Rotten Wood

Ukecaster

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Anyone heard of rotten wood? Doesn't sound appealing, but paired with a Engelmann top? Maybe!

Rotten Wood.JPG
 

Sharpshin

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I have seen the words "rotten wood" used to describe ukes before...I concluded that "rotten" was intended to translate as "spalted". They could have called it "hurt wood" as my treenware mentor used to refer to any carving wood with a injury or fungus.
Anyway, that is my best guess!
 

Tenor

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Spalted/Rotten... I see it called "Deadwood," also.

Photo: 23" Professional Engelmann Top
51V_2BXN9RbrL_large.jpg
 

bazmaz

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I've seen it used too for spalted wood. Not a fan of spalted woods myself, and certainly not on tops of instruments in solid form which you occasionally see. The black lines are essentially damaged wood through fungus - why you would want that on a soundboard I have no idea..
 

Nickie

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Or maybe the writer was pissed at his boss.
 

dhbailey

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The black lines are essentially damaged wood through fungus - why you would want that on a soundboard I have no idea..

Why would anybody want any wood on a soundboard? Because they either like the sound or they like the appearance (hopefully both at the same time). So the use of spalted wood may originally have been merely an experiment but the sound was something the maker liked. Or it looked very nice and people wanted to buy the instrument. Or both. In any event, by the time the wood is made into a soundboard the fungus has died (so has the wood!) so it's not as if someone with a spalted wood soundboard is potentially introducing harmful fungus into other woods in the house.
 

13down

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It's hilarious that they're calling it "rotten" but I imagine they started doing it because people kept asking what "spalted" meant.

In any case, this is also a sign that it's laminated. Doesn't make a difference how rotten the wood is if it is reinforced by lamination.
 

bazmaz

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Why would anybody want any wood on a soundboard? Because they either like the sound or they like the appearance (hopefully both at the same time). So the use of spalted wood may originally have been merely an experiment but the sound was something the maker liked. Or it looked very nice and people wanted to buy the instrument. Or both. In any event, by the time the wood is made into a soundboard the fungus has died (so has the wood!) so it's not as if someone with a spalted wood soundboard is potentially introducing harmful fungus into other woods in the house.

What I mean is, with solid wood, those black lines are damage in the wood. On a soundboard, tone comes from the wood being structurally sound and the wood fibres doing their job. I discussed spalting with a couple of well known luthiers and they agreed - terrible material for making soundboards. Laminate perhaps, but not as solid tonewood. It's like using a sheet of tonewood with a crack in it (is how one described it to me)
 

anthonyg

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Yes to Spalted. Funny thing is that my favourite Kala ukuleles ARE the Spalted Maple ukuleles. When I mentioned this to a Luthier he said it was probably because most Kala's are overbuilt but the weakness from the rotting Maple means that the top can move despite being overbuilt.

Anthony
 

dhbailey

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What I mean is, with solid wood, those black lines are damage in the wood. On a soundboard, tone comes from the wood being structurally sound and the wood fibres doing their job. I discussed spalting with a couple of well known luthiers and they agreed - terrible material for making soundboards. Laminate perhaps, but not as solid tonewood. It's like using a sheet of tonewood with a crack in it (is how one described it to me)

This I think gets into the whole "laminated vs. solid" discussion. I understand your point about spalted not being good as a solid tonewood. I didn't know it was ever used as a solid tonewood -- I've only seen it used in laminated ukes.
 

Nickie

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Yes, I concur, at least for one instrument. A friend has a "spalted" wood ukulele from Lanakai. Pretty though it is, it is rather dead sounding. She loves it, and it's her only uke, so I would never tell her I don't like its tone.
 

bazmaz

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This I think gets into the whole "laminated vs. solid" discussion. I understand your point about spalted not being good as a solid tonewood. I didn't know it was ever used as a solid tonewood -- I've only seen it used in laminated ukes.

Yes to be fair, most are laminate but every so often a brand pops up with a solid top version. They are the ones I'd run a mile from. Sorry for not being clear.
 

Larry Usselman

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(Reviving this old thread...)

I see that the Asian (Chinese?) builder VTAB is now offering a concert ukulele made from "deadwood", either as all deadwood or with a solid spruce top. I assume from looking at the photos that deadwood is what we normally refer to as spalted wood. Since the all-deadwood instrument is cheaper than the one with the solid spruce top, I'm assuming the deadwood is a laminate, rather than solid. To my mind, using the term deadwood is a poor choice for a musical instrument where the last thing you want is something described as dead! :rolleyes:

https://meivie.com/collections/2017-vtab-ukuleles/products/vtab-24-deadwood-concert-ukulele?variant=36280658130
 

Joe King

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(Reviving this old thread...)

I see that the Asian (Chinese?) builder VTAB is now offering a concert ukulele made from "deadwood", either as all deadwood or with a solid spruce top. I assume from looking at the photos that deadwood is what we normally refer to as spalted wood. Since the all-deadwood instrument is cheaper than the one with the solid spruce top, I'm assuming the deadwood is a laminate, rather than solid. To my mind, using the term deadwood is a poor choice for a musical instrument where the last thing you want is something described as dead! :rolleyes:

https://meivie.com/collections/2017...-deadwood-concert-ukulele?variant=36280658130

I too would run far and fast from any musical instrument with the word "dead" in the description.

Also, I hate the look of spalted anything, but that's just me.

I feel that the language used is sometimes intentionally misleading, and "marketing speak" rather than otherwise meaningful.
 

Croaky Keith

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Not my cup of tea at all! :biglaugh:

I like to see fine grain wood pattern, & little to no bling. ;)
 

kissing

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I think spalted with a good gloss finish gives it an exotic look.
But the problem is, most of these are on inexpensive and dead sounding laminate ukes (Ibanez uses spalted a lot too).
And this sorta makes me assume a spalted top uke would sound a bit dead.

But I guess to someone who isn't all that familiar with woods and instruments, it'll just look pretty - and hence their appeal.
 

Ukecaster

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I think I'll go and finish my breakfast now...a rotten egg and burnt piece of toast :uhoh:
 

bratsche

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I don't know whether I'd really like the look if the spalted pattern was a result of strengthening and tone-enhancing grain lines, or if I've always been put off by it because I knew it was rot/fungus.
:)

bratsche