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Old 05-28-2020, 06:08 PM
Hanter Hanter is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 164

Originally Posted by alohachris View Post
Aloha Hanter,

Sorry to interject this suggestion amongst all the mirth of wood selection which is quite exciting during this phase of having a guitar made by a master luthier.

But Hanter, you should reconsider your choice of flat-sawn Cocobolo back as shown & even the sides. Ask John Kinnaird to tell you the reasons why more quarter-sawn woods are the traditional & a much better choice for musical instruments that travel & are under 250 lbs. of pressure per square inch. Also, put a meter on both the Cocobolo & Redwood you've chosen to check for moisture content. It should be well under 10%, preferrably 6-8% moisture content.

Flat-cut is always more striking looking, but also more problematic down the line (unless the guitar is kept in a humidity controlled vault constantly & isn't played out much). Quarter-sawn guitar wood is about longevity & better handling the seasonal changes & indoor heating variations. As a Central American rosewood, Cocobolo, especially flat-cut, tends to crack over time & hates seasonal change (moisture loss) & even light dings.

Information is valuable, & of course, it's your choice. That is a very nice looking back. But as a former luthier & travelling musician, I would never have used it on a guitar if I had quarter-sawn choices. And of course the scarcity of rosewoods globally provides luthiers with fewer choices.

Enjoy the build, Hanter.

Aloha alohachris,

Thanks for your comments and suggestions.

Call me naive but I believe most luthiers would like to firstly build instruments that are pleasing to the ear rather than pleasing to the eye. I also believe that 99 out of 100 people who decide on custom builds would prioritize sound and stability over aesthetics. If it turns out looking nice, it becomes a real bonus.

When I approached John I told him that tone, sonic properties and structural stability would always hold priority over everything else as we consider other elements during the build. So I definitely do not belong to that 1%. John went about recommending sets from his stash that had been aged and seasoned for over more than a decade of dry, Blue Ridge Mountain winters. He told me to choose what I liked best in terms of looks because he was so assured of the quality of the pieces he recommended. So the thunderbolt hit me and I chose this set on my first glance but he went on to explain to me that he grades his woods first on structural stability (& sonic potential) then on looks, and this was ... too his favorite set of Cocobolo because it had everything. He also tapped the set and compared it to other notable woods, some of it quarter-sawn, and found that it was very comparable. Finally, John told me that it would take someone very special to distinguish between (his) slab-sawn and quarter-sawn Cocobolo in a blind listening test.

So really I wouldn't be too concerned as the due diligence had been done.

The recurring theme here also is trust (if you have seen some of my earlier comments and responses), and I think I trust John to bring all his skills to bear to build me the best sounding and most stable guitar he could.

On aesthetics though, I'd like to point out that most luthiers are highly artistic beings who enjoy scratching the artisan's itch on every guitar that comes into creation, so its not without coincidence that instruments being built turn out looking nicer and nicer over time. Some of course are being done at customers' requests, but for some luthiers, even if you asked them to build a simple, plain and ugly looking guitar, they couldn't.

And John Kinnaird definitely falls into that category.
2021 Build in Progress John Kinnaird Greybeard-12 Lucky Strike Redwood / African Blackwood
2010 Tony Karol Italian Alpine / Ziricote Karol Signature FOR SALE!
2006 Brook Euro Spruce / Flamed Maple Taw
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