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View Full Version : Does difference in wood color make a difference?



ChooChooTran
04-10-2012, 06:37 PM
What would the difference between a golden mahogany and darkish red mahogany be? Which is generally preferred?

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strumsilly
04-11-2012, 01:47 AM
I think the darker mahogany shows the grain more and is preferred by me. generally, I couldn't say.

Liam Ryan
04-11-2012, 02:00 AM
Might make a difference which shirt to wear with it........

hoosierhiver
04-11-2012, 04:27 AM
The wood is sometimes stained to bring out the beauty.

OldePhart
04-11-2012, 08:29 AM
If you're talking about sonically I don't think the color of a particular sample of wood is a very good predictor of sound. If it is it's far to subtle for me to notice.

John

TheCraftedCow
04-11-2012, 08:41 AM
There is a possibility that a colour difference might indicate a different species of wood which is called (for instance) mahogany. It might even be the same tree, but one section may be heart wood and the other an outer layer which I've heard called sapwood. Does it have different tonal properties depending on its position within the tree or its species? I think your question might just generate more questions than a definitive answer. It will be interesting to see responses. Thank you for asking it.

perep
04-11-2012, 09:24 AM
There is a possibility that a colour difference might indicate a different species of wood which is called (for instance) mahogany. It might even be the same tree, but one section may be heart wood and the other an outer layer which I've heard called sapwood. Does it have different tonal properties depending on its position within the tree or its species? I think your question might just generate more questions than a definitive answer. It will be interesting to see responses. Thank you for asking it.

Yes I agree that this is a great question, maybe some of our famous luthiers can answer this as they deal with diff woods all the time, mostly koa

saltytri
04-11-2012, 10:06 AM
Isn't this a laminated uke? If so, the tonal properties of the top layer are inconsequential. Liam is correct - the color matters only if the uke is a fashion accessory.

What seems to to going on as expressed in two, separate threads is that the OP doesn't like the unit he received. If the aesthetics aren't right, send it back!

pakhan
04-11-2012, 01:21 PM
For mahogany, that colour difference is usually due to stain vs unstained mahogany.

Natural mahogany has a golden almost koa look to it but it has been traditionally stained to a deeper reddish colour- probably to get it to a slightly closer match to the darker woods it is often pared with or, to resemble the slightly darker cuban mahogany. Please correct me if I am wrong-= as that is what I have gathered over the years.

OldePhart
04-11-2012, 01:31 PM
For mahogany, that colour difference is usually due to stain vs unstained mahogany.

Natural mahogany has a golden almost koa look to it but it has been traditionally stained to a deeper reddish colour- probably to get it to a slightly closer match to the darker woods it is often pared with or, to resemble the slightly darker cuban mahogany. Please correct me if I am wrong-= as that is what I have gathered over the years.

Close. There are several species that are "mahogany." In years past most of the mahogany came out of South America, like most of the Rosewood of that time, and those species tended to be very dark and red. Most of the mahogany now comes from India and Asia (I guess technically India is considered part of Asia?) and those species tend to be lighter and less red. So, often they are dyed to resemble the traditional mahogany of the past.

Also, mahogany tends to darken and even redden a little with exposure to air. So old Martin ukes and what have you tend to be very dark and reddish and often modern mahogany is stained to look more "Martin like."

At the end of the day what matters is tone (unless you're one of those people inclined to carry a miniature dog around in a purse) and I've not seen any evidence that darker wood sounds any better than more golden - other than that an old Martin uke has had decades to season.

And, as someone has pointed out, the uke in question is laminated so color has absolutely no bearing on tone - there is no telling what is under the veneer - it could be spruce or pine or packing crates. :)

John

pakhan
04-11-2012, 04:50 PM
Hi John,

For true mahogany we'd be talking s.macrophylia vs. s.mahogani as in Honduran/Bid leaf vs. Cuban. For the others, sapelle, khaya, nato are not true mahoganies.

I believe the old mahogany from Martin was still stained- I'll need to dig up some photos but the old -28 series had a dark stain on the neck, as the lighter stain was a special order (the most famous being Perry Betchel's) also the old 30-40's D-18s with the mahogany backs were still stained dark. Have seen some stripped backs of these and the mahogany really is much lighter.

Having said that, Cuban tends to be more red, consistently. Also the old growth mahoganies tend to have a darker shade.

So the truth is probably somewhere in between, I think!

hmgberg
04-11-2012, 05:41 PM
I believe I responded to another post you made about this ukulele, wondering whether you had gotten the wrong one. The color of mahogany varies, not to the extent that kos does perhaps, but it does. Like others have said, many of the older mahogany ukes are darker because a darker colored grain filler was used. Sometimes the wood may also have been stained, in which case it can appear almost black - the Gibson Uke-3 is such an example. But, it's all mahogany, if indeed it is mahogany and not something passed as mahogany as pakhan writes. Sapele, for example is related to mahogany, so some people refer to it as mahogany, while others think it is not a true mahogany. The same thing happens with koa. Koa is a wood native to Hawaii. A number of ukes sold as koa ukes are actually made of another wood of the same Acacia family. I mention sapele, though, specifically because when I was looking over the Kala site to answer your other post, I noticed some of the mahogany series that appear to be sapele. Most, although not all, of the sapele I've seen has ribbon-like stripes. The Kala site seems to be down now so I cannot provide you with a link.

All of this information may or may not be interesting to you. You do seem to be worried that you did not get the right ukulele and that yours may be inferior. Stop worrying. As others have said, with a laminated ukulele the tone would not be affected. The only difference between the one as advertised and the one you got, with regard to the mahogany, is in how they look. Personally, I like the look of the one you got better. Enjoy your ukulele.