Acoustic vs Bass Guitar: Which is better for Beginners? Sapele is a fast growing and highly sustainable African wood which is protected from over harvesting making it a fabulous choice for the environmentally aware. A couple of other variables that impact a guitarâs sound are its setupâan instrument with overly low action tends to have an anemic tone even if itâs made from the most optimally resonant tonewoodsâand even its scale length. For these reasons, a cedar-topped guitar is a good choice for a fingerpicker (itâs common on classical nylon-string guitars), but not necessarily a strummer with a heavy attack. Our demo guitar had the optional sunburst top finish, giving it a vintage appearance. Because it is in lesser supply than Sitka, Engelmann often costs more. This wood tends to have a honeyed color and is known for its sonically analogous dark and lush tone, and also for being generally less bass-y and projective than spruce. Major acoustic guitar companies, like Taylor Guitars and Martin & Co., now offer dozens of standard tonewood choicesâsolid woods, laminates, and syntheticsâwhile a major supplier like Luthiers Mercantile International carries scores of options, including increasingly popular thermally cured soundboards. With a Sapele or Sitka Spruce top, and Sapele back and sides, this solid wood Dreadnought model is simply a great sounding guitar at a very good price. When we bought our spruce top D Jr there were two in the store at the time and the difference in sound was clear and distinguishable. Whether you are looking for an affordable guitar or a top tier one, the type of tonewood used for the top is one of the most important things to pay attention to. The tone it offers is pretty bright with enough kick in the higher portions of the frequency range. The Martin Road Series D-10E adds New Fishman Electronics and Mother-of-Pearl Inlays for 2019! âIt exhibits some of the warmth of rosewood and some of the breath of mahogany.â, Taylor K24ce Koa ES2 Grand Auditorium; Dean Exotica Koa, An excellent North American tonewood for back and sides is maple, Eastern hard-rock and Western big-leaf maple being the most commonly used types. That’s led to the use of sustainable woods for more than a decade, Martin Guitar, for example, has offered models built with woods certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). It’s also doubtful every sapele Junior features this kind of irregularity. As such, maple is known to produce high definition tones across the spectrum while its projection is almost next to none. Of course, youâll want to play, and listen to, as many different options as possible before choosing your dream guitar. Does a little irregularity in the grain affect the sound? At one time, sapele was frequently labeled as mahogany, but it’s from a different family and is now recognized by the guitar community for its own identity. Taylor is no stranger to Lutz; the worldâs largest acoustic-guitar manufacturer introduced this tonewood into its lineup in January with the revoiced 500 series. SITKA SPRUCE PICEA SITCHENSIS. What most of these have in common is hardness. âOne of its singular characteristics is that itâs almost perfectly transparentâit doesnât sound like anything, which isnât usually how you want a top to respond.â, Examples: Fender T-Bucket 400 CE; Rayco Squareneck Resonator. After all, itâs whatâs been used on stringed orchestral instruments for centuries.â. Mahogany is generally one of the densest tonewoods used in making modern guitars, both electric and acoustic. A couple of years ago, Taylor Guitars expanded its use of maple on backs and sides, and has undertaken an active maple reforestation program. Examples: Martin D-15M; Breedlove Pursuit Concert Koa, Maple is occasionally used for soundboards, but more often for backs and sides, due to its flatness of sound and for its relative shortness of decayâan attribute that happens to make the wood more resistant to feedback in amplified situations than rosewood or mahogany. Itâs a lighter and less stiff variety than Sitka, and it has stronger overtones and weaker fundamentals. Maple necks can impart a bright, poppy tone that can do much to reinforce the top end of a large-bodied guitar, while mahogany necks help push the overall palette into a warmer, more woody tonal range. Examples: Rainsong Black Ice Series; Kevin Michael Touring Carbon Fiber; Martin 000X1AE; Blackbird El Capitan. Clearly not, as we’ll find out. The texture has been sculpted by the river and is very pleasing to the eye.â. A unique guitar built of woods from the dawn of civilization (featured in the June 2016 issue of AG). It looks something like genuine mahogany, but sapele has a higher density and often produces a … It is softer by nature, and generally more mellow. When you go out shopping for an acoustic guitar, you will often see tonewood being declared as either solid or laminate. Compared to spruce, Sapele is much closer to mahogany in its tonal characteristics. Hi I'm sorry for starting another thread, but my old one was too old and overlooked I guess. The reason for this is its abundance and the fact that it brings a good balance of tone. Lively materialsâthose with a high velocity of sound, or low internal dampingâbest facilitate the transmission of vibrational energy (sound waves oscillating from the bridge). Occasionally the denser mahogany logs would sink! Rosewood, which takes the name from its characteristic floral scent, is an ideal tonewood for backs and sides. So, what a great way to test between a guitar with a mahogany top and a spruce top. A guitarist flush with cash might opt for an instrument with a spruce top and rosewood back and sides, while one with lesser means would go for plain mahogany back and sides, and a player with even less cash, or a beginner, might choose an unadorned all-mahogany instrument. Out of all the tonewood types available, spruce is one of the most commonly used. There was a time when guitars sported a limited range of tonewoods, when steel-string players paid little mind to their distinctions, other than financial considerations. âHonduran is my personal favorite,â Boak says. This presents an interesting conundrum for the acoustic guitaristâwhat are the perfect woods for your sound? Kala KA-FMSG Soprano Ukulele with Solid Spruce Top … Its color ranges from yellowish to reddish brown to darker gray with black stripes, resulting in an attractive grain with an attractive flame. The tone it offers is pretty bright with enough kick in the higher portions of the frequency range. âBut it has the uncanny ability to add complexity The Things that Are the Same. The information we’ve presented you with today should allow you to make the best possible decision. âThis is material from the bottom of Belizean rivers. Taylor GS Mini-e Bass Sitka Spruce/Sapele Acoustic Bass ES-B Electronics /CASE. In response to this unfortunate, but predictable, situation, but partly out of pure experimentation, builders also have sought alternative tonewoods, or, in some instances, theyâve used such synthetics as carbon fiber. Koa is native to Hawaii and is used commonly on ukuleles, but less so on guitars. This light tonewood is found in acoustic guitars at Breedlove Guitars. Wenge, a dense, dark-colored African hardwood unrelated to the rosewoods, has tonal properties remarkably similar to those of Brazilian rosewood. SustainÂ Natural reverberation that results in a lasting, ringing tone. It has a relatively high velocity of sound, and the highest strength to weight ratio than any other wood. Examples: Martin DRS-1; Taylor âBaby Taylorâ. Maple can be loud and projective. On the other hand, supplies of premium tonewoods have been diminishing due to increased demand, land development, and poor forest management. It has the same bass and treble as rosewood, but a bit more mid-range. Tradition casts such a strong spell in the guitar world, especially among high-end instruments, that it is difficult for a ânew woodâ to gain any sort of status recognition. A fully-realized instrument of solid tonewoods in a smaller dreadnought body. So any attempt to sort out distinctions between tonewoods can only be offered from a relatively subjective point of view.â. The reason for this is the fact that cedar brings a whole lot of warmth to the tone. Velocity of Sound The speed at which a material transmits received energy. to the tone.â, A spruce soundboard on a new guitar can have a bit of an edge to its tone, and many players like the way it starts to open up with playing timeâsomething to take into account when auditioning any brand new spruce-topped instrument. The GS Mini has a solid Sitka Spruce top; The GS Mini Mahogany has a solid Tropical Mahogany top; That’s it! For its 600 series, the company uses North American maple, grown in healthy forests with good stewardship, ensuring that it will be available for generations to come. âWhether a particular wood sounds good or bad depends partially upon whoâs doing the listening. Brazilian rosewood guitar.). After all, this portion of acoustic guitar’s body is responsible for projection and volume. However, where it really comes to life is the mid range. But overall, sapele is known for warm resonance and good projection. It was widely used on pre-war and vintage instruments. Walnut behaves similarly to maple, though it has its detractors. So, in the studio, mahogany backs and sides can be preferable to rosewood. Small in stature, the D Jr. 2 Sapele is big in voice. With that said, guitars with laminate body parts are generally cheaper, which makes them much more attractive to those who are on a budget. Slabs of tonewood from an ancient mahogany trunk known iconically as The Tree are among the most coveted tonewoodsâeven Slash of Guns N’ Roses had a custom acoustic built from The Tree (read about it in the March 2016 issue of AG). Plus the material has a very interesting natural edge. Here are some of the most popular choices you are going to see on the market. The least expensive guitars have bodies made entirely from laminated tonewoods, but many good-quality, affordable options pair solid soundboards with layered backs and sides. With its spice-like scent and far-ranging coloration (with deep, black grain), this Central American relative of rosewood is known as the âpiano of tonewoods,â since it produces a bright, sparkling tone that accentuates the treble. Rare, expensive but ultimately unique, rosewood back and sides bring a very complex dose of warmth, brightness, and projection. Spruce is the most common tonewood for the steel-string soundboard (there are a half dozen species in the Northern Hemisphere). Reply. Sitka Spruce is used more than any other species for guitar soundboards. Sapele and ovangkol. Thatâs why itâs used in the vast majority of new rosewood guitars. It’s not as widespread, but you see it often enough across different categories of acoustic guitars. Itâs a relatively heavy and stiff wood, having strong fundamentals, but a greater overtone content than Sitka, and it tends to be the loudest and liveliest of spruces as well. Unfortunately, Brazilian rosewood – which was always held in high regard – is borderline nonexistent. August 10, 2020 at 8:07 am. Excerpted from the 1994 Acoustic Guitar article âTapping Tonewoods.â, The back and sides contribute far less than the soundboard to a guitarâs sound, but their composition is nonetheless important. While some laminate guitars do sound decent, solid wood is what you generally want to have on your guitar. Some less common alternatives to Brazilian rosewood, which share some of that prized tonewoodâs winning qualities, include Honduran, Guatemalan, and Madagascar rosewood, as well as cocobolo, granadillo, ovangkol, wenge, and ziricote, among others. Compared to spruce, Sapele is much closer to mahogany in its tonal characteristics. Ebony, the traditional fingerboard material found on violins, classical guitars, and high-end steel strings, has the lowest velocity of sound of all the woods commonly used in lutherie and has definite damping characteristics. The Taylor GS Mini is the ultimate grab 'n go acoustic guitar. When it comes to tonewood and acoustic guitars, different kind of wood is going to be used for different parts of the instrument. I think it sounds "pretty" or even sweet, but I also use sweet to describe what I hear in guitars topped with mahogany rather than spruce and what I hear in sapele is a different sound than that. I am purchasing an online guitar with Spruce top, Sapele back and sides. . The logs were cut in Belize using local labor. Examples: Taylor GS Mini; Martin LX âLittle Martinâ, Salvaged & SustainableÂ Old-growth Tonewoods. It is incredibly dense and strong. However, it also saturates the tone with warmth in specific parts of the range. By the time we are done, you should have a pretty clear understanding of this topic. Adirondack Red Spruce. The British exported a lot of mahogany from Belize throughout history and during the 19th century they used the rivers of Belize as their main source of transportation. In 1992, it was added to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species treaty, and then, in 2008, to the federal Lacey Act, which made it impossible to import Brazilian rosewood without a labyrinth of permits and paperwork. You will get a bigger projection but I can’t assume that’s what you want. When it comes to acoustic guitars, the type of wood used will still make a significant difference. âDifferences between woods can be as mysterious and complex as differences between people,â Maine luthier and AG contributor Dana Bourgeois has written in this magazine. but also harmonic content, clarity of tone, and high-, low-, and mid-bias. Primary top wood for Martin guitars. It’s not as widespread, but you see it often enough across different categories of acoustic guitars. Pledge your support and get bonus lessons! Ortega Guitars RUK10FMH Ruk Series Soprano Ukulele with Flamed Mahogany Top & Sides $84.00. Falling between rosewood and mahogany is koaâa tonewood Martin first used on guitars in 1917, as a craze for all things Hawaiian swept across America. 300 Series: Sapele or Tasmanian blackwood back/sides, Sitka spruce (Sapele back/sides) or mahogany top (Tasmanian blackwood back/sides). If you like a dark, grainy wood look on your guitar, perhaps the Sapele version is your choice. Examples: Martin Custom Shop 000-14; Luna Vista Wolf Grand Auditorium. âDifferences between woods can be as mysterious and complex as differences between people,â Maine luthier and, Slabs of tonewood from an ancient mahogany trunk known iconically as The Tree are among the most coveted tonewoodsâeven Slash of Guns N’ Roses had a custom acoustic built from The Tree (read about it in the March 2016 issue of. âIn general terms, the top seems to affect the guitarâs responsiveness, the quickness of its attack, its sustain, some of its overtone coloration, and the strength and quality of each noteâs fundamental tone,â Bourgeois notes. Taylor GS Mini Rosewood Acoustic Guitar - Natural. While Brazilian rosewood has been offered in fancy instruments since then, both by guitar companies and independent luthiers, it has become even trickier to obtain. This maple is supplied by Pacific Rim Tonewoods, a company with thoughtful practices when it comes to sourcing and preparing woods for musical instruments. A guitarist flush with cash might opt for an instrument with a spruce top and rosewood back and sides, while one with lesser means would go for plain mahogany back and sides, and a player with even less cash, or a beginner, might choose an unadorned all-mahogany instrument. I was looking at getting a Martin Gpcpa3 guitar acoustic and it costs $1699 at guitar center. You will see this with guitar tops a lot more than bodies. Free shipping. Abundant and relatively affordable, maple is one of the most common types of tonewood used in guitars production in general. The supplier hails Lutz spruce for its âhybrid vigor.â. From the OctoberÂ 2016 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BYÂ ADAM PERLMUTTER, Fundamental vs. OvertonesÂ A fundamental tone is the initial sound heard when you pick or pluck a note (and which decays at varying rates depending on the sustain); the overtones are complex harmonic layers that can make the note swell after the fundamental is initiated. But over-harvesting of this wood led to its being all but phased out for use in guitars in the years after the war. ... Adirondack is generally slightly heavier and stiffer resulting in a louder guitar, but they are all relatively loud top woods. How important the tonewood is to a guitar player is going to depend on that person’s experience and skill. Acoustic Guitars - This tonewood works best with a light touch and lighter strings. A good example of a Sapele solid top acoustic guitar is Eastman’s AC-DR2. TorrefactionÂ A process in which the soundboard is thermally cured in an oxygen-free environment to alter theÂ cellular structure of the wood in a manner that replicates an aged tone. When it comes to back and sides of the guitar, we start seeing somewhat different tonewood being the standard. Sitka, which grows in coastal rainforests in the Pacific Northwest, is used most often, though such manufacturers as Taylor Guitars have introduced Lutz spruce, a hybrid of Sitka and white spruce that reportedly has some of same tonal characteristics of Adirondack spruce. All of the Sitka spruce used in soundboards by Bedell Guitars, for instance, comes from trees that have fallen or are dead in Alaskan forests. These logs for over 100 years had been lost and forgotten, until now.All the logs were salvaged using environmentally sound practices using small boats and pulleys to remove these logs off the bottom of the rivers. Let’s take a look at the things that are the same just to illustrate how similar these guitars are besides their top. The sapele top features some odd figuring that would probably never make the cut on a 15-Series guitar. Rick says. Bridge materials, like fretboards, cannot make or break an instrument, but they serve to enhance or edit the tonal contributions of other materials found on the guitar. But it has Sitka spruce body with sapele back and sides. Examples: Taylor 416-R; Gibson J-45; Martin D-16RGT. Not all builders find maple to be a suitable top material, though. The electric/acoustic hybrid incorporates a three-pickup configuration: an acoustic body sensor, a concealed neck humbucker, and a visible bridge humbucker. The Phenomenal Martin Sound of D-10e âGreat stiffness gives the wood greater resonance, all other things being equal, and allows the luthier greater leeway to alter the tone and response of the top by changing the thickness.â. In no small part due to its use in classic Martin guitars, Brazilian rosewood has long been considered the Holy Grail. Iâm not really fond of walnut, although it sometimes pleasantly surprises me,â Boak says. In a more ambitious development, in 2011 Taylor bought an ebony mill in Cameroon, Africa, and is now the worldâs biggest legal producer of that wood, used most often for fingerboards and bridges. If you find yourself in this position, this tonewood primer should help steer you in the right direction to realize your musical vision. As supplies of classic tonewoods like spruce, rosewood, and mahogany are being threatened, luthiers and guitar companies look to sustainable alternatives such as salvaged woods. Itâs used increasingly in modern guitars, though. With that said, let’s take a look at different types of woods used for the top, and then we will check out what usually works best for back and sides. Today we are going to talk about different types of tonewood and how they impact the sound of your acoustic guitar. And then thereâs the green thing: by definition, laminates help guitar makers make the most efficient use of precious materials from the forest. This African relative of rosewood shares many of its tonal properties, and it is sometimes known as African rosewood. 200 Deluxe Series: The 200 Series with the addition of ES2 electronics, small diamond fretboard inlays, and hard shell case. Let’s get to it Species selection can, however, be a determining factor in the creation of a very special guitar or a guitar designed for a specific purpose. Last but not the least, we have maple. (Under those U.S. and international statutes, documentation is required to travel with a On the other hand, spruce has a more definite, brighter tone, and louder projection. That is what I like. The color is excellent and the grain is tight. On the other hand, a beginner will be no wiser. While rosewoods might sound amazing, a guitar made from this species, with its complex overtones and sustain, can present headaches for a recording engineer. However, where it really comes to life is the mid range. The Music Zoo is always impressed by the quality Martin Guitars brings to the table, and the Martin D-10E is no exception. Extremely vibrant providing an ideal “diaphragm” for transmission of sound on any size and style of stringed instrument. East Indian rosewoodâsometimes referred to just as Indian rosewoodâis native to the tropical monsoon forests of southeast India and is much easier to source than its Brazilian counterpart. The company also is planting its own maple forests, as well as stands of koa on the Hawaiian islands. Native to southeastern Brazilâs Atlantic Forest, this precious tonewood, also used for centuries in high-end furniture, became difficult to source in dimensions large enough for guitar-making in the last half of the 20th century. Because of this, in 1969, Martin started using Indian rosewood instead of Brazilian. Some call it the “holy grail” of topwoods. So is that kind of wood bad like cheap? Itâs known for its tight grain pattern and its high stiffness and relative lightness, translating to a broad dynamic range that stands up well when strummed heartily. Belize used to be a British colony. âIndian rosewood has a lot of the same characteristics of Brazilian rosewoodâbut just a little less of everything,â Bourgeois says. âThe tree doesnât grow very large, and itâs hard to find supplies sufficient for a two-piece back.
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