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Basswood And Poplar Questions


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Just some quick questions... forget about tone for a second... and forget about natural finish, since this would be painted.

Ok, which is generally lighter... Basswood or Poplar?

(by most accounts it seems to be basswood, but I'll ask)

Which is usually more easily dinged and dented... Basswood or Poplar?

(again, it seems to be basswood)

And finally, to prevent dents & dings, would there be any merit to giving Poplar or Basswood (before final painting) a coat of epoxy as typically used on some fretless basses?

(like this http://www.woodwiz.com/epoxy/)

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I have not worked with basswood yet, but I would tend to agree that basswood is lighter. But I do not think it is tremendously lighter. Both are easily dented, at least as raw wood. I am just finishing up a guitar out of poplar, and you really have to watch where you set it. An errant wood chip under it is enough to cause a small dent. I have always heard that basswood is even easier to dent, but can not confim it. If you want to try and make the wood a little harder I would tend to lean towards giving it a good bath of CA (super glue). It will absorb into the wood, which epoxy won't. I haven't finished my guitar yet, so I can't say how much harder it will be though after it is clear coated. Some of the two-part poly's will add a very hard finish to it, so you may want to look into that.

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They are both pretty soft and light, I think poplar is a bit softer and lighter but then it depends on the piece. The one you have might be different.

I'd never use it for my project, eastern guitar manufactures use it because it's cheap and easy to work with, but I'm always for more sturdy wood.

just my .02 :D

Cheers

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OK I guess the difference between basswood and poplar regarding weight and hardness is fairly close.

I guess that turns my attention to what coating could be used to help prevent dings in poplar/basswood... Would a CA or Epoxy finish (before final paint) make a noticeabe difference in preventing dings?

Using search I found the red CA suggested because its the thinnest. What brand and suppliers does any like?

Or what about epoxy? Is the kind used on those "Jaco" fretboards a special marine brand? Or are they all pretty much the same, just varying consistancies?

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well according to this site, poplar is 2 lbs per cubic foot than basswood. and alder is the same wieght as basswood. check it out

alder

http://www.onlinewoods.com/onlinewoods/spe...php?woodtype=43

basswood

http://www.onlinewoods.com/onlinewoods/spe...php?woodtype=66

poplar

http://www.onlinewoods.com/onlinewoods/spe...php?woodtype=66

Edited by killemall8
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I think you ansewered your own question. I would buy Poplar because its so much cheaper. Unless you plan on doing some body carving forget about basswood. Why spend the extra cash?

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I probably should have looked at the warmoth site first, but according to this page,

http://www.warmoth.com/guitar/options/options_bodywoods.cfm

An alder body is about 4lbs... basswood is under 4lbs... and poplar is about a half pound more than alder.

(so, basswood is still the lightest... alder is lighter but harder than poplar)

But where would I get CA in such quantities to be able to brush it onto a basswood body?

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If the *only* concern is weight, and the extra time and effort are also not an issue, I would consider going with something a little harder and going with chambering. You can remove a considerable amount of weight that way. Another option would be to go with a poplar or basswood core and laminate a top/back to it, even a relatively thin layer of maple (or heck, even masonite! it worked for danelectro!) could improve the dent resistance considerably. (Whilst I probably dent my guitars on the sides more than the faces, cosmetically it's more of an issue on the faces of the instrument.)

As far as the epoxy goes - working with the System Three stuff as a grainfill coat before spraying KTM-9, it definetly adds a fair amount of dent resistance, but I have to wonder how far that would go on a very soft wood - Whilst I think it certainly helps with the KTM-9, I'm not sure it's more than say, a traditional poly finish. More than nitro, I think, but I don't have a lot of experience with that. Of course, I sand almost all my epoxy off, really just leaving it in the pores of the wood - leaving more of a coat could change things.

I suppose you could look into the heavy, thick bar-top finishes if you want ultimate dent protection, but that doesn't seem like the best finish for a guitar.

The CA glue thing is probably useful, and any water-thin CA glue (I buy mine at the local hobby shop, the model plane and train set guys use it a lot, I guess?) should work, but considering the amount you'd need to do an entire guitar (especially as with a wood like poplar or basswood, I see it soaking into the wood quite a bit) seems like it would make it cost-prohibitive. One of the members (Drak, I believe?) has done a lot of work with spalted woods and mentions using CA to stabilize the wood (as spalt is basically half-rotted wood) and if I remember his posts, he went through quite a bit just doing the top for one guitar.

I've also seen acrylicized wood - I believe the process involves impregnating the wood with acrylic resin under pressure (and possibly heat?) This may be something to research, but I don't know if it's the sort of thing that can be done at home.

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Thanks - but chambering is more than I want to do, and after a bit more digging, CA isnt something I want to deal with in larger quantities either (expense and toxic fumes)... so epoxy and KTM-9 seems like a good idea.

Any suggestions for a low viscosity epoxy to try to penetrate into basswood? Is thinning the epoxy with acetone good or bad for this?

Some websites suggest heating a piece of wood slightly over time so that the epoxy becomes thinner on contact and soaks in better - anyone tried that with an unfinished guitar body? (just the body, no neck)

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Any suggestions for a low viscosity epoxy to try to penetrate into basswood? Is thinning the epoxy with acetone good or bad for this?

Zpoxy is fairly thin, LMI carries it. You can thin many epoxies with denatured alcohol (including Zpoxy) - I don't know if it is compatible with all epoxies but every one I've used thinned fine with alcohol. I haven't tried Acetone, it might be compatible, but I think it might evaporate to quickly to give you much working time.

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CA goes a long way, you won't need too much of it. I use it to seal the grain on mahogany and limba. I have used epoxy too, but CA is so much easier to work with. The fumes are a killer, I work with it in an open area and with good ventilation, this is something you DON'T want to do indoors.

As far as the type of wood, I have used both. I like basswood better than poplar, but like everything it is a matter of taste. Basswood is ligther, and dents easier than poplar, but Iused it on a back, so I didn't care much for the hardness, I did stained it black before painting it so that if there is a good dent, it won't show the natural color over the black paint.

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