Alder: What's the next best thing?

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

  1. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Friend of Leo's

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    Swamp Ash can weigh less than Alder.

    Alder is about as easy to work with as Pine or Poplar. Alder dings pretty easily as well. Usually Alder does not have a distinguished grain pattern. Generally the bodies were painted. You will probably continue your quest for Alder but don't be surprised when you find nothing terribly unique about it.

    Now Korina might be what you are looking for. Mahogany like... but lighter weight. The original Explorers and Flying V's were Korina. Iirc Reverend uses it.
     
  2. scook

    scook Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    There was a run in the 50’s of some sassafras bodies, supposedly Eric Johnson’s “Virginia” Strat is sassafras. Could give you a nice alder alternative and smells wonderful to work.

    Don’t know how available it is where you’re at though.
     
  3. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    The real question is what type of finish are you going to put on it? I don't agree that Fender would have used Poplar as they used Alder. Maybe under solid colors, but definitely not under transparent or sunburst finishes. Alder is great because it is attractive (unlike Poplar) and does not require grain filling.
    If you are just really set on wanting to try Alder, then order it in. Pretty sure they've got lots over in BC.
     
  4. drumtime

    drumtime Tele-Afflicted

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    There are species of pine that are harder than Alder, and look better with a clear finish, IMO. Mahogany is good too, but probably expensive. As mentioned, if you're going to paint it, use whatever - the only criteria would be whether paint will stick. Once painted, there's no real reason to even use wood - also IMO.
     
  5. kifla

    kifla Tele-Meister

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    Samba wood! (i.e. Obeche or Ayous)
    It is very light and resonant and very, very cheap....at least here, in Croatia.
    Make a tele body, put the neck on it and you'll have pretty loud acoustic instrument!!

    :)
     
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  6. oldunc

    oldunc Tele-Holic

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    Poplar is on the soft side too, but I like it a lot (I don't think it actually comes from poplar trees). If you look around you can find some really interesting color patterns. I'm not sure, it may be a fungus or something, but sometimes the heartwood takes on tones ranging from purple up to ebony. Won't help with your painted guitar, but I like that sort of poplar for small furniture pieces and think it could make a great guitar body with the right piece. The colors are pretty irregular, and it's hard to match pieces from different trees.
     
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  7. drmmrr55

    drmmrr55 Tele-Holic

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    Why the knock on Basswood? Many very fine, and expensive Ibanez RG series have basswood bodies, and a lot of metal players love em!
     
  8. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    another vote for poplar. I made several out of ash -look great but are heavy, a few out of mahogany (love it but its tough to find the good stuff) and finally last year poplar- nice guitar - I see no real downside other than they are kind of considered not real nice trees around here
    tele 1.jpg tele 3 jppg.jpg tele 6 jpg.jpg
     
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  9. Rigel7

    Rigel7 Tele-Meister

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    Finish would be a solid colour, so yeah the initial sex appeal of the wood isn't all that important, haha.
     
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  10. Rigel7

    Rigel7 Tele-Meister

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    Samba, eh? That's a new one to me. I'll look into it at the very least.
     
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  11. Rigel7

    Rigel7 Tele-Meister

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    Poplar is coming up so much I wonder if my real question was "what's a good alternative to ash?" Haha. I'm going to have to reconsider poplar I guess. Lot of good suggestions coming in too.
     
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  12. Rigel7

    Rigel7 Tele-Meister

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    Ho. Leigh. Frig that's loud! If it wasn't storming here I'd of probably heard you from there!
     
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  13. oldunc

    oldunc Tele-Holic

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    Hah, just as I thought (yay for me) the usual wood sold as poplar is actually tulipwood (Liriodendron Tulipifera), a fairly close relative of Alder, not so related to Poplar (Populus species). I ran across a reference to a hollow body guitar (Danelectro U2) made with a poplar frame with masonite top and bottom.
     
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  14. GunsOfBrixton

    GunsOfBrixton Friend of Leo's

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    If weight is a Issue for ash, do a chambered body.
    But I will also echo what most others have said, poplar.
     
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  15. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    You can't get Alder? I bought a Strat body from a miller in eastern Canada once .... it was for an experiment. But a very nice piece of Alder.
    Ash and Alder sound very much the same... just a little more "spank!" :lol: (that should get the word worriers going!) from Ash IMHO.
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Friend of Leo's

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    Dumb joke, you can't make a guitar out of bass wood.
     
  17. eallen

    eallen Friend of Leo's

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    If you are looking for an alternative to ash just about any wood will work. As mentioned before, Leo used it because it was available, cheap, and easy to color as desired. Certainly not because of any special quality or ease of work. It is heavy, hard, and requires grain fill with is extra work. He got it cheap enough to cover the labor cost of grain filling.

    If the goal is easy light shade for ease of color and similar weight to ash
    or lighter soft maple and sycamore are great woods. If color isn't and issue then cherry, walnut, and a huge list of others are available including Mahogany. Many though are quite pricey and make no sense to use for for a painted finish. Swamp ash is great but in the same price range as mahogany or more.
     
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  18. Rigel7

    Rigel7 Tele-Meister

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    I called a very good hardwood supplier in the city, now granted the kid that answered sounded like he didn't know what the ring box thing on the desk was, but the conversation went as such:
    Me: Hi, just curious if you guys carry alder.
    Him: Uhhhhhhhhhh. I'll check. (to seasoned employee) Uh, do we sell something called an alder?
    Her: Do they mean chips?
    Him: Uh, do you mean chips?
    Me: No, I'd be looking for a plank.
    Him: No, he's looking an a plank?
    Her: Ask him how much he's looking for.
    Him: How much are you looking for?
    Me: About 4 feet I guess, enough to get plank about 16x20 inches. I mean, I'd take more...
    Anyway, the call ended with the lady off phone giving me the website for a company in Ontario, which carries alder body blanks but they're pricy to ship.
     
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  19. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm a firm believer in that the type of wood DOES affect the sound of an electric guitar, but I can't hear much difference between alder, basswood, and poplar. I Have Strats made from all three, and they all sound like Strats.
     
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  20. Lunch meat

    Lunch meat TDPRI Member

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    Does Halifax specialty have korina? Fender did a few guitars in the fifties with it, saw them in vintage guitar mag. It’s a very nice tone wood.
     
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