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  #1  
Old 06-27-2007, 12:27 PM
cosine cosine is offline
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Default Sycamore as a back/side wood?

A local woodworking shop offers a series of "build a guitar" classes. They have two kits available, one with mahogany back/sides and one with sycamore back/sides.

I've never heard of an acoustic guitar utilizing sycamore as a tonewood.

How is sycamore as a tonewood? What other tonewoods might it be comparable to in appearance, tone, etc.?
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Old 06-27-2007, 12:29 PM
EverythingMusic EverythingMusic is offline
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I saw some pics of a sycamore back and side set today that was just stunning. No clue about tone though.
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Old 06-27-2007, 12:31 PM
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I've not had the chance to play a guitar made with sycamore, so I am curious about it's tonal color too.

Santa Cruz uses it on a select few of their 00-size deep body H13 models. I believe it is also used on classical guitars.
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Old 06-27-2007, 12:48 PM
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Sycamore is about the same density as big leaf or soft maple. It is a high dampening wood which tends to absorb sound. When tapping Sycamore it is akin to tapping a piece of damp cardboard (read ... thud...). You can build a decent guitar from it but if I were given a choice I would select the Mahogany. Having said that, accurately quartersawn Sycamore is gorgeous wood and is easy to work with. I use it quite often for bindings.
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Old 06-27-2007, 01:08 PM
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Isn't sycamore considered one of the more desirable back and side woods for Flamenco guitars ?
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Old 06-27-2007, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrummer View Post
Isn't sycamore considered one of the more desirable back and side woods for Flamenco guitars ?

As far as I know, but actually I don't know much or at all about Flamenco guitars even if I've seen one with sycamore s/b.
I also have Yamaha FG750S that has solid spruce top with laminated sycamore S/B that sound very much like Tim explained. I can say it's best for strumming, and funny enough it has very distintive smell that I like too.
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Old 06-27-2007, 01:44 PM
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yes, sycamore is a traditional wood used in flamenco guitars, but it's usually seen as a lower cost/quality material to the more desirable cypress. i think the selection of those woods is mainly due to regional availability. As flamenco has grown internationally, there have been more flamenco negra guitars built from rosewood.

As for whether the original poster should pick sycamore or mahogany, i think mahogany is a better choice, as it's more versatile for fingerstyle and strumming... particularly if the guitar being built is a steel string.
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Old 06-27-2007, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim McKnight View Post
Sycamore is about the same density as big leaf or soft maple. It is a high dampening wood which tends to absorb sound. When tapping Sycamore it is akin to tapping a piece of damp cardboard (read ... thud...).
Hopefully maple doesn't sound the same when tapped?
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Old 06-27-2007, 02:08 PM
kenny5060 kenny5060 is offline
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My Wal bass (yes...I'm really a bassist masquarading as a guitarist) has sycamore facing on a mahogany core. The wood is quite soft and easily dented. The bass sounds wonderful but I can't vouch for it's acoustic quality on a guitar.

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Old 06-27-2007, 03:58 PM
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Yeah, if I were taking the class I would be picking the mahogany kit... alas, I'm not taking the class.

I was still curious about sycamore as a tonewood though.
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Old 06-27-2007, 05:06 PM
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I have a Santa Cruz cedar/sycamore F that I really like. To my untrained ears, the sound is kind of a cross between mahogany and maple.
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Old 06-27-2007, 06:11 PM
Brock Poling Brock Poling is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SongwriterFan View Post
Hopefully maple doesn't sound the same when tapped?
Certainly I am in the minority amongst my guitar building buddies.... but I think big leaf maple is a great tonewood. I have had very good success with it.
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Old 06-27-2007, 06:51 PM
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NK Forster builds with sycamore...here's a link. http://www.nkforsterguitars.com/ check out the model A. There's sound clips too.


Quote:
I have a Santa Cruz cedar/sycamore F that I really like. To my untrained ears, the sound is kind of a cross between mahogany and maple.
That's beautiful guitar upper peninsula! It looks a lot like lacewood.
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Old 06-27-2007, 06:58 PM
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As Jayee states, Sycamore and Cypress are the most common woods used in Flamenco guitars, with Cypress usually being the higher priced option. I've had 4 Flamenco guitars, 2 sycamore and 2 cypress. The Cypress sems to provide more presence and volume.

A flamenco guitar is also a percussive instrument used to accompany spanish dancers. The whole idea is rapid fire notes with little or no sustain.I would not think that sycamore (or cypress) would make a good choice if you wanted a lot of sustain.

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Old 06-27-2007, 08:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brock Poling View Post
... but I think big leaf maple is a great tonewood. I have had very good success with it.
I can vouch for that. Broc builds great guitars and I have played his Maple which is a very good sounding guitar. I didn't mean to come across as being negative against Sycamore. I love the look of it and it does sound very similar to big leaf maple but my [personal] tastes just lean more towards the rosewood family.
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