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Username: blazer

Post Number: 57
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 4:07 pm:   Edit Post

Okay then, working at a luthier's workshop has some advantages when it comes to experimenting with guitars. ^_^

My last piece of work was as you might remember a Jazzmaster-ish solid with P90 pickups, an alder body and a neck salvaged from a korean made Cort electric.

That one was meant as a test guitar to see what I could do in that context. This time around however I started work on a Professionally made full scale JazzMaster. This one will have custom made pickups made after my suggestions (Good ol' Harry Haussel) A grade AAA flame maple neck with ebony fingerboard, and a body made of Pine.

That's right, you read it well. I used pine for the body. The thing with that is for two reasons:
1. the very first Fender Prototype guitars that would eventually become the Telecaster were made from Pine so it was meant as a tribute to Leo Fender.
2. My boss gave me this wonderful book from Robert Benedetto on how to make an archtop guitar on my birthday and I was really inspired about one particullar picture which shows an accoustic archtop guitar made from inferior woods, made as an experiment to see what difference it would make in feel and sound. Benedetto Himself has a wonderful (and utterly hillarious) quote on the resulting guitar.

"Despite the obvious, this guitar ended up playing and sounding every bit as wonderful as the other high end guitars I made."

So one day when I was helping my mother out to bring stuff to the junkyard when I spotted an old table coming from a restaurant or at least a bar. It was made from solid pine which had the exact thickness that's used in fender guitars. I figured I could get a couple of bodies from that, so I took it with me.

When my boss saw the body as I was making it he took it in his hands and remarked that the resulting guitar would be one of my best. I surely hope so. Anyway, I'll keep you guys posted on the progress as it's coming along.
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 501
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 6:31 pm:   Edit Post

About 10 years ago Taylor Guitars similarly wanted to show that a good guitar could be made from inferior wood. Thus was born their "Pallet Guitar", literally made from a pallet (the thing you load stuff onto and then pick up with a forklift). Here is a link:


Good luck with your project, and be sure to post some pictures.

Bill tgo
Username: sfnic

Post Number: 74
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 3:08 pm:   Edit Post

Close-grain Southern Pine makes a fairly decent tonewood. Bill tgo beat me to the link for the Taylor Pallet Guitars (and Bob will be happy to builkd one for you for an astronomical amount of money). I played one a few years ago, and it was pretty damned good, for a Taylor.

(I have a fantastic amount of respect and admiration for Bob's ability to manufacture guitars, and for the innovative tooling and hyper-exacting precision of his construction techniques. I just don't really care for the "Taylor sound." I seem to be Martin's bitch, but my all-time fav was Dave Crosby's old Guild D-35-12.)

In a solidbody, pine should sound fairly close to alder. Especially if you use a pore filler and sealer coats before shooting color or clear topcoats. The harder you can get the finish, the better treble definition you'll get out of it.

I recently saw a guitar that was built completely out of marine-grade birch plywood. Beautiful instrument. Think of an Alembic that was completely done in pinstripe laminations. Awesome patterns across the body curves. Sounded pretty good, as well.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 425
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 8:24 pm:   Edit Post

Well, Nic, you answered a question I've always wondered about. Growing up in The South, it's very common in my East Texas roots and North Florida and Lower Alabama (yes, that's what WE call LA!) travels to drive past mile after mile of Pine Tree Farms for the paper and lumber businesses. Of course, that stuff is way too young for serious lumber, but after 'basswood'
and other vagaries in cheap guitars, I always wondered if properly old and milled pine would at least work for solid bodies.

J o e y
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 426
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 8:27 pm:   Edit Post


Other wood questions:

Are the 'fruit' woods (pear, olive, apple, orange tree) or pecan any good for instruments?

And is there a modern name for the 'wormwood' mentioned in The Bible? Even that fabulous wood link that Dave hipped us to says nothing about wormwood.

J o e y
Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 565
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 11:15 pm:   Edit Post

Wormwood, a.k.a. Artemisia absinthum - a quick Google search learns it is a herb, not a tree. And yes, it is one of the ingredients of that infamous alcoholic beverage.

Back on topic, I remember reading an interview with a British acoustic guitar builder (it must have been in the very late 70s) who as a test built an instrument out of 'cheap' wood. His idea was that the rigidity of an acoustic guitar's body works the same way as that of a plastic margarine tub (empty): the body is flexible until you put the lid on.
Username: sfnic

Post Number: 76
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 3:24 pm:   Edit Post

Fruitwoods? Did someone say fruitwoods?

Let's start this discussion by pointing out that walnut is a fruitwood...

For solidbodies, pear, apple, etc., are fairly uncommon. _I_ think that the main reason for that is that orchard-grown trees are generally limited in size, and it's not easy to come by billets large enough for body blanks. Also, they generally don't have the bold exotic figure that today's boutique builders look for in drop-tops and backs.

Also, very few major suppliers, like Southern Lumber, carry the species because simple economics dictates that the vast majority of shelf space go to maple, cherry and oak.

Now, all THAT said, pear is quite good as a tonewood. LMI is selling more and more of it as backs and sides to builders who want a lighter colored instrument that isn't maple. It's a decent-to-excellent tonewood that works very well (bends nicely, doesn't munge up your cutting tools, etc.). It's a little blotchy to finish, but if you seal and fill it properly, it takes dyes and clearcoats nicely. I don't know of anybody who's built acoustic tops out of pear, but if I had a properly grained chunk available I'd give it a shot on a classical or flamenco with the expectation that it's going to sound like a slightly compressed cedar.

I seem to recall that apple has been used as an acoustic top wood, with mixed results. Olive has recently been used for backs and sides, with good-to-spectacular results. I haven't come across anything done from orange, again probably because of the size issue. Orange trees simply don't get to be all that big around.

Pecan, otoh, is really cool. Think of it as half-way between walnut and mahogany. One downside is that it's a bit heavy. One upside is that it generally has a better tap tone than walnut. Highly figured pecan is kinda rare; it's much like mahogany in that respect.

Alas, none of these are really rigid enough to be used as neck primaries, but olive and pecan could be used as intermediate laminations. Overall, though, I'd tend to use them as "hippie sandwich" (<tm> Alembic, Inc.) cores, and there only if I were doing a full hollow chamber.

Username: byoung

Post Number: 94
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 4:52 pm:   Edit Post

What about persimmon? That's a member of the ebony family, and it gets big.

Username: sfnic

Post Number: 79
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - 1:21 pm:   Edit Post

Funny you should ask: we have a hunk of old persimmon sttting in the shop, drying out. We got it milled down to 1/2" planks over the winter, and are going to use it for backs and sides.

Highly figured, as it wasn't that big a tree and we've got heartwood and sapwood. So we have three boards of essentially 1/4-sawn timber, with the center cathedrals. Very pretty, though not especially dark. A lot of blond and pink and some grain that looks almost spalted, but isn't.

I honestly have no idea how it'll sound; the only persimmon I've seen in an instrument was from a larger tree and was bookmatched without the heartwood. Sounded okay, but it had a cedar top and was way overbraced.

I'm hoping to get something between maple and padauk out of it, sonically. It'll be a year or two until we get to it, unless Matt sends it out to be kilned (and he's talking about using some for fingerboards, which would be a shame, IMO).

I'm getting jazzed about the next Parlour in line, which will be my little soprano guitar. 12" lower bout, 24" scale, Sitka top, padauk back and sides, graphite-reinforced Alembic-style maple/purple-heart neck, purpleheart bridge and fingerboard, padauk and purpleheart peghead lams, bone nut and bridge saddle and brass string pins. I'm going to string it with the treble half of a 12-string set.

Should be a screamer. But it might have to wait until we do a classical for a close friend. We're in the middle of engineering a neck joint that can be disassembled quickly, so he can stow the guitar in an airplane overhead compartment. So it's got to collapse to fit in a carry-on suitcase. Matt wants to finalize the joint design and finish the prototype before the client goes on his autumn travels.

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