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Message started by mblue on Nov 30th, 2009 at 1:31pm

Title: soundboard wood suggestions
Post by mblue on Nov 30th, 2009 at 1:31pm
I really love ordering ukulele wood and parts from Hana Lima. The quality, price and service are great. However, in regard to sound board wood, I want to try something different than spurce and cedar. Any suggestions in regard to Internet sources of sound board wood?

Title: Re: soundboard wood suggestions
Post by unkabob on Nov 30th, 2009 at 4:20pm
I find mahogany gives a nice tone.
I have been looking for some koa shorts with no luck. I got a piece of koa and cut it for sides two years ago but I have not seen any for top and back since.
Maple has an interesting tone. A bit shrill for my taste but very bright.
Flooring stores carry woods like cherry and walnut that can be used for sides and fretboards. I wonder what teak would sound like.
A local lumberyard gets cuttings from a guitar factory and they form the bulk of my ukuleles.

I am nothing if not cheap.

Bob 8-)

Title: Re: soundboard wood suggestions
Post by mblue on Dec 1st, 2009 at 9:28am
Thanks Bob. Actually I do have a large specialty woods store here in Houston. They do not have wood designated as "quarter sawn" or "vertical grain". Maybe I have been too obsessed with finding wood already selected to be tonewood. I should probably just pick through it to find pieces with tight, straight grain.
Which makes me think of another question.
How important is tight parallel grain for soundboards/tops?

Title: Re: soundboard wood suggestions
Post by unkabob on Dec 1st, 2009 at 12:15pm
Asa is probably the right person to answer that question.
I recently built a bouzouki with neck,back and sides of hard maple. The maple came from a 3x3x36" bat-blank. They are used to make baseball bats. I carefully chose it for tight grain and sawed it to give vertical grain. The back was four pieces. That is a lot of butt joints but the sound is pretty good.
The fretboard started as walnut flooring.
Choosing wood is a skill. You can learn to do it yourself or you can have Asa do it for you.


Title: Re: soundboard wood suggestions
Post by mblue on Dec 5th, 2009 at 4:50am
I just checked the HanaLima store and they have Koa fronts/backs and sides! That's cool.
I went to my local specialty wood store and found a 6" by 1" by 6 foot long koa board. It is difficult to see how the grain will be after I re-saw it.
By the way, I saw this really beautiful (imho) wood there. It is called "Red Gum wood". And it had really straight grain, and it was very inexpensive. Has anyone heard of using this wood for lutherie (sp?)

Title: Re: soundboard wood suggestions
Post by unkabob on Dec 6th, 2009 at 3:14pm
Gumwood is used for a lot of the furniture coming out of asia. My diningroom chairs are gumwood.

I have read of guitars being built of gumwood and redwood (I think) on the official luthiers forum.


Title: Re: soundboard wood suggestions
Post by Matt Blacka on Dec 14th, 2009 at 8:30pm
Hi mblue,

I really have to say that in terms of quality, you will struggle to beat the timber sold here at Hana Lima (I think everyone will agree to this).

If you are after something a little different, I have purchased some great sets from Tim Spittle at Australian Tonewoods. Just google for his website. He has uke kits available in blackwood, but I almost always email him with a specific description of the type of timber, figure, colour etc, and he picks a set for me. He will take some photos of individual sets and email them to you as well, so you can see what you are getting.

If you chack out the Australian New Zealand Luthiers Forum, you will find lots of projects built using timber from Tim.

Good luck,


Title: Re: soundboard wood suggestions
Post by mblue on Dec 15th, 2009 at 3:43am
Thanks Matt. I agree that all of the fronts and backs that I have purchased from Hana Lima have been really great.
The 2 reasons I wanted to find a second source are...
1. To find different variety of types of wood.
2. To be able to build a uke from wood that hasn't been processed beyond 1 inch boards.
I have found that it is not easy to locate straight tight grain wood. And re-sawing is difficult, for me, anyway.

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