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Old 11-13-2018, 06:35 AM
GaultierRedon14 GaultierRedon14 is offline
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Default For 000 12 fret fingerstyle: German/Pernambuco or LS Redwood/Malaysian Blackwood?

For those of you with some personal experience with guitars using these tonewood combinations or something nearly identical, I'd love to hear your thoughts. I believe I've narrowed down my considerations to these two tonewood combinations and am trying to figure out what exactly will be different between them.
I have very limited experience with guitars using these tonewoods, and currently have no access to playing any, as I live overseas.
I think the biggest problem for me is that I really don't know what to expect with the tonal effect of the Pernambuco. There are virtually no good recordings that I can find to get some idea, so I'm just trusting that I would agree with the consistently rave reviews it gets, if I were to play a guitar made with it. I've read everything I can find about it, but it's not the same as hearing it! I should note that I actually do have a classical guitar with Pernambuco back/sides, but I find it nearly impossible to compare it to how it would sound on a steel string instrument.
I've also never played a guitar with Lucky Strike redwood, but I have played a couple with good redwood, and like the tone. Malaysian Blackwood seems like a great match for it.
I should add that I already have a builder selected (Tim McKnight) who has master grade sets of all of these woods, and I've already personally handled and tapped them myself, and had a general discussion of their merits.
But as we all know, these are highly subjective questions and that's part of the fun!
So again, assuming all else is equal (builder, body size/depth, scale length, etc.), what would likely be the most striking differences between these two combinations of tonewood when playing modern fingerstyle?
The instrument in question is likely to be a slightly oversized 12 fret 000 style, long scale instrument with a generally "modern" voicing (not Martinesque).
Thanks!
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Last edited by GaultierRedon14; 11-13-2018 at 06:37 AM. Reason: forgot a detail
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Old 11-13-2018, 07:21 AM
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Never heard pernambuco on a steel string either, so I can't offer much advice except that you've teamed with one of the best in the industry. I'd be mining Tim's experience on this one.
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Old 11-13-2018, 07:41 AM
coopman coopman is offline
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GaultierRedon - As long as your looking for opinions that are fun .... ;-)

I'd say you should order both and then see which one you like best! Sell, the other. Seriously, in Tim's hands they would both be great!

Based on what you already own, I'd consider the Redwood / Blackwood combo as something to add a bit of variety and character to compliment the others. Redwood is great for fingerstyle - very responsive and articulate. The Blackwood could add a nice depth and resonance to the mix. I've played a Redwood/Makore Bourgeois which is a great fingerstyle combo - and possibly similar. I could share a soundfile with you if interested. Lots of variables and subjective however ...

Tim does a great job with Cedar as well, so one could expect the same with his Redwood build as well.

Which woods sets do you like the best - visually? I've purchased instruments more than once "with my eyes", and have yet to be disappointed ... validating my opinion that in the hands of great luthiers ... it's the builder, much more than the wood.

Wasn't that fun!? Happy deliberating ...

John
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Old 11-13-2018, 08:40 AM
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Erithon Erithon is offline
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If you have a chance to get a Lucky Strike Redwood guitar, I'd take that over German any day--unless you want to do a lot of strumming, then German may be the better option. I have a LS Redwood Bashkin OM and it is the ideal fingerstyle guitar. You can't go wrong with Tim McKnight building you a Redwood instrument. He's very experienced with Redwood and knows how to get the most out of it. The first Redwood guitar I owned was built by Tim (a HighLander) and it was outstanding. It's what inspired me to get the Bashkin (and the only reason I let the McKnight go was the Bashkin had wider nut and saddle spacing).

Pernambuco is a very dense wood. My double bass bow (like all traditionally-built, quality bows in the viol family) is made of Pernambuco. I've never played a guitar made from it, but you have so rely on that--though I don't know how you could isolate the Pernambuco contribution to your classical's tone. I think Bruce Sexauer has built some Pernambuco instruments. Maybe he'll chime in.

Last edited by Erithon; 11-13-2018 at 04:25 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 11-13-2018, 09:05 AM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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I have little experience with either on those wood combos - none, actually - but I'll chime in anyway. I vote for the the Redwood / Blackwood combo bases solely on guitars in your signature: it will perhaps be the most different from what you already have. But why not LS redwood/pernambuco? Color clash? That actually sounds like my own dream guitar combo.

I also hope Bruce Sexauer will chime in here - he seems to love pernambuco more than anything, but I don't see him building with redwood much. I'll bet he would go for the German/pernambuco.
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Old 11-13-2018, 09:41 AM
Jamiejoon Jamiejoon is online now
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I have not played a Pernambuco guitar (though I have two on order!). However, I have a redwood/Malaysian blackwood SJ made by Sheldon Schwartz which is an absolute champ. GREAT guitar. I am sure much of it has to do with the builder, so take this with a grain of salt, but it is very different than other guitars I have played. I like the redwood/M. blackwood combo better than redwood/rosewood guitars I have played. More clarity, stronger bass, and something hard to describe...kind of a serious sound, dignified.
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Old 11-13-2018, 10:24 AM
DamianL DamianL is offline
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I agree with those advising to go with a contrast, and for me that's always a - spruce/not spruce- and/or a - rosewood/not rosewood - decision.

If you want more spruce tones in your stable go that way, if you fancy more cedar/redwood/other then go that way.

(although fro absolute personal preference, its spruce/rosewood/pernambuco all the way...)

D
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Old 11-13-2018, 10:35 AM
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I have a Pernambuco/Red Spruce 12-fret 000 made by Alan Carruth. I don't know how much of it's tone is the result of the Pernambuco back and sides; I'd suspect it's tone is primarily driven by the body size/shape, Alan's signature tone, and how he adjusted this particular build to deliver what I wanted in tone and playability.

I'd assume a difference between Pernambuco and Malaysian Blackwood would be in their damping characteristic, but since you are considering a different topwood paired with the back/sides it would be hard to guess what the overall difference would be. Your builder would be the best person to answer that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GaultierRedon14 View Post
....[snip]....I think the biggest problem for me is that I really don't know what to expect with the tonal effect of the Pernambuco. There are virtually no good recordings that I can find to get some idea, so I'm just trusting that I would agree with the consistently rave reviews it gets, if I were to play a guitar made with it. I've read everything I can find about it, but it's not the same as hearing it! ....[snip]....

This is a home recording of a Larry Carlton tune, Her Favorite Song, played on my Carruth 12-fret 000. This was a single take, no editing, no effects. A-B spaced pair.





https://soundcloud.com/chuck_s/her-favorite-song-3
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Last edited by ChuckS; 11-13-2018 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 11-13-2018, 11:08 AM
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Marcus Wong Marcus Wong is offline
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The biggest decision you have is to decide if you prefer Spruce or Redwood. If you have never played a Redwood guitar, try to play one. Pernambuco vs Malaysia Blackwood is going to play a smaller role in the overall sound. Some people like Redwood, some people don't. When I play redwood, I usually feel that it sounds like spruce.... but then a little like cedar. Or it sounds like cedar.... but then a little like spruce. And that thought is a little annoying haha it is neither here nor there to me.
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Old 11-13-2018, 12:46 PM
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My own personal view is that there is very little that a good set of spruce can't do, and I've played very few non-spruce tops that do a whole lot for me. The fact is that spruce is extremely versatile and is the gold standard for a reason. I've played a few guitars with redwood and found them to be ok, but spruce is a safe bet for the most part and is certain to please. There's a reason spruce is the gold standard for acoustic steel strings.

As for pernambuco, I've played 2 or 3 guitars with this back/side wood, all by Bruce Sexauer. Its basic character is like rosewood and I was extremely impressed by the tonal quality. Bruce has described it as one of the very best tone woods available. If the quality is good, I would highly recommend this wood.

That being said, the top wood is definitely going to be your number one decision, and it all comes down to what you thought of the ones you played. My personal preference would be spruce/pernambuco of the two you've narrowed it down to.
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Old 11-13-2018, 02:05 PM
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What a nice bit of choices you have! I have to agree with those that are paying attention to the guitars you already have as an indicator of your previous choices. This could mean the LS/Blackwood.
What I'm picking up from this thread is that some are mentioning Redwood, while others are mentioning LS Redwood. I believe I recall Tim McKnight himself exclaiming the virtues of LS Redwood here on AGF some time ago. So much so, that it's in its own category all on its own. It all comes down to the build properties, the builder and of course the extraordinary color that this wood offers under finish. But, LS Redwood is special stuff with its own properties.
When Tom Doerr built my LS Redwood/Cocobolo Legacy, he called LS Redwood "the real deal"...........others who build and know these tonewoods say similar things.
Both Pernambuco and LS Redwood will certainly give your guitar build a very distinctive feature........they are rare and hard to come by and highly desirable by many. I'd vote for the LS/Blackwood .......The LS Redwood will be the soundboard and could likely have more overall effect on your guitar's eventual sound when built by master builder Tim! But, you can't go wrong with either choice! Have fun!!
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Old 11-13-2018, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaultierRedon14 View Post
I should add that I already have a builder selected (Tim McKnight) who has master grade sets of all of these woods.
I'd just trust the great Morralian wood guru - but be careful, he IS coo-coo for Coco.
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Old 11-13-2018, 04:45 PM
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Honestly, if Tim is building you a guitar and understands your goals, follow his recommendation. Your luthier, guitar size/design and top wood will be most influential. AGF forum chatter, while interesting, won’t answer your question. That said, I own a Pernambuco/German Spruce L00 built for me by luthier Bruce Sexauer. I will attempt to descibe what I hear in the context of THIS guitar. I have also played a number of other Pernambuco guitars by Bruce, Laurent Brondel and Jim Olson.



I am trying to put my finger on describing the enchanting sound of my Pernambuco guitar which is of course confounded with Bruce’s construction of the guitar in its entirety. I have seen a number posts were people have attempted to describe its sound. There is a balance of volume between the fundamentals and overtones that create the perception of a clear yet complex sound. There is also something about uniformity of how all of the notes sustain and decay that doesn't come off as euphonically colored like rosewoods can (don't get me wrong, this is a pleasing coloration, I am trying to make a distinction).

I perceive a neutral clarity like I do with my maple guitars, but with a balanced enrichment of overtones to the notes. I also find that the guitar delivers these timbral riches even when picked, oh-so-gently which is unusual. I think the combination of neutral clarity, the balanced and rich nature of the overtones and the overall responsiveness is how I might describe the sound of Pernambuco when used by Bruce (for context I own bigleaf maple, australian blackwood and BRW guitars by Bruce as well).
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Old 11-13-2018, 09:21 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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For fingerstyle sound, I'd certain choose the Pernambuco. But if looks were much of a factor, then I'd go with the Malaysian. Both are excellent wood and I think you two combinations will be quite different from each other. What does your builder recommend?
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Old 11-14-2018, 06:07 AM
GaultierRedon14 GaultierRedon14 is offline
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Wow, thank you all for your thoughtful replies. I really appreciate it. The specific comments about Pernambuco are very helpful. I,too, imagined that there may be some notable similarities between Pernambuco and Maple. I really do like the idea of the clarity of Pernambuco, but with something extra that Maple may be lacking due to its higher damping. Tim let me play a couple of Maple-backed guitars and they both sounded wonderful--one was all torrefied with a torrefied Sitka top, and the other was not torrefied with a German top. Both sounded great--which leads me to suspect that I'd appreciate the Pernambuco as much or more for the noted clarity.
I also got to play their Memphis guitar with Gabon Ebony/Carpathian--again, outstanding tone! This was my first experience with an Ebony-backed guitar, and from recordings, I'd imagined the trebles to have a bit of a hard/steely edge to them, but the Memphis guitar had none of that-it was extremely powerful, clear, yet warm enough--not a hint of harshness to my ear. This left a good impression of what the Ebony family of woods (like Malaysian Blackwood) have to offer.
Perhaps not surprisingly, after listening to that charming recording provided by ChuckS, I did notice some tonal similarities between his Pernambuco guitar and my Hippner classical guitar which has Pernambuco back/sides. Besides the clarity, there seems to be a sprite, bouncy quality to the attack and sustain-I guess that's the effect of the low damping? Whatever it is, it does sound "musical" and lively, and that it would be very responsive and expressive from the perspective of the player. That seems to be the case with my P classical guitar

Again, thank you all for your comments!
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Last edited by GaultierRedon14; 11-15-2018 at 12:17 AM.
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