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Is wood the best material for making a guitar?   You are logged in as Guest
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Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

Is wood the best material for making... 

Hola Esteemed Luthiers,

Following on from my running joke about "Sonoform" (the ficticious perfect soundboard material), have a listen to this:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qyyb

Scroll along the time line to about 13 minutes.


cheers,

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 24 2009 12:30:56
 
Patrick

Posts: 1189
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

Ron,

RainSong has been building steel strings with carbon fiber for years. I don't know if anyone has tried it on classical or flamencos.

http://www.rainsong.com/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 24 2009 14:13:34
 
Patrick

Posts: 1189
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

OK, here you go:

http://www.guitaradoptions.com/blackbird-rider-nylon-string-guitar.html
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 24 2009 14:17:18
 
Gummy

Posts: 495
Joined: Nov. 27 2005
From: North Carolina, USA

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

I remember a couple years ago, someone posted(ebay link) a graphite "flamenco" guitar here. I think it was a Rainsong and the model had been discontinued. It was very expensive but nobody knew how it sounded.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 24 2009 14:55:11
 
at_leo_87

Posts: 3055
Joined: Aug. 30 2008
From: Boston, MA, U.S.A

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

i played a carbon fiber steel string guitar the other day. it was LOUD, sounded surprisingly like wood and was pretty balanced all around. slightly colder sound though.

i wouldn't be surprised if one day somebody made a good flamenco with carbon fiber.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 24 2009 15:12:16
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

Yes, wood is the best. It feels good, it smells good, it looks good, its nice to work, its romantic, its connection with mother nature, its a way of feeling free. More power to wood.
Plant a tree!

Woodie

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Blog: http://news-from-the-workshop.blogspot.com/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 25 2009 1:22:43
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

More power to wood.
Plant a tree!

Woodie






Wood is Good... Plastic is Spastic.

(Sounds like a "Ramzi-ism"... )


cheers,

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 25 2009 1:37:17
 
kozz

Posts: 1766
Joined: Feb. 26 2009
From: Eindhoven NL

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

Perhaps it'll sound better if they use the violin-wood-fungus on those plastic guitars....it looked like Darth Vader with, I must say, an unique soundport....at least "the black rider" did.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 25 2009 2:13:21
 
Stephen Rees

Posts: 32
Joined: Oct. 4 2007
From: Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

Yes.

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Stephen Rees - UK
www.reesguitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 25 2009 3:18:05
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Patrick

quote:


RainSong has been building steel strings with carbon fiber for years.


Yeah Pat,

But scientists have been playing around with DNA manipulation for years too.

Still doesn't mean we've reached the end of the story on this IMO.

cheers,

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 25 2009 5:51:33
 
Estevan

Posts: 1891
Joined: Dec. 20 2006
From: Torontolucía

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Patrick

quote:

[Patrick:] RainSong has been building steel strings with carbon fiber for years. I don't know if anyone has tried it on classical or flamencos.

It's been tried for a classical by an excellent luthier who likes to experiment, and rejected because it didn't sound good.

quote:

[at_leo_87 :] i wouldn't be surprised if one day somebody made a good flamenco with carbon fiber.

I would be surprised. But it could be useful for gigs because you wouldn't have to worry about it being damaged. (Pimientito once wrote something about 'never lend your guitar to a gypsy, when you get it back it will need re-finishing...' - so it would solve that problem )




I totally agree with Anders.



Images are resized automatically to a maximum width of 800px

Attachment (1)

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Me da igual. La música es música.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 25 2009 9:25:43
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Estevan

quote:

It's been tried for a classical by an excellent luthier who likes to experiment, and rejected because it didn't sound good.


Yeah Estevan,

But Edison made heaps and heaps of light bulbs and rejected each one, but learned from them all.

There is no one single "Carbon Fibre" sheet in the same way there is no one single "Wood".

You can alter the matrix and structure in millions of different combinations, so I do not doubt that in time it will be possible to emulate the very best spruce or cedar, but in a completely consistent way.

It may not even be Carbon Fibre but some other hybrid.

As to when that will be, I have no idea, nor do I even wish it to happen.

All I can say from my own life experience is...

Don't fight The Machine!!!

It's useless and a waste of time and energy.

cheers,

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 25 2009 12:04:45
 
El Saare

Posts: 76
Joined: Mar. 11 2009
From: Damascus, Syria

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

quote:

Don't fight The Machine!!!


Don't act like superman

what about loosing our guitars values???

Love Nature

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My favourite part is when I squeeze the tea bag with the spoon, but the hard part is where i am going to place it.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 25 2009 13:07:17
 
at_leo_87

Posts: 3055
Joined: Aug. 30 2008
From: Boston, MA, U.S.A

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to El Saare

quote:


Love Nature


yes, but our love of nature is actually killing it. you have to kill trees to make guitar. if you really loved nature, you would have a guitar made out of recycled materials. lol.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 25 2009 13:09:38
 
El Saare

Posts: 76
Joined: Mar. 11 2009
From: Damascus, Syria

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to at_leo_87

quote:

if you really loved nature, you would have a guitar made out of recycled materials


by puffing out tons of smoke to build that material and kill my tree.

Love Nature

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My favourite part is when I squeeze the tea bag with the spoon, but the hard part is where i am going to place it.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 25 2009 13:16:49
 
krichards

Posts: 597
Joined: Jan. 14 2007
From: York, England

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to El Saare

It doesn't matter how good man made materials become, guitars made from these materials will never replace wood.

We all love wood because wood is beautifiul to work and beautiful to look at.

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Kevin Richards

http://www.facebook.com/#!/kevin.richards.1048554
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 27 2009 0:28:53
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

The problem with wood is that its getting difficult to get. And yes it will be serious soon.
Cypress in the size that we need to build guitars is now almost non existant in Spain. We now import from Turqey, but they are just cutting down. Not really planting anything.
Look at what happened to Scotlands Caledonian forest, the Braz rosewood, take a look at what is happening in Canada etc.

Plant a tree.

The day that circumstances will tell me to build with synthetic materials, I will simply stop building and do something else. I like wood and besides, I dont think you can make a synthetic substitute that will give you the same quality experience both as a builder and a player.

Plant a tree.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 27 2009 0:48:49
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

The day that circumstances will tell me to build with synthetic materials, I will simply stop building and do something else.


I like that!

I think that gives us all a great insight into why guitar builders do what they do.

So when you buy a hand crafted guitar, you are actually buying a lot more than just technical expertise and experience, you are buying a piece of art, a piece of the builder's philosophy and soul, in the same way that if you buy a Tomatito album, you are not buying just a technical recording of notes being played on a guitar.

(Hence the $20,000 Reyes)

cheers,

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 27 2009 2:24:17
 
Armando

Posts: 302
Joined: May 27 2005
From: Zürich, Switzerland

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

Hi all

Many things have been said already about this topic, but nevertheless i 'd like to add my point of view as well.

For me there is no substitute for nature and and there will never be. Even if we think that we have beat nature with our inventions and our technology, we often have to admit sooner or later that we didn't. There are so many reasons why to accept nature as it is. There are so many beautiful woods that we cannot replace. I like to work with wood because i like it's feeling, its smell, its workability, its tone etc... Even the most advanced syntetic material couldn't ever replace these qualities. The problem is, that human beeing has exploited natural ressources for short term financial reasons in a irresponsible and egoistic manner. Such behavour is the cause why some of the best and most beautiful woods are aready under cites and no longer availlable to the luthier.
I share the opinion of Anders, that we might soon become major problems to get a number of precious woods for luthery. So let's purchase FSC woods whenever possible.

To luthiers i recommend to critically ask where the wood comes from and how it has been harvested. We are the first to be responsible for the wood we purchase. We cannot expect from the customer to know this things as it might be very difficult even for the luthier to know what kind of wood has been sold to us.

regards

Armando

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 1 2009 11:02:36
 
krichards

Posts: 597
Joined: Jan. 14 2007
From: York, England

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

We now import from Turqey, but they are just cutting down


Is this really true? Surely they are being very short sighted?

And is there no planting and regeneration/conservation in Spain or other Mediterranean countries?

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Kevin Richards

http://www.facebook.com/#!/kevin.richards.1048554
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 12 2009 23:17:13
 
keith

Posts: 1108
Joined: Sep. 29 2009
From: Land of Daniel Boone

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

well i would like to jump into the fire on this one. if the generally accepted axiom that the soundboard is the primary contributor to sound, and torres' paper mache (sp?) guitar worked using paper mache for the sides and back, and that ovation guitars produced an acceptable if not good sound, then why not a synthetic for the sides and back? one could probably produce a guitar with sides and back made from synthetics such as kevlar, s-glass, wood laminate for appearance and epoxy or vinylester (a much better product that polyester resin). if indeed the soundboard is the primary producer of sound, and if the sides and back are often built to reflect sound (a la smallman) then, in theory, one should be able to produce a good sounding guitar out of synthetics (for that matter, the neck could be made with synthetics as well).

i understand there is an attitude that wood has to be the material of choice but given the increasing shortage of wood as well as other variables, then, why not?

just a thought to throw out there.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 15 2009 15:38:26
 
jlneng

Posts: 118
Joined: Jun. 28 2009
 

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

I think we should all play mass produced graphite guitars with titanium tuners and paper mache' backs...Torres would be so proud! Not meant to p anyone off, just a sarcastic statement. One of the reasons that I am so enamored with flamenco is the tradition, and I don't want to lose it.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 15 2009 15:57:42
 
keith

Posts: 1108
Joined: Sep. 29 2009
From: Land of Daniel Boone

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

jlneng--no reason for anyone to get p*ssed off for having a serious "above the belt" discussion. i am sure back in the late 19th century there were a few folks who could not imagine not having a horse underneath them and refused to sit on a seat in a horseless carriage. the beauty of humans is that we somehow figure out a solution to problems and often times that puts us on a route we could not imagine. that said, someone might be able to pull this off--someone with a love of working with wood and composites.

personally i love wood guitars and my flamenco has pegs and in my opinion metal should not be on a flamenco guitar (except for the frets of course). but that is my opinion and i am sure machine heads cannot envision themselves having to turn a piece of wood to get their guitar in tune.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 16 2009 4:57:02
 
ngiorgio

 

Posts: 168
Joined: Nov. 1 2005
From: Florida, USA

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to keith

Interesting discussion.

I too, will prefer traditional woods. However wood tops with some synthetic back and sides may be inevitable. I wonder if expansion and shrinkage differences would be a serious problem with such a comination.

Then there is the alternative wood choice, at least for the back and sides. Has anyone seen or played a blanca with wood other than the cypress or maple varieties?

I believe that luthier Les Stansell makes blancas from Port Orford cedar as well as Myrtlewood.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 16 2009 7:18:46
 
krichards

Posts: 597
Joined: Jan. 14 2007
From: York, England

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to ngiorgio

quote:

Has anyone seen or played a blanca with wood other than the cypress or maple varieties?


There is no need to look any further as far as blancas are concerned. European Sycamore (maple) is a weed tree here in the UK. There are hundreds within a mile of me. And its great wood for guitars. The problem is, its not the traditional Spanish wood so it won't be used for the best instruments until the Cypress runs out.

And as I understand it the Indian government manages its timber reasonably well so there should be a long term supply of Rosewood too.

So the question of composites is really just a question of how good they are for guitar making.
For me, it will always be wood.

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Kevin Richards

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 19 2009 23:43:12
 
el ted

 

Posts: 466
Joined: Nov. 13 2003
 

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

I LOVE the look of the Blackbird Rider. Bit of an odd shape though, I have an octave mandolin almost the same shape and it's a pig to hold.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 20 2009 8:01:06
 
keith

Posts: 1108
Joined: Sep. 29 2009
From: Land of Daniel Boone

RE: Is wood the best material for ma... (in reply to Ron.M

krichards: i agree about sycamore being a great wood--it has a lot of characteristics of cypress (except for the great aroma). the problem with scyamore is that it has been used on inexpensive guitars--i.e., tops that are in the "OK" range and not as thin as one would expect on a high quality blanca. the wood, sadly, is "guilty" by association; that being, it is thought to be a low class wood because it is almost paired with low end factory guitars. i think until scyamore, for a blanca, is used on a high end guitar it will always be associated with inexpensive factory built guitars.

as to how a wood/composite guitar will perform? ovation has been doing it for years so i guess there is the answer. i think a wood/kevlar/ s-glass combo would make for an interesting side and back guitar. add vacuum bagging to get the weight low and one could have a light side and back.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 21 2009 5:24:12
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