View Full Version : Mahogany
I own the Kentucky KM 1500 which has maple front and back. Yesterday I bougt the Morgan Monroe M-F1 which has mahogany front and back, with that being said what is the diferncebetween the two woods as far as tone wise? I play bluegrass and I bought the Morgan Monroe as a back up so hopefully it has a good bluegrass bark! Any input would be appreciated!:grin:
Interesting question. I'll also be interested in hearing what the luthiers or more experienced players have to say.
To my ears mahogany sounds a bit "darker" (richer in the fundamental frequency) and maple a bit "brighter" (richer in higher frequency overtones). Or one could say mahogany is "bassier" and maple is "more trebly". Since the top wood is more important to the sound production than the sides/back, the difference is subtle but audible nevertheless.
Neither mandolin you list has a hardwood top. The Kentucky has Adirondack spruce top. The Morgan Monroe specs I find just say solid carved spruce top.
Not trying to be rude but what's your point? You really didn't even come close to answering my question.
You said the Kentucky has a hardwood top (maple) and you said the Morgan Monroe has a hardwood top (mahogany) and they both have a spruce tops. While it may be true that the back woods make some difference in the tone it is not nearly as significant as the top wood.
That is my point.
And fwiw I am not trying to be rude either.
Oh ok i see, sorry about that. So are you saying that the will sound the same?
The Morgan Monroe MF-1 is described as having a carved Spruce top & Mahogany back & sides.That's what it looks to be in the attached pic. If there was a model with a Mahogany 'top',i'd expect it to carry a different model # & not MF-1 - see the info.on the Elderly Instruments website,
Ok nevermind ill just to wait and do a side by side to figure out the tone.
It seems like you are getting exasperated with this thread. It is unfortunate you are not getting more helpful comments. As I said in my earlier post, I believe you will find the maple body to be the brighter and more "trebly" of the two. That being said, every instrument has an individual voice. Even two instruments from the same maker, made of the same woods, will sound different and should be judged on their own individual merits. As to whether the mahogany one would be good for BG, maybe or maybe not, but there is a good reason I think that maple is almost always the first choice. That bright trebly sound helps the sound cut through. The darker mahogany sound may not have the same effect. In the guitar world, maple is considered brightest, rosewood darkest, and mahogany sort of middle of the road.
It appears to me that Bill Snyder's comment was the kind of "here's what I found and would you clarify what you mean?" comment that I make and in so doing irritate my wife. Such comments do not appear to her as invitations to continuing conversation, but as unpleasant challenges. For my part, I had just assumed that rather than "top and back" you meant "sides and back" and let it go at that. But there are hardwood-topped mandolins, like my dad's old apparently made entirely of birch mandolin. Perhaps Bill was asking whether you have a special, or one-off mandolin.
Other than that, I think that multidon's comment is exactly what I'd expect. Maple is a hard hardwood and mahogany is a bit more compressible. I would -expect- that mahogany would absorb higher frequencies more than maple would, and that what was left over resonating in the sound-box to be pushed into the air by the vibrating top would be a little enriched in the lower frequencies. As another example in this vein, I have thought of rosewood as being a bit on the brittle side, and it isn't any stretch for me to believe that a rosewood-backed soundbox would sound different from other woods. Just my musings.
.. Decades back I had a Spruce/Mahogany [B&S] Gibson A40, ,
now I have a Spruce/Maple A50.
and they both have all the same notes on them ..
Mahogany's unusual, in that it's sometimes used for tops as well as backs/sides. The Martin "brown box" guitars (Style 17, at least since 1922) were all mahogany, and most "mainland" ukuleles were all mahogany. Leads one to think that it's a "softer hardwood," since tops are almost always made of softwoods (spruce, cedar, etc.).
Morgan Monroe makes all-mahogany mandolins in their "200" and "300" series, though I don't read too much on the Cafe about them. Here's (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?44212-anyone-own-a-morgan-monroe-mahogany-mandolin) a 2008 thread on MM all-mahogany mandos. Weber made Gallatin and Bitterroot mandolins with mahogany back and sides as well -- spruce tops, though.
Bowl-back mandolins had ribs made of a variety of woods: rosewood, mahogany, maple, oak and others. Haven't heard a discussion of different sound qualities of these instruments.
The top's the most important vibrating surface, and both the OP's mandolins have spruce tops. Since mahogany's a bit softer than maple, we might infer that the back and sides of the MM could absorb rather than reflect some parts of the top vibration, which could lead to a "warmer" sound and perhaps not as much volume.
However, differences among individual instruments, and the other variations resulting from internal geometry, finishes, brace structure, glue types, string differences, etc. etc. may well be more significant than the sound variance caused by maple vs. mahogany back and sides. I think the OP's right in waiting, doing a side-by-side comparison, and then making whatever adjustments he may desire to bring the MM's tone to where he wants it.
My old Gallatin had spruce top/mahogany back and sides and I found it to be on the quiet side meself....
I have a Martin Style A (see my avatar) and an Ibanez F-style mandolin. The Martin has mahogany back and sides with a spruce top. The Ibanez is maple w/ spruce. The Martin sounds "woodier," like a Martin guitar. It does, to me, sound good playing bluegrass, Celtic, and old time. The Ibanez has a brighter sound and also sounds good in all 3 genres--although old time purists may not think so--and I play both about equally in all types of music. The only thing the Martin does not do well is chop, but that is because of how it is made (fingerboard attached to the top).
My point is, do not pigeon hole one style of mando OR one specie of mando wood for a certain type of music. Even a cigar box guitar can sound good (and I know one that does) playing whatever style that you want. It all boils down to YOUR preferences (appearance, sound, and feel), to heck with what anyone else says is THE right one for the job. Even Bill Monroe played more mandolins than just that famous Gibson.
Thanks everyone for the help!
I've played a couple of Webers that had a mahogany back and sides, with a spruce top, and found them to have a rich, but as Jill said, relatively quiet tone, compared to maple. They didn't seem to have the punch and volume that I would want in a bluegrass setting, although they were really nice to noodle around on. That might be why Weber shifted over to maple as their standard wood for backs and sides a few years ago. Weberphiles can either confirm or refute that for you.