View Full Version : f-2's and 4's birch vs maple...
I've been looking at vintage vintage Gibson f-2's and 4's .. what are the general characteristics of the tone of the birch versus the maple models??? I appreciate the comments made on the various years...what about the woods?
I have an A2Z that I suppose is birch. No complaints about the sound.
FWIW, I just saw a blackface F2 at Bernunzio's (no financial interest). Absolutely awesome sound and volume. Maple back, I believe.
In my opinion, any old Gibson instrument ought to be evaluated individually. While it is possible to ascribe general characteristics, they don't count for much; the proof is in the playing.
Maple and birch are so alike in so many ways. There's a reason why so few people can tell them apart: they look and behave very much like one another. Comparing the effect of mahogany to maple is a much more fruitful endeavor. And as Bob A says, you have to take each one on its own merits. The sound largely comes from the top, and in Gibsons those are always spruce and they vary tremendously.
Paul mentions mahogany vs maple......I'm not trying to steal the thread, but I've been inquisitive about mahogany.....
I'm guessing mahogany is softer, and might make a mellower sounding instrument...possibly less percussive, but sweeter
I'd say the analogues are very common in the guitar world, but most mahogany-bodied mandolins, such as they are, are so varied and, well, sketchy (A-40s? Anything else?) as to be unhelpful. I did a bunch of work once on a Loar L-5 made of mahogany (instead of his usual maple sides and blonde birch back!) with a spruce top, but simply recall it as being a really nice sweet 16" L-5. With one known example, it's hard to make generalizations! But comparing guitars in various body materials is quite informative, and I think those understandings would translate well to mandolin construction. Less percussive, but sweeter sounding would make a lot of sense to me. I'd personally bank on it. But you don't really know for sure until you've made a lot of them and systematically (or at least mentally) averaged them all.
To keep the mahagony vs maple thought alive, I found that the Weber Gallatin's I've played, which were mahagony, have exactly that characteristic...more sweet and subtle and less punch.
Yet it's interesting that many bluegrass guitarists prefer the D-18 over the D-28 because it has more punch. But that punch is coming from (I believe) an overall less complex body sound. And I think there are qualities to a body made of thin sheets of a given wood that are distinct from ones made of carved plates. I tend to evaluate woods first as marimba keys, and from that perspective, mahogany sure has less punch than, say, Brazilian rosewood, and probably more than maple. I think that's a quality that would become evident in a carved mahogany mandolin body, while other qualities will be (are) evident in a typical guitar body.
I tend to evaluate woods first as marimba keys,
I really like that!!! And as soon as you mentioned it, it seemed so simple and obvious a method! (But someone had to make the mental leap first!)