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Acoustic guitar body wood tone


woodpile

Question

I'm looking for an acoustic with a nice well rounded tone. How do you boxers describe the different tones between top and body wood. I'm more interested in solid wood bodies (tops, sides & backs). My take is that spruce is brighter, cedar is darker, mahogany is more low end, rosewood more midrange and maple more high end of the tone range. I have a Koa Yairi with a spruce top and laminate sides and back that is in the midrangey high zone. It might be the one but I'm jonesing for something better.

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I favor the rosewood/spruce combo (think Martin D28) over the mahogany/spruce combo (Martin D18).

Depending on your budget, one of my favorite all-around dreads is the Santa Cruz D/PW. There is one for sale on the AGF forum.

At a lower price point, I like the Larrivee D03R and the Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500R or DR-500R.

I hear the Eastman E20D is nice but I haven't tried one (there's one of those on the AGF forum for sale as well).

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Boy, there are so many variables (body, shape, size, depth, bracing, etc.) that it's really difficult to make a clear-cut comparison.

But, in general, I'd agree with you about the spruce/cedar equation. Out of the box, cedar sounds like sprice that has had 50 years to mellow.

Body woods, I'd rate from high to low in terms of tonal centers:

Maple

Mahogany/koa

Rosewood.

Having said that, there was a certain acoustic tone I was looking for at one time. The general principles would steer me toward a rosewood dreadnought and i tried a zillion of them (I worked for a Martin, Guild, Larrivee & Gurian dealer at the time, this was pre-Taylor era). I eventually found it in a rosewood/cedar 000/ON size. Go figure.

As far as "balanced" I suppose that depends on what you mean by the word. If you start at a dreadnought, which was orignally designed to add some bottom end and to keep up with a bunch of fiddles, mandolins and banjos back in the holler, that might be the balance you're looking for. On the other hand, a small-bodied cypress and cedar gut-string might be "balanced" to another set of ears. To me the most balanced acoustic I own is a rosewood & spruce 12 (000) size Taylor that is about 20-something years old. But just yesterday I got snuck up on by a 45 year old Martin 0-18, very small body mahogany and spruce with a surprising bass quality to it that kept up with the midrange and treble that you might expect from a small-bodied mahogany/spruce jobbie.

So there you go.

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The most "balanced" acoustic that I have ever played was a I think early 90's 610, I think that was the model #

Quilted maple back and sides, I kick myself almost daily for letting that one go.....

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I love how top-grade spruce looks. But tonally, since I use acoustics for fingerpicking and classical only, I prefer extremely dark, mellow tones, and that means cedar.

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The most "balanced" acoustic that I have ever played was a I think early 90's 610, I think that was the model #

Quilted maple back and sides, I kick myself almost daily for letting that one go.....

Untitled4-4.jpg

Untitled5-3.jpg

I had one of those, three piece back and all. I think it's a 612 model Despite it's eye-popping beauty, the low end was lacking on mine and it moved on.

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That Taylor is beautiful. The ones I've played have always been "crispy" sounding if that makes sense. Nice bell like ring but not what I'm after. I remember playing a Takamine that a friend of mine had that was very balanced in tone. It was painted black so I have no idea what it was. Another good one was a Tacoma rosewood with a spruce top but I see they tend to have finish problems. There's tons of old Japanese acoustics from Aria, Ventura, Yamaha, Ibanez, etc, out there. Anybody know anything about those?

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I like to really snap the strings sometimes and cedar compresses on me everytime. I like spruce tops and have rosewood mahogany and plastic backs and sometimes wonder how to quantify those qualities but cant lol

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I like to really snap the strings sometimes and cedar compresses on me everytime. I like spruce tops and have rosewood mahogany and plastic backs and sometimes wonder how to quantify those qualities but cant lol

Which one do you wind up playing most? Is the plastic back an Ovation?

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The best acoustic guitar I've played is a Rainsong. Whatever their latest formula for weave pattern and fiberglass/carbon fiber ratio is, they've nailed it.

To me, every wooden acoustic guitar I've played gave up something to be better at something else.

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