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Help With Use Of Woods


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Let me start by saying that while I am comfortable with building electric guitars I have no idea how to build an acoustic. I will be getting some books and doing some practice before I undertake my real attempt at a build. But with the winter storm that hit I have some trees that fell and are now moving in the right direction for my dream build. So where I need help is, what can I use these woods for on an acoustic.

The basis for this project is that my wifes family owns a small farm that has been in the family well over 100 years. My idea is I want to build an acoustic guitar (along with a fwe other projects) from woods only coming from the farm as best as I can. I also want to keep it to woods that have family significance. This is a project that will be slowly evolving since I am not going to cut any trees down that do not already need to be cut. The rest of the family likes when I am cutting some of this up as well though since I always use the apple wood to make a big barbeque for the entire family.

There is an apple tree that uprooted in storm that I can get some nice lumber out of that was planted by my wifes great grandfather. I will be cutting this up into usable boards. There is a small peach tree that came down that is the last surviving peach tree and again was planted by her great grandfather. There is some lumber that is stored in the barn that is rough sawn. I know some of it is black cherry, the rest could be hickory, ash, maple, oak, chestnut, or sassafrass. These boards were cut at some point by her great grandfather or even earlier. There is also some lumber that was used for furnitire making that I have to identify, but it is probably one of the possibilities listed above since that is what primarily grows there. These would have been milled by her great great grandfather. I know spruce is common for acoustic tops, but we don't have any of that (I don't think). There is however some type of conifer that was her great grandmothers Christmas tree one year as a child. I will not cut the tree down just to get lumber out of it, but when it is time to take it out, I will keep lumber from it. I just still have to identify what type it is.

So here is the list of woods I will have to work with. Can anyone give me some ideas on what parts of an acoustic these could be used for. Also can an inlay be done on the top of an acoustic or only the back?

Apple-must use

Peach-must use

Black Cherry-must use

Conifre of some type that has to be identified.

black walnut

maple

oak

ash

sassafrass

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These you know about already:

black walnut

maple

oak

ash

As for these:

Apple-must use - Can you fire the kiln with it? Maybe laminates, binding, rosette material, or inlay? Kerfing? Bracing back and sides? Double sides? I understand it's supposed to be pretty fussy.

Peach-must use - See "Apple."

Black Cherry-must use - I believe Black Cherry is the same wood Seagull Guitars use commonly for back and sides. They call it "Wild Cherry," but I would guess it's Black Cherry.

Conifre of some type that has to be identified. - Sounds like the soundboard and brace wood to me. If you have to use three or more laminate strips, you can color it.

sassafrass - Fretboard? Bridge? Isn't this stuff supposed to be brown and oily?

I'm no expert. That's just from what I remember seeing and a couple of minutes researching. Have you asked anybody on one of the major acoustic luthiers' forums?

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Thanks for the help so far, if anyone else has anything to add, please keep it coming.

I have not checked the major acoustic forum/s yet, but will give them a try and things progress. I figured from the start some woods might not work well for major components and would be releagated to inlay, but I am okay with that. I plan to get fairly extravegent with the inlay work, so I'll have plenty of places to use it. I do not expect it to be a great sounding acoustic since I don't know much about them, I just thought it would be a great way to pay homage to family and American heritage.

Black walnut sounds like a great idea for the neck. I love walnut as a neck. I have used it with poplar, mahogany, and ash bodies and it has paired well with all of them. It is easily becoming my favorite guitar wood.

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sassafrass - Fretboard? Bridge? Isn't this stuff supposed to be brown and oily?

You are probably thinking of the Australian wood that is called sassafras, since that is what tends to get mentioned more often here.

Real sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is very much like ash in terms of grain and figure, but not as hard, and a medium brown color.

You will know it by its smell the moment you cut into it.

I wouldn't use it for a fretboard, but it would probably make nice back/side material.

Cherry has been used quite a bit for backs and sides. Jason Lollar uses it in his archtops.

Apple would make a nice fretboard~ it is usually pretty dense and fine grained.

Peach is very similar to cherry, but I bet what you have is small, unstraight pieces. Maybe a headstock veneer.

Chestnut is too weak and brittle to use in an instrument, but if you have any, hang on to it for other special projects.

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