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Ash For Acoustic Guitar?


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Hi all, I'm new here. I've built a few acoustics and electrics, and have about twice as many again in progress which may never see the light of day ("pictures" section of www.richiehamilton.com).

I was wondering, have any of you ever used ash as an acoustic back and sides? Visually i love ash, it can be so white, with ocasional almost pink streaks. I know it's very heavy, and might be tough to bend. I'm just interested because where I am (Ireland) there is a very limited choice of timber from the timber merchants, and for all the experimentation I like to do it is much cheaper to spend €40 on an 8ft plank and cut it up than order online everytime I want to try something new.

Also, it would be nice to use a native Irish hardwood for once!

Anyway, if anyone has tried ash, please tell me of your experiences. Does anyone have pictures? If not, what does anybody think re: the viability of ash? I'm willing to experiment!

Edited by richiehamilton
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I have not used Ash for an acoustic. I have seen it used, and it can look cool. I talked to one person that had one and was selling it because he did not care for it. Of course that may have totally been the design, and no fault of the wood choice. I wouldn't hesitate to use figured Ash or Oak for back and sides. Every wood has it's quirks when you bend it, but I wouldn't see any reason why it would be particularly problematic (it is cheap enough to practice on till you get it figured out). I would have to listen and flex a top before I would try it. If it seemed acceptable you could certainly give it a shot. Hardwood tops are used on some models (a quite a few Mahogany tops as well as a few Ash are out there). Since time is your main investment. You may as well test the waters.

Peace,Rich

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About using unorthodox woods for backs and sides:

Bob Taylor made a guitar some 10 years ago from woods he found in the dumpster behind the factory. He used heavily soaked oak for backs and sides and some other junk wood (don’t remember what right now) for the top. He even filled the nail holes with aluminium to show everybody that it was really made out of junk. Taylor guitars is currently building a tribute model:

http://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/models/pallet.html

This was all done to show that expansive tonewoods cannot make up for the lack of good craftsmanship and good construction.

The classical guitar “guru” Torres ones made a guitar with backs and sides out of papier mashé (glued up old paper) and it was reported to sound OK. He did it to prove that the most important part of the sound box is the top.

What I’m trying to say is: Go for it. You might find something new and interesting and you will for sure learn something along the road.

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Hi, nice webpage. ill be tuning into your build. im new to this stuff.

I have no experience in ash with a acoustic. BUt i do haev experience working with ash. I use it in building bows ( archery ). Long as the grian is strait, and you go slow you probably wont pull any fibers. ash is some tough stuff. Pretty also. makes a nice English longbow. good luck.

chris.

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Hi, nice webpage. ill be tuning into your build. im new to this stuff.

I have no experience in ash with a acoustic. BUt i do haev experience working with ash. I use it in building bows ( archery ). Long as the grian is strait, and you go slow you probably wont pull any fibers. ash is some tough stuff. Pretty also. makes a nice English longbow. good luck.

chris.

Thanks for all the replies. I had heard about the torres papier mache guitar. I think I will certainly give it a try. I'll put pictures on the page. Chriss, I may get back to you about bowmaking, I'm planning a take down recurve at the moment!

Cheers again everyone

Richie

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Richie,

Hi. Sure id love to offer some help if you need it on your bow. I dont know much about building guitars but bows i do know a thing or two.

take down recurve sounds like a fun project. my specialty is miqmaks, primitive compound built by the miqmak tribe in canada said to be 1500 years old.

http://tinypic.com/view/?pic=2074ayb

here is a early prototype. reflex/deflex longbow/miqmak thing going on. Im one of the few guys in the world developing this desighn.

I think it has potenital to out perform regular recurves and what not. But then i just like being the odd ball.

take care, ill help in anyway i can just shoot me a msg adn ill give you my email.

remember the ticket to a high performance stick bow is "Stiffer tips with out adding mass" to bad we have to compermise so much. bamboo seems to be my fav bow wood ( its a grass i know ). oops sorry folks. i get excited about bows. :D

chris.

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  • 5 weeks later...

About using unorthodox woods for backs and sides:

Bob Taylor made a guitar some 10 years ago from woods he found in the dumpster behind the factory. He used heavily soaked oak for backs and sides and some other junk wood (don’t remember what right now) for the top. He even filled the nail holes with aluminium to show everybody that it was really made out of junk. Taylor guitars is currently building a tribute model:

http://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/models/pallet.html

This was all done to show that expansive tonewoods cannot make up for the lack of good craftsmanship and good construction.

The classical guitar “guru” Torres ones made a guitar with backs and sides out of papier mashé (glued up old paper) and it was reported to sound OK. He did it to prove that the most important part of the sound box is the top.

What I’m trying to say is: Go for it. You might find something new and interesting and you will for sure learn something along the road.

If Bob Taylor is really using pallet wood for this model, I wonder what he is selling this model guitar for. He must be making a fortune on this model by not having to spend money on AAAAA quality wood.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I remember the taylor guitar and what was said about the build quality being the most important. Personally I think the days of "having the correct tonewood" are fading away.

If you think of some of the materials that are used in guitar construction, and some of the low quality woods used on inexpensive ones that can still sound ok then why not use timbers that are considered not to be the right ones.

I have have just used pine for my strat body . Laminated 2 pices of Ash ( one on top of the other not side by side) and put on an American Oak fretboard, and it sound pretty good.

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I remember the taylor guitar and what was said about the build quality being the most important. Personally I think the days of "having the correct tonewood" are fading away.

If you think of some of the materials that are used in guitar construction, and some of the low quality woods used on inexpensive ones that can still sound ok then why not use timbers that are considered not to be the right ones.

I have have just used pine for my strat body . Laminated 2 pices of Ash ( one on top of the other not side by side) and put on an American Oak fretboard, and it sound pretty good.

I think you need to think about what "proper" means(sometimes it is clouded by hype and sales pitches), and also that "inexpensive" and "low quality" are not always the same thing.

The function of wood used for an acoustic is very different from a solid body. Although your use of Pine, Ash, and Oak on a solid body sounds like it would work fine. The Pine body may be a bit soft, but as long as it is dry and stable it would be fine. Ash won't have any problem holding the string tension. Oak as a fretboard will be durable. The real question when you choose a wood is will it best suit my design needs, and will it survive the test of time. You can make a fully operational electric with a 2x4 if you think it will do the job you want it to do. If you can back up your selection of wood with a full understanding of what you are choosing and why. Then you should be in good shape. If you just wing it you may very well make mistakes that shorten the life of or build in problematic elements to your instrument.

A great example of what you are talking about would be the paper mache backed acoustic. It showed that the back and sides play a much smaller role in the overall sound of an acoustic. Backs and Side sets are one place that people sink silly money on woods like Brazillian RW or very selct rare hardwoods.

That example speaks to part of the instrument and its requirements. A soundboard has very different requirements and paper mache would absolutely fail in that capacity, same would obviously be said of a neck. So if we understand what we need, and what we use is capable of then we can use whatever we want.

You made choices on your solid body. Why not use Pine for the neck and fretboard? You knew you needed a bit more strength in the neck and the fretboard needed to hold frets and take a lot of wear. So I think instead of saying the days of correct tonewood are fading. I would hope we are becoming more open minded and informed as to options, and the requirements (building smarter).

Peace,Rich

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thats a nice looking guitar. Do you know if that is a veneered top or actual solid Ash soundboard? Sometimes it is hard to tell with the electric/acoustics.

Peace,Rich

I don't know anything more about it than what is in the picture. I'm curious if anyone has seen ash that looks like this. Maybe it is a veneer?

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