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Century-old, repurposed beam bodies

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by OmalleyJr, Oct 3, 2020.

  1. OmalleyJr

    OmalleyJr TDPRI Member

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    If you know Rick Kelly guitars, you know of his Bowery Pine series with bodies cut from the “bones” of old NYC. He only sells finished, custom builds ($5k+) with sustain and tone for days, due to the make up of the wood. Have any of you tried a similar build with tonal success? What’s the going rate for such a body? Worth searching for such a body? Thanks!
     
  2. Piotr

    Piotr Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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  3. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I make guitars out of old pine beams /studs from wrecked 100+ yr old houses... and give them to kids...

    I've got a pine body made from a garden portico piece from my childhood home that was built in the 1920's and been out in the weather for all those years.......

    old wood... big deal.. it's everywhere.... and who actually needs sustain for days?.... ;)
     
  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Having been involved in the pine craze in the beginning before Rick Kelly jumped on the bandwagon, I'd say get yourself a pine body off of ebay. Dried new pine will provide all the tone you need. My feeling is advertising and using old wood is a marketing ploy on the mojo of pine. Repurposing is cool though. Do a search here for pine bodies and you'll read about the thrill of new pine back to 2003 or so.

    http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148343&icep_item=114426883821



    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/barncaster-100-year-old-pine.57082/page-4


    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/did-some-one-say-pine-tele.12624/#post-107882



    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/what-makes-a-guitar-a-barncaster.775187/page-2#post-10104975
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2020
  5. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    The "tone and sustain for days" claims are all snake oil. If you've ever been in an old building that's slated to be demolished, you'll know the whole "the wood has been out of the tree for 100 years to dry out" is a lie because those old buildings are drafty and damp inside.

    Rub all that up agaist the opposite trend of acoustic and electric builders using "sinker" wood for guitar constriction. Sinker wood comes from logs that sank in rivers and lakes during logging, and there's a market for it these days; a few companies dredge up the logs and sell 'em to sawmills.

    More than a few guitar makers that use sinker make claims such as, "being under water for more than 50 years stabilizes the wood, causing the minerals to molecularly bond with the lignin. This promotes transfer of vibrations blah blah blah creamy endless sustain."

    Wait...what about that drying-out thing? You guys get together and get your science straightened out, and then contact your marketing folks. Thanks.

    If you're into nostalgia and like the fact that your guitar was built by one guy from wood that came out of Jim Jarmisch's loft, then by all means knock yourself out. I won't stop you; it's your money.

    Buy the guitar. Don't buy the snake oil.
     
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  6. ponce

    ponce Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes. Other side of the spectrum - great sound because of practicly no sustain:
     
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  7. Bendyha

    Bendyha Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Of all the dozens of parameters that one could, and can, use to specify the particular properties of a piece of lumber, age is probably the least relevant, and actually only a factor that could, but not necessarily, relate to the moisture content of the wood, the quality of the seasoning, the colour of the wood, and the extent that various chemical changes "might" be progressing. But as all these factors relate much more to so many other other factors such as temperature and humidity - the highest, lowest, the swing thereof at which duration etc...what time of the year was the tree cut, where did it grow, what size billet has it been cut to relating to its finished dimensions ???, that age is measured into all this, pretty much irrelevant.

    That being said, a rain protected, fresh air mounted loft beam that get subjected to high temperatures in summer, and low in winter, will likely be very well seasoned, and hence very stable wood.It might still be heavy or light, wide or narrow grained, resinous or not...along with many other factors that could make it a good or bad choice to build an instrument out of.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2020
  8. pshupe

    pshupe Tele-Meister

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    Wood has to dry to be stable. Whether it is sinker wood or 100 yr old wood that has been "drying" for 100 yrs in an old building is irrelevant. The same holds true for a piece of wood cut yesterday. You can air dry it or kiln dry it but it must be dry. Relative humidity does not have a huge effect on moisture content. That's why you can kiln dry wood and ship it to a humid environment or a very dry environment and it can be very stable. Finish protects the wood from movement by slowing the change in moisture content, which is what makes wood move, crack, warp, cup etc etc. Air drying will do the same but takes much longer and generally will not get down to as low a moisture content and arguably will be less stable. If you live in an area of very dry, or very humid, or an area that swings dramatically there may be issues with movement. The thinner the wood the more susceptible it is because it is easier to change the moisture content quickly. That is why humidifiers / dehumidifiers are recommended to help keep a room, or a guitar, at a more stable RH, relative humidity.

    There are ways of making wood more stable. A more common practice to have this happen is "baking" or torrefication. This will change the wood in such a manner to have it resist the change in moisture content and change other properties like density, hardness, and colour.

    The common factor with the aforementioned "old" wood is that it was old growth. Old growth wood grew slow and has much tighter grain structure, for the most part, than wood you can buy today, especially SPF, spruce, pine and Fir. That is why sinker wood or reclaimed wood from an old building is sought after. Argue all you want about snake oil marketing but a tighter grained wood, especially SPF has a lot of advantages. It is not as light weight, soft, and will naturally resist moisture change better. Does it transfer vibration better? IDK but denser wood definitely has different tonal properties.

    Regards Peter.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2020
  9. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I have a diy barnwood tele made out of old pine. it has a super clear very fundamental high end (even unplugged), that kind of reminds me, honestly of a 100 year old mahogany/spruce acoustic I'm also lucky enough to have. I'm not all that sure about "tone wood/snake oil".
     
  10. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Wood can definitely matter in electric,
    sorta, some, alot and maybe more.

    That said, I don't look at old building pine because it's a had a 100 years to "dry out."
    Esp as mentioned a lot of those old buildings were unheated and very damp.

    I look at it because old growth logs like that had tighter grain structure and stuff, 'supposedly' imparting itself in the tone department.

    Who knows.
    But I definitely go for the tighter grain structure and stability.
     
  11. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    here's the grain of a few DF rafters out of the same scrapyard stack....

    one looks like younger plantation timber.. the other looks more like an old growth pattern...

    both @4.5lb bodies....

    Apex down Join.jpg


    BG end grain1.jpg
     
  12. physicsteach

    physicsteach TDPRI Member

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    Depending on the conditions, wood is changed over time, temperature, etc. (hot attic rafters get brittle).
     
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  13. Greggorios

    Greggorios Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Look up Ron Kirn, Barnbusters...you'll be glad you did. By the way, WELCOME, enjoy the forum.
     
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  14. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    the problem with that is the rarity of the wood.. what would one pay for such a body... 200? 600? 1200?

    Say you do manage to buy one for 1200.. if from someone that routinely makes high end guitars, that limits his stock by a total of one.. thus it could wind up costing him a few thousand to sell you one.. it's further compounded by the fact that if you are paying a premium, you want the body to be beyond perfect, so he'd loosing time he could be dedicating to custom guitars, fooling around with a single body, one that's costing him $$ to sell..

    just a thought. visit a local wrecking company's reclaimed lumber yard and buy a piece for a few bux, and make your own..

    r
     
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  15. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

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    I can't remember where I read it, but I recall a story about this wood that was taken out of a railway tunnel somewhere in the Pacific Northwest or California maybe. Anyway, they took the wood that was holding up the tunnel through the mountains when they rebuilt the railway, and some of the wood ended up in the hands of an acoustic guitar luthier. The story focused on the premise that the wood had been vibrating every time a train went through the tunnel. This had been going on for a hundred years. The claim was that once the wood made it into a guitar top, it had already "opened up", and the instruments being produced were sonically superior as a result.

    Sounds like some fresh nonsense to me, but what the hell do I know? It's a good story...


    Edit: From the Petros website.

    Basically this is virgin redwood used in Tunnel 13 built in 1880. This was the location of the Last Great American Train Robbery in 1926. When it caved in in 2003, we acquired a bunch of the best wood and turned it into guitar sets. It is the glassiest, stiffest tone wood we have ever used and makes an exceptional instrument. The story alone sells these instruments. We have sold instruments with this wood from $13,000 to $50,000. We have a few more sets than we will probably use in our lifetime so are willing to sell a few sets. We have the name "Tunnel 13 Redwood®" trademarked and when you buy a set from us, you will get authentication and the right to call it that. This won't last long.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2020
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  16. erix

    erix Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I think the value of an old piece of wood rests solely in the history of that chunk and how your history relates to that history. I believe your mind will make a guitar made of wood with some of your history sound infinitely better than wood that has no history.

    An old chunk of pine is is just an old chunk of pine unless it came from your grandfather’s house. You will relate to that chunk and the guitar made from it will be the best thing you’ve ever heard.

    Rick Kelly’s old chunks of pine resonate to someone who is a New Yorkaphile and knows the building that the wood came from but to someone who has never been to New York it has no such value and hence seems superfluous expense. That said, I’ve been to New York many times and walked right by his store - before I knew who he was. If he built a guitar from a piece of wood from the Garrick Theater, where FZ played nearly every night for a whole year, well... I might just have to sell every guitar I own to buy it!
     
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  17. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    It is.

    The reality is many players will spend $$$$ on this sort of "tone improvement" stuff--when in actuality an additional hour of real practice (no noodling!) per week will pay way more dividends in the tone department.
     
  18. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

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    Thought as much.

    I couldn't quite believe that they openly admit "The story alone sells these instruments. We have sold instruments with this wood from $13,000 to $50,000." The story alone, indeed!

    If they're reaping $50,000 a pop for guitars made from this magical fairy wood, how come they're flogging tops for eight hundred bucks?

    There is an emperor somewhere with no clothes on...
     
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  19. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    while true.. and I'm one that encourages practice over just about anything guys want to do to "improve" tone... some people just want something unique, be it a 50,000 year old Kauri wood guitar, a 150 year old piece of Ponderosa Pine from a Comstock load mine, a 140 year old hunk of White Pine from a historical Grain Elevator..

    You cannot use simple pragmatism to make a determination about the practicality of such guitars.. I'm doing one, right now from a piece of 400 year old black Ash... it has a hellova history... Does it result in superior tone? Who knows.. what's the baseline from which to measure...

    But do they produce enjoyment and pleasure in the hands of the owners of such, well I've never had a complaint... If there was, no one could hear in through all the resounding accolades..

    Guys get what you want, always. . . don't let any azzhoe convince ya differently.. do so and you will be regretting it until ya list the guitar on CL..

    r
     
  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I have made four barn wood tele clones from hundred + year old ponderosa pine from a local historic barn. I donated those guitars to the conservation group that owns the barn and they auctioned them off at a fund raising.

    30083846413_63a68df4f8_k-2.jpg

    They sounded very much like electric guitars
     
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