View Full Version : top wood
I'm gathering information on top woods, especially concerning tonal qualities of sitka, engelmann, and adirondack (red) spruce. #Can anyone compare these for me?
Which Sitka log? #The really heavy one I cut up last week or the very lightweight one from January?
It would help to know which Engelmann you had in mind as well, as logs vary considerably, thus affecting how they would sound in a mandolin top.
Red is a tad more consistant (usually a tad heavier and a lot harder), but again it would help to know which log you'd like to work with...
And lastly, who's working with the wood? #Some makers can get fabulous sounds out of Engelmann, and others have given up on it. #Same with the other species...
Your question is sorta similar to asking what's the differences between Redheads, Blondes, and Brunettes.
It sorta depends on the Redhead....
I think a maker can make generalizations about species of wood and how they affect the sound of his or her mandolins after years of dialing in certain logs in a certain species, but to generalize about how a given species will sound in any given mandolin is missing the point...
OK, I see your point. Prior to getting married to a blond, I'd dated redheads and brunettes as well. Dangerous to generalize and stereotype for sure! Good analogy! As you may have guessed, I'm at a stage in the learning curve where naive assumptions are made and simple answers are expected. I appreciate you bearing with me. Truth be known, I am having a mandolin built for me and I need to decide on the top wood from the 3 choices mentioned above. The builder has given me his insights from working with all three - I just wanted to hear what others had to say. I realize now that the subtleties can be very subjective and dependent on factors such as you pointed out. Thanks!
As each builder uses each wood differently I would just tell your builder what kind of tone you are after and let him/her decide what wood will work best.
Issac, Bruce is the Man when it comes to wood and I’d give his comments allot of weight but here’s my personal opinion. I like Engelmann because it seems to break in real fast. The other thought I would have (as mentioned in the last post)is to seriously consider what the builder recommends as that will probably be related to the results he’s obtained with his wood stock. Good luck!
Izaac my BRW#6 is Englemann and it is a Hoss..very, very loud, woody, resonant...everything one would want in my opinion...
Believe it or not, I have always liked the tone of my Michael Kelly. However, when I played a BRW the other day - and this would probably be true of any quality instrument - there was simply no comparison. It made my MK sound like a "snoopy" toy mandolin. My point is, regardless of the type of spruce top, I would be thrilled to have such a good sounding mandolin. In the meantime, I'll try to gain more information, if not experience, with various spruce types. Thanks to all....
"I am having a mandolin built for me and I need to decide on the top wood from the 3 choices mentioned above."
I'm with Chris on this one...
Let the builder make the call according the the tone you'd like to hear.
They know how to yank certain tones out of the woods available to them based on their experience with that species or log.
I once ordered a mandolin and the maker used Red Spruce for the first time. #He wasn't used to using it, and the results weren't quite what we wanted, simply because he wasn't used to working with the species. #
He sure is now, however.... # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif