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Cedar top guitars

Little Hawk 19 Apr 10 - 01:37 PM
Dan Schatz 19 Apr 10 - 01:46 PM
Backwoodsman 19 Apr 10 - 02:45 PM
John MacKenzie 19 Apr 10 - 03:10 PM
Little Hawk 19 Apr 10 - 03:56 PM
Phil Cooper 19 Apr 10 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 19 Apr 10 - 05:21 PM
Little Hawk 19 Apr 10 - 05:44 PM
Little Hawk 19 Apr 10 - 05:55 PM
bubblyrat 19 Apr 10 - 07:03 PM
michaelr 19 Apr 10 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 19 Apr 10 - 08:07 PM
Don Firth 19 Apr 10 - 09:23 PM
Little Hawk 19 Apr 10 - 11:01 PM
michaelr 20 Apr 10 - 12:42 AM
theleveller 20 Apr 10 - 03:20 AM
Backwoodsman 20 Apr 10 - 05:41 AM
mattkeen 20 Apr 10 - 05:42 AM
Backwoodsman 20 Apr 10 - 06:33 AM
GUEST,Fossil in NZ 20 Apr 10 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,Fossil in NZ 20 Apr 10 - 06:50 AM
mattkeen 20 Apr 10 - 07:14 AM
theleveller 20 Apr 10 - 07:25 AM
Backwoodsman 20 Apr 10 - 07:46 AM
Dan Schatz 20 Apr 10 - 10:48 AM
Little Hawk 20 Apr 10 - 12:15 PM
Songwronger 28 Dec 11 - 07:15 PM
John MacKenzie 28 Dec 11 - 07:25 PM
Bert 29 Dec 11 - 02:10 AM
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Subject: Cedar top guitars
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 01:37 PM

I've never cared much for cedar tops on steel string guitars...sitka spruce is what I usually go for...however...

I played 2 Tayor guitars yesterday that were absolutely exceptional, and they both had a cedar top.

One was a large body type (Grand Auditorium or Grand Symphony, I forget which) with rosewood back and sides. It sounds like a powerful, gutsy dreadnought. The other was a smaller Grand Concert, with rosewood back and sides. It also sounded terrific, very surprising amount of volume for a guitar that size, and you can play it hard (loud strumming, I mean) and it handles it just fine. It sounds wonderful played in a delicate finger style too.

I was there for an hour and a half playing those two guitars back and forth trying to decide which one I liked better. It's hard to figure, but I think I like the smaller body one just a tad better. It doesn't have quite as big a bottom end as the large body one, but it does have just a bit more clarity in tone, I think. They are both about $2,100 guitars. The Arts just lowered their prices a bit because of the stronger Canadian dollar which is now at parity with the US dollar.

I was very surprised how good these 2 cedar top guitars sounded. They're both great along the entire sonic range from base to treble, beautifully balanced, powerful volume, and excellent tone in every way.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 01:46 PM

I love cedar top guitars; I have three of them - a cherry twelve, a mahogany 6 (both by Nick Apollonio) and a Yairi rosewood and cedar dreadnaught.

I especially recommend seeking out one of Nick Apollonio's new 6s - better than any Taylor or Martin and less expensive to boot. PM me for his e-mail.

Warmly,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 02:45 PM

My Lowden O-25 is a cedar top with EIR back & sides. It's one of the most powerful guitars I've heard - rich, resonant and loud, LOUD, LOUD!!

And the top has darkened wonderfully to a beautiful mid-brown. All in all a fantastic instrument, which attracts frequent admiring comments for both its appearance and huge sound.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 03:10 PM

Love my cedar top Apollonio guitar, and it smells good too :)


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 03:56 PM

Cool! ;-) I'll PM you about that, Dan.

All new guitars smell good, but I bet the cedar top ones smell best of all, John.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 04:01 PM

I have two cedar top taylors. One with mahagony back and sides and one with koa back and sides. I had a fylde orsino way back, with a cedar top. I like how they sound. Nothing wrong with spruce and rosewood either.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 05:21 PM

I have some sense of how subjective a lot of evaluations are when it comes to cedar vs. spruce. I happen to shade toward a richer color in sound, whether in choral voicing, brass or strings; i.e., cello, french horn or trombone, baritone voice, etc. Knowing that my ear seems more attuned to those sounds, cedar seems like a logical way to go for guitar soundboards.

I have been told, especially when it comes to classical guitars, that spruce "plays in" over time, where cedar does not improve to the same degree. Is that oversimplified? I spend most of my time now with nylon strings rather than steel.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 05:44 PM

The contrast between nylon strings and steel strings is really interesting. They're both very well suited to certain purposes. I played a Yamaha "Silent Guitar" (no resonating body chamber...just an excellent pickup system) with nylon strings recently through a good acoustic guitar amp, and the sound that thing gave was incredibly rich. It made me feel like going straight out and getting a nylon-string acoustic/electric of some kind.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 05:55 PM

But if I did, I think I'd want one with a bit narrower neck than is seen on the standard classical guitar...


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: bubblyrat
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 07:03 PM

I was "converted " to Cedar as a tone wood some years ago,following the purchase of a Simon & Patrick guitar with a Cedar "top". Later, I bought an Avalon Cedar-topped dreadnought ,with Fishman "Prefix Plus" electronics, and it has remained my main guitar for about 7 years now ; the smell has diminished over the years,but the first two or three were "soundhole-sniffing" heaven !! And,unplugged,it's the loudest guitar that I (and many of my victims) have ever heard !!


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: michaelr
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 07:15 PM

I've been playing a cedar/mahogany Lowden O10 for the past dozen years, and I love it. Somehow there's a bit more warmth to cedar top guitars compared to spruce.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 08:07 PM

my only 'traditional' acoustic guitar is a late 90's budget price Art of Lutherie cedar top..

sounds good enough for my purposes..

But I'd be wary of investing in a more expensive cedar top
as I find the light satin finished cedar surface
suffers marks and dents very easily..


but looking on the bright side, cedar is very nearly the same word as 'cider'..


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 09:23 PM

When I started taking classic guitar lessons in 1954, my teacher (who also ran a music store) sold me a Martin 00-28-G. $175 plus a $50 case (remember, this was 1954. Prices have gone up a bit since then). Spruce top, Brazilian rosewood back and sides.

A few years later and doing a lot of singing in coffeehouses and such, I wanted to get a guitar to bat around with, and one that others would not look at quite so covetously (a few people's guitars having been stolen). The Guitar Review, a rather posh magazine published by the New York Society of the Classic Guitar ran a continuous ad for Vincente Tatay guitars. They had various models at prices ranging from $125, with a cedar top and mahogany back and sides, on up to maybe $700, which would have been a fairly pricey guitar back then. Early on, Richard Dyer Bennet had been playing a Tatay classic (later, one by Manuel Velasquez). So I ordered the $125 one.

When it arrived and I took it out of the case and tuned it up, it blew my mind! It was a fairly plain-looking instrument, with a couple more concentric circles around the sound hole than the Martin had, and no purfling at all around the edges. But the sound!!

My Martin was a very nice sounding instrument, but the Tatay was warmer, mellower, and louder.

The first song fest ("hoot") I took it to, several people commented on how great it sounded, and one guy said, "That must be the best classic guitar in the city!"

$125 well spent!!

Since then I've acquired a few more guitars. My main one for the past several years is a Japanese-made guitar—a blatant copy (inlay, shape of the headstock, general appearance) of the José Ramirez concert guitar that Segovia played—and imported by José Oribé of San Diego and authorized to be sold under his label, and sold locally through The Rosewood Guitar shop (classics only) in Seattle. Cedar top, Brazilian rosewood back and sides. $350. At the time, a Ramirez like the one Segovia played would have cost me $3,000 to 5,000.

By the way, the Ramirez concert model also has a cedar soundboard and Brazilian rosewood back and sides.

I occasionally do a program of folk songs and ballads for the Seattle Classic Guitar Society (makes a nice break from playing and singing for folkies). Now, there is some pretty pricey wood that shows up at those meetings, including a number of Ramirez classics. Because of its appearance—and the big, rich sound—everybody assumed that my $350 Japanese import was a Ramirez!

Yep! For classics, anyway, cedar makes a very good soundboard.

####

By the way, does anyone have, or at least have an opinion about, the La Patrie Motif, a nylon-string classic but with a parlor guitar sized body? Looks interesting.

The smaller body size would make it easier for me to play while sitting in my wheelchair. The lower bout of the guitar and the right wheel of the chair want to occupy the same space, and it tends to make holding a guitar in a good playing position a bit awkward. Smaller body would help.

Don Firth

P. S. By the way, Little Hawk, unless you want to switch back and forth between guitars, I wouldn't sweat the wider classic fingerboard. It's easy enough to get used to. In fact--well, you may have seen this before, but when people tell my their hands are too small to play a classic-size neck, I like to show them this little video:   CLICKY.   Check the barre and the four-fret stretch at the very end.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 11:01 PM

Wow! Beautiful video, Don. No, it isn't that I think my hands are too small for a classical neck, it's that I would be switching back and forth to the other guitars which are all steel string 6-string guitars, and the transition would be difficult, I think. I know from playing most 12-strings that it always bothers me that the neck is somewhat wider than on a 6-string.

Also, my general playing style is suited better to a narrower neck, I think, than the classical neck.

I recently re-educated my left hand to play more in classical position (not hanging my thumb up around the side of the neck in other words, but pivoting on the pad of the thumb and keeping the palm of my hand clear of touching the neck). So I don't think I'd have any trouble reaching anything using the hand position I do now, but I'd prefer a nylon string setup that was maybe halfway between the width of a standard classical neck and a steel string neck. It would make switching back and forth a bit more agreeable, I think.

Your story about the Tatay guitar is very interesting! What I noticed right away about both of the cedar top Taylor steel strings I played yesterday was what a great BIG and warm sound they had.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: michaelr
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 12:42 AM

Harder to deal with than the difference in neck width would be the difference in string tension, I think. More of a right-hand issue.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: theleveller
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 03:20 AM

"I've been playing a cedar/mahogany Lowden O10 for the past dozen years, and I love it"

Ditto. When I bought it I spent hours in the shop trying different guitars but fell in love with it the moment I played it. I wouldn't swap it for any other guitar (not even the beautiful Brazilian rosewood and spruce Avalon that I've recently acquired). I've had quite a few musicians want to take it off my hands and David DeLarre of Mawkin reckons it's the best guitar he's ever played and has to have it prised from his grasp whenever he picks it up. The only downside is that the cedar marks very easily and, after years of hard use, the face is now full of dings and scratches - bit like me, really ;-)


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 05:41 AM

"The only downside is that the cedar marks very easily and, after years of hard use, the face is now full of dings and scratches"

My Lowden's the same - looks fantastic dun't it?! Guitars are for playing, not for keeping in hermetically-sealed, temperature-controlled showcases. When they get played, they occasionally get dinged and marked. A bit of mojo never hurt any guitar.

IMHO of course, YMMV.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: mattkeen
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 05:42 AM

Lowdens are nice - but on another tack I much prefer European Spruce over sitka


There are so many other things that will effect the sound though - body shape,, bracing 12th or 14th fret join....?


Its difficult to compare tops unless the other elements are the same...


Generally though I have found cedar to be less vibrant as well as darker in tone than spruce


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 06:33 AM

My other guitar has an adirondack top - another fantastic looker, and with a tone quite a bit darker than sitka. A great-sounding Martin OM, but still not as great-sounding as the Lowden.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: GUEST,Fossil in NZ
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 06:48 AM

Well, my ColeClark Fat Lady has a Bunya top and Blackwood sides (both Australian tonewoods) and sounds just great. Very mellow and getting mellower as she ages. Hasn't lost that glorious woodyard smell yet tho'.

Pays to think outside the spruce/cedar box occasionally...


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: GUEST,Fossil in NZ
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 06:50 AM

And I ain't no Guest!

Guess my cookie got re-set for the ten thousandth time. Bugger!


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: mattkeen
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 07:14 AM

My sitka top Brook Taw (really an OM type) has walnut back and sides

My other one is a Brook Lyn (really a 00) but has European spruce top with Brazilian R/W back and sides - and they sound very different. Also this one is a 12th fret join.

At the moment I much prefer the Lyn - but even though they are both Brook's there are too many variables to say why one is different to the other.

I have played identical OM Martins that have sounded VERY different to each other.

Its the joy of wood


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: theleveller
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 07:25 AM

I've also got the cedar/mahogany combination of a Fylde cittern which has a lovely mellow tone - although I had to try several to find the best.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 07:46 AM

My friend Mike also has a Fylde cittern which is cedar/hog, and it is a MONSTER! What a fabulous-sounding instrument, those ten strings sound like an express train. Fantastic machine!


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 10:48 AM

Little Hawk, I've sent you a pm.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 12:15 PM

Righto. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Songwronger
Date: 28 Dec 11 - 07:15 PM

Thought I saw this thread bumped up earlier, at lunchtime. Must have been spam, removed, back to 2010.

I've played flamenco guitars with cedar and cypress tops. Very loud for a split second--sharp attack but rapid decay of the notes. No sustain. The flamenco sound.


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 28 Dec 11 - 07:25 PM

Both my 12 string and my 6 have cedar fronts, and, they work just fine. The 12 in particular gets more and more resonant every week.
They are of course Apollo guitars.
Thanks Nick


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Subject: RE: Cedar top guitars
From: Bert
Date: 29 Dec 11 - 02:10 AM

The acoustic properties of cedar and spruce are very similar. Any difference in sound is more likely due to the structural properties of the individual guitar.

The structural properties are also very similar with the exception that cedar is more prone to splitting. That is why it is popular for shakes.


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