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Help With Brazilian Rosewood


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I have been browsing for a while and I have decided to finally join. I wanted to have my next build to be a PRS "type" Single cut. I also wanted BRW but thats not going to happen thanks to pricing and scarcity. So i have been thinking of a few other options. I want to the neck and fretboard to be a one piece, and neck through of course " i hate the PRS heel". So I have thought of using cocobolo, great wood, very toxic so precautions will be made, macassar ebony, amazon rosewood ( I have been told it is closely related to BRW but not the same as Dalbergia nigra, I also have thought of about blackwood. Any suggestions that will give me a close tone and feel. I am certain they are some close equals considering the top grade BRW is being hoarded, and most others are not equal to what they were 10 years ago.

I want to keep a dark brown to black look as well, but i want that warmth and projection that you get from BRW.

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If you want the warmth and projection of BRW, kiss ebony as an option goodbye. That'll be brighter than a mofo! Also, for cost reasons, if you can't afford the BRW, I doubt african blackwood is do-able for you either. I think your best options here are EIRW as the very brown, slightly cheaper alternative. Cocobolo if you don't mind the redness of it (or can find the few dark brown pieces out there). Amazon RW might do well too. You also got to keep weight in mind though. Ebony and blackwood are gunna make HEAVY necks... uncomfortably so. EIRW is probably the lightest of the above suggestions. I'm not TOO familiar with amazon RW, but I'm guessing it's probably pretty similar to coco (which is also kinda heavy).

Is there some reason that a neck-thru is a MUST for you? You can make a singlecut style body with a set-neck and NOT have the PRS heel (take a look at www.mykaguitars.com for inspiration on that front). Nothing's forcing you to keep their heel design...

I'd say EIRW if you INSIST on the neck-thru. And I think a coco neck would be a cool set-neck, which I'd be tempted to glue in with something other than normal wood glue...

Chris

PS: While at Myka's site take a look at his all madagascar rosewood guitar... mad rose is VERY nice for just about anything.

Edited by verhoevenc
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If you want the warmth and projection of BRW, kiss ebony as an option goodbye. That'll be brighter than a mofo! Also, for cost reasons, if you can't afford the BRW, I doubt african blackwood is do-able for you either. I think your best options here are EIRW as the very brown, slightly cheaper alternative. Cocobolo if you don't mind the redness of it (or can find the few dark brown pieces out there). Amazon RW might do well too. You also got to keep weight in mind though. Ebony and blackwood are gunna make HEAVY necks... uncomfortably so. EIRW is probably the lightest of the above suggestions. I'm not TOO familiar with amazon RW, but I'm guessing it's probably pretty similar to coco (which is also kinda heavy).

Is there some reason that a neck-thru is a MUST for you? You can make a singlecut style body with a set-neck and NOT have the PRS heel (take a look at www.mykaguitars.com for inspiration on that front). Nothing's forcing you to keep their heel design...

I'd say EIRW if you INSIST on the neck-thru. And I think a coco neck would be a cool set-neck, which I'd be tempted to glue in with something other than normal wood glue...

Chris

PS: While at Myka's site take a look at his all madagascar rosewood guitar... mad rose is VERY nice for just about anything.

I don't find a solid ebony neck to heavy. I prefer neck thrus due to resonance, pitch and sustain. I feel the guitar breathes more I guess or has more life to it. lol, it is also preference. What I meant about BRW is one the price versus quality now is pretty outlandish, The quality of anything that would be very good is kept under lock and key. What i can find is sub par quality, IMO. I would like cocobolo because no finishing is really required besides sanding., due to the oily nature of the wood. i thought about trying to use a saddle dye on the cocobolo to make it look darker.

If anyone knows a good wood dealer in the US that has BRW and ( has the proper paper's for it) I would be down for getting it as long as it is quality. And like I stated earlier I don't mind a heavy guitar I prefer them but i don't think it is any heavier than my 62 Les Paul Custom. A neck thru is just preference I guess. Keep the good ideas coming though, you got me thinking :D

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You might try Larry Davis at Gallery for BRW or maybe give Marc at Gilmer a call, hard to say if you will get straight grain, clear, nicely quartered cuts at full neck through dimensions. If you do find a billet that is that size it will cost you, because cut into parts it holds a heck of a lot of value(and the demand is there to easily back the price). Don't buy from a non reputable dealer, you may wind up with something that is not even actually BRW. There are a lot of people selling wood as BRW that is not(to be expected with the silly frenzy out there to buy any BRW just because it is BRW). The biggest suckers in the musical instrument wood trade are beginners, and guys that are inexperienced bargain hunters.

Personally, I think BRW is dandy, but I stray well away from using it or purchasing it in general. First I think the tonal properties are potentially slightly different than several other similar rosewoods, but certainly there is overlap(this is wood, and you have to be realistic, unless you buy into Myth blindly as many do). It does have nice working properties if the cut is good, but I would not place it far off several other rosewoods for workability. I would sooner buy into a notable or percievable difference in two similar species if the wood was used on an acoustic instrument, but on an electric that subtle difference could be overshadowed easily with electronics. Just my thoughts on the subject.

As far as similar woods go. East Indian is used as a sub. there is a lot of varience in quality though(at least in the current market). If you have a chance to purchase some very nice, well seasoned, old growth East Indian RW I think you would be impressed with the wood. Much of the wild grain or plantation stock is VERY different from the old stock. Watch out for that wood as a nice option. Palisander (a RW from Madagascar) is a very nice wood that compairs favorably in looks and other properties, but this is not an easy wood to get your hands on either. If you find a nice cut of palisander, grab that baby up and you will be quite happy. These are both very good options, and prices for high quality cuts will run you between $60-$100 bd. ft.(not cheap, but quality). Cocobolo is a very cool rosewood, although it ranks high on my "hate to use woods" woods. You can certainly find a quality piece in the dimensions you are after for somewhere around $35-45 bd. ft. It is a love hate with that wood because it sucks to work with, but is a great resonant wood. Bolivian Rosewood is a very nice wood. Not a true rosewood, but density and stiffness gives it much of the same charictor. It is not notably oily, and machines very very well. If you run across a nice dark, quality cut of this wood(often times you can find nice inking and I have even run across landscaped figure in this wood) it will be a bargain(outstanding value) at closer to $15-20 bd. ft. Quality Honduran RW although generally lighter in color, is an extreamly resonant rosewood, and a quality cut of this will perform beautifully. The asking price will range more in the $25-30 bd. ft. range for this wood. I could keep listing species here, as many will offer you a great option. Think over your logic in such a rigid comparison of these woods to BRW. Many of these woods may give you something better for your project. There is a lot of buzz about all things compaired to BRW of old, but you are not trying to clone a historic acoustic model for a collector(so the reality of what will work best vs hype and buzz may not even be the same). You will have to do a lot of footwork to find these woods in quality cuts, unless you are willing to spend the cash to pay someone who has done this for you. If you spend the cash to buy from a dealer, be sure they know what they are doing(there are a LOT of wood dealers who do not know how to build a damn guitar, and are about as qualified to grade a piece of instrument wood as any general woodworker* pretty much not qualified). Some companies that have specialized in instrument grade wood and have been in the business for many years(note; with someone on staff who actually has experience building instruments) will be a reliable option. If you buy elsewhere you need to use your knowledge and experience to preferably hand select this wood.

Also, other woods that you mentioned. African Blackwood(a true Dalbergia) is very nice, personally I think it better than BRW in many regards(none of which would translate to a neck through solid body). It is extreamly expensive when you buy quality cuts, and rare even at those prices. Mac. Ebony is a nice resoant wood, but different(weight, density, resin/oil content). A great resonant wood and can be purchased in quality cuts for around $50-60bd. ft.(fairly common up to 4" in quarter sawn boards). I would stear clear of gabon or nigerian ebony for a neck, and Mad. ebony is a little nicer, but still wouldn't be a wood I would want to use for a neck. Actually Mac. Ebony is a good direction to go if you want an ebony neck(value, availability, and resonant properties).

Good luck with your search,

Rich

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If you think a neck-thru made of solid gaboon ebony with wings and carved top is gunna weigh less than your 62 Gibson custom LP you are soarly mistaken.

Chris

I have a PRS double cut away clone and it is ebony neckthru, 27 fret 7 string with a 28" scale with a African mahogany back with a 3/16 quilted maple top and it is lighter than the gibson. My gibson weighs in over 13lbs. Mine is not chambered. Not to be negative, but I always hear everyone saying, " oh my good a solid ebony neck is really heavy thats crazy", I have not had any problems that is a preference, I also prefer baseball bat necks as well. I have big hands and I hate a skinny neck, I think it boils down to preference. It may weigh close to the my gibson or slightly more, but it is not that big of a deal really. i know people that prefer Ibanez style wizard neck profiels and they think my guitars are heavy or have "thick neck's", I think it is perfect, I also prefer high action. FWIW it may be heavy but it's not a big deal, it's not going to weigh 20lbs or anything at most 14-14.5, with the case of the Dc PRS clone, the weight is a few lbs off from my Les Paul, I think it weighs like 11.7, basically 12, and the Les Paul weighs more

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You might try Larry Davis at Gallery for BRW or maybe give Marc at Gilmer a call, hard to say if you will get straight grain, clear, nicely quartered cuts at full neck through dimensions. If you do find a billet that is that size it will cost you, because cut into parts it holds a heck of a lot of value(and the demand is there to easily back the price). Don't buy from a non reputable dealer, you may wind up with something that is not even actually BRW. There are a lot of people selling wood as BRW that is not(to be expected with the silly frenzy out there to buy any BRW just because it is BRW). The biggest suckers in the musical instrument wood trade are beginners, and guys that are inexperienced bargain hunters.

Personally, I think BRW is dandy, but I stray well away from using it or purchasing it in general. First I think the tonal properties are potentially slightly different than several other similar rosewoods, but certainly there is overlap(this is wood, and you have to be realistic, unless you buy into Myth blindly as many do). It does have nice working properties if the cut is good, but I would not place it far off several other rosewoods for workability. I would sooner buy into a notable or percievable difference in two similar species if the wood was used on an acoustic instrument, but on an electric that subtle difference could be overshadowed easily with electronics. Just my thoughts on the subject.

As far as similar woods go. East Indian is used as a sub. there is a lot of varience in quality though(at least in the current market). If you have a chance to purchase some very nice, well seasoned, old growth East Indian RW I think you would be impressed with the wood. Much of the wild grain or plantation stock is VERY different from the old stock. Watch out for that wood as a nice option. Palisander (a RW from Madagascar) is a very nice wood that compairs favorably in looks and other properties, but this is not an easy wood to get your hands on either. If you find a nice cut of palisander, grab that baby up and you will be quite happy. These are both very good options, and prices for high quality cuts will run you between $60-$100 bd. ft.(not cheap, but quality). Cocobolo is a very cool rosewood, although it ranks high on my "hate to use woods" woods. You can certainly find a quality piece in the dimensions you are after for somewhere around $35-45 bd. ft. It is a love hate with that wood because it sucks to work with, but is a great resonant wood. Bolivian Rosewood is a very nice wood. Not a true rosewood, but density and stiffness gives it much of the same charictor. It is not notably oily, and machines very very well. If you run across a nice dark, quality cut of this wood(often times you can find nice inking and I have even run across landscaped figure in this wood) it will be a bargain(outstanding value) at closer to $15-20 bd. ft. Quality Honduran RW although generally lighter in color, is an extreamly resonant rosewood, and a quality cut of this will perform beautifully. The asking price will range more in the $25-30 bd. ft. range for this wood. I could keep listing species here, as many will offer you a great option. Think over your logic in such a rigid comparison of these woods to BRW. Many of these woods may give you something better for your project. There is a lot of buzz about all things compaired to BRW of old, but you are not trying to clone a historic acoustic model for a collector(so the reality of what will work best vs hype and buzz may not even be the same). You will have to do a lot of footwork to find these woods in quality cuts, unless you are willing to spend the cash to pay someone who has done this for you. If you spend the cash to buy from a dealer, be sure they know what they are doing(there are a LOT of wood dealers who do not know how to build a damn guitar, and are about as qualified to grade a piece of instrument wood as any general woodworker* pretty much not qualified). Some companies that have specialized in instrument grade wood and have been in the business for many years(note; with someone on staff who actually has experience building instruments) will be a reliable option. If you buy elsewhere you need to use your knowledge and experience to preferably hand select this wood.

Also, other woods that you mentioned. African Blackwood(a true Dalbergia) is very nice, personally I think it better than BRW in many regards(none of which would translate to a neck through solid body). It is extreamly expensive when you buy quality cuts, and rare even at those prices. Mac. Ebony is a nice resoant wood, but different(weight, density, resin/oil content). A great resonant wood and can be purchased in quality cuts for around $50-60bd. ft.(fairly common up to 4" in quarter sawn boards). I would stear clear of gabon or nigerian ebony for a neck, and Mad. ebony is a little nicer, but still wouldn't be a wood I would want to use for a neck. Actually Mac. Ebony is a good direction to go if you want an ebony neck(value, availability, and resonant properties).

Good luck with your search,

Rich

Thanks for the in depth post, you have a lot of great ideas and comparison's, Thank you, I greatly appreciate it.

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As weight goes. The neck is probably going to amount to something like 2.5(mahog), 3.5 (Rosewood), 4-4.5(ebony). Those are generic, but are probably in the ballpark. Hardware can vary quite a bit in terms of weight. A standard TOM & tailpiece plus full size tuners vs an aluminum wrap and mini's could have about 3/4 of a pound worth of difference. The body wood(wings) of course would vary much like the neck, but it is a smaller volume of wood(given cavities are going to be there anyway) so holllowing could maybe knock a bit more off the top.

Either way, you have an idea of the weight difference. It will add a few pounds. If that is not an issue to you, have at it(it is your guitar after all).

Rich

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Chris: why do you think ebony would be terribly bright, per se? Yes, it's hard and heavy, but most ebonies are among the least resonant, tonewoody tonewoods I have. My lovely black nigerian and madagascar ebony fingerboards have dull thuddy tap tones.

I'd go with Madagascar, Honduran, Cocobolo or Indian rosewood (indian is my least favourite rosewood for resonance; it makes lovely acoustics, mind you, but it's not the thrillingest tap tone rosewood). Blackwood is lovely, but finding a piece that's large enough AND stable enough to make a neck out of will set you back a lot of money if you even succeed in the first place.

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I really like east Indian rosewood and Bolivian rosewood is pretty nice too.

Thanks, are you familar with making a one piece neck and fretboard with either of these? I m tempted to use either cocobolo or some kind of ebony

I've used cocobolo on my 2 latest guitars and I definitely prefer the look and feel of it compared to Rosewood - Its pores are tighter and it almost feels like ebony. It seems to me like its slightly harder and that it doesn't darken as much. The colour is nicer too but... these are all personal preferences.

308312697.jpg

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I really like east Indian rosewood and Bolivian rosewood is pretty nice too.

Thanks, are you familar with making a one piece neck and fretboard with either of these? I m tempted to use either cocobolo or some kind of ebony

I've used cocobolo on my 2 latest guitars and I definitely prefer the look and feel of it compared to Rosewood - Its pores are tighter and it almost feels like ebony. It seems to me like its slightly harder and that it doesn't darken as much. The colour is nicer too but... these are all personal preferences.

308312697.jpg

Thank you so much for your post, your response sounds like the direction I was wanting to go in. I am always looking for newer, better ideas, that will help me eliminate the guesswork. Plus it's nice to get builders ideas, and experiences first hand

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I really like east Indian rosewood and Bolivian rosewood is pretty nice too.

Thanks, are you familar with making a one piece neck and fretboard with either of these? I m tempted to use either cocobolo or some kind of ebony

I've used cocobolo on my 2 latest guitars and I definitely prefer the look and feel of it compared to Rosewood - Its pores are tighter and it almost feels like ebony. It seems to me like its slightly harder and that it doesn't darken as much. The colour is nicer too but... these are all personal preferences.

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FWIW; Cocobolo is a true rosewood. (Dalbergia Retusa). It is med. light in weight for a rosewood, a bit oilier than most rosewoods, hardness is about average for a rosewood, stiffness is also pretty average for a rosewood. Most ebony is about 30% heavier than rosewoods. Cocobolo is one of the best values relative to todays market, although Honduran RW is as good a value if not better, the availability is small compaired to Coco. Honduran has a sweet fragranant smell(some compair it to apples, I don't think it smeel quite like apples, but it is nice), is not quite as oily. Color range on Cocobolo tends to the orange/brown/red/yellow/black, Honduran tends to the tan/brown/black, Braz. RW purple/brown/tan/black(old growth Indian and palisander can pull from a similar range of colors).

Rich

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