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KnowsPickin
05-31-2014, 08:36 AM
I'm debating between using straight grain wood or curly wood for my next instrument top. I will probably be using koa, mango or myrtle for the top wood. All things being equal, is there a tonal difference between the straight grain and the curly grain version of the wood? Is one warmer than the other.

A friend told me that there would be no difference, but that struck me as strange. I was thinking that the straight grain might be a little warmer. It seems that irregular grain in curly wood might break up lower frequencies, resulting in a brighter tone; whereas straight grain would allow warmer tones to resonate better.

I realize that this is a bit of a fuzzy subject. But I was hoping you experienced instrument makers could shed some light for me.

Thanks in advance,
KP

Michael Smith
05-31-2014, 08:26 PM
6728095% of sellers and buyers call flamed wood curly. This example is both curly and flamed. So lets first make sure we are talking about the same thing. Curly where the grain lines are shaped like a snake when cut on the quarter. In my opinion sound wise curly wood is not quite the same as straight grain. However that will only be the case if all other factors such as bracing, thickness, shape, sound hole dimensions, density of that particular piece of wood, neck material, bridge size and weight, bridge patch size, finish material and thickness, type of wood are exactly the same. In practice I don't believe you could tell much difference in an instrument the size of a ukulele. Then of course there is the whole argument of what good sound is which is completely subjective. Some consider the clear distinct tones of a spruce toped rosewood bodied ukulele an abomination.

KnowsPickin
06-01-2014, 03:54 AM
Thanks so much for your response. That is excellent info. Whereas I realize that the differences will be relatively small, can you tell me which would likely be the warmer instrument, straight or curly grain? Based on what I've read, I THINK striped or plain wood would have the advantage in warmth.

Got a guess?

Thanks again.

BlackBearUkes
06-01-2014, 04:36 AM
Thanks so much for your response. That is excellent info. Whereas I realize that the differences will be relatively small, can you tell me which would likely be the warmer instrument, straight or curly grain? Based on what I've read, I THINK striped or plain wood would have the advantage in warmth.

Got a guess?

Thanks again.

If you want to talk about warmth or mellow verus bright, then think about wood species, not grain direction.

Allen
06-01-2014, 11:11 AM
And don't forget about the string choice. All things being equal except for flame or straight grain in the same wood. Your string choice is going to have more effect that the later.