ash vs tulipwood vs birch for cab?

fellerbach

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Hello everybody. First post here.
Been searching around the web for a small-format 12" speaker cab to fit inside a custom-made isolation box, and have it connected to a Bassbreaker head.
Came across daRibeira Cabs from Portugal on Reverb. (I'm in Europe.) Beatiful looking. Reasonably priced (birch is pricier, I think).
But then I read some old thread here on this forum about solid wood being potentially unfit for cabs.
Any experience either with the manufacturer himself or with any of the wood types mentioned above?
 

wrathfuldeity

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Ime/imo it depends on the amp your are matching with and for what purposes...without the iso box. But with the iso box...idk. However that being said, the baffle thickness and its attachment will have a significant influence.

solid softwoods like pine for low watt tweed type amps

birch for high watt grind marshall type amps
 

printer2

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All the early Fender combos were made from solid wood. Solid wood does expand and contract a little with humidity changes. If the corners are box jointed then the top and side wood where they meet will not have a flush surface at the humidity that it was built at. I doubt you will notice it in a iso box. On the different between hardwoods or and softwoods (solid wood or plywood) is the density. The softwoods will vibrate more than the heavier woods. The heavier woods act more as a hifi speaker cabinet, you only hear the speaker and not sound coming off the box surfaces. Speaker enclosures for guitar are not quite that fussy, the speaker cabinet is part of the tone generating system. At least out in the open. In an iso box you may not want the box to vibrate much. But being a small cabinet the difference in materials will not matter too much if at all

I disagree about pine or birch for low or high power amps. You could put a lot of power into a low efficient speaker or less power into an efficient speaker and get the same acoustical output. With the heavier cabinet you will have the sound out front of the speaker than coming off the sides also. With an open back cabinet it will not matter much, in a sealed cab it is more the panel length. Also if a lot of sound is being produced the heavier cabinet will not vibrate off the stage as much. There is a lot of grey area in between, what speakers, size of cabinets, what are your criteria.

But the short answer for you, any of your options should be fine.


 

schmee

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No experience with those woods or builder, but solid wood is great for cabs.
More important for tone is the cab shape though. Especially depth. 10-11.5 inches (250-280 mm) deep is great. 9 inches or less is too shallow. Over 11.5 gets bassy and boxy sounding.
Baffle board thickness can matter. Too thick and it can be woofy. I like 1/2 - 5/8" (15mm) thick.
 

Blue Bill

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+1 on what Printer said. Solid wood is generally stiffer than plywood, and more resonant. The effect of this is unpredictable, you can't know how a cabinet will "sound" until it's making music. Most differences will be so small as to be undetectable. Go for a balance of strength and light weight.
 

Axis29

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+1 on what Printer said. Solid wood is generally stiffer than plywood, and more resonant. The effect of this is unpredictable, you can't know how a cabinet will "sound" until it's making music. Most differences will be so small as to be undetectable. Go for a balance of strength and light weight.

Actually, solid wood is not stiffer than plywood. BUT, you are correct, it is more resonant!

The beauties of plywood are it's strength and it's stability. Of course, some plywood is stronger than others. Typical sheathing usually has big, wide cores, that are of some really crappy fast growth wood and will be nice and stable, stiff, etc... But screws won't hold in it as well, and it's strength is less than something like Baltic Birch, which has a higher count of internal plys and is also all birch. The strength and stability of plywood come from the cross grain construction of the cores.

Plywood is used for most cabinets because it holds up better, is more stable and can take a bit more abuse. The stock also remains flat, so manufacturers get much less waste. It is also easier to count on 48" x 96" (here in the States, sorry don't have the metric numbers memorized) sheets to calculate what parts you need and how much material to buy.

IME, for closed back cabinets, plywood is probably the proper choice. For open back cabinets, I prefer solid pine. But, that's because I'm a weirdo wood guy and prefer vintage over modern for most of my musical stuff... In other words, I'm a dinosaur. LOL

In an isolation cabinet, with a close mic? @Blue Bill is 100% correct, it probably won't make a lick of difference what cabinet material you use.
 

Blue Bill

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Hi Axis, I based my comment about stiffness on experience making built-in shelving. I've compared solid pine or poplar, side-by-side with plywood, and every time, a solid board will sag less, with a full load of books, than ply does. I agree with everything else you said. 🌭
 

fellerbach

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Great information, people. Thank you very much!
I happened to come across Tube-Town's website (Germans, I believe), and they seem to offer a service where you get to select dimensions (within a min-max range) and then have custom-cut panels shipped to you so that you can build your own cab. They say the enclosing panels are pine plywood, whereas the baffles are baltic birch plywood. So, I may try them out and go semi-DIY.
Btw, is there an acoustic reason why the overwhelming majority of cabinets are wider than they are high? Or is it just aesthetics/convention?
 

Axis29

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Hi Axis, I based my comment about stiffness on experience making built-in shelving. I've compared solid pine or poplar, side-by-side with plywood, and every time, a solid board will sag less, with a full load of books, than ply does. I agree with everything else you said. 🌭

You are correct about plywood's flexibility in that particular situation, over a 'long' unsupported span. Most solid wood, of the same thickness, is stiffer in the long grain direction, but not in the cross grain direction. Because plywood is made of layers with the grain aligned at 90 degrees, the plywood is stiff in both directions and will vibrate/resonate less. Hence my description of stiffer.

It might also depend on the plywood... Stuff you get at the big box store is one quality... thicker core slices, more internal voids, etc. Furniture grade, marine grade and baltic birch plywoods have more internal layers and some are void-less, making them incredibly stiff and strong...

With the baltic birch I use for cabinets (kitchen and guitar! LOL), I would wager that a 20" piece, like would be used for a 1x12 cabinet, would be incredibly stiff... More-so than any pine I would use to make guitar cabinets.

Also, with the narrow pieces, and with other pieces affixed perpendicularly, a plywood box will be stiffer.

So, we are both correct, I think. I think we were defining stiff slightly differently. Actually, as I re-read my comments, maybe I should have simply said 'stronger'? I dunno... Either way, I don't disagree with you... I seem to be just overly picky about my wording. LOL
 

Blue Bill

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Yep, for me, there seems to be a certain joy in being picky about relatively meaningless issues on this forum. Much better than working or practicing guitar.

The point is, the baffle board makes much more difference, sonically, than the box; but even there, it hardly matters at all. I'll bet a baffle made of rubber would sound fine.
 

VonBonfire

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The baffle is the most important part in my experience but a solid wood cabinet is extremely resonant versus plywood especially a closed back cab. Rip the dimensions off of a cab you like the sound of and build what you like is what I would recommend but I would build an open back cabinet as I think a closed back may be a little more dimensionally sensitive. I used a pine baffle and mahogany shell for mine but with a 15 watt amp the mahogany was more about the appearance not the sound.
 




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