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Old 01-14-2019, 09:03 AM
psychojohn psychojohn is offline
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Default Wenge vs Osage as A BRW Substitute: Opinions?

Considering another build and looking for what wood is closest to BRW as a back and sides tone wood ? Anyone have any experience or opinions with Wenge or Orange Osage as to which would be closest to old school BRW. I know the only true way to get that tone is with BRW, but that, IRW, MadRW and Coco aren't options. Thoughts, Ideas ?

Thanks !

John
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:16 AM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
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I know there has been every combination of threads like this over the years, but I always like these because a lot of great alternative woods get mentioned.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:21 AM
stringjunky stringjunky is offline
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Tim McKnight rates Osage as BR-like and Ervin Somogyi rates Wenge as BR-like, so I would choose which one you like the look of best for your project.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:24 AM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stringjunky2 View Post
Tim McKnight rates Osage as BR-like and Ervin Somogyi rates Wenge as BR-like, so I would choose which one you like the look of best for your project.
If it was me, i'd go with the wenge if for only the reason that it is a plentiful wood, and I would assume, easier to find select boards. And besides, it's just gorgeous.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:31 AM
psychojohn psychojohn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsoon1 View Post
I know there has been every combination of threads like this over the years, but I always like these because a lot of great alternative woods get mentioned.
Given the specific comparison, didn't think to check archives but will.

John
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:39 AM
stringjunky stringjunky is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsoon1 View Post
If it was me, i'd go with the wenge if for only the reason that it is a plentiful wood, and I would assume, easier to find select boards. And besides, it's just gorgeous.
I think you are right, IIRC, that Osage is generally quite narrow.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:42 AM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psychojohn View Post
Given the specific comparison, didn't think to check archives but will.

John
I didn't mean to suggest that you should have done that. Imo, that's what forums are for, to start new threads for various people to opine in.
In my experience you can find 10 threads on any random topic, but you might only find what you were looking for in one or two of them. So I think it's always a good thing to start a fresh one.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:44 AM
stringjunky stringjunky is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsoon1 View Post
I didn't mean to suggest that you should have done that. Imo, that's what forums are for, to start new threads for various people to opine in.
In my experience you can find 10 threads on any random topic, but you might only find what you were looking for in one or two of them. So I think it's always a good thing to start a fresh one.
Things and opinions change with time as well.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:54 AM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
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Originally Posted by stringjunky2 View Post
Things and opinions change with time as well.
Yep. All the more reason for new threads.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:59 AM
psychojohn psychojohn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsoon1 View Post
I didn't mean to suggest that you should have done that. Imo, that's what forums are for, to start new threads for various people to opine in.
In my experience you can find 10 threads on any random topic, but you might only find what you were looking for in one or two of them. So I think it's always a good thing to start a fresh one.
Wasn't offended and didn't feel chastised FWIW. Turns out I asked a slightly different question last time which helps me refine my current one. It's the overtones in the BRW that I like. Reviews of both Osage and Wenge have both mentioned they have lesser BRW overtones. Does one have more of those over tones than the other (Osage vs Wenge) ?
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Old 01-14-2019, 10:03 AM
aintitthelife98 aintitthelife98 is offline
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The guys at Pre-War Guitars have found Granadillo to be very close in appearance and tone to BRW. Not sure if that's an option.
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Old 01-14-2019, 10:11 AM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
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Originally Posted by aintitthelife98 View Post
The guys at Pre-War Guitars have found Granadillo to be very close in appearance and tone to BRW. Not sure if that's an option.

Huh, interesting. Fwiw, the wood database says it's called macacauba. But the hardness is very similar to brw.
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Old 01-14-2019, 11:03 AM
paulzoom paulzoom is offline
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I've been happy with my Steve Denvir custom build with Wenge back and sides. Similar to rosewood but more "lively."
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Old 01-14-2019, 11:04 AM
Tony Burns Tony Burns is offline
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I know in general- osage Orange is as dense as Ebony -it will not float it is that dense . It also turns a funny brown after several years
-not sure if a finish would stop that -youd need to talk to your luthier . i have two fingerboards of Osage orange and a set of 2 bookmatched sides for a Mandolin
( the fingerboards were intended to be mandolin sides ) thou they have browned their beautiful pieces of wood .
(As ive been told ) Osage orange was used as fence enclosure material before Barbed wire - more of a primative tactic ( very slow growing wood )
-it is very hard to find in wide enough pieces to be usable for guitar wood .
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Old 01-14-2019, 11:06 AM
paulzoom paulzoom is offline
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You may find this article on Wenge useful:

https://www.premierguitar.com/articl..._New_Brazilian


Long considered the holy grail of guitar-making woods, Brazilian rosewood is getting scarce, expensive, and—with such legislation as the Lacey Act coming to the fore in recent years—illegal to have unless one has the proper paperwork that shows its age, provenance, and legality to be allowed to cross borders. It comes as no surprise that wood suppliers to the industry are now offering new and supposedly more sustainable woods for making guitars— some that no one had heard of 10 years ago or that come from countries half of us can’t find on the map. And all these woods, of course, are marketed as being desirable and adequate substitutes for traditional woods in terms of grain, figure, color, dimensional stability, price, etc.

In my view, some are adequate substitutes and some are not. As a guitar maker, I prefer woods that are “live,” regardless of their grain, figure, or color. What that means in practical terms is that one will be able to get a live and musical tone from a particular slice or chunk of wood when tapping on it. The reason some woods are called tonewoods is because they literally produce a musical note. And this quality, when used to make a guitar soundbox, will make a better and more acoustically active guitar than would be the case if the woods used made some kind of thud or thunk when tapped.

There are live woods that look rather plain, while there are “dead” woods that look like Raquel Welch in 3-D. Fine for making furniture, the flash and beauty of the latter have an obvious appeal, and many guitars get made simply because their visual gorgeousness will be a strong selling point. Fully as much to the point, when considerations of tone and appearance vie for customers, heated discussions about the benefits of this or that combination of materials will occur, and a variety of woods will be presented as being “as good as,” “acoustically responsive,” “high quality,” “surprisingly good,” “improved by patented methods of treatment,” “a comparable alternative,” “now used by the so-and-so factory for their higher-end guitars,” and so on.

My own searches have brought me to wenge (pronounced WHEN-gay). It’s a dark, purplish-brown-colored African hardwood that has long been used by bowl turners and cabinet/furniture makers. For some reason, not too many builders have thought about using it for guitars yet, so it’s still relatively cheap. The thing that appeals to me about wenge is that it is very live. When you hold a piece of it up and tap on it without damping any of its vibrational modes, it’ll ring like a piece of glass, plate of steel, or a crystal brandy snifter. This quality is known as vitreousness, which literally means glasslike-ness.

Wenge’s vitreousness is a function of the wood being brittle on the cellular-structure level. It’s that very brittleness that makes the vibrational action and the sound that it produces possible. With that, the brittleness that is a plus for sound has a mechanical downside, in that the wood cracks easily if it’s mishandled (just like glass), and gives one splinters if one is careless with it. It can also take more patience to bend, because brittle woods simply don’t want to bend easily.

However, it’s this very potential for cracking that puts wenge in the same category as the aforementioned most-prized of traditional guitar-making woods. As lovely, alluring, and live that Brazilian rosewood is, it has also earned a reputation for being subject to cracking. Sound versus fragility: It’s a tradeoff for which there are few solutions, so long as one wishes to use that material. The solutions involve either overbuilding to minimize fragility (which comes at the expense of tonal response), or mindful treatment and care in the making, in the handling, and in the using (which may give you structural fragility, but much more sound).

Though the acoustic properties of a given wood might make it a joy for a guitar maker to work with, marketing a new wood can be tricky. No one will have heard of it—much less have had experience with it—so the buying public will probably be resistant to accepting it.

That said, making guitars with wenge for the back and sides should not be much of an impediment for younger guitar makers who are still establishing their reputations and styles. It’s the more established guitar makers like myself who meet the greatest resistance to anything new, since we already have reputations for using this wood or that wood, or have a familiar style or feature associated with our work.

In my case in particular, everyone wants me to make the same thing I’ve been making for my other clients, with the traditional woods and designs. After all, they have good track records. I’ve made five guitars using wenge so far, and am working on my sixth, but most of my customers still want Brazilian rosewood. That’s fine, but wenge is a really good alternative for anyone who is willing to be open-minded. And it makes the guitars less expensive. All wenge needs is a good advertising campaign behind it.

Ervin Somogyi
A professional luthier since the early 1970s, Ervin Somogyi is one of the world’s most respected acoustic-guitar builders and rosette designers. To learn more about Somogyi, his instruments, or his rosette and inlay artwork, visit esomogyi.com.
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Gibson J-45 Rosewood
Gibson Songwriter Deluxe
Martin OMC-15e
Martin OMC-16e Ovangkol
Taylor K66 Koa 12-string
Steve Denvir Custom OM Build #21
Elijah Jewel Custom Build Dreadnought

...and whatever the next one is
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