Alder: What's the next best thing?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Rigel7, May 17, 2021.

  1. Rigel7

    Rigel7 Tele-Meister

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    Yip. I know what I'm asking, and I know there's no real answer, but... here goes!

    I've done a few guitars through the years, mostly ash (I'm in Canada, so I guess Northern Ash), and a few from pine. I've thinking about my "dream" Tele build, the one I've been working up to and I've sold myself on "Alder this time!" because it's, well, it's the "Fender wood". Trouble is, I can't get alder where I am and I'd be left buying a piece online... which jacks up the price.

    I wanted to use not-Ash because ash is a) hard on tools and b) heavy.
    I like pine, but you can yell a dent into it and I'm hung up on tradition (or at least think I am).
    I've never really experienced basswood... but you can yell a dint into it and I'm hung up on tradition (or at least think I am).

    So, I recognize that on one hand I'm asking questions I can really only answer for myself, but on the other: is Alder going to be so good to justify the additional cost and hassle, and/or what woods have you used that you found to be Alder-like in terms of price, ease of use, and (importantly) sonics?

    Of note: this one would be painted, so grain and appearance of the timber aren't super important this time around.

    Disclaimer: I do believe different species of wood have distinct sonic characteristics, however I don't believe that that alone necessarily led to their adoption by certain legacy brands when manufacturing their respective historic models.
     
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  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Poplar...distant relative of Alder. It's pretty cheap, readily available, and takes paint nicely. It is close grained so it doesn't need any filler.

    Basswood is about the same price. It dings a bit more easily and is essentially bland looking unless you put some oil on it.

    Both have been used by the bigger guitar companies with Fender style instruments. Even Gibson had some poplar bodied guitars during the Norlin Era and their more recent M2 and similar guitars are poplar bodied.

    Here is one I built from some found curb wood.


    poplar.jpg




    Poplar S-Style Guitar Body | eBay

    Gibson M^2
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2021
  3. Rigel7

    Rigel7 Tele-Meister

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    Thought about it, but ... no. '90s MIM stank on it. Which, granted, isn't much of a reason. It would be easy to work with though, I'd imagine. And obtainable.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2021
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  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    +1 poplar. Super easy machining and takes paint well. I built a jazz master with poplar.

    That MIM experience you had with poplar was the bad end of the pots n Caps specs, not a wood problem.

    .
     
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  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'm guessing somebody could give you a poplar guitar to play and you'd never know what the wood was if it was painted. :). Remember the "tone" is the sum of the parts...not just the body.

    If Leo Fender had his factory on the East coast...everyone would be using poplar....
     
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  6. ale.istotle

    ale.istotle Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Poplar really is, on average, about as close to alder as you can get in terms on density and hardness. If you want to get a slightly harder wood maybe elm or sycamore but they get a bit heavier too. You can fish around in the wood database to get an idea.
    https://www.wood-database.com/
     
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  7. Rigel7

    Rigel7 Tele-Meister

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    Solid reasoning, I can't deny that. And she's a fine looking beast you've got there!
    I agree, or at least am very willing to entertain the idea that Leo would have used poplar (or at least something else) had he of been on the east coast. I've felt for a while the switch from ash to alder wasn't for sound reasons, it was ease of use.
    I've got a poplar Tele (my first) and a classic series ash and lacquer Tele, and the ash is in a whole other league even unplugged (granted, I'm quite likely expecting the wrong things).
    So noted about the dingablity rating though.
     
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  8. mefgames

    mefgames Friend of Leo's Double Platinum Supporter

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  9. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    My multi-piece, poplar '98 James Burton Standard Telecaster is the only guitar I kept when I had to sell off everything to stay solvent. Tone is the guitar. Tone isn't the wood.
     
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  10. Festofish

    Festofish Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Gold!!!
     
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  11. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    I agree ash is first choice and alder second.
    Past that anything goes.
    I’d consider mahogany.
     
  12. Strebs

    Strebs Tele-Holic

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    There are some really soft maple species. I'd go for one of those. They tend to be pretty cheap in the northern USA so they may be the same in Canada.
     
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  13. Novatuc

    Novatuc Tele-Meister

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    Depending on where you are in Nova Scotia check out Halifax Specialty Hardwoods website. They have a good selection of woods to make a body.
     
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  14. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like mahogany, it's a nice solid wood.
     
  15. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    I mainly build with alder but I did build a couple of Strats out of poplar and as many have said it's the guitar and the player. And it's really nice to work with..
     
  16. eallen

    eallen Friend of Leo's

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    Wood type is pretty inconsequential in solid bodies. Someone will chime in otherwise but give them 20 different painted bodies of various wood & they wouldn't guess which is which from the tone in a month of Sundays. Leo used what was cheap and available and everyone fell into following it like it was a cult!

    For painted bodies poplar is just hard to beat for workability and price. Basically alder of a greenish shade. Cherry is very similar to work with and an excellent wood. Look for similar closed grain woods and you won't go wrong.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2021
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  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Friend of Leo's

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    Just don't use Basswood, next thing you know your guitar would start messing with the mixing board.
     
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  18. Rigel7

    Rigel7 Tele-Meister

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    I've bought from them recently, but alder is a no.
     
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  19. Cali Dude

    Cali Dude Tele-Afflicted

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    One more vote for mahogany. It's not traditional "Fender", but it's cool. Also the "Rosewood Tele" was cool.
     
  20. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Carvin used poplar for many years in the construction of their painted solidbody guitars. It's widely available and relatively inexpensive (as woods go).
     
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