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Acoustic Neck Blanks..

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Hello everyone,

I would like to know your opinion on which mahogany (country of origin) is best used for neck timber. I'm curious because- I've stumbled apon a stock of Honduran Mahogany that is quite dense and heavy, and it seems to me that this is getting rarer. But I have no idea.

any input is welcome-



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I'm not sure "dense and heavy" are adjectives I'd use to describe my most treasured acoustic neck blanks... but yes, I agree Honduran is a very nice choice.

So here's my list:

1) Any of the true big leaf south american mahoganies (brazilian, honduran, genuine, etc.)

2) Sapele

3) Khaya

4) Other African mahoganies (think nato, etc.)

4) Tied for fourth cause I'm not really sure which I like more, spanish cedar (not a mahogany, but physically quite similar).

5) Asia mahoganys like Philippine.

I'm sure someone will say "cuban mahogany." But I can't begin to comment on this because I've never seen a piece in person, much less built a neck with it.


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"Best" depends on what kind of sound you're going for, and whether you're taking the physical balance of the instrument into consideration. Generally speaking (with all other factors being equal), a heavier neck should produce more efficient use of string energy (and thus possibly better sustain and/or volume), while a lighter neck should have quicker note decay. Some styles of music need lots of sustain (romantic era classical guitar) while others need quick decay so the notes don't run into each other (bebop). A lighter neck might also be more responsive to some expressive techniques such as vibrato, some sources suggest.

Also, a heavier neck might make the instrument neck-heavy.

Average (there's always variation...) stats of the neck woods previously mentioned (plus a few that got left out), from lightest/most flexible to heaviest/stiffest:

Spanish Cedar: 30 lbs/cuft, ~1,000k psi stiffness, ~570 lbs Janka hardness

Khaya Mahogany: 31 lbs/cuft, ~1,390k psi stiffness, ~830 lbs Janka hardness

Honduras/Genuine Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla): 31 lbs/cuft, ~1,430k psi stiffness, ~800 lbs hardness

Soft Maple (Acer rubrum): 35 lbs/cuft, ~1,640k psi stiffness, ~950 lbs hardness

Black Walnut: 40 lbs/cuft, ~1,800k psi stiffness, ~1,000 lbs hardness (lighter & softer but stiffer than Sapele)

Sapele: 42 lbs/cuft, ~1,700k psi stiffness, ~1,500 lbs hardness

Hard Maple (Acer saccharum): 44 lbs/cuft, ~1,830k psi stiffness, ~1,450 lbs hardness

Information about the, er, information:

Weight is obvious: it's how heavy the wood is, which has an effect on how much it is affected by string motion (and thus how much energy it sucks up).

Stiffness reflects how much energy is necessary to make the wood deflect a given amount, which is important both structurally and again in how much string energy it might eat up.

Hardness is, simply put, how hard the wood is. Softer woods are usually easier to carve by hand, grain patterns aside.

Data collected from the species library at WoodWorkersSource.

Edited by B. Aaron
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