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Thread: VIDEO - Royal Blackwood : The most important product in luthiery?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beau Hannam Ukuleles View Post
    Purple heart tree is twice as big as a Gaboon ebony tree.
    Also, purpleheart is roughly twice as stable (ie it shrinks/expands in all directions half as much) as Gaboon ebony
    How long does it take purpleheart to grow, though? How does it not end up on the cites list, too, eventually?

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwizum View Post
    It has real ivory keys on it. I'm sure there was a point in time when some people felt that real ivory keys would always be in demand on pianos and synthetic substitutes (like the acrylic that's on pretty much every piano in the local music shop) would never catch on.
    This is such a good point. Nobody that buys a piano nowadays expects ivory keys. I suspect this will be the case with ebony in the future. But I think it needs to be emphasized that it isn't necessarily the manufacturer of guitars and perhaps ukuleles that push rare, unsustainable woods, it is the customer that demands it. If a customer is going to pay big, big bucks for an instrument they will demand that it has expensive "real" woods. In other words, it is market driven, not manufacturer driven.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    This is such a good point. Nobody that buys a piano nowadays expects ivory keys. I suspect this will be the case with ebony in the future. But I think it needs to be emphasized that it isn't necessarily the manufacturer of guitars and perhaps ukuleles that push rare, unsustainable woods, it is the customer that demands it. If a customer is going to pay big, big bucks for an instrument they will demand that it has expensive "real" woods. In other words, it is market driven, not manufacturer driven.
    I think you're right, and to an extent there will always be people who want the "real" exotic stuff. I guess that's why you can go buy a BR guitar back and side set for two or three grand right now. But I also think that there's at least a potential for the customers to be the ones driving the change. I'm sure that other optimists in other generations before me have said things like this, but I feel like the up and coming customers of today have generally been well trained to understand concepts like sustainability, and to see it as desirable. As I'm writing this, my teenage daughter is sitting across from me chatting with her friends about an organic plant based face wash product, and how it's made in a way that has less ecological impact. Her and her friends aren't hippy dippy tree huggers, they're just normal kids! If I told them I was building a guitar with wood from a tree that's on a protected species list and is nearly extinct, they'd hate my guts no matter how good it sounded. That's just kids today.

    So, I think the tide will turn, whether it's with this product or some future product. When I started building I never would have thought about using an artificial product for a fretboard, and I was certainly never asked to by a customer. Now, I have many choices in products, and customers are asking for them quite often, whether I want to use them or not!

  4. #14

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    Thanks Beau for introducing it, I for sure would like to try it. It got me thinking- I'm lucky enough to have worked with luthiers big and small for the past few decades, and I've noticed a pattern. The smaller, custom builders making a few instruments a year for the most part are truly concerned with the sustainability of their materials. They actually care about how their wood is harvested and where it comes from. I believe this is at least in part passed on by the customer. The larger makers, for the most part, never ask (at least they don't ask me) about sustainability or providence. They care about price, speed, and quantity. I suspect that a viable ebony alternative will be more accepted in the custom instrument world, where it will unfortunately do the least good.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusepo View Post
    I never use endangered woods as a matter of principle, and personally prefer more colourful woods for fingerboards, especially Pear, Apple, London Plane, Olive, etc., however for those who do like darker woods for fingerboards, I'd recommend Ovangkol, Bog Oak, Laburnum, etc..
    I use bog oak as a substitute for ebony and have done so for a number of years. I haven't used an exotic wood for some 5 or 6 years. Most of my instruments (back/sides) are of maple, walnut, figured cherry or cypress.
    Bog oak is expensive, up there with the very best ebony boards but nicer to work. It's open grain structure may put some people off but I fill the pores.
    I've also used Laburnum but sometimes it's not always available in the required width//sizes. I suppose there's no reason why it can't be joined down the centre, perhaps bookmatched.

  6. #16

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    I recently made a fingerboard from some terrified maple I got from an LMI open house sale a couple years ago. It made a very beautiful deep brown fretboard that is almost the color of finger grime so I think it should look good for some time.
    Michael Smith
    Goat Rock Ukulele
    www.goatrockukulele.com

  7. #17
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    Ive baked all sorts of light coloured woods in the oven (DIY Torrification) just wrap it in ali foil and put it in at 200 + degrees C for a couple of hours, they all come out darker than they went in..my pallet ukes have pallet spruce fretboards that look like rosewood...the best thing about it is that it dos not shrink so no sharp fret ends.

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  8. #18
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    As a small scale hobby builder I use the old vinegar and steel wool stain. It works satisfyingly well on all sorts of Australian hardwood.
    My friends call me Titch. I have been known to clown.
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  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael N. View Post
    I use bog oak as a substitute for ebony and have done so for a number of years. I haven't used an exotic wood for some 5 or 6 years. Most of my instruments (back/sides) are of maple, walnut, figured cherry or cypress.
    Bog oak is expensive, up there with the very best ebony boards but nicer to work. It's open grain structure may put some people off but I fill the pores.
    I've also used Laburnum but sometimes it's not always available in the required width//sizes. I suppose there's no reason why it can't be joined down the centre, perhaps bookmatched.
    Hi I have used bog oak on the last two 000.s I made. What do you use to pore fill? Bob

  10. #20
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    It's the pore til thing with bog oak that gives me the hebbie jeebies... Mgurure while not 'black' is a blackwood substitute and is a fine textured brown wood that shows off abalone nicely.

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