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  #1  
Old 01-10-2021, 04:18 PM
mcserres mcserres is offline
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Question Cedar vs Adirondack Spruce

New to this forum, so apologies if this has been asked. I searched and didnít see anything that specifically answers my question. I'm getting a custom acoustic built by a local luthier whose workI like. Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, OM size with single florentine cutaway, herringbone purfling and split back. I'm torn, because I'm leaning towards a cedar top, for the warmth of finger picking, but most of my acoustic gigs are either strumming and some occasional lead playing in a trio. Iím concerned that the cedar wonít cut through the mix (of one other acoustic, plus electric bass, plus we all three sing). Iíll probably put a K&K Pure Mini in it as we play through a Bose p.a. I currently use a Taylor 314ce through a Fishman Aura Spectrum preamp/d.i. (which is also what the other guitarist uses).

i want the cedar tone and look, but not sure how it will blend. Iíve read multiple articles about both tops. Some say it wonít make a big difference (especially reinforced via p.a.) others swear cedar will breakup tonally when playong leadat volume. This is my last big guitar purchase, and I want it tosound good as a solo instrument on my couch, AND hold its own at a gig.

Thoughts?
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Old 01-10-2021, 04:37 PM
SuperB23 SuperB23 is offline
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I personally think Cedar works a bit better for slower pieces where you really want some warmth and richness to your tone and Red Spruce functions well for most styles of playing and is a bit more versatile overall. I love both types of wood but if I were looking for just one Swiss army knife instrument I'd probably choose red spruce or European spruce.

Good luck with your build and congrats, its a fun process.
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Old 01-10-2021, 04:42 PM
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Mark Hatcher Mark Hatcher is offline
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Cedar does have a reputation of not having much headroom in the hands of some luthiers. If you can confirm with the luthier that he has a comfort level to meet your needs or better yet try one of his previously built cedar guitars. Properly braced you can get a lot of headroom from cedar.

If heís not making you warm and fuzzy with cedar Iíd recommend Redwood. You get a lot of the cedar sound and Redwood is easier to get headroom from.
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Old 01-10-2021, 05:28 PM
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I was going to say the same thing as Mr. Hatcher there...if you want a little more headroom, but still a little more warmth, I have come to love Redwood as a top. Again, as Mark said, make sure the luthier is comfortable with redwood, but in the correct hands, Redwood (to me), is a perfect blend between Cedar and Spruce. It particularly sounds great with the trebles if playing up the neck on your leads!

Just something else for you to consider.
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Old 01-10-2021, 05:53 PM
jklotz jklotz is offline
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Welcome to the AGF ac. I'll echo what has already beed said above. Redwood may be just what you are looking for. That would be my first suggestion as well. I'm going with cedar for my 1st build coming up here, but I'm a solo fingerstyle player. Plus I already have other guitars with different spruce tops.

My experience has been addy (red spruce) toped guitars tend to like to have a lot of input before they give up the goods. In other words, they like to be played hard. Softer playing never really seemed to get the top moving enough for the notes to bloom with the guitars I've played. Given your description, I don't think it would be a good choice. Have you asked your builder what his recommendation would be?
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Old 01-10-2021, 05:58 PM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Smile All about the builder...

The cool thing about custom builds by single bench Luthiers and small shops too is they can take the time to find the best woods and voice for the tonal spectrum you want for your axe.

Of course they need to have the experience to get the tone!

I Love Cedar, and have played hundreds of unplugged gigs on my John Kinnaird Customs, three with Cedar tops.

All the best on your Quest!

Paul
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Old 01-10-2021, 06:02 PM
jklotz jklotz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hatcher View Post
Cedar does have a reputation of not having much headroom in the hands of some luthiers. If you can confirm with the luthier that he has a comfort level to meet your needs or better yet try one of his previously built cedar guitars. Properly braced you can get a lot of headroom from cedar.

If heís not making you warm and fuzzy with cedar Iíd recommend Redwood. You get a lot of the cedar sound and Redwood is easier to get headroom from.
Mark, just looked at your website. Those are some mighty fine looking guitars you are building up there! Very nice work sir.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled program.....
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Old 01-10-2021, 06:47 PM
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Why would you want to use your new custom guitar for gigging? Your 314ce is probably perfect as your gigging guitar and since you are plugged in, you should be able to shape the sound you want (right?). Keep the custom build at home for you, pick the top wood you like, and make it a fingerstyle monster (and share a recording with us here every once in a while).
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Last edited by SprintBob; 01-10-2021 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 01-10-2021, 08:05 PM
Dustinfurlow Dustinfurlow is offline
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I've got to echo Mark Hatcher here. I've played two of his Cedar "Greta" and "Josie" models and wow....lack of headroom would never be something I'd say about them. In general though I think busier songs don't do so well with cedar, it tends to like mid tempo or slower tunes. You tend to get less "thump" behind the attack on the string than you do with spruce. This can be good or bad depending on context.
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Old 01-10-2021, 08:40 PM
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I've always felt Adirondack spruce is the best variety of cedar.

I've played a number of cedar guitars over the years and none of them have really rung my bell - though I will admit I tend NOT to touch them because I'm such a spruce nut. I think spruce - and especially red spruce - gets this weird reputation of not being able to do subtle, warm, complex pieces. Adirondack spruce is fantastic with fingerstyle. It also has fantastic headroom and volume.

I honestly think there is little a good piece of spruce can't do.
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Old 01-10-2021, 09:14 PM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Smile Play the best ones...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SprintBob View Post
Why would you want to use your new custom guitar for gigging? Your 314ce is probably perfect as your gigging guitar and since you are plugged in, you should be able to shape the sound you want (right?). Keep the custom build at home for you, pick the top wood you like, and make it a fingerstyle monster (and share a recording with us here every once in a while).
Hey Bob, my custom cedar topped JK guitars get GIGGED. Or they did when there were gigs to play... Sigh.

But since for the last 10 years or so I was playing mostly for senior and Healthcare facilities I got to play to folks who were actually listening (at least a good portion of the time)
The wandering minstrel gigs for shut-ins were where John K's instruments really shined. I got to serenade folks up in their grills. pretty cool to have former musicians say "that is the most beautiful sounding guitar I have ever heard".

No one ever said I was the best they ever heard, tho....

I say Play the best ones you have. Life is short and uncertain too! But if I was playing the Bucket Of Blood Saloon behind the chicken wire I would take the 314ce, too. As a matter of fact I played a LOT of gigs in rowdy bars in Alaska and N. AZ, with a 412ce and a 314ce. Glad that is over! Hahaha

Oh, and OP, Welcome!!!

Salud

Paul
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Last edited by Guitars44me; 01-10-2021 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 01-10-2021, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
Hey Bob, my custom cedar topped JK guitars get GIGGED. Or they did when there were gigs to play... Sigh.
I'm one of those weird anal types who likes to keep my guitars pretty and pristine (I'll never be a Pre-War Guitar Company customer I guess). The thought of that pretty cedar/BRW custom getting knocked over at a gig makes me "skeered" !
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Old 01-11-2021, 12:52 PM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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From what I can see, headroom relates to the density of the top wood. Denser tops, like Red spruce or Sitka, tend to have more headroom than the less dense woods like WRC and Engelmann spruce. Wood varies, of course, and it's often possible to find a piece of one species that will match another, even if they're usually quite different. I have a WRC top in my stash that has exactly the same density and stiffness as an Red spruce one: the cedar is a bit on the heavy side, and the spruce is lighter than usual. It's going to make an interesting pair.

The redwood I've seen is, in many respects, usually simply a denser version of WRC. As with all softwoods, the Young's modulus along the grain which determines the bending stiffness at a given thickness, tracks the density pretty well in most cases. Most of the redwood I've handled is in the density class with Sitka and Red spruce, with similar surface hardness. If you work the top to a given stiffness higher density one will end up a bit heavier. Light tops tend to be 'responsive' and heavier ones usually have more 'headroom' all else equal. Otherwise WRC and redwood both tend to have low damping, which gives them a similar timbre.


I'll note that on a few occasions I have run into redwood that has higher density coupled with low long-grain stiffness, and high damping: 'cardboard'. Usually this is 'salvaged' wood, from old stumps or structures such as railroad trestles. In one case the railroad wood had been 'fire proofed'. The stump wood may have been over stressed by the weight of the tree, along with a high level of the usual built-in stress, which can actually crush the wood cells near the center of the tree at the base. This is not true of all 'salvage' wood; Craig Carter's 'LS' redwood was wonderful stuff. Still, it's something for the luthier to watch for if what you're after is the real 'redwood' sound.
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Old 01-11-2021, 05:28 PM
merlin666 merlin666 is offline
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Not clear if this will be a steel or nylon strung guitar. I would think that for nylon the cedar might be better choice whereas for steel strings definitely the red spruce.
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Old 01-11-2021, 05:39 PM
jt1 jt1 is offline
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"Cedar vs Adirondack Spruce"

Really? Opposite ends of the steel-string guitar spectrum.

I've no interest in conveying my preference here. I'm confident that no AGFer yearns for learning my prefefence.

Still, "Cedar vs Adirondack Spruce." Really? Maybe cedar vs redwood? Cedar vs balsa?
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