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In praise of poplar!

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by EspyHop, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. EspyHop

    EspyHop Tele-Meister

    Age:
    44
    108
    May 28, 2018
    Dayton, OH
    I’ve decided that poplar is my favorite tonewood.

    Sure, it’s ugly and lacks the warmth of mahogany, the crystalline clears of alder, or the snap of ash, but it handles single coils, humbuckers, and P90s with ease. It doesn’t do anything badly, just not as well as other woods. It does humbuckers better than ash and single coils better than mahogany, and it still has a decent amount of snap. In that sense, it’s a great do-it-all guitar wood. I want a 25-in scale PRS inspired guitar with custom switching and a poplar body.
     
    Zepfan, zephyrR1 and PhredE like this.

  2. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Meister

    294
    Sep 25, 2017
    Suburban PDX, OR
    +1.
    I also feel that a good piece of poplar is just as good as any other type of wood for guitar bodies out there. I've played/heard some fantastic guitars that had poplar bodies.
     

  3. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    So-o-o-o-, does that make poplar popular?
     

  4. mgreene

    mgreene Tele-Holic

    661
    Jan 27, 2010
    south carolina
    I talked here before about a custom bass I have made of poplar. I always say that back in the day I would have argued with anyone who said poplar was a good tone wood, but this bass sounds really great. As good as the Alembics I used to have way back when. Yes - it ugly - but it sounds nice.

    FYI: Also goes under the name Tulip wood.

    Helms2.jpg
     
    Finck likes this.

  5. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    What Tiny Tims Ukes were made out of.
     
    Chicago Matt, Fiesta Red and mgreene like this.

  6. warrent

    warrent Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Sep 15, 2009
    toronto
    tiptoeing through the tonewood
     
    hemingway and Fiesta Red like this.

  7. dougstrum

    dougstrum Tele-Holic

    522
    Oct 6, 2015
    blu ridge mtn cabin
    Poplar is inexpensive, light weight, easy to work. takes
    paint and stain well~what's not to like?

    Seems to make a reasonably bright and clear sounding guitar.
     
    boris bubbanov likes this.

  8. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone

  9. SPUDCASTER

    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    One of my Teles has a white poplar body. That guitar has great sustain.

    The neck/neck pocket has a very tight fit. I've been told that's a good factor for sustain in a guitar.

    Who knows. The poplar body seems to work fine.
     

  10. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Which kind of poplar are we talking about?

    I thought the thread was about Yellow Poplar (Tuliptree).
     

  11. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Meister

    404
    Mar 11, 2015
    Upper Midwest
    Decades ago, in my carpentry days, we installed a lot of Yellow Poplar for trim in new houses, especially the more colorful variant that has purple, red, green, etc highlights. This was in N and S Carolina. We kept it natural to show those pretty colors. The potential downside to Yellow Poplar tho is its softness; easy to work but easy to ding. I remember thinking of it as a soft hardwood. I have no knowledge/experience with its tonal qualities. Just my 2 cents.
     

  12. mgreene

    mgreene Tele-Holic

    661
    Jan 27, 2010
    south carolina
    True, its soft, my bass came with a dent in the top. But its a player, so I dont care.
     
    Random1643 likes this.

  13. warrent

    warrent Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Sep 15, 2009
    toronto
    There are plenty of Fender's made with poplar bodies such as the standard and deluxe MIM models from 99 or the USA made Sparkle Tele from 93 that listed back then for 2100
     

  14. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2003
    northwest
    I suspect, but dont know, that my '98 MIM Strat is Poplar. It's super resonant.
     

  15. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Jun 4, 2005
    Williamsville NY
    It should be multi-piece, edge-glued Poplar with a veneer on the front and back. After 1999 IIRC, they were the same construction, but alder.
     

  16. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

    Nov 15, 2010
    Texas
    My 1995 Hecho-en-Mexico Fender Tele Special (see avatar) is poplar with an ash veneer...kinda on the heavy side (not overly so, but definitely not light, either).

    It's my #1 go-to guitar for performing, recording and songwriting...I don't think it's specifically the body, I think it's some weird alchemy in the combination of the right neck, body, bridge, balance, feel, and (modified) neck pickup/4-way switch/No-Load Tone Pot and cosmetic upgrades.
     

  17. Sollipsist

    Sollipsist Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    47
    Aug 25, 2016
    89108
    Too soft for my clumsy hands. But I've played guitars with poplar bodies that sounded great - so as long as I don't try to build one, or keep one around my crazy house, I'm all in favor of poplar guitars :D

    Janka says poplar isn't much softer than alder? That seems counterintuitive.
     

  18. DugT

    DugT Tele-Meister

    380
    Sep 22, 2017
    northern CA
    I have a used but like new poplar strat that came with a stripped pickguard screw hole. I have an ash tele and I think it would be near impossible to strip a screw hole in it. Fixing a pickguards stripped screw hole so easy that it is essentially inconsequential. Therefore, this paragraph is inconsequential. Please feel free to put me on your ignore list if I'm not already.

    Edit: My strat is actually basswood which is even softer than poplar.
     

  19. jwp333

    jwp333 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    860
    Jul 17, 2013
    Richmond, VA
    I've got poplar in a Peavey and a Ernie Ball Musicman. I like the way it reverberates. But right now, I think my personal champ is the basswood.
     

  20. tfarny

    tfarny Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Poplar holds pickups just as well as any other wood and it's cheap and easy to work but soft and can be ugly. If you want to assign it qualities of "snap" "warmth" and "crystalline highs" you're welcome to. But put a big dark, muddy overwound P90 pickup in the neck and I would be surprised if the "crystalline highs" don't disappear entirely. Put a lower wound Tele bridge pickup in it and see if the "warmth" sticks around. It ain't about the wood.
     

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