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Thread: All Things Being Equal

  1. #1
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    Default All Things Being Equal

    I realize that two pieces of identical wood can produce a different sound but------------ if two mandolins are built by the same maker and on one he/she uses an Engelman top and the other red spruce and all construction/carving/graduations are the same what differences could one expect in tonal qualities/sound between the two instruments due to Engelman vs red spruce ? I am referring to general differences as I realize that two pieces of the same species of wood can vary in stiffness and other characteristics that can affect sound.
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain

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    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal---------

    I'd say the red spruce would have much more mojo.

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    Registered User MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal---------

    Quote Originally Posted by fscotte View Post
    I'd say the red spruce would have much more mojo.
    Can you sense mojo? Is it a taste, or a scent? Perhaps a shade or temperature of sound color.
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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal---------

    Are you talking about dense Engelmann or just regular Engelmann?

    Yankees1: You've been here for 2200+ posts. You know that the answer will be "it depends".
    Last edited by Philphool; Dec-04-2017 at 1:47pm. Reason: More thoughts
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    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal---------

    I forgot the builder but on the bass side he used one type and on the treble side he used another type of spruce, Wonder how it turned out, very interesting I think!

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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal---------

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrasser78 View Post
    I forgot the builder but on the bass side he used one type and on the treble side he used another type of spruce, Wonder how it turned out, very interesting I think!
    Several (or more) builders have done that. I had an Altman with that mixture several years ago. It sounded good. Why? I don't know that it had anything to do with the wood choices. Bob didn't hear much difference either and abandoned the idea after a few instruments.
    Last edited by Philphool; Dec-04-2017 at 1:53pm. Reason: sp
    Phil

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  9. #7

    Default Re: All Things Being Equal---------

    Quote Originally Posted by yankees1 View Post
    I realize that two pieces of identical wood can produce a different sound but------------ if two mandolins are built by the same maker and on one he/she uses an Engelman top and the other red spruce and all construction/carving/graduations are the same what differences could one expect in tonal qualities/sound between the two instruments due to Engelman vs red spruce ? I am referring to general differences as I realize that two pieces of the same species of wood can vary in stiffness and other characteristics that can affect sound.
    One sounds much better than the other throughout the mid/high frequencies, while the other sounds more woody.

    To people who have much better hearing than I have.
    Play it like you mean it.

  10. #8
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal---------

    Mojo cannot be described my friend, only experienced...

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal

    A Cafe member who hasn't posted in quite a while,had Bruce Weber build him a "Fern" mandolin & specified Red Spruce for the top. I believe that the reasoning was that Red Spruce is more responsive than say,Sitka Spruce. My own Weber "Fern" is Sitka Spruce & it's as responsive as he** !. Having said all that - each single piece of Red Spruce will be different to the next piece - so i don't think that you can reach any solid conclusions re.how 'it' would sound - Philpool has it - ''It depends'',
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  13. #10
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal

    Ive been weighing my red spruce against carpathian and sitka and the red spruce always seems to be a little heavier for the same size piece, not necessarily stiffer though. I haven't used engelmann for a while but I do recall it is lighter and less stiff. Prone to fingernail damage!

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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal---------

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    Are you talking about dense Engelmann or just regular Engelmann?

    Yankees1: You've been here for 2200+ posts. You know that the answer will be "it depends".
    That just depends ! 2200 + posts and going for 3000 + !!
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain

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  16. #12
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal

    The real question might be:

    ...if two mandolins are built by the same maker and on one he/she uses a soft, light spruce and the other hard, stiff spruce and all construction/carving/graduations are the same what differences could one expect in tonal qualities/sound between the two instruments due to light vs heavy spruce ?
    And the answer would be....
    .... depends.
    ...mostly on the builder and how the different woods respond to his/her building habits.

    Here's an anecdote. I've posted this story several times so I'll try to condense it as much as possible.
    I once built two identical mandolins; nearly same wood everywhere, same carving, same finish, same everything. They sounded the same.
    I did the same thing again, but this time I used sitka for one top and red spruce for the other. They sounded slightly different. How would I describe the difference? I can't really, just different.

  17. #13
    Registered User MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal

    I've played engelman and Sitka Webers, and I have a Port Orford cedar Weber. They all sound different, but can I describe the difference? Not really. Can you describe a color, or a flavor? That red is reddish. It tastes smokey. That mandolin sounds mandoliny, and that other one sounds more mandoliny. There are many people who make a living writing wine labels, and I don't think I've ever tasted the nuances that are described. I do make judgments on what I do and don't like, but the words are not linearly interpreted.

    Search YouTube for the video of Mike Marshall and Tim Obrian testing three mando in the white...I think they are Altmann... even with headphones it's hard to judge...plus they are fresh, not open. I Can't recall if the pickers issued an opinion.
    I'll search for the video...
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  18. #14
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal

    My point of view is that the sound is in the individual piece of wood, not the species.

    That having been said, a couple of years ago Lynn Dudenbostel told me that the best top wood he had was Carpathian spruce, but he wasn't using much of it because his buyers mostly wanted red [Adirondack] spruce.

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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal

    I have owned two Ky KM-900 mandolins and one was Red spruce and the other is German spruce and they sure sound different, both sound great but different and they are carved the same using the specs of the one and only Loar signed A-5 mandolin...So if carved the same way two different types of spruce will sound different...Better or worse depends on the listeners taste...

    Willie

  20. #16
    Registered User MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: All Things Being Equal

    He's the video with answers to the question.https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Id3B4H6KxCo
    I wish the recording was higher definition
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
    Deering Classic Open Back
    Too many microphones

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