Alternative Tone Woods? - East Coast

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by danadig, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. danadig

    danadig TDPRI Member

    Age:
    28
    Posts:
    20
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2017
    Location:
    Baltimore
    Hey all,

    I'm getting around to making my first build, and rather than waste money on a "body blank" online, I want to find a slab of wood locally to use for the body.

    I live in the Mid-Atlantic region on the east coast of the US. Wondering if anyone has experience with building with any local woods from the area and could recommend something?

    Some common woods I'm seeing are:
    • chestnut
    • walnut
    • red oak
    • red elm
    • spruce
    • aromatic cedar
    • cherry
    • poplar
    • pine
    Help please! :)
     
    crazydave911 likes this.
  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    21,757
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2003
    Location:
    Ontario County
    Of those on your list, I've used poplar, pine, and walnut for bodies. I'm in NY state. You'll find many of the ones in your list will produce a heavy body. Wood density and weight go hand in hand. The average weight that most like in a tele is about 4 lbs. You can do a thinline to lighten them up if you are dead set on one species.

    Poplar is botanically related to Alder. It is close pored and finishes nicely. It is economically priced. The drawback is the yellowy green tint, so you generally see an opaque paint on them. You can also probably find basswood which is fairly lightweight and stable. It has a non descript grain to it unless you put some clear oil on it.

    Many on your list are open pored timbers and would require grain filling if you wanted a smooth mirror like finish.

    Walnut is very pretty when oiled or cleared. It can be pretty heavy though.

    I'd probably suggest the poplar, pine, or basswood. Hundreds of thousands of Jackson style bodies were made with basswood and poplar. They are also some of the most inexpensive of the domestic hardwoods on the east coast. Other than prototypes that Leo made out of pine, it really came into favor about 15 years ago around here.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
  3. RogerC

    RogerC Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,689
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Location:
    Oklamerica
    Chestnut is a great wood for a guitar body. It's easy to work, looks good, smells good, and the weight isn't bad.
     
    That Cal Webway and crazydave911 like this.
  4. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    73
    Posts:
    11,978
    Joined:
    May 1, 2003
    Location:
    Jacksonville, FL
  5. Jmwright777

    Jmwright777 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    27
    Posts:
    48
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2019
    Location:
    Idaho
    My vote is for poplar and pine. Both very easy to work with and the price point is forgiving. Are you looking at local suppliers (i.e. big box stores) or lumber yards? Even some construction grade douglas fir can make excellent bodies as long as you and work down the rounded edges to get a square and even seam. My first build was a poplar back (2 piece) and a quarter sawn white oak top (2 piece) both very different woods in level of workability. Do you happen to have a woodcraft or rockler located around you anywhere?
     
  6. dougstrum

    dougstrum Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,488
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2015
    Location:
    blu ridge mtn cabin
    Poplar is great; easy to work, not too heavy, and takes paint well. It'd be a good choice for your first build.

    Cherry is a very pretty wood for natural finish, it's stable and works easily as well. It is more expensive~
    I built my first guitar using cherry, 30 yrs later I still play it a lot:):)
     
    ale.istotle, BB and crazydave911 like this.
  7. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,457
    Joined:
    May 31, 2019
    Location:
    SE PA near New Hope PA
    For my general non-guitar work, I use a lot of poplar, cherry, black walnut and QS White Oak. While I've used pine for test bodies, I'm not happy with the weight and have sourced some basswood from Hearne Hardwoods in Oxford PA (reasonable drive for you) to use for that task. For special look, I'll do chambered and a cap of whatever fancy is hanging around. Cherry is one of my all-time favorites and honestly, if I wanted an all cherry body, I'd still do it chambered because....weight.
     
  8. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,915
    Joined:
    May 24, 2016
    Location:
    Florida
    +1 for poplar. You can even do a nice transparent finish if you dye it.
     
    dougstrum likes this.
  9. I_build_my_own

    I_build_my_own Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,962
    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2012
    Location:
    New York
    Poplar all the way -easy to work with - easy and cheap to get on the east coast. example of transparent finish with clear coat. 7CE908A3-9004-46C8-9A6B-578616BE3E90.jpeg
     
  10. roffe

    roffe Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    236
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2012
    Location:
    Stavanger, Norway
    I've used pine, spruce and larch for guitar bodies. They're easy to work with, but prone to tearout when working. They also quite soft, they dent easily and need to be block sanded to keep from digging into the soft parts. My favourite of those 3 is larch heartwood, it seems like the fibres are shorter (less tearout) and a little bit harder. All of them smell great, especially old wood :)
     
  11. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,428
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2012
    Location:
    North of Boston
    chestnut - I've used it, as Roger said, a great wood. The older the better. The reclaimed stuff is a favorite.
    walnut - I've used it, black, white, Claro, Bagstone ect all good (makes a great neck wood)
    red oak - Haven't used it, weight being my main concern, it can be used though
    red elm - haven't used it,it's on the list of things to try
    spruce - I've used it, it's a favorite, great in any condition (see Pine)
    aromatic cedar - On the list to try
    cherry - I love me some cherry and have used it for everything including a fret board (FB not recommended)
    poplar - I've used it. I had several pallets made of it and turned those into a guitar. A great place to start outside of pine. (Good for necks too)
    pine - The older the better but yes although soft and very susceptible to dents Pine can be a great choice, older the better. doug fir too.

    I'm in New England and that list is pretty much what I see a lot of up here with the exception of Red Elm, I see Northern Ash more. The only one I am surprised you don't have there on your list is maple which is plentiful here.

    You are on the right track. Good luck, remember to have fun!
     
  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    73
    Posts:
    11,978
    Joined:
    May 1, 2003
    Location:
    Jacksonville, FL
    leme just suggest.. if it's solid enough to hold the "stuff" in the correct relative positions, and "you" can play, it'll sound fine to the audience... If you don't like it.. no one in the audience cares...

    Now if ya don't play well.. the audience will let ya know . . so, don't forget to duck :D

    it's not the wood, it's the playin' . . :p

    rk
     
    John Nicholas and roffe like this.
  13. Casual_Reader

    Casual_Reader Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    837
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2009
    Location:
    Ohio
    or in the immortal words of Lee Trevino: "It's the Indian, not the arrow"
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.