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Balsa Wood


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I've been told that balsa wood has great tonal qualities, but being so light weight and soft it's a bit unpractil for instrument buildning. What kind of reinforcements would be necessary to make a solid body from balsa?

For the first I guess that string tension would bend the body, so I guess the body must be reinforced for that reason. Next problem is neck joint, I guess that part should cause some problems too... With a bolt-on neck, maybe one wooden plugg for each bolt should be enough, so that the neck pocket isn't compressed when drawing the bolts? Then there should be some problems with screws for bridge, scratch plate and output jack. If the body has a top and a bottom made from something harder, that wouldn't be a problem, otherwise one could set a wooden plugg in the balsa body for each screw?

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Y'know, I've heard some people are filling the insides of their guitar with air these days... :D

I have some thoughts on this, though it's admittedly no more than theory. A good acoustic guitar is built on the principle that it should have no more structural stability than absolutely necessary. Production guitars tend to be overbuilt, so people that don't know better are less likely to break them (read: cheaper warranty expenditures). Luthiers tend to get rid of as much wood as they can while still maintaining structural stability.

Electric guitars are built on a slightly different principle. The solid body was conceived (as I recall) to eliminate feedback, which had been a problem with electrified acoustics. In terms of structural stability, they are generally WAY overbuilt, because they have different goals.

As solid bodies incorporate denser materials, such as aluminum, granite, and the like, people have reported greater sustain. The way I understand it, sustain is achieved by tighter resonant frequencies that hold out longer, and seems to be encouraged by denser materials.

So to say a softer material is more resonant than a dense material can be misleading, as the resonance may just work differently. It's like relaxing string tension, isn't it?

I may be totally off-base with all this. I haven't tested it, and maybe some more experienced builders can chime in. Regarding Balsa wood, I'm all for trying something new. That's much of the point of building your own guitar. But while softer woods may gain you something in some areas, there's probably an opportunity cost.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-beam

Look at the "Design for bending" section and apply that to a balsa core guitar with more traditional top and back (substitute I-beam web with balsa core)

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He, he, före detta ingenjör underlättar ju...

The content in short: This is how the stress is distributed internally in a square beam (look at the first example in green):

471px-Poutre_flexion_deviee.svg.png

The rotating forse (name in English?) that is aplied on the body by the strings and the lever of the nut and bridge is Mfz. The foce is distributed inside the body like σxx, with the most internal stress distributed to the outer "layer" of the beam and the center will not counter much at all of the aplied stress.

So a balsa core guitar with say 1/8" maple caps will probably not be much weaker than a 100% maple body. This is however restricted to the structural strength side. I don't know how much of this that can be applied to the sound...

Just try it and let us know how it sounds.

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Cut out a piece of harder wood that is slightly bigger than the neck pocket and fit it into the balsa block. When sandwiching the balsa block between harder wood it will be secured good enough... I think. The same procedure can be used for the bridge area if needed.

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how about a solid diamond guitar that should do it.

so first thing is to find a diamond big enough to build a guitar out of (check ebay) next cut it to shape. bam complete tonal transfer that easy.

this may only make sence in my head. but here goes i see a tele with a 1/4" top and back. now for the balsa core after you get your blank ready cut a 2" wide groove about 3/4" deap then glue in a piece of hard wood in to it. that will end up being what your neck bolts too.

glue the top and bottom cut it out and rout it. then you should be able to bolt the neck to hard wood also the string through furels will be in hard wood. plus you will have a piece of hard wood on the bottom to screw the strap button on. (i guess a hard wood plug for the other strap button. does that make any sence to any oneelse?

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They're not ferrules anymore. They're "sound tubes." (Pat. Pending)

yeah, the sound tubes. basically they are the bolts that hold the bridge on... the tubes from the bridge only go halfway into the guitar.

this is a neat solution to the problem of mounting a bridge on balsa wood, no screws to strip out!

as for the neck - i thing an oversized plug in each hole is the way i would go.

the yamaha's also have quite a thick layer of bomb proof paint

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Nope nothing is gonna be perfectly nuetral but the harder the better if that's what your after.

Any suggestons then? I actually didn't imagine there would be anything perfectly neutral, but I want something that doesn't kill tone completly. I guess something with long fibers would be best if any such composite material is available to normal citizens.

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Honestly, as much as we all fuss about wood, it's not nearly as important as electronics. Rather than chasing neutral build materials, be on the lookout for the right pickups, amp, and EQ setting.

ah contrare, my fellow Texan. Wood is everything. I mean the difference between pecan vs, mesquite, the flavor is night and day. Now oak vs hickory is a mild change. While cherry has it's places as well. Oh My I'm talking BBQ, wrong thread :D :D

MK

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