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Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood

catspaw49 06 Nov 99 - 06:00 PM
Lady McMoo 06 Nov 99 - 05:57 PM
Metchosin 06 Nov 99 - 03:00 PM
catspaw49 06 Nov 99 - 02:58 PM
Matt 06 Nov 99 - 01:58 PM
Owlkat 06 Nov 99 - 04:19 AM
catspaw49 06 Nov 99 - 12:34 AM
catspaw49 06 Nov 99 - 12:08 AM
BK 06 Nov 99 - 12:05 AM
John of the Hill 05 Nov 99 - 11:28 PM
Rick Fielding 05 Nov 99 - 11:16 PM
catspaw49 05 Nov 99 - 10:57 PM
Rick Fielding 05 Nov 99 - 10:38 PM
_gargoyle 05 Nov 99 - 10:07 PM
_gargoyle 05 Nov 99 - 10:03 PM
catspaw49 05 Nov 99 - 06:53 PM
Bill D 05 Nov 99 - 05:54 PM
Liam's Brother 05 Nov 99 - 04:33 PM
Bill Cameron 05 Nov 99 - 03:45 PM
Fortunato 05 Nov 99 - 02:11 PM
Michael K. 05 Nov 99 - 02:02 PM
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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 06:00 PM

MCMOO!!!! MY MAN!!!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 05:57 PM

My original postgraduate training was as a wood scientist and I have also built and repaired instruments. I don't think there is a "best" wood for instruments...it very much depends on the combination of the particular woods used, the structure, density and orientation of cut of the particular piece of wood, the design and quality of build of the particular instrument, your taste in aesthetics, and the sound you want and your style of playing.

My two current favourite instruments couldn't be more different: one is a highly abalone inlaid mandolin of BRW with an Englemann spruce top and ebony fingerboard and bridge...it has a bright, resonant and very penetrating sound; the other is an extremely plain octave mandola of honduras mahogany with a sitka spruce top and IRW fingerboard and bridge...this has a deep, warm and mellow sound. Both instruments perform their jobs excellently.

I have used IRW, BRW, koa, maple and mahogany with sitka, Englemann and adirondack spruce, Swiss pine, cedar and Douglas fir soundboards, and ebony and IRW fingerboards and bridges in many different combinations. Each has its own individual sound and at the end of the day I believ it's down to individual preferences.

I wouldn't use BRW or any rare or endangered wood now. Like 'Spaw I prefer "pear" hide glue as it works with a vey thin layer, sands beautifully and is easier to separate for repairs than modern synthetics.

End of my pennyworth!

All the best,

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Metchosin
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 03:00 PM

I've got a Sada D 28 copy and it kicks the ass out of every real D 28 I've ever played, except for a 1937 and a matched pair of circa 1940 era D 28's and I'm convinced that the 37 with its Adarondak spruce top and light construction had much more to do with its astonishing clarity and subtlty of tonal expression than whether or not its back or sides were BRW or InRW. Its no surprise that these three instruments shared very thin finishes and (probably) hide glue in conjunction with extodinarily percise craftsmanship. As an interesting aside, my 52 D 18 (real) with mahogany back and sides manages to sound brighter than the Sada in many respects but the Sada is less inclined to swamp fundamental tones with additional resonance. Neither guitar wins hands down, both have their unique strengths and force changes in style and approach when played. Ergo, we should all have about 90 really good guitars which would be hard to do after a divorce settlement (this would be set in motion the day you brought home the 23rd guitar.) If you really want to get weird start thinking of the old style tuners verses heavier cast Grover types, mechanical intergrity of saddle and bridge, saddle and nut material etc. Just as a point of additional materials departure, the Sada's top is an intensely cross-silked Englemann spruce. I also have theories that grain structure may be of greater significance than actual species. End of rant.


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 02:58 PM

This has been discussed before, but even within large manufacturers who use computer assisted assembly and small little builders.....there is always the odd instrument that for no apparent reason is a cut above or below the ones built before or after. I've experienced this using the same materials on successive instruments and one may be worse or better than the others. As Bill D. said above, you get differences within even the same piece of wood. But there are other factors too.

Once again...play it, listen to it.....like it? Buy it....or not.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Matt
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 01:58 PM

When I took my 17 year old SCGC D cutaway to Steve Swan, he was knocked out by the overtones it produced with its Sitka top and BRW sides and 4 piece back. I have heard many other BRW guitars from that period and the are not impressive. Steve felt that the light construction techniques had more to do with the tone than any other factors. In conversations with Stefan Sobell, his "unsupportable theories" have led him to make heavier, not lighter guitars. I have played some terrific Collings guitars that are heavier than any SCGC, but the sweetest Collings I ever heard was an Advanced Jumbo in BRW. On that same day at Mandolin Brothers, I played an SCGC all koa 000 that was astounding. It still seems to be hit or miss from guitar to guitar.


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Owlkat
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 04:19 AM

I've owned Brazilian, Indian, mahogany, and maple guitars. In the end, it's always been the sound that dictates whether they've been good to my ear. I don't know who built my plywood Ibanez, but it's very nice. My first steel string was a plywood Yamaki. It was wonderful. Later on, I owned a Sada Yairi D-35 copy that outplayed the real things five times out of ten. I agree that the blindfold test is a very important part of choosing the right instrument. Pretty wood, and inlay are nice to look at, but they don't mean anything if it don't sing. Your serve.


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 12:34 AM

John and BK....exactly right and that's the kind of "Zen" thing that just drives me nuts!

Woods are important in various places on different instruments. On most lute family instruments the preferred soundboard is generally one of the spruces, German, Engleman, or Sitka, and properly cut and worked they are far superior to anything else although cedar and redwoods are good too. The Hammered Dulcimer is more of a piano...really a board zither and use a variety of soundboard materials, generally thicker. A good taptone is far more important than graining. App dulcimers can be made of damn near anything for the box but very hard fretboards are essential as this is the basis of the sound and you DO hear a difference between maple, cherry, mahogany, and walnut...but its more a matter of preference for mellower vs. "ringing."

And BTW, laminates are plywoods, but plywoods are not a laminate. Most "plywood" sides and backs are really laminates.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 12:08 AM

Okay.........

Violin makers have used "Hide Glue" for centuries. Specifically, they use a granular hide glue which requires some relatively strict controls on the shopp environment for proper setting. Its mixed at about 1.25 to 1.65 water to 1.00 part glue. You mix it with cold water and then heat it in a non-metallic glue pot to about 135-140 degress (don't go over 150 or the glue will be brittle). If you heat it too long, its weak. It sets at 80 or so and you want to work it at about 70. But if the humidity is too high.......Get the idea? The stuff is great but a major pain in the ass to use. Hide glues do have some significant advantages. Very resonant when properly applied because its very glass-like in hardness; if you do "beautiful" joints, only a little thin coat is needed; fills well; sands GREAT!; easy to get the joint apart if needed with heat/water/vinegar. But the stuff is just such a pain in the ass...........

Ideal glue would be easy to use, easy to get apart, resonant/glass hard; dry fast; sand easy; fill well, etc...........Common woodworkers glues like Franklin Tite-Bond and Elmer's formulations are totally crap for instruments as they are made to be flexible to absorb the shocks that they are likely to receive. Unfortunately absorbing shock=absorbing sound!!!

There are some good application possibilities for both multi-part epoxies and the Cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) stuff. The inability to get these apart easily is a drawback and they are bitches to sand.

Anyway...to wrap this up.....Franklin and Elmer's are "polyvinyl" glues, BUT there are several other polyvinyl glues specially formulated for instruments and is used by damn near everybody from Martin to me. This type dries harder than hell and with a few minor problems, its as easy as Franklin and dries faster. It doesn't store as well as its softer, flexible cousins, but it really works as the most nearly perfect stuff you can get.

That more than you wanted or cared about? LOL(:<))

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: BK
Date: 06 Nov 99 - 12:05 AM

I've got a BRW old D-28 & a much newer cheaper mahogany DM, the old guitar hs a sitka spruce top, the new one some other spruce, tho extremely fine grain, & both sound great & garner copious complements for lovely tone, & usually not from guitarist, but rather from people who mostly wouldn't know a Martin from an M1A1 or a P-38.

A long time ago, when the Martin factory people were very user friendly, I asked one of the old timers if I should trade my D-28 for a -then new- D-35, & what difference the back & sides made. He told me not only no, but hell no; they just made the three piece back to get more use out of the BRW - they used the lighter-colored non-matching odd pieces, which previously went to waste, as the middle piece of the first D-35 backs. He also told me that the top was the secret of great sound & as long as it was really well made, the back & sides were not all that important.

It has seemed ever since then that he was right - when I try to objectively just listen to sound & not look at the brand or fancy woods & pretty inlays, etc. I voiced that advice abt the back & side woods several times over the years and generally it is greeted by folkie guitarists as rank HERASY! UNTHINKABLE! VERY politically incorrect.. Oh, well.. back to my stool in the corner for me..

Cheers, BK


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: John of the Hill
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 11:28 PM

Spaw, I used the eye, ear, and hip-pocket approach when buying a guitar a few years ago, and ended up with a Peavey acoustic, made by Landola in Finland. It has a solid European alpine spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sides. I wouldn't swap it for many of the more expensive guitars I've tried. The point of this is that I am ordering a bouzouki, and I wonder if the combination of woods would translate from one instrument to another. Have you found that people who like a given combination on guitars like the same combination on dulcimers or are there too many other variables? John


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 11:16 PM

Paw, can you yak a bit about glues. I assume some are water-soluable and some are not. What did the old violin makers use?
Rick


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 10:57 PM

That's what I was alluding to Rick.....Most of us love Martin and Guild and all....and they're excellent guitars...but in the "blind test?"......Ya' buy what you like and if it sounds like what you want or looks like what you want or both....GREAT!!!! Its true of a lot of other instruments too and you know how fed up I am with the Zen of it all sometimes.

The woods do have different qualities, but so do the GLUES! Some aren't resonant.....but you rarely hear anyone talking about glue. And how about finishing....Anybody want to debate new lacquers vs. old vs. French polish? How much is too much...or not enough?

You can SEE the wood, so you pick what you like. Sure there's tonal differences, but in the final analysis, you'll buy the one you're going "bats" over and use the other stuff to justify it.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 10:38 PM

I've mentioned this before but it may be appropriate here. A number of years ago I participated in an experiment held in a New York guitar maker's shop. Twenty guitars were played (by one person) while about 10 of us listened with blindfolds on. We could (and did) ask the player to go back several times to guitar #2 (or 4, or 18 etc.) and then we rated them for tone, volume, presence etc.
The ones who were asked to be on the panel had to be able to differentiate between two notes played one right after the other that were a scant hair apart in pitch. The store owner wanted to make sure that his guinea pigs had really good ears.
Anyway, the winner..to our horror..was a medium priced Yamaha with a solid top and rosewood VENEER sides and back. The finest Brazilian rosewood D-28 (an old one too) came in something like 11th! From what I remember, we pretty much hated a couple of Guilds and Gibson Hummingbirds (or Doves) I do remember that a Catseye (Japanese hand made) rated highly as did a Franklin. There may have been a Larrivee as well but I'm not sure. There were about six vintage Martins and a couple of new ones, and they were rated all through from almost the top to almost the bottom. For what it's worth, I picked the Yamaha first, and the Brazillian 4th or 5th.

The funny thing about this is that I found out a few days later that the owner did exactly the same test with different people but with NO blindfolds! Naturally it was win place and show for the old Martins..followed closely by the Gibsons. Trailing badly were the Japanese guitars!
I guess it shows that when you see "Brazilian" you probably "think" Brazilian.
Oh the reason the owner did this was cause he was introducing a newer inexpensive line of guitars in his store, and he felt the proof was in the pudding. They were Yamahas..of course.
Me, I love the "look" of the word "Martin"..still a sentimentalist after all these years.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: _gargoyle
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 10:07 PM

Whoops...forgot to mention...Piano (1898 Cable-Nelson)

What a party for her 100th!


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: _gargoyle
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 10:03 PM

Never new there was an I or a B Rosewood just know "Rosewood."

Since that is what granny played...that is what I play now.


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 06:53 PM

How much do you really want to know? I am a builder and an "acoustics junkie." Are you interesred only in sound or also in stability...or cost vs. avilability, or are you interested in proper drying and storage techniques which can render a fine piece of wood worthless? Would you like to know the densities and the coefficient of dimensional change for various tonewoods? Would you like to discuss grading and cutting from either a block or a billet and which will minimize the runout and why runout is so detrimental? Or are we just talking D.nigra vs. D. latifolia?

Not being smart gang, but the market is consumer driven and there are advantages and disadvantages to all tonewoods and a lot of stuff to a luthier ends up as a trade-off. What's really important is the playability and sound of the instrument---guitar, fiddle, Hammered dulcimer, or mandolin........Play it yourself and have it played along with others with your back turned.

Quite seriously, I'll get into all of this, as I suspect Bill will too, but you get to writing a book more than a post!!! If you're really interested in the subject and how a luthier looks at it...happy to oblige.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 05:54 PM

I am a member of the IWCS..(International Wood Collectors Society)...and have this rather single-minded passion to find correct info about wood whenever possible...(I make turned items..of MANY different wood of the world...and in general the case seems to be as BOTH Bill Cameron and Liam's brother say....BRW can be heavier, but not necessarily....and the same species of wood can vary widely from tree to tree and even from different cuts in the SAME tree...so, although you might be able to generalize that, of 100 instruments of each wood, you would find MORE BRW than IRW to your liking, you must evaluate them individually..

(I have had 2 bowls from the same log behave in totally different manner and exhibit different coloring and density)

here are 2 different levels in one of the BEST sources of information...The USDA Forest Products Labratory..in Madison , Wisconsin...

Data on BRW

Data on IRW

menu for looking at LOTS of wood

back a couple of levels to menu for other stuff about the wood..


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 04:33 PM

Consider a guitar being made today. Trying to think objectively, you have to ask... How many slabs of GREAT BRW are there sitting around in guitar makers' woodpiles since import to the USA was stopped (ca. 1969)? Probably not many I would think. Are you better off with a so-so piece of BRW or a GREAT piece of IRW?

I "test-drove" 3 OM size guitars at the same store this week. They were all new or very recently made. Martin BRW @ $6000+, Santa Cruz BRW @ $5600 and Collings IRW @ $2600. The last was clearly superior.

Here's my thought on new guitars. What you hear is what you get! Buy the best sounding one you can afford. Everytime you hear a wonderful $25,000 1941 BRW Martin D-28, just remember the guy who bought it new is already dead and it sounds better now than it ever did was he was alive! Buy any guitar for the way it sounds today and put it up against the best.

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Bill Cameron
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 03:45 PM

Ummm, I'm a forestry school graduate and have thirty-years of guitar playing, but I got no comment on that spruce comparison yet--insufficient info. Can you mention a few instruments built with one or the other?

As for Rosewood, I'm pretty sure Brazilian is heavier and more reflective of sound. I have an old Giannini dreadnought--a cheap made in Brazil guitar. It's got solid BRW sides, I think and a lovely BRW veneer back. The top is ply, badly mangled where I removed the bridge a few years ago. I'd love to recycle this guitar into something with a new top & bridge. It had a terrific clear treble sound.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Fortunato
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 02:11 PM

Good question, MichaelK.

Ancillary to that could people comment on Engelmann vs. Sitka spruce: differences in tone?


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Subject: Brazilian vs. Indian Rosewood
From: Michael K.
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 02:02 PM

I curious about this topic and interested in other's opinons.

Given the ever increasing rarity of BRW (Brazilian Rosewood)and the ridiculously exhorbitant prices of BRW vs. IRW (Indian Rosewood) guitars, IS there really a difference in the tone of a guitar constructed with one over the other?

Many are of the opinion that it is strictly cosmetic and asthetic, as the BRW seems to have a more swirly grain and figuring to it and more of a reddish hue, than the straighter grained and more chocolaty brown colour associated with IRW.

As an owner of both BRW and IRW instruments (both dreadnaughts) my personal feeling is that the BRW projects more and offers a slightly brighter sound, while the IRW seems to offer a darker, smoother, and more mellow tone......but I may be totally prejudiced.

So is it just cosmetic or is there a real overall difference in tone? And is one justified in spending the huge dollars to acquire a BRW guitar as opposed to an IRW instrument.

Or........is it the aging and constant playing that makes the real difference?


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