Wood differences/ID

1bad914

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There many requests for help I identifying wood. I have asked for help before. I recently needed a couple of rosewood bridge blanks. A major luthier supply house sent me these 3. All sold as rosewood. It is just an example of how difficult it is to ID wood sometimes.
47844CF4-BCF1-4AE9-84DE-582138B5C9C3.jpeg
 

Jim_in_PA

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Consider that there are many different variations within a general species, very often a name might be used more broadly or incorrectly about what a species is and that even within the exact same species, two trees may very well look quite differently after milling because of growing conditions.

"Rosewood" is one of those that has interesting marketing these days, especially with certain members of that family being non gratis for harvesting/selling.
 

Steve Holt

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I've used a lot of rosewood over the years, especially in pen making where you buy small pieces. That's about right. Rosewood varies. I got a fretboard once that looked like that middle one and it had the red streaks. It was beautiful! Unfortunately most of the red was on the edges beyond the neck, so it got cut off. Not much remained on the finished neck.
 

arlum

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Then again .... you have to take into account the many species of Rosewood. Both their tone and look varies between them.
 

1bad914

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My point, that I did not do a very good job making, is that trying to ID wood based on a picture is difficult, but it will not stop me and many others from asking anyways. 😀
 

trapdoor2

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Seller's info on wood is often whatever their source tells them it is. Most don't employ specialists (Dendrologists aka, "What do you want with your fries?" ;)) to do DNA ID on whatever they've brought in. Frankly, I'd be surprised if they even used a decent comparative guide. Their lawyers make sure they get 'provenance' that keeps them out of hot water, regardless of actual ID. Marketing takes over from there. If the paperwork says "Dalbergia" their marketing dept can hang the big R on it and be comfy.
 

Freeman Keller

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There is a great story about when Bob Taylor bought the saw mill in Cameroon that furnishes much of the ebony used in instrument making. He apparently went out in the woods with the sawyers and watched them falling ebony trees. They would cut into the tree and look at the wood, many of the trees they just left on the ground. Bob asked what was wrong with them, they said they weren't black enough to meet the expectations for ebony. Bob said something to the effect of "now that I own the source the standards have changed".

If you look at lots of modern ebony fretboards you'll see grey lines running thru them. I like the grey a lot, thanks Bob.

Now back to your regularly scheduled rosewood discussion

IMG_2881.JPG
 

epizootics

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The one at the bottom is representative of what we have come to expect when buying "East Indian Rosewood". The (reddish) one in the middle is another Asian dalbergia subspecies that has been popping up in the last few years and should have a tighter grain that the one at the bottom, and smaller pores as well. I bought a few blanks last winter, nicest dalbergia I had seen in a long time. The one at the top could be any dark section of any type of rosewood there is :)
 

1bad914

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There is a great story about when Bob Taylor bought the saw mill in Cameroon that furnishes much of the ebony used in instrument making. He apparently went out in the woods with the sawyers and watched them falling ebony trees. They would cut into the tree and look at the wood, many of the trees they just left on the ground. Bob asked what was wrong with them, they said they weren't black enough to meet the expectations for ebony. Bob said something to the effect of "now that I own the source the standards have changed".

If you look at lots of modern ebony fretboards you'll see grey lines running thru them. I like the grey a lot, thanks Bob.

Now back to your regularly scheduled rosewood discussion

View attachment 997308
For some reason I thought you were a dovetail guy. I am about to dive into doing another dovetail neck joint after many mortise and tenon joints.
 

Freeman Keller

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I go both ways. As William Cumpiano said, the dovetail is the joint from hell (but then he proposed something ever worse). I used dovetails on my first few guitars and struggled with getting them right. Ironically as I learned how they worked (they really are quite elegant) I also learned that there were other joints that worked just as well and were a whole lot easier to build and set. So I have switched to bolted M&T joints on all of my acoustic guitars with one exception.

If I can't get my hand inside the guitar, which actually happens fairly often, I use a dovetail. So lately you've seen a few of my archtops, they all have dovetails. And of course if I'm working on a guitar that someone else built and thats the kind of joint, thats what I do.
 




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