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Thread: Good Vs Bad Koa guitar Tops

  1. #1
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    Default Good Vs Bad Koa guitar Tops

    yes , hello, I was wondering about koa topped guitars,... are there good koa tops vs Bad koa tops?? putting aside the look of the koa...is koa judged by grain,etc..like spruce...,. or is just a matter of how the top is braced ?? Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Good Vs Bad Koa guitar Tops

    I have played Koa guitars that I really liked, and some that didn't "blow my dress up" as it were. I have played instruments of all kinds where some were great and something very similar was not. I don't think it has to do with any certain wood or bracing. When they work together it's good.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Good Vs Bad Koa guitar Tops

    Koa is remarkably variable, more so than any other wood I've worked with.

    A good top is both light and stiff (for its density). Unfigured koa is more likely to meet this spec, because the figure is curly grain which reduces stiffness. But koa is really, really variable, so ...

    That said, buyers almost always go for figure.

    Depends very much on the builder, selecting good tops. A good sounding figured top is the rarest, and thus most expensive!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Good Vs Bad Koa guitar Tops

    I used koa on neck, sides back and top---looks fabulous---sounds not so great. If I had it to do over would choose to use a spruce top.
    There is a reason that the better sounding instruments have sound boards of reliable tone woods such a spruce and or cedar.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Good Vs Bad Koa guitar Tops

    I used to have a 028K Martin from 1924 that was a killer guitar. I built a similar guitar Koa top, back and sides, with a mahogany neck. It also was killer. I have played some newer Martins with Koa tops that were not so good tho. But then I have played some spruce top guitars that were not so good too. Same with Mahogany tops, both good and not so good. Not all wood of any species is equal.
    Last edited by pops1; Dec-29-2017 at 10:38pm.
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  6. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Vs Bad Koa guitar Tops

    AFAIK koa is a hard wood and would compare in tone closer to mahogany than to spruce. I have a few old Martin ukes that are all koa and they sound wonderful but Martin built those super-light with very little bracing. I have played a few guitars with koa back and sides/spruce tops and they sound somewhere tonewise between mahogany and rosewood. I think those guitars with koa tops have to be braced very lightly as well.
    Jim

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