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View Full Version : What is your favorite wood combination for a tenor?



iDavid
01-11-2014, 03:39 PM
I know the build has more to do the sound than the wood, but I am curious which wood combination people like the best.

Which guitar as such, I am an all Mahogany guy. When it come to ukes, I am not really so sure.

Bumgardner
01-11-2014, 03:47 PM
I love my all Walnut tenor. I also love the old Martin Mahogany tenors.

For guitars I love a Sitka Spruce Top with East Indian Rosewood back and sides for a dreadnought sized guitar.. I have a soft spot as well for all Mahogany guitars in 0 and 00 sizes.

Ukulele Eddie
01-11-2014, 04:33 PM
My Covered Bridge Clara Walnut body, Western Red Cedar top is the sweetest sounding uke I've heard so far. I've heard plenty of all koa and all mahogany by a variety of builders including some very, very high end but haven't yet found one that sounds better to me and few that even sounded as good even though many were much better build quality (and many times the price). I have heard a few all koa's that sounded good to me, but it is probably a small minority of the one's I've heard that really sing sweetly.

A nice sound is a necessary but not sufficient reason for me to buy a uke. Besides sound, the wood's beauty is important to me. So for that, I love koa and will eventually own something special (there is a gorgeous Da Silva for sale but timing sucks for me so I have to pass).

I'm having Poe Strings build a maple body tenor for me. I love the look of highly figured maple. We will probably use a koa top but that is to be finalized.

iDavid
01-11-2014, 04:48 PM
I remember Mya-Moe making a video of different wood combos and they sound remarkable the same. Covered Bridge definitely have their own sound and I like it very much.

UkerDanno
01-11-2014, 04:50 PM
I'd just stick with the Koa you already have!

bborzell
01-11-2014, 04:53 PM
If I come to appreciate the sound quality of an instrument, I rather soon forget about the wood as anything other than the esthetic it offers.

I own an all acacia tenor that is beautifully made, it also looks great. The tone quality never fails to please me. My other tenor is a mango and cedar custom that also sounds great. Where the acacia is a bit understated, the mango/cedar is an absolute esthetic knockout.

After commissioning several instruments where I choose the wood, I have come to believe that most commonly utilized tone woods can be fashioned to create a pleasant tone, but not all tone woods are equal with respect to potential to create a standout and exquisite looking instrument.

iDavid
01-11-2014, 05:13 PM
I'd just stick with the Koa you already have!

I am in the need of a tenor with a Radius Fretboard, so I am on the list for Kinnard. I love the ukes I have, but I have a messed up finger which makes barring across a straight fretboard difficult. Not so bad on a concert, but a problem on tenors.

I decided to sell and/or trade off instruments that I am not using and replace them with ones that will get used.

hilot.h.
01-11-2014, 05:28 PM
Koa,Koa and more Koa.

Dan Uke
01-11-2014, 05:39 PM
I would say Spruce and Milo even though I've never owned one. Of course, the builder is more important

OldePhart
01-11-2014, 06:42 PM
Mahogany is nice but I prefer Koa. HMS has a video where they compare several ukes and I can pick out the Koa / Acacia ones almost 100% from sound alone without looking at the video.

Hippie Dribble
01-11-2014, 07:39 PM
I tend to think that different builders have their own distinct sound, irrespective of the wood used. Similarly, some builders are skilled enough to make typically bright tonewoods sound warm or vice versa. From my experiences the actual wood used is far less significant than the design and the luthier, consequently I would base my choices on pure aesthetics and just make sure the right person was building it for me.

TheCraftedCow
01-11-2014, 08:05 PM
Oregon Myrtle top-bottom-sides-neck- Pistachio fretboard- nut- bridge- built by Les Stansell [url]www.lesstansellguitarsandukuleles.com[url]

kohanmike
01-11-2014, 09:24 PM
Between my Lanikai quilted ash with solid spruce top, Gretsch mahogany with solid quartersawn top, Oscar Schmidt laminate spalted maple, Lanikai solid monkey pod and Hanknn two hole laminate acaciakoa, I like the sound of the acaciakoa the best, with the spalted maple a very close second.

http://www.kohanmike.com/images/ukes5group.jpg

Doc_J
01-12-2014, 02:59 AM
I tend to think that different builders have their own distinct sound, irrespective of the wood used. Similarly, some builders are skilled enough to make typically bright tonewoods sound warm or vice versa. From my experiences the actual wood used is far less significant than the design and the luthier, consequently I would base my choices on pure aesthetics and just make sure the right person was building it for me.

+1:agree:

You could ask the builder to choose for you, letting him use what he think sounds best, and looks good.
Could be a cool surprise.

bborzell
01-12-2014, 05:23 AM
+1:agree:

You could ask the builder to choose for you, letting him use what he think sounds best, and looks good.
Could be a cool surprise.

And, it could also be a surprise for the luthier. It is not unusual for a completed instrument to sound "different" from what the luthier originally expected when he/she first chose the wood.

This building things out of wood thing will always be more art than science.

cigarfan
01-12-2014, 05:52 AM
:agree: It is much more about the builder. Although I can tell the difference between wood combos with the same builder. My current favorite combo ... cedar over walnut.

JamieWG
01-12-2014, 06:57 AM
I don't believe that woods do not play a role and that it's all about the build. I think it's a marriage of the builder and wood that produces the sound of a given instrument, and the wood plays a large role in the outcome. I'm glad that many ukulele builders are catching on to cedar tops. I like what I'm hearing from those instruments, especially the new Kamaka incarnations. Like this one, for example:
http://vimeo.com/81903044

I wish Pono would come out with a Pro Classic line in concert size. I'd pick up a cedar one of those in an instant. I think I read somewhere that it's in the works. (Patience is not my strong suit!)

Kekani
01-12-2014, 09:02 AM
I would say Spruce and Milo even though I've never owned one. Of course, the builder is more important

I would say Milo/Spruce is my "premium" wood combination, and usually reserved for clients that I can do a one on one consultation. MGM brought one into HMS that had inlay on it, and the initial response from the staff was about the inlay. MGM was adamant to point out, "Play it." The inlay wasn't mentioned after that.

My favorite combination that I always seem to go back to is Quilted Maple/Spruce, initially for aesthetics, but one builder commented recently, "You're finally back to building Maple instruments. . . " Most would think it bright, but the one my son made 4 years ago has matured into an instrument that has a sweetness unlike Mahogany, but sweet nevertheless. For some reason, the Curly Maple ones tend to stay a little crisper, but that may be because I don't see any of the curly ones anymore, so I don't know how they've broken in. Of course, there's a thinline Curly Maple (top too) that is in Asia right now, surprised by how that came out (MGM was, and still is the man for that design).

One of my ugliest is Mahoghany. An instrument to play with your eyes closed, but an instrument to play nevertheless. One of those other woods for one on one clients.

Sonically, I appreciate Myrtle/Spruce, and although they've moved when built, not much of a recording market for an instrument made out of cheap wood. If sound were the only intent, I'd put this near the top, right behind Milo/Spruce, and same level with Mahogany (but different, if you know what I mean) and Maple/Spruce.

Yes, its the build as well. More importantly, what the builder does with the wood. ie: If someone wanted an all Maple, Rick Turner is the best. Not sure what magic juice he soaks his wood with, but his ability to generate tone from all kinds of different woods is unreal. I'd like to get a Koa(or Rosewood)/Spruce from Casey Kamaka - that would be tops for me. Not too many of those around (although I have a friends' sitting in my garage right now). His current stuff is definitely what to shoot for. Funny, not too fond of Jakes' sound though, but Bryan Tolentino's, nuff said.

pakhan
01-12-2014, 11:29 AM
Although I am partial to a bit of hot koa on koa action, I believe each builder will have a nice, magic combination (or in the case of a great luthier, many magic combinations).

PhilUSAFRet
01-12-2014, 11:43 AM
I prefer to have a great sounding all solid mahogany, and a great all solid koa. That being said, if I ever had the right rosewood or ebony bodied uke with a premium spruce top, all bets might be off.

GASguy
01-12-2014, 01:19 PM
My personal experience is the builder has more influence on tone than the tone wood used; however across tenor ukes from the same builder use of different tone woods certainly results in tonal differences.

I have a Collings UT2 all figured mahogany and a custom UT2 mahogany with a spruce top; these ukes both sound very different.

The same is true with my Compass Rose tenors, My Kaneli'a tenors and my Kinnard tenors.

While different tone woods used by the same builder absolutely results in differences in tone, I agree with other respondents that the builders style has even more effect than the choice of woods used.

iDavid
01-12-2014, 11:30 PM
I like how Mahogany is not so flashy. I don't think it is ugly, but maybe on the plain side. I look at spruce or cedar tops and they remind my more of guitars, but I say that in a positive way. I am drawn to Padauk as well. I have a flute made of it and it sounds great. It can also be used a weapon, if needed.

consitter
01-12-2014, 11:48 PM
Spuce/ebony. Makes for a heavy instrument, but the projection is unbelievable. I'm not a luthier, so I can't explain why. Maybe one can wade in on why this combination of wood projects so well?

iDavid
01-12-2014, 11:51 PM
Spuce/ebony. Makes for a heavy instrument, but the projection is unbelievable. I'm not a luthier, so I can't explain why. Maybe one can wade in on why this combination of wood projects so well?

I have heard the same about spruce and padauk.

consitter
01-12-2014, 11:59 PM
Spuce/ebony. Makes for a heavy instrument, but the projection is unbelievable. I'm not a luthier, so I can't explain why. Maybe one can wade in on why this combination of wood projects so well?

This one in particular...


http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=55480&d=1372933109

cigarfan
01-13-2014, 09:44 AM
Spuce/ebony. Makes for a heavy instrument, but the projection is unbelievable. I'm not a luthier, so I can't explain why. Maybe one can wade in on why this combination of wood projects so well?

Between the strength to weight ratio of Spruce and the density of Ebony which yields greater reflective qualities that combo makes for incredible volume and projection.