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  #1  
Old 10-05-2022, 05:53 AM
gilles gilles is offline
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Default Apple as tonewood?

A local apple orchard is cutting down a bunch of trees in the next year or so. I approached them about acquiring some of the wood before it is chopped up for firewood. Hopefully I would like to get one of the bigger trunks to use for tonewood and I would like to get advice from the wise and experienced luthiers on this forum.
I would hope to have some wide enough for backs and sides, and if not, maybe fretboards or binding.
I am in Eastern Canada, and would hope to eventually build guitars from solely local woods...
The varieties are Macintosh and Cortland.
Am I barking up the wrong tree?
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Old 10-05-2022, 09:08 AM
printer2 printer2 is offline
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"Apple has a high shrinkage rate, and experiences a large amount of seasonal movement in service."

https://www.wood-database.com/apple/

Not sure if you could find a straight grained section of trunk big enough to get pieces big enough. With fruit trees I would think they would generally prune them to have branches lower to the ground for ease of harvesting and a longer trunk is not advantageous.
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Old 10-05-2022, 11:30 AM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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Yeah, you're barking up the wrong tree. I've used apple for small parts building furniture. It's very unstable to not suited to building guitar backs and sides.
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Old 10-05-2022, 11:41 AM
Draft Guitar Draft Guitar is offline
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Suited perfectly for smoking meat!
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Old 10-05-2022, 03:02 PM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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The way to minimize the instability issue is to use well quartered wood. If you have to make a 4-piece back then do it: it won't hurt the sound and will make it less likely to warp or crack. Apple is fairly soft and low in density, much like soft maple, and bends nicely. Often with older wood you can get some nice figure, and it's easy to finish. Expect a tone that is more 'maple' than 'rosewood' and you won't be disappointed.
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Old 10-05-2022, 05:43 PM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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Wood Database lists the density of apple at 52 lbs per cubic foot. That is rosewood territory, and is consistent with my admittedly limited experience.
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Old 10-05-2022, 07:21 PM
gilles gilles is offline
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Am I right in assuming that only the sides need to be quartered?
Wouldn't a back be just as good if it were rift or flat-sawn, if braced properly?
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Old 10-05-2022, 09:32 PM
tadol tadol is offline
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Regardless of itís value as tonewood, most fruit woods are unusual, and hard to acquire - Iíd get as much of it as you reasonably can. If it all goes bad, you can still warm your shop up for a while!
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Old 10-06-2022, 03:24 AM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gilles View Post
Am I right in assuming that only the sides need to be quartered?

Wouldn't a back be just as good if it were rift or flat-sawn, if braced properly?
Two factors are at play. While quartered sides are generally easier to bend and will ripple less, the presence of ladder bracing on the back will tend to cause cracks and sinking when it shrinks due to low humidity. The wider the piece, the more the shrinkage.
There are different cuts of flat sawn, depending on how close to the heart the board is cut. As a result, the angle of the growth rings varies widely. Backs that have a narrow heart that is located outside the waist will tend to be more stable than those with a wider heart that is located in the center of each half. That is because the grain in the latter is more parallel with the face over a larger percentage of the width.
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Old 10-06-2022, 01:19 PM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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Quartered wood usually has lower cross grain shrinkage than flat cut. Also, wood tends to split most easily along the medullary rays, which run perpendicular to the face in flat cut wood. Finally, you can always get a piece that's perfectly quartered all the way across (if you cut it narrow enough), but dead flat cut is harder to maintain. If you can see some curvature in the grain lines on the end grain, the wood is likely to cup across the grain with changes in humidity.

I should have said that the apple wood that I've run across has been soft and low in density. Maybe I've gotten oddball wood. A friend cut a very large apple tree in his back yard a couple of years ago; big enough to get archtop guitar backs. When that gets seasoned a bit more I'll check it out.
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