Best Experience With Wood For The Body

Mojotron

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Douglas-Fir for me too, I have taken out a lot of 50+ year old framing for doors and windows in the houses that I've remodeled and held on to the 4x12 or 4x10 beams. Its amazing how a chambered solid body guitar sounds made out of Douglas-Fir it works well for very hard note attack as well as softer sounding notes: There just seems to be more personality to every note on one of those guitars. They can look great too. My favorite is to use a 1/2" Hard Maple cap on Douglas-Fir with a Hard Maple neck. That combo gets every kind of tone that can be heard through a clean amp. I can afford to use just about any kind of wood, but my favorite is really old Douglas-Fir. It can be difficult to get a flat finish, but with the right techniques it's no harder to get any finish without grain lines.

Western Red Cedar is a favorite of mine too - super light and extremely resonant. Everyone of my WRC guitars is a blast to play. At stage volume they all kind of have this edgy ES335 tone that has a bit more high-end and a bit more low-end.

I love Light Ash as well - "Swamp Ash" - it makes tones that no other wood can really do like that: Any pickup I have tried in my Swamp Ash bodies just sounded better with a Hard Maple neck. The weight is really nice too.

Alder is a great wood too - it's very straight forward to use and makes every project easier to do.
 

torodurham

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Douglas-Fir for me too, I have taken out a lot of 50+ year old framing for doors and windows in the houses that I've remodeled and held on to the 4x12 or 4x10 beams. Its amazing how a chambered solid body guitar sounds made out of Douglas-Fir it works well for very hard note attack as well as softer sounding notes: There just seems to be more personality to every note on one of those guitars. They can look great too. My favorite is to use a 1/2" Hard Maple cap on Douglas-Fir with a Hard Maple neck. That combo gets every kind of tone that can be heard through a clean amp. I can afford to use just about any kind of wood, but my favorite is really old Douglas-Fir. It can be difficult to get a flat finish, but with the right techniques it's no harder to get any finish without grain lines.

Western Red Cedar is a favorite of mine too - super light and extremely resonant. Everyone of my WRC guitars is a blast to play. At stage volume they all kind of have this edgy ES335 tone that has a bit more high-end and a bit more low-end.

I love Light Ash as well - "Swamp Ash" - it makes tones that no other wood can really do like that: Any pickup I have tried in my Swamp Ash bodies just sounded better with a Hard Maple neck. The weight is really nice too.

Alder is a great wood too - it's very straight forward to use and makes every project easier to do.
Interesting you mention WRC...just started a strat project with it..sooo light, but also sooo resonate. Had a bit of tear out doing the shape...so reverted to climb rout, helped a lot..just be careful.
Decided to try a WRC neck as well....
Sapele is my favorite wood to work with..smells incredible and sounds great...just choose for small projects or weight relief as it runs heavy.
 

naneek

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I use walnut in my builds a lot. I really like it. It can be a little heavy but great for thinner guitars or chambered. I built this one for a friend's son. He was a big Batman fan. It was a light piece of walnut and made a nice solid SG body.
View attachment 936226
Cheers Peter.
that's fantastic! what size body blank did you use for the SG?

sorry for the obvious question, but I'm having a heck of a time searching for any SG build projects on tdpri. no matter how I search for it, it says "search term SG was omitted because it is too short."
 

TwoBear

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excellent pickguard design, especially the bottom one
I’m totally into both of those also. I also like how the pic design turns into an a & c. Wondering if there are moon eyes in the future? Ha
8A124297-C778-4D31-9B5E-6219A1489B83.jpeg
 

naneek

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I'm planning two electric guitar builds using only woods native to california and oregon.
I use almost exclusively honduras mahogany for solid and chambered guitars. It has all the advantages of every other wood I can think of and none of the issues. For all the other varieties of guitars I have used most of the tone woods that are not under international restrictions and every one of them have advantages and issues.

A wood that surprised the heck out of me was plain old every day douglas fir - I have built both solid body T style guitars and one acoustic classical from doug fir and not only was it fun to work with in the shop, the guitars are wonderful.
do you think a solid body made of softwood evergreen like doug fir, cedar, or redwood would be suitable for a gibson style set neck? ala sg / les paul?

or would I be better off planning to use a bolt on neck with evergreen body woods, like my eastern white pine telecaster build?
that guitar has held up pretty well over the past 10 years.
Yellow cedar. It comes out looking like a yellow tele without any pigment or paint!
saw some beautiful chunks of yellow cedar burl on craiglist the other day:
1643482372876.png

would cedar with this kind of grain be suitable for a solid body guitar? or would straight grain be more stable?

ps- if anybody has any thoughts on native california and oregon woods that will be suitable for a neck blank, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
 
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naneek

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When you think back to the guitars you have made, which wood type to you have the best( or worst) memory during the build process? Very curious about peoples experiences and thoughts during and after the build.
great idea for a thread, this is a fun and interesting conversation.

Personally my favorite was eastern white pine from tennessee, salvaged from the ceiling beam of a 110 year old barn. very stable, very easy to word with.

It is so soft that it can develop burrs and scores in the surface of the wood from sanding, and other unintended marks from overworking if you are not careful. but I'm sure that is only a reflection on my lack of skill, and not the material I was working with.

Decided to try a WRC neck as well....
I'd love to hear how that turns out for you when the project is complete.
 

Freeman Keller

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I'm planning two electric guitar builds using only woods native to california and oregon.

do you think a solid body made of softwood evergreen like doug fir, cedar, or redwood would be suitable for a gibson style set neck? ala sg / les paul?

or would I be better off planning to use a bolt on neck with evergreen body woods, like my eastern white pine telecaster build?
that guitar has held up pretty well over the past 10 years.

saw some beautiful chunks of yellow cedar burl on craiglist the other day:

would cedar with this kind of grain be suitable for a solid body guitar? or would straight grain be more stable?


Some random thought based on my very limited experience. I have only built screw on neck solid body guitars (tele clones) and the one classical out of Douglas fir. What kind of surprised me during the classical build was (1) Doug fir is right between spruces and Red Cedar as far as engineering properties - Youngs modulus, density - and (2) it tape tone was very similar to those woods which led me to believe it would make a decent guitar. It did.

As far as screw on neck guitars go I think you can make a body out of anything. Basswood is about as soft as you can get and people make bodies out of it so I would say go for it. Cedar and redwood are softer woods than we usually use for a solid body, they are more easily damaged by dings and fingernails - be aware of that when finishing.

I've only used mahogany and a little maple for necks, I would hesitate using any of the woods you mention. The last neck I made I put carbon fiber inserts, that might be a good move for the woods you are interest in.

I build a fair number of set neck guitars and again, use almost exclusively mahogany, but I would not hesitate to make one out of your PNW wood with the possible concerns about necks. I'm a big believer in making the best possible neck joint - long tenons well fitted - regardless of what kind of wood you are using. As you probably know, SG necks can be problematic due to their short tenon.

There are some other PNW woods that might merit looking at. Myrtle is a beautiful wood and could be used as a drop top and some maples are indigenous to the NW. I think there is a whole world of wonderful woods waiting to be made into musical instruments - go for it!
 

Peegoo

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Sounds like my experience with some Pine. The concave curves of the body give me a particularly hard time with this. In some cases I can never get them 100% smooth.

Put some self-adhesive 320-grit sandpaper on an old hotel key card or on the back of an old credit card.
The plastic is flexible, but hard and flat enough to plane off the harder high spots without digging out the softer low spots. Don't use much pressure. Sand with the grain, pressing just hard enough in the center of the card to keep the entire length of the card in contact with the wood. Use short back and forth strokes--about 3/4" long. It will come out close to perfect every time.

If you don't have self-adhesive sandpaper, use double-stick Scotch tape on the card to stick the sandpaper on it.
 

schmee

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When you think back to the guitars you have made, which wood type to you have the best( or worst) memory during the build process? Very curious about peoples experiences and thoughts during and after the build.
You mean how stable the wood is?
 

naneek

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Some random thought based on my very limited experience. I have only built screw on neck solid body guitars (tele clones) and the one classical out of Douglas fir. What kind of surprised me during the classical build was (1) Doug fir is right between spruces and Red Cedar as far as engineering properties - Youngs modulus, density - and (2) it tape tone was very similar to those woods which led me to believe it would make a decent guitar. It did.

As far as screw on neck guitars go I think you can make a body out of anything. Basswood is about as soft as you can get and people make bodies out of it so I would say go for it. Cedar and redwood are softer woods than we usually use for a solid body, they are more easily damaged by dings and fingernails - be aware of that when finishing.

I've only used mahogany and a little maple for necks, I would hesitate using any of the woods you mention. The last neck I made I put carbon fiber inserts, that might be a good move for the woods you are interest in.

I build a fair number of set neck guitars and again, use almost exclusively mahogany, but I would not hesitate to make one out of your PNW wood with the possible concerns about necks. I'm a big believer in making the best possible neck joint - long tenons well fitted - regardless of what kind of wood you are using. As you probably know, SG necks can be problematic due to their short tenon.

There are some other PNW woods that might merit looking at. Myrtle is a beautiful wood and could be used as a drop top and some maples are indigenous to the NW. I think there is a whole world of wonderful woods waiting to be made into musical instruments - go for it!
"I build a fair number of set neck guitars and again, use almost exclusively mahogany, but I would not hesitate to make one out of your PNW wood with the possible concerns about necks. I'm a big believer in making the best possible neck joint - long tenons well fitted - regardless of what kind of wood you are using. As you probably know, SG necks can be problematic due to their short tenon."

That had occurred to me about the sg neck joint. For the "gibson SG style" guitar, I am planning to use a local evergreen wood for the body, and a 'long tenon' set neck made locally by Alloy guitars here in Portland. That's good to hear that this plan should be viable.

If the addition of a long tenon neck alters the design of the guitar, I can compensate by using a surface mount neck pickup or other design modifications to compensate for the space occupied by the neck tenon.

Good point that there are local varieties of maple here, such as big leaf maple. Alloy says that they can help with materials sourcing as well as builds, so I may ask them if they would be able to source and use a local maple variety for the neck.

Thanks for sharing your experience, and thanks for the encouragement!

This is mainly an artistic project, but I am interested in the environmental angle as well. Instead of sourcing traditional woods or searching for equivalent products from around the world (like indian laurel for rosewood),
I'm curious what can be achieved by using plentiful locally harvested resources.

These tips will be very helpful. Have a great weekend Freeman!
 
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schmee

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Some random thought based on my very limited experience. I have only built screw on neck solid body guitars (tele clones) and the one classical out of Douglas fir. What kind of surprised me during the classical build was (1) Doug fir is right between spruces and Red Cedar as far as engineering properties - Youngs modulus, density - and (2) it tape tone was very similar to those woods which led me to believe it would make a decent guitar. It did.

As far as screw on neck guitars go I think you can make a body out of anything. Basswood is about as soft as you can get and people make bodies out of it so I would say go for it. Cedar and redwood are softer woods than we usually use for a solid body, they are more easily damaged by dings and fingernails - be aware of that when finishing.

I've only used mahogany and a little maple for necks, I would hesitate using any of the woods you mention. The last neck I made I put carbon fiber inserts, that might be a good move for the woods you are interest in.

I build a fair number of set neck guitars and again, use almost exclusively mahogany, but I would not hesitate to make one out of your PNW wood with the possible concerns about necks. I'm a big believer in making the best possible neck joint - long tenons well fitted - regardless of what kind of wood you are using. As you probably know, SG necks can be problematic due to their short tenon.

There are some other PNW woods that might merit looking at. Myrtle is a beautiful wood and could be used as a drop top and some maples are indigenous to the NW. I think there is a whole world of wonderful woods waiting to be made into musical instruments - go for it!
CVG Fir, real Fir not Hemlock, is amazing stuff for sure. Spruce is cool but often fairly soft and dent prone. Doug fir a bit heavier but more solid. Not as crack prone as Cedar.
I once made a sailboat bowsprit out of a Spruce "propeller blank" Basically a 6" x 8" x 8 ft Spruce beam. . It was a great piece of wood. No knots or defects allowed in airplane propellers! But after cruising a couple of years to Mexico, it was beat to heck!
 

Freeman Keller

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That had occurred to me about the sg neck joint. For the "gibson SG style" guitar, I am planning to use a local evergreen wood for the body, and a 'long tenon' set neck made locally by Alloy guitars here in Portland. That's good to hear that this plan should be viable.

If the addition of a long tenon neck alters the design of the guitar, I can compensate by using a surface mount neck pickup or other design modifications to compensate for the space occupied by the neck tenon.

Good point that there are local varieties of maple here, such as big leaf maple. Alloy says that they can help with materials sourcing as well as builds, so I may ask them if they would be able to source and use a local maple variety for the neck.

Thanks for sharing your experience, and thanks for the encouragement!

This is mainly an artistic project, but I am interested in the environmental angle as well. Instead of sourcing traditional woods or searching for equivalent products from around the world (like indian laurel for rosewood),
I'm curious what can be achieved by using plentiful locally harvested resources.

These tips will be very helpful. Have a great weekend Freeman!

I had not heard of Alloy Guitars and spent a bit of time looking at their web site. Sounds like a worthwhile addition to our other sources of bodies and necks and parts. It sounds like they will do more custom work than the other usual players. Portland has a bunch of really good luthiers and a really vibrant lutherie community - looks like you are in good hands.

Gilmer and North West Timbers are other sources of woods that I have used, along with a couple in Seattle. Breedlove down in Bend is building with some native materials. Lots of great wood in the PNW.

I'm kind of a paradox when it comes to woods. I love beautiful wood and have been lucky enough to build a few guitars from truly stunning wood. But I'm also really aware of the changing world situation - both internationally and here at home. I'm trying to be more aware of my wood sources and know that probably in my lifetime many of the traditional woods will be gone. Its a tight rope we walk, I encourage your efforts.
 

scook

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Some great ones listed so far.
Butternut/white walnut and sassafras are both worth trying too. Supposedly Eric Johnson’s Strat is sassafras. Smells nice too!
 

dazzaman

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I am a little late to this thread, but I have used walnut in a number of builds, including my avatar guitar, two others based on it, and a walnut version of the George Harrison Rosewood Tele. In every case it has been a thinline build or chambered (thinline without the f-hole). It might be fine making a solid instrument out if it (Rickenbacker do a walnut series including solid bodies, albeit they are a bit thinner than a Fender) but I tend to not want a guitar to be heavier than it needs be.

I love the sounds of the walnut guitars I have done. Not saying better or worse than pine, ash or alder (or other things), but it is different, though who knows how much of that can be attributed to the body wood.
 

Greenmachine

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I'm planning two electric guitar builds using only woods native to california and oregon.

do you think a solid body made of softwood evergreen like doug fir, cedar, or redwood would be suitable for a gibson style set neck? ala sg / les paul?

or would I be better off planning to use a bolt on neck with evergreen body woods, like my eastern white pine telecaster build?
that guitar has held up pretty well over the past 10 years.

saw some beautiful chunks of yellow cedar burl on craiglist the other day:
View attachment 945862
would cedar with this kind of grain be suitable for a solid body guitar? or would straight grain be more stable?

ps- if anybody has any thoughts on native california and oregon woods that will be suitable for a neck blank, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I’m an amateur so I can’t answer your question sorry.
 




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