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Thread: tone wood

  1. #1

    Default tone wood

    I'm getting started on my first project, a baritone uke.I bought my wood, a set of top,sides and back in black walnut. and for a little extra the vendor included some high grade spruce as an optional top. The walnut for the back is a given and I'd really like to use the walnut for the sound board as well. Is walnut a good choice for tone wood?
    Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Little River, California
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    There are many posts on this very question and there really is no definitive answer. However, generally speaking, an all walnut instrument will sound a little darker and woody than one with a spruce top. This is not necessary a bad thing, but for a first project I would say a spruce top is a better way to go. People tend to overbuild their first efforts and an overbuilt walnut instrument can sound a little... dead? This is not to say that in the right hands walnut can't give an incredible instrument, but in my opinion, it needs an experienced hand and built light. I say go for a spruce top first and do the walnut top on the next one. Good luck! Send pictures!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Massachusetts, USA
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    The best acoustic guitar I ever had was black walnut B&S, with creamy looking Engelmann spruce top. What tone...mmm mmm mmm

  4. #4
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    Look up the density measurements for Koa, Mahogany, Maple and Walnut. Within any one species is a fairly broad range. In terms of density there's a lot of variation and cross over with these woods. People fixate on some of these woods as though every single piece of Koa (for example) has exactly the same properties as the next piece. It's a gross and crude simplification of these woods. Spruce is a little different but it too has a wide range of density. The very heaviest spruce will just about be reaching towards the very lowest limits of those medium density hardwoods. The fact is that any of these woods can and have been be used to make a mighty fine sounding instrument. The job of the instrument maker is to select the piece of wood that he or she deems suitable, to work/thickness it so that it gives the response and tone that he or she desires. It's quite possible to build a dud relatively unresponsive instrument though (I've done it, several times) but it's not the individual name of the particular wood that's going to do that - unless you happen to use a very heavy piece of ebony for the soundboard but then that would be silly.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2009
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    I've made a concert size with a walnut top. Sounds great and its one of my favorites. I wasn't thrilled with the sound at first so I tried a few different strings. I found fluorocarbon strings really brought out the tone I thought it should have. That's just my preference, but I really think people overlook how important strings are in the tone debate
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    957

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    Quote Originally Posted by ksquine View Post
    I've made a concert size with a walnut top. Sounds great and its one of my favorites. I wasn't thrilled with the sound at first so I tried a few different strings. I found fluorocarbon strings really brought out the tone I thought it should have. That's just my preference, but I really think people overlook how important strings are in the tone debate
    That is a really good looking instrument!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    I would go with a spruce instrument for the reason given. A hardwood works for a uke but it would be better thinned. I used walnut for a soundboard back and sides on a guitar, I had to make it thinner than if it was a spruce top to get it to perform. I had to beef up the braces to compensate for the thinner top.

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