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Old 10-04-2012, 12:38 AM
Russ C Russ C is offline
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Default BRW musings

If you know Brazilian Rosewood very well and are not sick of BRW threads, I would be most interested in your response to these questions and thoughts.

I'd love to have a guitar with BRW because it may sound fantastic and it's rare and expensive but I have never been able to A/B like guitars. I don't know how much BRW really contributes to a guitar - I've played maybe less than 10 of them in my life and I'd say most of them were quite impressive - though not all. They were all pretty expensive too so I'm inclined to think the soundboard and workmanship may be special also .. makes sense.

A soundboard is most important but we know the back and sides do contribute - anyone who has played a D18 and a similarly braced D28 side by side should hear the difference. We also know the maker is important. They create their own sound and their skills can overcome, or under exploit, differences in tonewoods - but timbers do have their own acoustic characters.

People seem willing to say "BRW is better than (anything?) ...", some say "Madi is better than EIR ... ", (I don't) but rarely would anyone say "Rosewood is better than ..." or "Mahogany is better than ... " Do you know what I mean? When the differences are bigger we find it less relevant to say one is better - we just acknowledge they're different, but when we narrow down to a genus(?) like "Rosewood" we find it more reasonable to say one is better than another.
I assume rosewoods are closer to each other than other timbers like Koa, Mahogany, Sapelle etc .. am I right?

I accept that BRW is one of the most desirable back and sides a guitar can have .. but then comparisons with other rosewoods make me imagine a line with play dough at one end and BRW at the other and all other rosewoods placed on it somewhere - which might be stupid but there's something in there that makes sense too.
If such an evaluation was possible there'd be overlap surely .. is it possible good EIR or good Madi is as good as second rate BRW. Is that blasphemy?
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:47 AM
JoeCharter JoeCharter is offline
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Never trust anyone who says that X is better than Y.

Wise people state their preference and that's as far as they'll go.

Go with BRW because it's rare, expensive and it sounds like rosewood -- and you'll never be disappointed.
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:42 AM
buddiesorg buddiesorg is offline
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I like Brazilian Rosewood guitars, but I got most of mine before other Rosewoods were becoming more popular (besides EIR, of course). I also have a Madagascar Rosewood, a few Cocobolo, and a few EIR guitars which I like as well, so I don't know how my collection would have changed if I started it more recently.

I also like other woods ... but they definitely sound different than Rosewood, and in general, I prefer Rosewood the majority of the time ... but lately I've been in a Koa type of mood.

Oh, and don't get me started on topwoods ... lately it's been Redwood with a splash of Adirondack on the side ... though the European Spruces have a pretty strong foothold in there, too.

Variety is good.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:48 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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There's a distinct, glassy high end response to good Brazilian rosewood that Indian rosewood does not have. But having played a LOT of Brazilian rosewood instruments and owned several over the years, what I have discovered is that that special shimmering high end response is only present in some Brazilian rosewood, not all of it, not even in all vintage instruments made from it.

A large percentage of Brazilian rosewood instruments sound no different than Indian or any other rosewood. And as the overall quality of Brazilian rosewood in general use for guitar construction has (undeniably) declined, the percentage of the BRW that sounds like any other rosewood has gotten much larger, to the point now where at least half the Brazilian rosewood guitars being built these days don't have that unique high end shimmer.

But if you want Brazilian rosewood you have to pay the steep extra charge for that wood, regardless of how it sounds.

So, short version: good-sounding Brazilian rosewood with that glassy high end response is an excellent tonewood, but at least half of the BRW being used these days doesn't come up to that tonal standard. It still costs as much, though, no matter how it sounds.

Plus there are all the hassles trying to cross international borders with it these days, but that's another issue.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:14 PM
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Try to play as many as you can. Then judge for yourself. Simply put: play what you like / like what you play. I suppose you could insert the word "buy" in there also.
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Old 10-04-2012, 02:00 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Wade, as usual, nailed the basics - i.e., yes, BRW can sound different and special, but no, you don't find that with every BRW guitar, especially newers ones, and yes, other RW's can sound just as excellent in their own way.

I describe BRW this way: to my ear, and to use electric guitars/amps as an analogy, rosewood guitars typically sound like they a bit of "reverb" - a bit of added shimmer and harmonic richness as the note/chords decay. Mahogany guitars typically sound like they do not have reverb.

Reverb - well, there are good examples and bad examples; some amps have reverb that is metallic and clashy-sounding. Really good BRW guitars, to my ear, have the "best reverb" - lush, but not metallic, and the harmonic richness sounds full and intergrated, not spiky or clashy. To my ear, when I play poor examples of Indian Rosewood, for instance, the added ring can sound awful - like bad digital reverb slapped onto a guitar track in post-production. Yuck. The reverb from a good BRW guitar just emerges from the notes...
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Old 10-04-2012, 02:08 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Russ,

I have some guitars with Brazilian rosewood (BRW) and some with East Indian rosewood (EIR). I like them all. I also have some guitars made from mahogany and I like that, too. As Buddiesorg noted above, "variety is good."

I had the opportunity recently to play my Olson SJ (cedar/EIR) and compare it directly with an Olson SJ (cedar/BRW). I have read that James Olson has said that he doesn't think that most people could tell the difference, but there was a clear difference in these two guitars and everyone in the room said they heard it. These were all pretty good guitar players at an AGF gathering.. My cedar/EIR Olson was warmer and darker sounding, while the cedar/BRW was clearer, with a little more treble sparkle. The truth is, I liked both guitars and would not have been willing to pay the up-charge for the BRW. But to my ears, the BRW version of the Olson SJ was a really great sounding guitar.

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Old 10-04-2012, 04:39 PM
Russ C Russ C is offline
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thanks for the replies fellas, I think I get what you're saying, and it makes sense to me credibility wise. I enjoy reading attempts to describe sound and it's possible I think to get a fair overview from the different descriptions. Seems if you've got one you love you're one lucky person - and you'll be hangin' onto it, unless the stress of worrying about it is getting to you .. then I can help.
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:05 PM
buddiesorg buddiesorg is offline
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Of course, despite what I said above ... Brazilian does have a special place in my heart ... not just the guitars themselves, but the stories behind them ... oh, and the smell of Brazilian ... definitely nothing like that ... and it seems to go with any topwood.
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:09 PM
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Brackett Instruments Brackett Instruments is offline
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I did a project a few years ago with 4 different Rosewoods on otherwise identical guitars. I posted 2 blind polls on the AGF, with Honduran Rosewood winning both polls. You can read about these guitars here. Brackett Instruments Rosewood Project I just noticed the sound clips no longer work. I'll get them fixed soon, and update this post.



Pictured from left to right, Honduran Rosewood, Panama Rosewood, Indian Rosewood, Brazilian Rosewood.
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:12 PM
247hoopsfan 247hoopsfan is offline
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In your original post, you said you would like to A/B identical guitars, one maed of Brazilian, and one of East Indian. I have done exactly that. I owned a Larrivee D10 Indian Rosewood for about 6 years. It is a great guitar in all respects, sound, workmanship quality. About a year ago, I lucked out and found a Larrivee D10 Brazilian. It was made in 1998, but was virtually unplayed. It has mostly straight grain, with a little wavy pattern, but not some of the wild figured brazilian you today. By most all accounts, the straighter the grain, the better the quality of Brazilian. The golden era D28 brazilian was all straight grain.

Back to the Larrivee comparison.....As good as my EIR D10 is, the D10 Brazilian has the shimmer and reverb and sustain that good brazilian has. Jean Larrivee had a good amount of high quality straighter grain brazilian that he used on these guitars.. I ended up selling my EIR D10 and kept the Brazilian one. It is a phenomenal guitar, as good sounding as any guitar I have ever played. So yes, Brazilian can make a big difference if it is good brazilian, which is getting very hard to find.





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Old 10-04-2012, 05:16 PM
ChunkyB ChunkyB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brackett Instruments View Post
I did a project a few years ago with 4 different Rosewoods on otherwise identical guitars. I posted 2 blind polls on the AGF, with Honduran Rosewood winning both polls. You can read about these guitars here. Brackett Instruments Rosewood Project I just noticed the sound clips no longer work. I'll get them fixed soon, and update this post.

Pictured from left to right, Honduran Rosewood, Panama Rosewood, Indian Rosewood, Brazilian Rosewood.
I saw a similar blind test of recording microphones, with many high-end studio mics, as well as an entry-level Audio Technica and a Shure SM58. When the participants were blind, the AT mic outperformed in almost all categories, and the SM58 did quite well too. When they knew what mics they were listening to, the SM58 and AT were at the bottom in all categories.

Kind of funny how heavily we're influenced by names, whether it be "brazilian rosewood" or "sennheiser".
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:44 PM
Tony Burns Tony Burns is offline
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Yes its true not every piece of Brazilian is spectacular in sound - but spending alot of time worring about that is silly .Remember who makes your guitar is more important than what it is made out of . But when you get a spectacular luthier with a spectacular set of BRW -you have something more than spectacular -it takes two to tango . In defense of other woods - their is spectacular ( fill in your wood name here ) that makes any guitar as good as BRW , but in their own way . I heard a story some years ago( that I know as true ) about a spanish luthier who was discussing a great tone wood not too well known at the time that had a very different yet spectacular sounding wood -but with its own shimmer -that wood was East Indian Rosewood ( i believe most of us take that great wood for granted ) i own 6 guitars made of BRW , a couple outstanding the rest are decent -but i also have a few EIR guitars That i feel are great -so Im not standing on a soap box for BRW -just for great guitars-reguardless of their wood -just remember it takes a great luthier to make a great guitar -the wood is only a small part of that .
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:03 PM
Matt Mustapick Matt Mustapick is offline
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When people talk about one wood being somehow "better" than all the others, just imagine that they're talking about ice cream flavors. What makes one ice cream flavor "better" than another? Does chocolate have some special something that butter pecan doesn't? Yes of course it does. But butter pecan has something special chocolate doesn't also. Trying to find the final answer to this question makes about as much sense as wondering if BRW is more like the chocolate, or Indian rosewood is more like the chocolate, or vice versa. Across wood species, price is not determined by quality. Price is determined by supply. It's a natural sort of materialistic induction that people should somehow covet or prize the one that's more expensive, and imagine that it's "better" somehow, but that doesn't make it so for the rest of us. I like Brazilian rosewood. It's beautiful, it smells nice, it's very suitable for making guitars, but beyond that, it's just wood...it's all just wood...it's all just flavors. Enjoy your ice cream.

Last edited by Matt Mustapick; 10-04-2012 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 10-04-2012, 09:03 PM
jseth jseth is offline
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^

...sorry, Matt; that just makes TOO MUCH SENSE to be considered in this discussion...
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