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Wood questions

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Hi all,

I'm on the eve of purchasing the wood for my guitar... I'll be ordering it for sure early next week. Which means I have to decide my final woods for construction. If you look at THIS for my post with the double-cutaway chambered guitar with the most amount of description, that's the project I've decided to go with.

So far I'm going with:

1- 14" X 20" X 1/4" soft maple for the top (not figured maple)

1- 14" X 20" X 1,3/4" honduras mahogany for the body

1- 4" X 30" X 7/8" hard maple for the neck (quartered)

Here are the options and dilemnas, that if you have time and the inclination you might be able to help me with:

-I have the option to get white limba instead... what are the tonal characteristics and workability of white limba?

-Instead of hard maple, would a mahogany neck be easier to work? Maple is the sound that I want (I think), but this IS my first project, so making things easier isn't a bad plan, either.

-Is a 7/8" neck blank thick enough for a neck plus heel (likely bolt-on, though I haven't fully decided yet, so I'd like my options open)? If I get a bunch of pieces and laminate them, it might be the right size but it's going to get expensive. :D

That's about it. I'll have a tonne more questions, but I'll be asking them at each stage of the game, rather than all at once.

Thanks for any input,


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Thanks for the reply, Ed. Reading is always good advice, but I find I tend to over-research things a lot, and then never get around to doing them. So I'm wanting to get into this project before I end up spending more money and time on books and researching than building, ya know? It'll make a bit of a change for me. Don't get me wrong, though... I've read the Koch book, all of the tutorials I could find (I had read that Les Paul one from the other thread, but didn't realize it was linked to from projectguitar.com at the time!) plus as much info from the luthier and supplier websites as I could find. Basically, I've spent over 2 weeks already doing research (which may not seem like much), in addition to knowledge I've gained along the way as a player and gear-head (which amounts to more than it sounds). Time to build!! :D

Although my description didn't get into the tone a lot, you can pretty much safely assume that I want a tone that a Lucille-type guitar would produce (it's not really a 335 sound, since it uses solidbody construction... more like a Les Paul, actually), but since I use neck position almost exclusively for clean and mildly overdriven parts, I've decided to throw a JB into the bridge instead of a chimier lower-output pickup for those times I want to push the amp. The pickups are already purchased and in my possession-- a Jazz in the neck and a JB in the bridge; a pretty classic combination, but I'm not looking to break new ground here.

The Lucille uses maple-poplar-maple laminate in its construction, but I'm quite happy with the Godin LG I own, which is all mahogany. On the other hand, the tone will be hugely different because of the P-90s in it.

I was thinking that all mahogany construction might be a bit dark, especially coupled with humbucking pickups. So, the maple top adds some snappiness-- but would also having a maple neck take it too far in the other direction and make it TOO snappy? Especially with the ebony fingerboard I decide to put on?

Ultimately, I have to confess (and I believe many builders and guitar owners will secretly agree) that I don't believe wood choice has as much to do with the tone equation as the pickups, nut material, and choice of bridge and headstock options. Of course, it IS still a part of the equation, though, which is why I don't want to overlook it.

In my travels, I haven't found out any real useful or hands-on information about the white limba, though. For example, the first webpage on a Google says that Limba is Korina... and the page's author goes on to talk about how it's the lightest, best-sounding, best-looking wood. He may be right, but I'd like to hear other opinions and experiences. Actually, now the name sounds familiar-- Ed Roman... wasn't someone rolling their eyes about him recently?

Another website has 'lightweight African Korina', but notes that it's scarce and expensive. The blanks I was looking at are the same price as Honduras Mahogany, so that can't be the same thing.

None of the websites talk about whether they get 'hairy' around the edges when sanding, the way poplar allegedly does, or whether they're easily worked or not.

Anyhow, thanks again for the reply. Looking forward to seeing if you have any other opinions now that you have a better idea of what I want in my guitar.


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Guest Litchfield Custom Gutars

I would use the limba. It is lighter, and easier to work. It is more pourous, so it resonates slightly more. I dont think the stuff is sacred like Ol' Ed, but whatever. It also needs a little more pore filler than mahogany. Use the maple for the neck. Its easier to work, but is more prone to warpage/twisting/and the like.

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Thanks for that. Actually, the Limba IS a little more expensive, as it turns out, but comes as one piece as opposed to laminated pieces.

For the neck, they offer the maple quarter-sawn, but one of the books I read seems to feel that it might then be TOO rigid; and unresponsive to truss rod adjustments.

I've considered as an alternative using a flat cut piece of maple, but with those graphite reinforcement thingies like in the StewMac catalog. I don't mind the extra routing, but ultimately just using quartered wood will actually end up being cheaper than flat with reinforcements, so quartered SEEMS like the better option.

Of course, option 3 is to do both-- quartered AND reinforced, but then I'd worry about being able to adjust the neck.

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Guest Litchfield Custom Gutars

The maple wont be too rigid. I have a purpleheart strip in my necks and they respond to truss rods, so dont worry.

Also, I meant mahogany is easier to work than maple. However, it has the mentioned issues.

And just whwere are you getting this limba so cheap? that is an amazing deal.

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OK, so quartered it is. How about option 3 then, with the reinforced strips? Would THAT be overkill?

The price of the wood is actually what made me a bit curious in the first place-- though my first response was "why is it more expensive than mahogany" and now it's more like "why is it so inexpensive?" Anyhow, it's the top wood in THIS link. That's $88 CDN.


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