29-2011, 04:51 AM
We do have ebony growing in Texas in the form of Texas Ebony. There are a few guys milling it in fairly substantial quantities. I have used Ipe for finger boards. Ipe is harder than ebony. I'm not too wild about the look of Ipe but functions very well and will not wear under usage.

Pete Howlett
09-29-2011, 04:53 AM
Ever lacquered a maple fingerboard? Look at refinishers who cost these out... it is a good look but not a good solution for me. I'll still source Indian Rosewood from India where it is exported as a 'product'. That is the way to control and conserve the harvesting of hardwoods.

Rob-C
09-29-2011, 05:25 AM
I find it's a case of being in the right place at the right time to get your hands on laburnum. I probably have enough in stock for about two dozen fingerboards right now, plus a bit more that's still "green"

I have a tin guitar that has been heavily played for about 9 years. The fretboard is English cherry and it has no more wear than I'd expect to see on a rosewood fretboard of the same age.

Beech is also plenty durable for fretboards (I've done a couple in spalted beech too) but it's difficult to sell, because it's perceived as a "cheap" wood.

IMHO the problem is not one of identifying local woods that are fit for the purpose, the problem is in persuading buyers to turn their backs on the "AAAA+ mastergrade" hype, in favour of more local materials.

BTW if anyone knows where I can get my hands on any more London Plane like this, I'm desperate for some...
http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/297204_2302557077067_1043414509_2684774_1728842523 _n.jpg

UkeforJC
09-29-2011, 06:07 AM
I thought East Indian rosewood is still ok and easy to get.

Is this information not correct?

Pete Howlett
09-29-2011, 06:17 AM
Contact me Rob - I think I have some that I am never going to use... can't make it work for me.

Michael N.
09-29-2011, 06:17 AM
It is, as is Ebony. Very likely to be that way for many, many years to come. I took the question as a 'what if'?

Tudorp
09-29-2011, 06:27 AM
There is a wood I remember as a kid. I can not for the life of me remember what it is. I remember my Dad used to call it "Monkey ???" Maybe it was Monkey heart? or something. I just remember the monkey part of the name. I believe it is prevelant in the south and from what I gathter, grows much like an Acacia or Koa. Maybe more of a hearty bush? I remember it having KILLER thorns that were about and inch up to 2 inches long. The wood from it was very yellow in color, almost like a bright yellow. It was really pretty actually. I remember it, because my dad was a huge wood working hobbiest, and had quite the shop he used to tinker in. We cut one of those huge bushes down, and he took allot of that wood and milled it, and turned them into bowls and plates. They were beautiful, and I wish I still had at least one of those plates he made from that. But, I also remembering, doing a few little craft projects with that wood as a kid, that this stuff was hard as nails. It was the most hardest wood I have ever seen, even at my age now. My dad used to talk about how hard it was too. I remember hearing him talk about it to someone, and me as a kid, took a small chunk of it and tried to bite it. I tried several times to even make a mark in it with my teeth, and it wouldn't even dent or scratch under tooth pressure. I dang near busted my jaw and teeth on that stuff, hahhah.. Anyway.. Does this wook ring a bell with any of you wood pros? I would like to find out more about it..

Tudorp
09-29-2011, 06:32 AM
oh yeah, also that stuff was so tightly grained, i remember dad cussing as he burned up allot of blades cutting it. I remember looking at it when he cut it, and it was as slick as marble, but had the prettiest grain and color to it. (BTW) I also remember my dad cussing that bush out because he ended up having to replace 4 tires on his truck driving around that area we cut it down at. Each tire had several of those thorns in them, and ruined them. I remember pulling a few out of the tires, and they weren't even bent, they were like nails themselves.. hehheh

Michael N.
09-29-2011, 07:00 AM
Osage orange? Don't know if it's that hard though. Never seen it myself. Heard some of the US makers speak highly of it.

Tudorp
09-29-2011, 07:35 AM
I think this is it.. I remember it being very dense and hard. I couldn't even make a dent in it with my teeth as a kid. I also remember the orange looking type of fruit it had. I don't think it is edible, but made pretty good ammo for a kid.. heheh..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bow_wood

http://www.ebay.com/itm/20-Pc-Osage-orange-Pen-Blanks-Very-Nice-Color-kiln-dry-/120782170289?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c1f2da8b1

Yep.. this is the wood I was talking about.. Very dense and close grained. Might make a cool fretboard..

Tudorp
09-29-2011, 07:45 AM
This is what I remember it looking like that my Dad had a boat load of. That stuff made the prettiest plates and bowls..

http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/osage%20orange.htm

ukulian
09-29-2011, 08:30 AM
I'll go along with the Cherry. I've had some success with it. :)

Tarhead
09-29-2011, 10:02 AM
I sure something will be found. Persimmon is a relative of Ebony. I have a billet ready for a fretboard and a few bridges. The sawyer swore he saw sparks off his bandsaw mill when he sliced it up.:D There is the black leather dye/stain if you want it black.
A buddy has a Composite Acoustic Legacy guitar made entirely out of CF which sounds pretty good. I just doesn't smell like a guitar.
There are new Compressed/Heated/Treated/Injected hardwoods and I haven't seen any of those used for instruments.
I think we'll be just fine.

Allen
09-29-2011, 10:02 AM
Australia has lots of contenders for fret board material, as well as tonewoods. Some of the desert hardwoods are so bloody hard that it makes working with ebony a walk in the park. And none of them are on an endangered list.

Pete Howlett
09-29-2011, 10:17 AM
It's what I said - if you live in a country like northern USA or Australia you will have some really interesting dense hardwoods that would do for a fingerboard. Ain't going to happen in the UK. Staining is not an option. The penetration of the dye is so shallow it wearts through really quickly. In fact, I'll save this phrase to paste next time someone suggests it again :)

Michael N.
09-29-2011, 11:10 AM
Unless you have a big Pressure cooker. I just need one fretboard length. Binding length would be even better!

erich@muttcrew.net
09-29-2011, 11:57 AM
The penetration of the dye is so shallow it wearts through really quickly.

+1
We tried dying a piece of beech wood way back but it only went into the very surface of the wood so we decided to ditch that idea.

Michael N.
09-29-2011, 12:45 PM
I've tried lots of experiments with dyeing wood, including soaking some for nearly 2 months. The results were always disappointing. Even standard Maple veneer at 0.6 mm proved difficult to get it to penetrate all the way through and that's with one of the easier woods. I thought that the chemical 'dye' iron acetate, that acts on the natural tannin in the wood, might produce deeper results. It didn't.
Oak, Walnut and Laburnum give a decent Black when treated with iron acetate.
The best results (as I alluded to above) have been with the dye in a Pressure cooker. This was with Pearwood at 1.2 mm thick. The Black dye penetrated all the way through. I have heard of people getting it to go all the way through 2 mm stuff - I think that was with Maple. There are obvious limitations with domestic pressure cookers though and I'm certainly not going to try any dangerous homebrewed concoctions with pressure vessels.
BTW Visually, Pear stained Black gives a very good imitation of Ebony, probably the closest you will get. It's no where near as hard though.
Pressure treated Oak probably has the best potential. As a wood it's reasonably abundant, no problems with size, rich in tannin and it's certainly hard enough.
Having said all that I'm pretty certain that Ebony will be freely available for most of our lifetimes. It might get a bit costly though.

mrhandy
09-29-2011, 01:22 PM
We have rosewood here in Florida... I would guess 90+% of that ends up as mulch. I am working with a company that is trying to change that... My last uke was made with some and I am very pleased, we also have Cuban Mahogany, many varieties of eucalyptus, monkeypod, and many others.

dreamer9
09-29-2011, 05:09 PM
Speaking of woods from Texas and the southwest, Mesquite is almost hard as a rock. Wouldn't that be a good alternative? It's beautiful and dark enough to hide some grime.

joejeweler
09-29-2011, 05:53 PM
Osage orange? Don't know if it's that hard though. Never seen it myself. Heard some of the US makers speak highly of it.

That's also, if my memory is correct,....a wood they used to make long bows out of. Has a quality to bend and hold under tension,......wonder if necks can be made from it that will bend a bit for some relief,......and then hold that "set".

I remember reading Howard Hill used it, and the Native American Indians also,....very durable so a good fretboard wood possibility, although lighter in color.

Liam Ryan
09-29-2011, 08:03 PM
Australia has lots of contenders for fret board material, as well as tonewoods. Some of the desert hardwoods are so bloody hard that it makes working with ebony a walk in the park. And none of them are on an endangered list.

ssshhhhhhhh! Nothing to see here folks. Carry on.

I've got a Canadian yellow cedar tenor ready for finish at the moment with flamed mulga bridge and fretboard. Photos in a couple of weeks.

Pete Howlett
09-29-2011, 10:34 PM
You lucky beggars!

Allen
09-29-2011, 11:23 PM
Yes....I must have got up too early and spoke out of turn. Move along now you lot. Postage would kill ya anyway.

Michael N.
09-29-2011, 11:24 PM
That's also, if my memory is correct,....a wood they used to make long bows out of. Has a quality to bend and hold under tension,......wonder if necks can be made from it that will bend a bit for some relief,......and then hold that "set".

I remember reading Howard Hill used it, and the Native American Indians also,....very durable so a good fretboard wood possibility, although lighter in color.

Osage orange. Not just fingerboards. I'm fairly certain I read that the Guitarmaker Al Carruth has used it for Back/Sides of a Guitar. He rates as high or near to Brazillian Rosewood in terms of tone.

http://www.acguitar.com/article/default.aspx?articleid=6798

BTW. Don't ever argue acoustics with Al. You'll lose.

Rick Turner
10-01-2011, 02:49 PM
"DymondWood" from Rutland Plywood.

Works great.

cclancy
10-01-2011, 06:14 PM
The centre of australia is on fire at the moment - not that the east coast news is telling anyone.
A million hectares up in flames in the last 5 weeks.
A lot of that is grass, deadfinish & witchetty bush.
The rest is mostly Mulga & Gidgee fields - both great fretboard materials.
Still plenty out there though.

Gidgee's my favourite, nice and dark.
Some like the look of Mulga, some don't.
I've got some Desert Oak I'm going to try and get something worthwhile out of. Damn heavy though.
There's also the Ironwoods in the centre & north of australia.

Now if only there was a native spruce on this island....