My first cheddar soundboard (Full Version)

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ernandez R -> My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 19 2021 5:27:48)

My first cheddar soundboard.

Ha ha haa, darn spell check. Cedar, western red, not going to try for the Latin ;)

So, I'm blowing dust off one if my recently rosetted tops and found a flaw. Looks like a wind check, of course I look at is twin and its there in that top as well; buzz kill. I had cut these out a couple weeks ago and noted two pairs were a lot better tonally then the two other sets. I didn't dig into it as I popped my last band saw mid cut and hadn't been able to compleat resawing the two wedges. Had thought the better ones were just a little thicker or something like that. That's what I get for not spending more time tapping them.

I'm dedicated to using locally harvested woods but I'm up against a wall at the moment and thought to myself, screw it, let's get a couple Cedar tops for this pair of Flamenca I'm working up.

There is an Alaskan tone wood supplier who gathers only salvaged wood and they have both yellow and red cedar thought I wood order up a few sets of the red. Alaska Specialty Woods:

I have a general idea about what is good spruce but what about cedar for a Flamenco guitar? Densities vs spruce? Grain pitch per inch? Whatever else I might not know of when sourcing?



RobF -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 23 2021 1:56:16)

I don’t have a lot to say about the cedar save it doesn’t hurt to work it a couple or few tenths of a millimetre thicker than you would a similar piece of spruce. It’ll make a nice guitar, cedar is great wood.

But...and the reason I’m posting... if the ‘yellow cedar’ your Alaskan supplier is salvaging is Nootka Cypress (aka. Alaskan Yellow Cedar) I highly recommend you grab some of it. While it’s often sold as a top wood for steel string guitars, it’s an excellent tone wood for the back and sides of Flamenco Blancas. If you can get your supplier to rip some sides for you so he can give you some back and side sets, I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.

Echi -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 23 2021 9:51:16)

Cedar is an excellent tonewood (no need to say it) but naturally tends for a guitar with a soft attack, which may be not ideal for flamenco. Many luthiers know how to deal with it and get excellent flamenco guitars anyway but I suggest you a supplement of investigation.
With a good generalisation, Cedar usually is a more homogeneous wood with a different stiffness ratio than spruce (proportionally less stiff longitudinally while stiff perpendicularly to the vein direction) which may work for a different bracing pattern.
I already told the story of my 2 Gerundinos (both sold years ago): the cedar topped was throaty and impressive in a small environement but the spruce topped (less impressive) projected much better in any noisy set up.
I realised the difference was in the attack of the note.
I tried cedar topped Ramirez loud and well projecting though, so it’s not always true. I suppose some luthiers understand cedar better and know how to get the best of it.

Richard Jernigan -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 23 2021 16:23:17)

Jose Ramirez III's workshops must have produced at least a thousand cedar topped blancas, maybe more. In the latter part of his career Sabicas used one or more of them exclusively for concerts and recordings.

However, the last time I saw him in concert in 1965 he played an Arcangel Fernandez blanca. Beside what it said in the program, we sat in the first row and I could see the headstock.

My favorite blanca for years was a '67 cedar topped Ramirez. I now play the spruce Arcangel more often, but the Ramirez regularly gets its turn. A few people knowledgeable about guitars have tried both, and said they liked the Ramirez better, though more have preferred the Arcangel.

Arcangel made some cedar topped negras or classicals. There's one for sale on Solera Flamenca:

I have never seen or heard of a cedar topped blanca by him.


Echi -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 24 2021 12:25:04)

Ramirez is for sure the champion of cedar: Sabicas played almost exclusively Ramirez, but worthy of mention are also Manolo Sanlucar, Manuel Cano or Carlos Montoya, Santiago Lara or Josè Luis Monton.
Nonetheless, in the eighties Ramirez IV changed a little the direction and updated all the line.
Famous for their flamenco guitars with cedar top are Barba (Francisco, before his sons joined him), Paulino Bernabé and Gerundino Fernandez.
As I said above, some makers are great with cedar.
In fact up to now my inclination is for spruce topped guitars but you never know.

Richard Jernigan -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 24 2021 17:21:01)

When I first began to see Sabicas in after hours juergas at the club Zambra in New York City in February 1962 he was not playing a Ramirez. I was relatively ignorant of guitars at the time, but I would have recognized the Ramirez headstock.

In fact it was not until after I received my '67 Ramirez as a gift, new, that I noticed Sabicas was playing one. This is not to say he wasn't playing one before that.

I played a cedar topped Bernabe blanca at the Guitarreria in Paris, some time in the late 1980s-early 1990s. It was beautifully made, and it played and sounded wonderfully--but I didn't have a guitar I was well acquainted with to compare it against.


Tom Blackshear -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 24 2021 23:30:41)


When I first began to see Sabicas in after hours juergas at the club Zambra in New York City in February 1962 he was not playing a Ramirez.

In the 1950's, Sabicas and Carmen Amaya did a concert in San Antonio Texas, and he played a Marcello Barbero at that time. He also had another Barbero with a cracked top that he gave to Elario Lozano who helped him with correspondence and traveled with him as his translator to other Texas venues at that time. Elario took the guitar to Spain his next visit and got Arcangel Fernandez to put a new top on it. Elario still has the guitar.

estebanana -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 25 2021 5:39:43)

Daniel Friederich would have been keen to hear this fallacy of a cedar top guitar having a soft attack.

Brace a cedar top stronger with the grain direction and the same across the grain as a spruce top to start with. Stiff along the grain helps the high partials in cedar, gives it more edge.

I can’t really offer any advice on Stilton or Gouda, but stay clear of Limburger tops, very difficult to work with.

RobF -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 25 2021 7:59:45)


I can’t really offer any advice on Stilton or Gouda, but stay clear of Limburger tops, very difficult to work with.

Perhaps not steeped in the Flamenco tradition, but Stilton is imbued with the Blues. The other is not known to be Gouda to work with, primarily due to the lack of a hard “G”, although it has been argued that the traditional ‘handjeklap’ system of bargaining for this material could be considered to be an early form of palmas.

estebanana -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 25 2021 12:12:44)

Las Palmas is a city in the north Balearic Islands,no?

I’ve heard the grilled pompano is excellent.

ernandez R -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 25 2021 21:55:22)

Bingo, we have a winner!
Stilton is food of the gods, always thought whisky fueled the blues though!

Thanx all for the cedar top feedback, it helps a lot.

I'll keep you updated...


ps. The cheese monger stoped shipping to alaska a few years ago and the crap in the local stores is worth baiting mouse traps :/

estebanana -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 26 2021 0:33:13)

The Cheese Monger that’s based in Oakland/Alameda California?

ernandez R -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 28 2021 3:48:18)

New York New York actually, said they had too much spoilage shipping cheese to alaska, I had to laugh. I would get a quarter of the round basically a four inch slice off the berral. One time they sent me an end cut... I was afraid of it at first, like for five minutes.

There is only one good use for a flippen toaster oven and that's to melt cheese on a cracker, the go to up here in alaska is Pilot Bread, pilot as in sailer, about four inches round, think hard tack. Cut a 5/16 thick slice and lay it on there, toast until the top was brown and bubbly... Like I said, food of the gods!

Lost 40lbs in the last two monthes on the no cheese diet. Dairy is baby cow food and not really for humans...

Going to eat a rye cracker with a scrape of mustard on it then cry...


Richard Jernigan -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Feb. 28 2021 21:59:46)

During the 1980s I traveled to France on business about once a month.

Back in Texas I bought some California brie, and settled into my easy chair with a glass of cabernet sauvignon from the Napa Valley and a stack of Carr's Table Water crackers.


Checked the cheese package. To be sold in USA brie had to be pasteurized.

Beware pasteurized cheddar guitar tops!

But Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar is more or less edible...


estebanana -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Mar. 1 2021 19:01:25)

Cheese in the US is all dead, live culture? No, they kill it. The save is the extra sharp cheddar, it’s almost alive.

ernandez R -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (May 4 2021 2:58:15)

Ok, pushed the button on some Red Cedar.

Couple email volleys with Gerry, a couple photos, and decided to go for it.
Basically he is selling hand split billets to size. Standard is 4” wide, 24” long, 9” deep.
What I like is the hand split tells all so there is zero wave in the grain.
The way I re-saw I can get 8 top sets but more like 10 or 11 out of each billet. $95 CAD do that works out to less then $8 a top. This is red cedar, he was out of the Yellow wide grain Cedar I want to use as Flamenco backs and ribs but I’m on the list.

The killer is the shipping, for the two standard billets plus a freebie he is tossing in is $140 CAD. Asked about alternative shipping but he is on an island with no other options.

The other variable is not knowing exactly the quality of the wood as far as stiffness and general tonal quality. I’m willing to try it out.


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RobF -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (May 4 2021 3:39:45)

That’s nice looking Cedar. If you can buy enough to amortize the shipping costs over multiple pieces, that might take some of the sting out of the cost.

If the yellow Cedar you’re talking about is the Nootka Cypress, then please don’t worry about grain width and just get some, if he has any tight grained available. Trust me on this, lol. The stuff I have is insanely tight grained and clear. It can make a very, very nice sounding Blanca. It smells good, works easy, and its purity can really highlight your craftsmanship. That’s part of what makes it attractive to me, it’s kind of the antithesis of the wild grained ooh ahhh stuff that people love to see, instead it’s just pure and beautiful.

P.S. I believe the guitar that Simon had Anders make for him, which was featured in his film, has Nootka back and sides.

ernandez R -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (May 5 2021 4:23:15)

Ok, we fiddled around with the volume a little and figured three billets shipped at the best cost just was more wood thin I thought I would need.
The total cast is $380 US and comes out to $13 a top set if I re-saw ten tops out of each 4” billet.

Gerry has a bunch of YouTube content collecting red and yellow cedar around the islands of BC.

Looks like he sells this wood all over the world and had a good idea about what makes quality tone wood. Just have to wait and see...

Truth be told I’m excited about getting the Yellow Cedar but he doesn’t have any at the moment


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ernandez R -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (May 25 2021 6:36:54)

I love the smell of cedar in the morning...
But not the smell of smoking the motor on my bandsaw

Striping some rib sets of birch from my vacuum kiln experiment and cooked the 50 year old motor. Hooked up the 70 year old Delta I had on my drum sander and cooked it too.

Ordered a new motor but missed the ride I had coming up... it’s been like that

Shop smells nice.


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ernandez R -> RE: My first cheddar soundboard (Jul. 29 2021 6:03:01)

Cut off of one the WRC billets I sliced up 29 flaw free sets from the three pieces. A few spot coats of blond shellac.

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