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  #1  
Old 09-20-2019, 01:53 PM
Dog Shape Cloud Dog Shape Cloud is offline
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Default What kind of wood do you like for a parlor guitar?

I've got an old Washburn parlor guitar (~1920, looks pretty much like this one) whose days are numbered, so I'm having a replica made.

I'd like to hear some opinions (and/or audio samples, if anyone happens to know of good recordings made with particular wood combinations) on the best (or worst) materials for an old-fashioned 12-fret parlor shape.

Barring new developments I'm probably deciding between Engelmann and Adirondack for the top, with mahogany or rosewood for the back and sides, so those are what I'm most interested in. I'm open to alternative suggestions though.
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Old 09-20-2019, 04:44 PM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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What style playing are you into the most?
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:37 PM
Dog Shape Cloud Dog Shape Cloud is offline
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Generally light crosspicking and fingerpicking, a bit of frailing and slide (medium strings and high-ish action)... not much in the way of heavy strumming.
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Old 09-20-2019, 06:08 PM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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Then I suggest cedar.
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Old 09-20-2019, 06:15 PM
peter.coombe peter.coombe is offline
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Listen to your Luthier.
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  #6  
Old 09-20-2019, 07:05 PM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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Hard to beat red spruce and mahogany. I have an early-1900's Arion parlor (13" lower bout) with that combination and it is magical. It is very lightly built, with a Spanish cedar neck.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:09 PM
Dog Shape Cloud Dog Shape Cloud is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runamuck View Post
Then I suggest cedar.
You know, that's not a bad idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peter.coombe View Post
Listen to your Luthier.
He suggests engelmann and rosewood, but I don't think he's made a parlor guitar before, so I wanted to get a few more opinions.

It's an odd situation with this luthier, because while he's pretty experienced (~20 years), he doesn't make many steel-string instruments—specializes in classical guitars. Naturally I expect no miracles, but so far I've only seen him do good work; anyway, I'm in a country where everything is cheap, so he's charging shockingly little by U.S. standards. I guess I'll see how it goes.

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Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
Hard to beat red spruce and mahogany. I have an early-1900's Arion parlor (13" lower bout) with that combination and it is magical. It is very lightly built, with a Spanish cedar neck.
That's a combination I've been thinking about, for sure.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:21 PM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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Quote:
It's an odd situation with this luthier, because while he's pretty experienced (~20 years), he doesn't make many steel-string instruments—specializes in classical guitars.
The tendency is to overbuild these. I think a classical luthier is less likely to do that than one who builds steel string dreadnoughts.
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:07 PM
Bass.swimmer Bass.swimmer is offline
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I would recommend cedar and black walnut. I built a parlor guitar out of a cedar top and old black walnut for the back and side. I might've underbuilt it some, but it has a good solid open low end, and some richness in the highs. Ymmv though. I do mostly fingerstyle.
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  #10  
Old 09-21-2019, 07:09 PM
Dog Shape Cloud Dog Shape Cloud is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
The tendency is to overbuild these. I think a classical luthier is less likely to do that than one who builds steel string dreadnoughts.
That's a good thought! Much appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bass.swimmer View Post
I would recommend cedar and black walnut. I built a parlor guitar out of a cedar top and old black walnut for the back and side. I might've underbuilt it some, but it has a good solid open low end, and some richness in the highs. Ymmv though. I do mostly fingerstyle.
After giving it a fair bit of thought, watching a few videos and reading a lot of comments on past threads both pro and contra, I'm starting to lean towards cedar and rosewood.
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  #11  
Old 09-21-2019, 07:17 PM
JonWint JonWint is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dog Shape Cloud View Post
I've got an old Washburn parlor guitar ~1920....whose days are numbered, so I'm having a replica made.
What does that mean? Is the guitar unrepairable?

Wouldn't it be less expensive to repair the Washburn to well-playing condition?
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  #12  
Old 09-21-2019, 09:41 PM
Dog Shape Cloud Dog Shape Cloud is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonWint View Post
Wouldn't it be less expensive to repair the Washburn to well-playing condition?
Well sure, the bridge is currently being reglued. But the thing is 100 years old, has had a lot of work done in the past, and there's a good bit of damage around the soundhole, so one has to be pretty delicate with it. A replica won't mind the occasional bit of thumping on the top or new scratches with a pick, and I'll be less worried about keeping it out/strung to tension.
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  #13  
Old 09-21-2019, 11:34 PM
redir redir is online now
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The old Lyon you posted about says it's made from QS oak which kind of surprised me. I make a small Oak parlor guitar like that and was going to suggest that oak makes a fine small parlor guitar. If it were me I'd go with QS oak back and sides and your choice of spruce top, REd spruce would be ideal.
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  #14  
Old 09-22-2019, 08:38 AM
Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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I've had more then my share of OOs. Some have a tendency to sound a little boxy. At least to me after I get used to their sound. This would be a concern to me ordering a custom build 00. I recently acquired a Waterloo WL-12 that has maple B/S. The sound has minimal colorization from the maple B/S. There seems to be more influence from other more common woods used for the B/S of guitars. Just a thought.
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  #15  
Old 09-26-2019, 10:18 PM
Dog Shape Cloud Dog Shape Cloud is offline
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Ended up deciding to go for cedar and mahogany, after all. It's the cheaper option, I don't currently have a solid-body hog guitar, and if it goes well I'll definitely be looking to this guy for more work.

As a side note, I got the original Washburn playing again and discovered it's a bit older than I thought. I don't know where I got the idea that it was 1918-1920. but after doing a little research it seems it's actually this model (stamp is identical), which makes it 1890s or earlier.

Used to be my dad's, and the top is warped (had medium strings on it for at least 40 years). But even with a lighter gauge it has a great sound. Intonation is pretty much spot-on too, though you wouldn't think so to look at it.
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