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Shawn Brock

 

Posts: 271
Joined: Sep. 19 2011
From: Louisville KY

Questions about woods. 

Okay, I have a few questions regarding wood density, and tonal characteristics...

I have heard it said that Mexican or American Cypress lacks the bass response of Spanish Cypress. Anyone care to give your thoughts and or offer an opinion on which you like best and why?

Regarding tops, what do you feel it is that makes European Spruce more desirable over lets say Adirondack Spruce?

Lastly, how do you feel about Mahogany necks? I have never owned a high quality flamenco with a Mahogany neck, though I know there are plenty around. For my negra from Castillo I requested a Cedar neck... It seems that most of the time I see Mahogany necks, they are on negras. Is this just because of matching color, or do you feel a Mahogany neck offers a change in sound?

These are a few things I have been pondering over the last few weeks as I prepare to place an order for a blanca... I'm thinking good old European Spruce top, Spanish Cypress back and sides and cedar neck. Perhaps the last question is, who's going to build this damn thing??? I don't want to sell off my cedar blanca or my negra, so I will be going with one of you guys that I can afford. LOL With a 10 day old kid, you can see why I can't afford to go big time on price.

Over and out good buddy,
Shawn
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 9 2012 23:54:59
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 905
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

Hi Sean,

I'm quite suprised the others haven't jumped on this yet especially with the prospect of an order, Perhaps they are contemplating their answers!

I've never had the chance to use the cypress you mention so I can't comment to much on that one. Only that I should think that a maker should be able to get the basses work with most woods as the top is the most important thing!

I've pretty much only used Euro Spruce seems as I am in Europe its the most available spruce. I have used an engleman spruce which was ok I didnt think it has the same cross grain strength though. The Caucasian spruce I have used was very strong perhaps alittle too strong. I suppose Experience for me it was drives me to use it over other species as I know what to expect.

I'm pretty sure most of the American builders use Engleman over Euro as it's alot cheaper and probably just as good really.

There is a good reason not may flamenco guitars aren't made with mahogany and that is down to weight to stiffness ratios. Cedar wins hands down. It is important to have a nice light neck for flamenco guitars as they are soo light. The last thing you want is the guitar to be neck heavy.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2012 11:46:20
 
erictjie

 

Posts: 163
Joined: Apr. 11 2011
 

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

my mexican cypress blanca from Salvador is better in term of sound balance than my spanish cypress blanca made by sanchis
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2012 12:38:22
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 17 2005
 

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Stephen Eden

quote:

ORIGINAL: SEden

Hi Sean,

I've never had the chance to use the cypress you mention so I can't comment to much on that one. Only that I should think that a maker should be able to get the basses work with most woods as the top is the most important thing!

I'm pretty sure most of the American builders use Engleman over Euro as it's alot cheaper and probably just as good really.

There is a good reason not may flamenco guitars aren't made with mahogany and that is down to weight to stiffness ratios. Cedar wins hands down. It is important to have a nice light neck for flamenco guitars as they are soo light. The last thing you want is the guitar to be neck heavy.


Stephen,
I've used Monterey cypress and didn't notice any difference from Mediterranean although the grain might be a little heavier. I can import Med. Cypress cheaper than buying Monterey cypress here in the US so you can guess what I use.

As to US makers using a lot of Engelmann. The only way I found to get Engelmann without runout was to harvest it myself and I'm much too old and fat to do that anymore. Once you spend some time exploring an Engelmann forest and look at the trunks you can see why most Engelmann has too much runout. Virtually every tree grows in a spiral or helix.

You're dead on about the Sp. Cedar vs Mahogany except you didn't mention that Sp. Cedar is much more stable.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2012 14:44:54
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

Shawn,
basically all the woods you mention can be used with succes if the piece is of good quality.
I have used Engelmann spruce and made very nice sounding instruments with it. Like John says, it tends to have some runout but I never had problems with the sound. But I dont like the top to have 2 different colors depending on the angle of light.
Now I use what is called European spruce. Like Seden mainly because I´m in Europe. Which is the same reason for using Med. Cypress. But I´ve made some very nice Blancas with CDN cypress as well.
The most important thing is that your Luthier knows how to use the wood he/she has.
I´ve never used mahogany, so no coments on that.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2012 15:40:06
 
TANúñez

Posts: 2559
Joined: Jul. 10 2003
From: TEXAS

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

I've never noticed any difference in sound between Med. cypress and Monterey. I like both. I primarily build with Engelmann because it's been more affordable and I've even built with Sitka which I also liked.

In my opinion, Mahogany is too heavy for a flamenco. I use it on classical guitars because I feel it adds a little sustain as well.

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Tom Núñez
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 11 2012 16:19:07
 
estebanana

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2012 18:49:38
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

quote:

German Italian Alpine


What´s that??

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2012 19:05:31
 
ralexander

Posts: 797
Joined: Jun. 1 2010
From: Halifax, Nova Scotia

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

It's the new thing, Anders ... you mean you don't know about it??

I had a steel string guitar made with a Lutz top - really nice wood, extremely popular in the steel string world.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2012 19:17:07
 
estebanana

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2012 19:25:32
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1593
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

I have found, like TANuñez, that mahogany necks add sustain over Spanish cedar necks, which is sometimes desirable in a classical guitar.

With regard to what makes one spruce desirable over another, I think it is mainly misleading information that ignorant or foolish people publish on other websites. I agree with Anders that any of these woods in good quality can be made to perform well by a luthier who knows what he's doing.

I have gotten comparable results with Spanish cypress, Monterey cypress, and Lawson cypress (a.k.a. Port Orford cedar).

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
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I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2012 19:54:48
 
keith

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

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to constructordeguitarras

the only problem with the non-real cypress woods is the lack of real cypress aroma which is akin to really great frosting on the cake.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2012 21:11:16
 
estebanana

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2012 21:42:58
 
Shawn Brock

 

Posts: 271
Joined: Sep. 19 2011
From: Louisville KY

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

Gentlemen:

Thanks for the words so far. I agree about mahogany necks, I have had a few classicals with them. I was just at a loss of why they are showing up in some negras and wondered if it added something, which it seems that it don't.

I am thinking of adding a sound port to the guitar, if a builder can be talked into making a plug for the port. I think ports are a great thing, but I wouldn't want to use one all of the time...

Regarding body size, I understand that lots of makers build a slightly larger body when the scale length is longer. What's the magical number regarding scale length that would make you increase the body size? I am comfortable with 650, and not quite as comfortable on 660 but have no problems playing it. I have been growing into 660. So if I split the difference on this next guitar and got a 655/ 656, would the body size be slightly larger as the body of a 660 guitar? Or is this just one of those things which depends on the builder?

Also, anyone want to say anything about Alaskan yellow cedar?

Keep talking to me here guys, I'm working this all out in my mind and adding some things to my wish list. LOL

You better be careful John Shelton, Susan may cut out some of that good food and put you back to harvesting wood! LOL
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2012 22:20:49
 
keith

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

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

shawn, why stop at 660mm--go with 666mm. you cannot beat that scale length. it will make you a real diablo flamenco. cover for you sound port? you have cork, bath tub plugs, and probably an assorted other objects. i think port covers make sense.

body size and scale length relationship--not a luthier so i remain mute. i think 655-657 is a good scale length but that is just me.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2012 23:00:57
 
estebanana

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 14 2012 0:00:04
 
Jeff Highland

 

Posts: 401
Joined: Mar. 5 2010
From: Caves Beach Australia

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to estebanana

quote:

just go 670 and be done with it,


If Djanjo could handle it with danaged fingers.....
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 14 2012 1:22:13
 
estebanana

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 14 2012 2:14:01
 
Shawn Brock

 

Posts: 271
Joined: Sep. 19 2011
From: Louisville KY

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

Maybe I'm the only one who notices that more and more flamenco is being played without a cejilla these days. So in short, I'll leave 670 those who just strum and bang away. Once you start playing octaves in the first position, you'll start noticing that extra length. Perhaps that's also the reason Jason McGuire still plays on 650 guitars when he has a choice, I'll have to ask him. Nothing wrong with 660, but if I didn't have long fingers I wouldn't be playing on it... Not sure what this has to do with the question, but its all good fun anyhow... Any time a good heated discussion about scale length and sound ports comes up, who knows what will happen.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 14 2012 5:06:27
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

Alakan Yellow Cedar is the same as CDN cypres. I like it and I´ve made some really nice guitars with it. The one in Simons documentary "El guitarrero" is with that wood, so Kozz´s blanca and the 2A blanca I´ve just finished.
When it comes to aroma its special. Simon told me that it reminded him of the inside of the pockets of an old Afghan hippie coat. So if you´ve ever had your nose down in one of those pockets you´ll know what he means.
II´ve been there and I love the smell.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 14 2012 7:40:33
 
estebanana

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 14 2012 19:47:46
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2975
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

quote:

Regarding body size, I understand that lots of makers build a slightly larger body when the scale length is longer. What's the magical number regarding scale length that would make you increase the body size? I am comfortable with 650, and not quite as comfortable on 660 but have no problems playing it. I have been growing into 660. So if I split the difference on this next guitar and got a 655/ 656, would the body size be slightly larger as the body of a 660 guitar? Or is this just one of those things which depends on the builder?

Also, anyone want to say anything about Alaskan yellow cedar?



Anything over 650 I use a *slightly* larger (actually just slightly longer) body size. I don't change the dimensions of the upper bout, lower bout, or waist.
I think I mentioned to you that I'm building 655, which for me is the sweet spot. For me the test is how comfortably I can grab this chord and I can still get it pretty easily on a 655 with no capo:

0
0
4
3
7
0

Alaskan Yellow cedar/Canadian Cypress is a great back and side wood. I've used it 4 times and if I had to characterize it I would say the sound can be a little more rugged, aggressive and mid-rangey than Spanish or Monterrey Cypress. But it all depends how you work it of course.

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Andy Culpepper, luthier
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 15 2012 13:20:28
 
kozz

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

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

When it comes to aroma its special. Simon told me that it reminded him of the inside of the pockets of an old Afghan hippie coat. So if you´ve ever had your nose down in one of those pockets you´ll know what he means.

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 15 2012 14:45:37
 
estebanana

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 15 2012 18:21:19
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2975
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to estebanana

quote:

it has to do with where the builder wants to place the sound hole in relation to where the 19th fret gets divided.


Actually changing the body dimensions for me has more to do with where I want to place the bridge in relation to the soundhole, tail end of the guitar, and the rest of the bracing.

Scale length is not the biggest factor in playability but if you're stretching and barely reaching certain chords it can make a difference.

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Andy Culpepper, luthier
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 15 2012 18:48:42
 
estebanana

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 15 2012 20:00:50
 
estebanana

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 16 2012 1:35:23
 
TANúñez

Posts: 2559
Joined: Jul. 10 2003
From: TEXAS

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to estebanana

quote:

I had managed squirt black Sikaflex polyurethane caulk into my armpit with a malfunctioning caulk gun


I hate it when that happens.

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Tom Núñez
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 16 2012 3:08:48
 
estebanana

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 16 2012 3:17:21
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 905
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Questions about woods. (in reply to Shawn Brock

I always thought that changing the body size for scale was for aesthetics only. The bridge must be centered pfft. I use a fixed mold which will look good with a 630 to a 670. Over all it's only 20mm bridge movement! Its nothing to worry about.
I made a strange guitar (with the same mold) where the body joined at the 10th fret! That pushed the bridge way down almost lute style. The tornovoz made a bigger difference to the sound!

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Classical and Flamenco Guitars www.EdenGuitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 16 2012 9:17:22
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