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View Full Version : Which tonewood do you like. Hawaiian Koa, Curly hawaiian Mango, Ziricote, pheaseant



tangimango
07-14-2014, 02:17 PM
i personally like the sound and look of hawaiian Curly mango.
but man pheasant wood looks really really nice too.
my friend will order a custom ukulele soon and that was his choices.

just curious what others thought of these tonewoods.

kohanmike
07-14-2014, 03:58 PM
I really like the look of natural curly maple, it's supposed to match sound very well with Indian rosewood, I have a custom with those woods coming this week.

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/BWA gypsy done 5.jpg

Doc_J
07-14-2014, 04:22 PM
i personally like the sound and look of hawaiian Curly mango.
but man pheasant wood looks really really nice too.
my friend will order a custom ukulele soon and that was his choices.

just curious what others thought of these tonewoods.

What does your friend's luthier recommend ?

Cornfield
07-14-2014, 04:22 PM
Mya Moe is building a tenor resonator out of quilted maple for me. Lil Rev has one that is a stunner.
I like koa, i have 3 Kamakas. I also like tasmanian blackwod.
The Blackwood makes exceptional tone in the hands of a skilled luthier.

UkerDanno
07-14-2014, 05:22 PM
I'm traditional, Koa or Mahogany...

Ukejenny
07-14-2014, 05:31 PM
I have acacia, cedar/rosewood and quarter sawn mahogany. I love all three of them and for different reasons, as each instrument has it's own unique sound. For pure sound satisfaction, I'd say my choice would be the cedar/rosewood.

pakhan
07-14-2014, 06:04 PM
Each of the tonewoods you like have a beauty of their own and also impart a different colour to the tone of the instrument. But this is very luthier dependent- what 1 builder achieves with one tonewood, another may not. Best is to discuss with your builder!

Rick Turner
07-14-2014, 06:35 PM
My favorite has long been Ligna mane...aka Morning wood. It's getting more and more rare, but I found some last week.

RAB11
07-14-2014, 08:02 PM
My favorite has long been Ligna mane...aka Morning wood. It's getting more and more rare, but I found some last week.

:rofl:

Looks wise I love spalted maple, but I haven't tried nearly enough ukes (especially solid ones) to tell you what sound I like yet.

hawaii 50
07-14-2014, 08:12 PM
My favorite has long been Ligna mane...aka Morning wood. It's getting more and more rare, but I found some last week.



Haha...good one Rick....i think....:)

bborzell
07-14-2014, 08:28 PM
Mya Moe is building a tenor resonator out of curly maple for me. Lil Rev has one that is a stunner.
I like koa, i have 3 Kamakas. I also like tasmanian blackwod.
The Blackwood makes exceptional tone in the hands of a skilled luthier.

My experience with reso guitars leads me to believe that wood choice for a reso is more esthetic than tone affecting. Both spider and biscuit cones pretty much dictate the tonal quality of a reso. In fact, both my production 6 string square neck spider cone as well as my pricey custom 8 string square neck spider were built with laminates. Now that I think about it, my National Estralita biscuit cone is also laminate.

Not to suggest that you will not end up with a beautiful and great sounding reso, just that the wood won't be the primary determinant of the sound.

Cornfield
07-15-2014, 01:42 AM
My experience with reso guitars leads me to believe that wood choice for a reso is more esthetic than tone affecting. Both spider and biscuit cones pretty much dictate the tonal quality of a reso. In fact, both my production 6 string square neck spider cone as well as my pricey custom 8 string square neck spider were built with laminates. Now that I think about it, my National Estralita biscuit cone is also laminate.

Not to suggest that you will not end up with a beautiful and great sounding reso, just that the wood won't be the primary determinant of the sound.

I agree. But that maple is beautiful. I mistyped yesterday, it is actually quilted maple. My other resonator is a big rusty that looks like it was hand hacked out of home depot plywood. It sounds great and always draws attention when I take it out in public.

bborzell
07-15-2014, 03:08 AM
I agree. But that maple is beautiful. I mistyped yesterday, it is actually quilted maple. My other resonator is a big rusty that looks like it was hand hacked out of home depot plywood. It sounds great and always draws attention when I take it out in public.

Yup. Both quilted and Birdseye maple are among the most stunning woods to grace stringed instruments. I owned a Birdseye Tacoma mandolin for nearly 10 years and then the finish began to fail. Tacoma had, at that time, just been bought out by Fender who put the brand on the shelf. Fender agreed to honor Tacoma's lifetime warranty, but after having my instrument in their TN custom repair shop for nearly 5 months, decided to restructure and closed the shop. Since they had no mandolins in the price range of my Tacoma and were now unable to refinish mine, we negotiated and they sent me a new $1,200 Princeton tube amp in trade. Not as pretty as my maple Tacoma, but sometimes you gotta change with the times.

fretie
07-15-2014, 10:38 AM
I'm a big fan of koa but coming a close second, for me, is mango....delicious sounds for my ears!

SailingUke
07-15-2014, 11:42 AM
My favorite has long been Ligna mane...aka Morning wood. It's getting more and more rare, but I found some last week.

Nah, too easy.

billten
07-15-2014, 12:04 PM
Tenor - rosewood and spruce
Concert and soprano - rosewood and cedar

I like the more complex guitar sound from these woods than the traditional koa ukes i have played. YMMV

pakhan
07-15-2014, 02:04 PM
My favorite has long been Ligna mane...aka Morning wood. It's getting more and more rare, but I found some last week.

Nice one Rick.

Ukejenny
07-15-2014, 02:26 PM
My favorite has long been Ligna mane...aka Morning wood. It's getting more and more rare, but I found some last week.

And will you be posting photos of that particular build as it progresses? :stop:

warndt
07-15-2014, 03:14 PM
I really like the look and tone of pheasantwood. I recently sold my Kepasa pheasantwood tenor here on UU...that was the hardest sell I ever had to make, as it was my best sounding uke.


It's been so long, I forgot what morning wood looks like...:o

coolkayaker1
07-15-2014, 05:37 PM
My favorite has long been Ligna mane...aka Morning wood. It's getting more and more rare, but I found some last week.

I'm guessing that Ligna Mane has less movement than most other woods and thus an easier build, Rick?

I once asked a luthier for a ukulele made from Ligna Noche, or Nightwood, but when I showed him my curly wood set, he said it would be too floppy for a solid build. He said he would have to add extra bracing and animal glue it directly to my topwood; I informed him that I was raised in a God-loving home and the mere mention of his unorthodox bracing made me sick, thank you. He went on to say that, since I stored my wood in a very humid environment, it would likely shrink once built. He taught me that shrinkage might adversely affect playability, and we certainly want to avoid that. He said my set seemed small to him, perhaps he could manage a sopranino from it; I told him that I always thought of it as a tenor set, if not a small baritone. He laughed. In any event, he recommended that I air it out for a while, let it breathe, which I did since he's the expert. If that'll stiffen it up and avoid bellying, I'm all for it.

In the meantime, I begged him for anything that might work right away with my low G string. I was desperate for something with a tight waist and perhaps a side sound hole. I hate conflict, so I asked for a zero-fret model and to avoid friction pegs.

He told me he could do all that, but that I should go with Bubinga. I asked him why, and he said that it's because he likes to say Bubinga. Boob-ing-a. He gave me a little pronounciation lesson and insisted that I hold my mouth a certain way when I said it. He assured me that it would have a sweet voice, a thin neck, would play fast and loose, and that I'd want to strum it all day and night. The luthier said that he does a light application of Tru-oil on the body, but his signature piece-de-resistance is a French polish for the headstock. That sounded irresistible! He said I'd fall in love with it once it opened up and I put a strap on it.

He cautioned that it would cost a lot of dough, so I asked that he include a genuine fur-lined case. He declined, saying that foam-lined is nearly as real, plenty adequate, and gives almost the same feel.

Almost the same feel! I said to him: "What are you? Some kind of pervert?"

stevepetergal
07-16-2014, 12:59 AM
I'm guessing that Ligna Mane has less movement than most other woods and thus an easier build, Rick?

I hear there's less movement as the tree ages. (That's right, I hear. Not a problem in my arboretum.)

bborzell
07-16-2014, 03:50 AM
Doesn't Louie C.K. Have a joke about a bag of Ligna Mane? "I have questions."

molokinirum
07-16-2014, 04:46 AM
Easy....Hawaiian Koa (with some curl)

coolkayaker1
07-16-2014, 11:17 AM
Of those four, Hawaiian Koa.

Of any wood, mahogany. Especially Cuban mahogany.

Best of luck to your friend who's ordering the custom, T.

Pueo
07-16-2014, 12:44 PM
The best-sounding ukuleles I have are made of either milo, koa, or maple.
Of course, it likely has more to do with the quality of the ukulele itself more than the wood of which it is crafted.
I have noticed that my Milo ukuleles are particularly loud and that Milo is also the wood of choice for a traditional to`ere or Tahitian log drum - that may have something to do with it.

Nickie
07-16-2014, 03:16 PM
I LOVE my nice mellow mahogany uke. And my beautiful bright koa uke. I tried a mahogany uke with a spruce top....WOW, it was loud with a lovely tone. I think I'd like to try a solid maple uke someday, maybe trimmed with koa or mahogany. Tammy's main guitar is maple, and OMG it sings, and is gorgeous.

armchair_spaceman
07-16-2014, 08:25 PM
Koa or Tassie Blackwood - I guess it's members of the Acacia family do it for me.

Coconut Willie
07-17-2014, 07:18 AM
I will take Hawaiian Koa all the time!!

maclay
07-17-2014, 09:30 AM
Personally I'm a Rosewood / Spruce kind of guy. Out of the woods you mentioned, I like Ziricote - it can make for a very powerful (loud) instrument. It requires a little extra care from the owner though. It has more tangential movement than other woods, and is more susceptible to cracking. If kept in an environment with reasonable humidity it shouldn't be a problem. Also very beautiful!

stringy
07-17-2014, 10:21 AM
Spruce as a soundboard for sure. Koa for beauty only. But since I don't buy to look at them on the wall I am no longer interested in it except for furniture (which unfortunately I can't afford anyway).

Cedar soundboards are my second choice. Some of the higher end mahogany sounds good too. But it is Spruce that is my number one for sound.

stevejfc
07-17-2014, 02:36 PM
In my opinion, absolutely nothing compares to a walnut Compass Rose.....................smoothest sound ever

coolkayaker1
07-17-2014, 02:59 PM
In my opinion, absolutely nothing compares to a walnut Compass Rose.....................smoothest sound ever

Was that on OPs choice list?

Rick Turner
07-17-2014, 03:06 PM
We just strung up a all sycamore bodied concert yesterday, and I'm always amazed at how that wood loves re-entrant tuning. The tap tone on the stuff is nothing to write home about, yet it makes for wonderful sounding instruments.

Dan Uke
07-17-2014, 03:33 PM
i personally like the sound and look of hawaiian Curly mango.
but man pheasant wood looks really really nice too.
my friend will order a custom ukulele soon and that was his choices.

just curious what others thought of these tonewoods.

Since I only have experience with Hawaiian Koa out of the list of woods you're asking, I think it's sweet and nothing looks as nice.

It's diverged from what's your opinion on these woods to what's your favorite wood. hahaha

coolkayaker1
07-17-2014, 06:42 PM
No question, Koa is stunning.

If only my eyes were ears; in a blind sound test, I'd likely not choose Koa over spruce, mahogany, or several other woods (ducks from flying tomatoes)

Rick Turner
07-17-2014, 06:59 PM
CoolPaddle, I agree.

My "go to" uke is ridiculous, over the top koa. It sounds fine, especially when I play it well :-), but it's not the best sounding uke we've made (my ears, my taste...). That would be...unfortunately...Adirondack spruce over Brazilian rosewood...yeah, the classic golden era Martin guitar formula. At least I don't insist upon elephant ivory for nut and saddle, though semi-fossilized mammoth tusk is pretty nice. And then there's oosik. Look it up...

pakhan
07-18-2014, 12:31 AM
Lignum Mane Odobenus rosmaru, Rick?

stevepetergal
07-18-2014, 01:43 AM
I like Koa very much, for looks and sound. Once in a while we in the minority like to be heard, just to make things more difficult.

hawaii 50
07-18-2014, 06:46 AM
CoolPaddle, I agree.

My "go to" uke is ridiculous, over the top koa. It sounds fine, especially when I play it well :-), but it's not the best sounding uke we've made (my ears, my taste...). That would be...unfortunately...Adirondack spruce over Brazilian rosewood...yeah, the classic golden era Martin guitar formula. At least I don't insist upon elephant ivory for nut and saddle, though semi-fossilized mammoth tusk is pretty nice. And then there's oosik. Look it up...



Yes Rick...I agree with what you say..I have a CR with some the same ridiculous, over the top Koa like yours...but I like softer tops for tone....Spruce or Redwood

but I think if you are looking for a certain kind of tone ....the builders are the most important.....IMO

coolkayaker1
07-18-2014, 07:06 AM
Yes Rick...I agree with what you say..I have a CR with some the same ridiculous, over the top Koa like yours...but I like softer tops for tone....Spruce or Redwood

but I think if you are looking for a certain kind of tone ....the builders are the most important.....IMO

Well, that brings up a good point, Len; a question for Rick:

in brief (I'm not a luthier, so I might not get details anyhow...lol), Rick, do you consciously do something different when making a Koa topped instrument (bracing, finish, thickness of top, etc.) to give it a little more "snap"?

Or is it just Koa is Koa, and that's the "warm" (one may insert their own word here based on their degree of disdain for Koa tops: muted, dead, diminished, bass, narrow toned, etc. lol j/k) way it is, so they are made with the same specs as spruce, mahogany, etc.?

hawaii 50
07-18-2014, 07:34 AM
Well, that brings up a good point, Len; a question for Rick:

in brief (I'm not a luthier, so I might not get details anyhow...lol), Rick, do you consciously do something different when making a Koa topped instrument (bracing, finish, thickness of top, etc.) to give it a little more "snap"?

Or is it just Koa is Koa, and that's the "warm" (one may insert their own word here based on their degree of disdain for Koa tops: muted, dead, diminished, bass, narrow toned, etc. lol j/k) way it is, so they are made with the same specs as spruce, mahogany, etc.?


Hey Cool...I think each builder who is worth their price...tap tones each ind. top....so each uke top has slightly different bracing and each top has different thickness to it....
I think it takes years to learn that part of building...to me one of the more important parts to getting a certain type of tone....

but like you I am only guessing....
some all Koa ukes built by really good builders are sweet...so again I think the builder has a lot to do with tone....

but in general for me I like a softer wood for the tops...

Ukulele Eddie
07-18-2014, 07:44 AM
some all Koa ukes built by really good builders are sweet...so again I think the builder has a lot to do with tone....

but in general for me I like a softer wood for the tops...

Like many have posted in this thread, I love the look of Koa but have often been underwhelmed by the sound. But there's some guy named Chuck something or other who builds almost exclusively in Koa and his ukes are sort of popular because they're more better than most others. ;-)

hawaii 50
07-18-2014, 07:50 AM
Like many have posted in this thread, I love the look of Koa but have often been underwhelmed by the sound. But there's some guy named Chuck something or other who builds almost exclusively in Koa and his ukes are sort of popular because they're more better than most others. ;-)

Chuck's all Koa ukes the best I have heard....pretty sure he tap tones and adjust his bracing and thickness of this Koa tops....and he done it for a long time...best results I have heard...

btw my MB is Milo/Spruce.....
so not all MBs built with Koa...;;;:)

Rick Turner
07-20-2014, 07:39 PM
I think I've finally figured out the next one I'm going to build for myself...

A 16 fret-to-the-body, long scale Bb "super tenor" in milo and giant sequoia. Basically a 14 fret tenor with the neck lengthened by two frets worth. I may capo it at 2 for a lot of "normal" stuff, but then I can drop down a whole tone. I've even considered putting in two sets of LED neck side dots with a switch for Bb tuning or C tuning. Why? Because I can...and it will be funny...and perhaps even useful. The switch could even be automatically tripped by the capo being on or off.