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Poplar For Git Bodies


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I know there have been some discussion on this topic, but how good is poplar as a tonewood? It is fibrous to work with and you need good sharp tools to cut it cleanly. It's not "clean cutting" like maple, mahogany, etc. So how good is it for a tonewood? Do any of the upper end gits use poplar? They all seem to use maple, mahogany or other exotics. It seems (to me) a lot of the cheaper gits use poplar. Any opinions/experiences/knowledge on the subject? I figure it might be a cheaper build for one of my future builds if can be used to make a quality instrument. :D

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Did anyone else scroll thru to see if they had a tone-o-meter for spalted maple? I just had to check. :D

Didn't check for spalted(but I would imagine you have to reference the rot-O-meter to derive a multiplier for the Tone-O-meter). However I think the meter has a glitch on the Birdsey(Acer saccharum). The Meter says it is equal to Pacific/western/big leaf(Acer macrophyllum). I am sure it is just a typo.

Peace,Rich

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I've had experience with a few poplar guitars. I once had a jackson HSS with a poplar body, which for a long time was my only guitar. Personally, I was not a fan of the tone at all, It was similar to basswood only, which I don't like as a tone wood either. To me it was kinda dull and actually had a rather "blury" sound with distortion, like the notes mashed together without much distinction or clarity. On clean settings, it had a similar but more "honking" effect. At the time, my style was very much hard rock/metal ala Van Halen/Guns&Roses/Megadeth, though I would occasionally play some more classic rock stuff with it as well. It did sound pretty decent when playing fuzzy 70's style rock, and it would work for a warm jazz tone if you rolled back the vol and tone some, but the tone did not cut it for much else in my opinion. Now, I also picked up a few peavey preadators (strat copy) real cheap a few years back and I was told they were poplar bodies, and the tone on those was much better, with more clarity and brighter. Then I stripped one and used it for a custom refinish/rebuild, and it looked as though the body was not poplar but alder, but at the time I was not well versed in determining what wood it was, so I could be wrong.

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I like poplar. I use it in a lot of non-instrument projects, and find it works very nicely. Yes, your tools need to be sharp, but they need to be sharp anyway, right?

I recently used it for the body of this bass:

popbass.jpg

This body is one piece, and all heartwood. The sapwood of poplar is the part that doesnt work well, look too nice, or take stain evenly. Unfortunately, most poplar at places like home depot is full of sapwood. If you find a place that carries 2" poplar, they will likely have some good stuff, but it is getting harder to come by, as successive generations of poplar stands deplete the soils, are harvested too soon, and contain less heartwood. The older growth stuff has more oils in the heartwood as well. I've cut into some old log cabins built of it, and found very little rot and insect damage compared to what I would expect from the poplar I see cut today. That may not seem relevant, but it is the oils that protect the wood, and keep the bugs out. If you read thru any of the tonewood propaganda, you'll see that oils figure prominently in the tonal characteristics of wood. That bit at least makes some sense. It could certainly cause one piece of poplar to sound better than another in an instrument. It can also have dramatic streaks of dark purple, blue, and black running thru the green, It all turns different shades of brown eventually, but still looks nice.

This bass will someday be a deep, russet brown, depending on how much light it sees.

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Poplar and basswood have similar tones, and Charvel and Jackson have used both. I have heard several poplar bodies that did not sound very good, but have heard several that sound great. Poplar seems to be more critical of the pickups you use. I have never owned or worked with poplar, so I can not say what will sound good in it, but if you use the Seymour Duncan pickup wizard or the Dimarzio one, you can select basswood or poplar (depends on which site you use) and from what I have seen else where, the suggestions seem to work really well.

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My MIM Strat has a five piece poplar body and sounds just fine. Parker Guitars uses poplar extensively in their high-end guitars and those guitars seem to do very well, too. Guitars are the sum of their parts and if you use cheap components on a guitar made of "premium" hardwoods, it's gonna sound much worse than using quality components on so-called "cheap" or "commodity" hardwoods like poplar.

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Well, thanks for all the input. I played a Parker recently and couldn't belive how light and seemingly delicate it was. I was almost afraid to pick it up! I'll have to revise my view of poplar in guitar construction. Nice bass Orgmorg! I'll have to get myself a tone-o-meter for the next time I see some decent looking stuff! :D

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my poplar jackson had a jb/59 set of pups...did not help

What kind of bridge, nut, and tuners did it have? What kind of amp and effects were you playing through?

I'd be willing to bet that the guitar was just a dud not only because of the wood, but because it was just a dud. I've played several guitars over the years that just plain suck, and then picked up identical guitars that play and sound just fine. My LP sounded terrible with a set of SD '59s, but sounds awesome with a pair of DiMarzio PAF Classics. There's more to a guitar than wood, Wes. I know you of all people know that.

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locking floyd nut,floyd bridge,ebony freboard,gotoh tuners...it was a neck through as well...

i now have an identical guitar,except it has alder wings instead of poplar...it is much better.

the wood made it a dud...some people may have been happy with it.i found it dead.some people like basswood...i do not.poplar and alder cost roughly the samre,yet alder is clearly a superior wood in every way.you of all people should know that :D

poplar very well may vary wildly piece to piece...alot of woods do,but my experience with it has not been good...alder on the other hand has been great every time i used it...i feel for you that your emotional appeals can't make me waffle on that..i apologize for not being wishy-washy enough to please you(J/K)

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