Swamp Ash?

MRJ.

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Anybody know where to get swamp ash lumber at for a good price? I'd prefer places where I can get it by the board foot.
 

tonewoods

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I've seen it in just about every gentleman's woodworking store I've been in lately....

Just ask for the white ash pile, then find a board that is noticeably lighter in weight than all the others....
That would be your "swamp ash"....
 

Mojotron

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I've seen it in just about every gentleman's woodworking store I've been in lately....

Just ask for the white ash pile, then find a board that is noticeably lighter in weight than all the others....
That would be your "swamp ash"....
Swamp Ash is just normal ash with really wide grain - and is reasonably light. I think the ideal Ash body for me is around 4LBS - same for "swamp" ash. I don't think you can really find ash that really came form a swamp unless you cut it down for yourself.
 

MRJ.

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Yeah, I'm just using the name Swamp Ash because that's what most people call it. What I'm looking for is light weight Ash. My supplier gets their Ash from the mountains, so it's really dense and heavy. I think I've found a place though. Exotic Woods in New Jersey sells it by the board foot, and says it's light weight. I just hate not being able to pick it out in person. Oh well.:rolleyes:
 

adirondak5

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You could try contacting Keim Lumber , they are on the web , they have a big yard in Ohio , I bought a few alder and white pine boards from them for bodies , sight unseen , told them what I wanted and they cut to length , thickness planned and shipped to me , they did a great job picking out nice straight pieces , nice grain , google them , I am sure they have ash available.
 

Mojotron

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I had a hard time finding a hardwood store for a while, after I found 1 or 2 I realized there are actually quite a few places to find excellent wood for guitars that really target their business to cabinet makers and remodelers. I think there are a lot more options for finding wood all over the place that just take some looking. I even found a place selling their entire inventory for $2/BF. It also pays to look around, I would not buy wood without seeing it and taking a close look at it. I think the best wood you will find will be what's local to that area - the Ash with wide grains usually comes form warm wet climates. If you are in North Carolina - perhaps you can find a local supplier that gets their Ash from Florida, Georgia or Alabama?
 

MRJ.

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Thanks guys, I'll do some looking around. I've got a friend that's not to far away that's going to check on some for me also. I appreciate everyones help!
 

preeb

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It's getting very hard to source good sounding Swamp Ash lately and I'm glad I grabbed a lot of it while it was still out there 2-3 years ago.
I had an entire new batch thrown away (used it for shelves in the wood storage room)... looked great but sounded like cardboard.
I'm afraid old growth is a must with Black Ash and the rapidly grown stuff is no good.
Also tried a batch that was from a northern area but was cut from the bottom portion of the trunk... still not good enough and not as light as the "real deal" (sounded like late 70's F bodies...)

Thanks MRJ for starting this thread and I hope to get more useful info...
 

MRJ.

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Thanks preeb. I've never had as hard of a time finding anything as I have with good lightweight Ash. Is there even a good substitute? Something that actually looks like it?
 

tonewoods

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Thanks preeb. I've never had as hard of a time finding anything as I have with good lightweight Ash.

You might try plugging your zip code into the search engine here and see if anything pops up...

It really isn't all that hard to find, and I bump into it all the time....

I'll be visiting a favorite hardwood store soon, and boards that will make lightweight bodies (even one-piecers) are going for around 3.50 a b.f.

Don't call and ask for lightweight ash, as they hate that...
Just go, start lifting boards, and about one-out-of-ten will fit the bill...
Don't bother weighing it, just lift it.
If it feels light, and you like the graining, buy it...
 

preeb

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Thanks preeb. I've never had as hard of a time finding anything as I have with good lightweight Ash. Is there even a good substitute? Something that actually looks like it?

Fortunately I haven't got to the "find a substitute" stage yet...
For early 50's Fenders there's no substitute if you wish to stay accurate.
Tone wise.. Pine and Paulownia are great for a lightweight "airy" bodies and some even have nice grain that will pass with a Blonde finish but not with TTSB (-;
 

preeb

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After looking around it seems Paulownia is harder to find than lightweight Ash.

Hmmmm... true. At the moment anyway...
The future of Paulownia is secured while old growth light Black Ash availability is getting low.
The problem with Light Ash is that 1 out of 5 bodies (at best) sounds killer... some are impossible to use.
 

MRJ.

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I never would have thought the hardest thing about building early 50s Fenders would be finding lumber. Oh, well back to the hunt!
 

Nick JD

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Can someone please put on a sound clip of a "bad sounding" swamp ash guitar. Then take the pickups out if it and put them in a "good sounding" swamp ash guitar so we can hear the difference?

Otherwise, I'm calling bullsh!t. ;)

I hate to see marketing clouding common sense.
 

preeb

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I never would have thought the hardest thing about building early 50s Fenders would be finding lumber. Oh, well back to the hunt!

My friend... The hardest thing about building any guitar is finding the right wood these days...
I'm spending at least one day a week hunting, doing emails, phone calls... it's a nightmare.
I got so paranoid about this a few years ago when I noticed the wood quality was steadily going down, that I turned into a wood collector LOL (some of you guys know what I mean, right?)
I have 2 rooms packed with wood from floor to ceiling, one is a hot room and the other is the "ready to go" room and I still need more space.
 

MRJ.

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I understand what you're saying. It's just that there really aren't many choices at all for Fender style guitars. Not for early 50s' style anyway. I mean look at Gibson guitars. You've got Spanish Cedar, South American Mahogany, African Mahogany, etc. In other words the list goes on and on, and it's not extremely difficult to find good pieces. Now look at Fender. I know the first Tele was Pine, but after that it's Ash. Further down the road they started using Alder, but it looks nothing like Ash. So I can't build an accurate early fifties Tele or base with anything but Ash. As far as the substitutes go, Paulownia seems to be the closest thing so far, but I can't find it either, at least not for a reasonable price. Sorry I don't want to sound like I'm whining, I'm just venting.
 

preeb

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Hey Nick..
I try to tell if it's a good sounding blank by tapping first and then testing it with 8 different tuning fork frequencies.
If I notice that something is seriously wrong with the lows, presence, liveliness or sound transfer (I move my tuning fork all over the board) I use it for other things than guitars...
Some blanks are simply different than others and may be used in different builds. For example, I mark Swamp Ash bodies that have a warm midrange, tight bass but low highs as "51-56 P bass body" in order to balance the sharp single coil, Brighter Alder is used for 60's RW necks of F builds, hot midrange Khaya or Honduran for Honky 59 LP's, etc etc...
In some rare occasions I simply don't like the instrument when I play it so I start over... but this is very rare nowadays, however, I still try to develop new methods for wood selection all the time.
 

preeb

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Can someone please put on a sound clip of a "bad sounding" swamp ash guitar. Then take the pickups out if it and put them in a "good sounding" swamp ash guitar so we can hear the difference?

Otherwise, I'm calling bullsh!t. ;)

I hate to see marketing clouding common sense.

I'd rather have you call this Bullsh!t than convince you (-;
Are you implying that all Swamp Ash bodies sound the same with a given PU?
If not, then you must agree that some are "better" than others... and some are not good enough for a high end replica build.
Anyway... I'm willing to sell you all my "bad" Swamp Ash blanks for my cost... but hey... you'll need the imaginary unreal good pu set to make them sound anything close to good...LOL
 




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