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Good Tone Woods

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:D Hi- I have done alot of woodworking over the last thirty years but I don't know much about tone woods. I know the common used woods alder, swamp ash, and basswood. But what about other softer hardwoods like Butternut and Walnut? Is white ash good? I see some places selling African mahogany and other selling Honderan (sp?).Which is the better of the two? Is solid Maple and Cherry to bright? I have a beautiful thick Butternut plank I have had for twenty years waiting for a project I would like to use in a tele body. Has anyone use birch red or white? I have a 3" plank of red birch also. Is oak ever used?
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Alot of these questions will be easily answered by a trip to the Search page, but to answer a few of your questions:

Walnut is used occasionally, dunno about butternut.

White ash can be used.

Both African and Honduras mahogany are great, but from what I understand only Honduran is "real" mahogany. Gibsons are made of Honduran mahogany. I think they both should sound similar though.

If bright's what your looking for, go for it. Many guitars have been made of both solid Maple and solid Cherry. Or both.

White birch is used in acoustics I believe... dunno about red. And if you want to use the butternut, go right on ahead. There's no hard and fast rules saying you can't use it. So long as its stable, hard (not soft enough to dent too easily), and dry, it should do fine.

Oak HAS been used, but from what I hear its awful heavy.

(Oh yeah, any of you tonewood gurus PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong on ANY of this :D )

Edited by TeiscosRock
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Walnut works great for necks, and I've seen plenty of (mostly Bass) bodies made from it as well. Butternut's in the same family as Walnut, although I've never seen any instruments built with it. Other good options: cherry is fine as well, I personally would be a touch wary about all-maple for both weight and potential for overt brightness.

Mahogany's always good. The three 'true' mahoganies that are more or less available are Cuban (Swietinia Mahagonii, very rare, more or less forget about it), Small leaf (S. Microphylla, again, don't see it much) and Honduran or big leaf mahogany (S. Macrophylla, most common of the 'real' mahoganies, although Brazil, one of the largest exporters, has now put a complete ban on export of the stuff, so expect prices to rise, and stocks to fall somewhat). Then you've got the African 'mahoganies', which are in the same family as the true mahoganies (Meliciae), but are of differing genuses. What's normally called 'African Mahogany' is Khaya Ivorensis, aka simply Khaya. It's a bit pinker, slightly coarser grained, but it works just great, and is a perfectly good replacement for honduran, in my experience. Other options include Sipo or Sapele, both related, both a little heavier than Khaya and slightly finer grained, and they all work just great, and are suitable mahogany replacements in a structural, visual and tonal sense. Given the choice and minimal price difference (and ignoring Cuban, which I'll only use for back/side sets on an acoustic given its rarity), my preference for neck woods runs Honduran, Sapele, Khaya, and for body woods, I honestly don't really care overmuch if its Honduran or Khaya.

If you want that tele sound, not just the look, go with a tried and tested combo, like alder or (swamp) ash and a maple neck.

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I can't tell you about butternut, but walnut has incredibly deep, full bass. It's not missing mids or highs, but the lows are so powerful they almost overwhelm the highs (at least in my strat, which actually even has some maple in with the walnut, which should brighten it up a bit).

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