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I just got a "swamp ash" body blank from stumac (yeah I tend to order the wood from them together with the parts as I don't have to spend time planing raw timber and I can charge my customer for either expensive wood or labour...). Anyway I received a 500x365x45mm or 19.68"14.37"x1.77" body blank. What I'm disappointed with is that it is way heavier than I would have expected. Its the first time I ever actually weight a body blank so I don't have any numbers to compare with so I would really appreciate some input from you guys whether this is acceptable as "swamp ash". Anyway the body blank weighted in at 4.6 kg or 10.14 lb. The question is: is this acceptable as "swamp ash". As there is no specific specie I think weight is the only thing that distinct swamp ash from normal ash and I'm in a discussion with stumac right now about if there is a actual flaw with this blank and therefore I need a bit of input on the subject.

On a side note I have received ash body blanks from them before that has been waaayy lighter.

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There seems to be an accepted consensus that it is supposed to be lighter, however if it came from Ash growing in swampland, then it is Swamp Ash I guess. Same as a boring-looking piece of Ziricote is still Ziricote. My guess is, the monkeys just sent you a crap example. How far you'll get with complaining is difficult, especially if they say that "you can always return it".

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He he, it was I who wrote that review...

The review is more or less take word by word from the e-mail I sent them to complain. And yeah, as long as they offer to take the stuff back they can get away with it. In the usual "ask no question" policy they have already offered to take the item back and pay for return shipping. Problem is I have customer waiting for an instrument and even thou a week or two wouldn't bother him it will bust my production time schedule. As I still run my business on a nights and weekend base I cannot afford this delay as I have more builds coming in all the time. When discussing replacement items they clearly stated that they don't have any other qualities to offer and cant guarantee that a replacement will be any different

Anyway I appreciate all input in the matter.

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If its a bolt on electric then worst comes to worst you could offer the customer to complete the guitar using the heavier ash body until you can source swamp ash and swap the bodies over.

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He he, it was I who wrote that review...

The review is more or less take word by word from the e-mail I sent them to complain. And yeah, as long as they offer to take the stuff back they can get away with it. In the usual "ask no question" policy they have already offered to take the item back and pay for return shipping. Problem is I have customer waiting for an instrument and even thou a week or two wouldn't bother him it will bust my production time schedule. As I still run my business on a nights and weekend base I cannot afford this delay as I have more builds coming in all the time. When discussing replacement items they clearly stated that they don't have any other qualities to offer and cant guarantee that a replacement will be any different

Anyway I appreciate all input in the matter.

If they'll pay for return shipping, perhaps they'll offer to give you the return item for a discounted figure whilst shipping out a new blank. A better idea as it keeps their stock flow liquid and doesn't cost them any more. If it costs them $30 to pay for return shipping and the blank cost $85, is it worth $55 to you and is it useful otherwise?

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If its a bolt on electric then worst comes to worst you could offer the customer to complete the guitar using the heavier ash body until you can source swamp ash and swap the bodies over.

ITs a good idea, but the time needed for making and finishing two bodies are IMO a waste of time. I will need to discuss the options with the client but I'd rahter se that I make a job only once

Thanks for your idea about asking them for a discount on a new blank instead. That way I can save the heavier blank for one of my own NorthStar bodies as those are thinner and smaller and I cut out the delay of sending the blank back and have to wait for a replacement. Maybe they are open for that suggestion. Good input Carl

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As there is no specific specie I think weight is the only thing that distinct swamp ash from normal ash

That is more or less the case, yes, and as time goes on, the "acceptable" weight range for "swamp" ash will probably get higher as the lighter stuff gets used up.

BTW, the typical weight of white ash is about 42 lbs/cu ft. Black ash is around 34 lbs/cu ft. Your blank is 35

Edited by orgmorg

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Thanks orgmorg. That means the blank stumac right now can provide is slightly heavier than average black ash. That is interesting numbers.

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Oh dear, this is a dangerous precedent. Using the name of a wood which has no strict definition other than "lighter than normal" in order to sell a different wood? :D

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Well, on the common market, there is usually no differentiation between the different species of ash.

If you look in a tree book, you will see "swamp ash" listed among the many common names for most of the species.

Black ash tends to be lighter in weight than the rest, but they all can vary quite a bit.

Faster growth produces notably heavier (and stronger) timber in ring porous species like ash, oak, and others, as the non-porous portions become larger than they would if the tree grew slowly.

The porous rings are developed early in the season and do not vary as much in thickness as the solid rings which develop in the prime of the growing season.

Most of the older timber that grew slowly has been cut, and the subsequent growth is, by nature, happening much quicker.

Edited by orgmorg

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It's posts like this that make the Internet worthwhile Orgmorg, thank you. Maybe one day we'll all be enlightened enough to realise that "tonewood" is another meaningless word creation

bandied around far too much. Wood is wood. It doesn't sit on a throne, have some form of aura or heal the sick.

Talking of sick and by the content of my posts today it seems that my old non-RoHS solder has sent me wappy. :D

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Sounds heavy, to be honest. My last two swamp ash bodies (tele and strat) weighed well under 2 kg, shaped. Didn't weigh the blanks themselves as it didn't seem all that relevant...

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Orgmorg is correct, the stuff sold as "swamp ash" is normally black ash. And its density can vary tremendously.

The Gold Standard for ultralight swamp ash is 2 pounds per board foot. I have two blanks of the "good stuff" I got on this site from Jim Soloway, they both check in at 2.3 pounds/bf which is exactly what he advertised it to be.

Swede your blank is 3.47 bf, so your density is 2.9 pounds/bf. That is definitely on the heavy side, but is probably still swamp ash rather than northern ash. I think the best you can do is to send it back and ask StewMac to send you a blank that weighs less than 8 pounds - or less than 7.25 pounds if you can get it.

BTW a typical Strat or Tele body is around 1.7 - 1.9 board feet (depending on the routing), so if you wind up with a body that is 4 pounds or under you cannot do better than that with swamp ash.

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i have a swamp ash ebay blank that i havent used because its a boat anchor i was really disapointed when i picked up the box off my steps. sorry for you i would have though stew mac would have higher standards.

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To make things more confusing, black ash *is* northern ash~ it does not grow further south than West Virginia, while white ash grows all the way down to the gulf states

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I have had serious issues getting good swamp ash from my local wood stores to the point were I have basically given up trying.

From what I have read the good stuff usually comes from really swampy areas as the more water available the larger the growth rings the lighter the wood. From what I understand is it is over forested and hard to obtain outside of the States it grows in.

FWIW I have gotten some bodies from ALLPARTS that are acceptable and fall in line with the OrgMorg's weight standards.

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the larger the growth rings the lighter the wood

This is exactly the opposite of how it happens in real life.

I have read the same story many times, and I hate to say it, but it really doesn't hold water.

My belief is that it is a myth that has been repeated enough times that it is accepted as fact.

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I would have thought swampy areas are a terrible substrate for tree growth and would naturally reduce the number of heavy unstable plants in favour of lighter ones, although I wouldn't put forward this conjecture as anything but an idle theory.

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the larger the growth rings the lighter the wood

This is exactly the opposite of how it happens in real life.

I have read the same story many times, and I hate to say it, but it really doesn't hold water.

My belief is that it is a myth that has been repeated enough times that it is accepted as fact.

Good to know. I hate it when the internet makes me look stupid.

I haven't dealt with it enough to be an expert. What about the part about the swampier the land the trees grow on the lighter the wood?

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Don't feel stupid, there is a lot of conflicting information out there, especially on guitar building forums. :D

What about the part about the swampier the land the trees grow on the lighter the wood?

Well, my statement that slower growth in ring porous trees produces lighter wood is established fact, but I just came across a US Forest Service document that has an interesting twist to this regarding the swollen butt portion of ash trees growing in swamps. Scroll down to the bottom to read that part, but definitely read the rest as well:

http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fpltn/fpltn-d011.pdf

I would have thought, based on what I know and have experienced that this portion, with its wider growth rings would be very dense and hard; but this seems to indicate otherwise. All I can figure is that the cells take on more water than they normally would (ash typically has a rather low moisture content) and become slightly larger. Then, when the water is removed in the drying process, the resulting lumber is lighter than normal.

This is just a rough, partially informed theory. Please do NOT interpret it as fact.

Edit~ I don't know how this relates to Master Yoda's swollen butt, but I would be hesitant to question him about it.

Another thing to note about Black ash is that due to its lesser strength and darker color, it has been usually sold at a lower price. This seems to fit in with Fender's early production strategy.

Here is another good piece addressing the differences between white and black ash:

http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/FNR/FNR-272-W.pdf

Edited by orgmorg

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