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  #1  
Old 03-25-2018, 11:21 AM
Ernesto Ernesto is offline
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Default Wenge or Padouk?

Hello luthiers and experts,
I am considering a custom built with either Wenge or Padouk back and sides. What I am looking for is a strong tone with good reverb and sustain, and some nice overtones and harmonic complexity, without lacking clarity. The luthier I have in mind recommends both, and the top would be Alpine Spruce. I wanted to ask what your experience with the two is, and which you would recommend soundwise. Also, which one has a better, more 'ringing' taptone? Thanks a lot in advance!
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Old 03-25-2018, 11:59 AM
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Marcus Wong Marcus Wong is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernesto View Post
Hello luthiers and experts,
I am considering a custom built with either Wenge or Padouk back and sides. What I am looking for is a strong tone with good reverb and sustain, and some nice overtones and harmonic complexity, without lacking clarity. The luthier I have in mind recommends both, and the top would be Alpine Spruce. I wanted to ask what your experience with the two is, and which you would recommend soundwise. Also, which one has a better, more 'ringing' taptone? Thanks a lot in advance!
Hey Ernesto, Wenge and Paduak are similar in the sense that they both have a very good tap tone which rings. However, what you are looking for with regards to reverb/sustain/overtones/harmonic complexity/clarity is almost entirely up to the builder and what he does with the top.

Since you have already chosen both the luthier and the top, I would say that you have an equal chance with either species. Choose based on your preference in terms of aesthetics and also the price of the up charge. If both are equal, let the builder decide.

Congratulations on your new and upcoming build! Hope to see a thread for it
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Old 03-25-2018, 12:27 PM
Ernesto Ernesto is offline
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Thanks for the quick reply, Marcus, that helps! Yes, I will definitely post a thread once the built is 100% secure and official (and after asking the builder if he is allright with it, which I am sure he will be ). By the way, what a beautiful and exquisite sortiment you have at your shop!
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Old 03-25-2018, 12:59 PM
Knives&Guitars Knives&Guitars is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernesto View Post
Hello luthiers and experts,
I am considering a custom built with either Wenge or Padouk back and sides. What I am looking for is a strong tone with good reverb and sustain, and some nice overtones and harmonic complexity, without lacking clarity. The luthier I have in mind recommends both, and the top would be Alpine Spruce. I wanted to ask what your experience with the two is, and which you would recommend soundwise. Also, which one has a better, more 'ringing' taptone? Thanks a lot in advance!
Hey Ernesto, I am neither an expert, nor luthier and unfortunately have not been able to audition either of those woods. And I also am very, very interested in knowing the sonic differences between the two. And I think Marcus point is well taken...obviously it boils down the the luthiers method of building that can make both the tops and backs sound. Yet, owning several guitars from the very same builder, model and top...but with different backs...I also believe that Back and sides can make some...some difference. And for many years I was involved in Drying out wood of many exotic species from all over the world in another profession, using wave form meters so I developed a fondness for numbers.
So for fun, and My interest on how woods effect tone, I have been researching the different Stats on the different woods. ...and this could be of some help
So here is how it breaks down.
Wenge's Specific Gravity is .72 to .87 (there are always variances in this figure as it can change from tree to tree)
African Paduak is .61 to .75 ( Burma paduak is nearly the same as Wenge)
Janka is nearly the same between Wenge and AFrican Paduak at 1,930 & 1,970
Mod or Rupture is 21, 990 for Wenge and 16,830 for African Paduak
Elastic Modulus is 2,550,000 for Wenge and 1,700,000 for African Paduak
Crushing Strength is 11,710 for Wenge and 8,130
Dry Weight of Wenge is 54lbs and 47 lbs for African Paduak
Don't know if Burma Paduak is used...but if it is then Wenge and burma paduak=are more equal..nearly the same SG and same Dry Weight.
I am sure that most of the numbers above don't effect the sound that much...it is Specific Gravity and Dry weight...that possibly might give some clues.
Having worked with Both Wenge and Paduak(again not musically but finishing wise)...I can tell you that both of them are opened pour-grained..Wenge probably more so. Big pours. As the guitar is unfinished on the inside this could have a wonderful effect. I myself, am dying to know.
**I recently received a custom order of a wood that I could not audition...and only found three you tube videos using that wood. Studying the numbers...helped a little bit. And I am happy to say...the guitar came out sounding exactly like I had hoped and dreamed.
Here is what Tone wood Data source had to say:
Wenge=With quite thin plates, the sound is similar to Indian Rosewood but with the projection of Brazilian, it cuts through, is lively & responsive, and sustains well. Low damping, resonant, with a fine ring to it. Well-defined bass and superb trebles with kids that shine. Very good separation of voice.
Paduak= Some say its sound falls somewhere between Maple and Mahogany. Yet more builders say it is definitely on the rosewood side of things, nice overtones without being overbearing, a little heavier on the mids and bass, like Rosewood is. Short to medium sustain. Punchy with even balance from bass to treble.
These are only two opinions...and who knows..others might not even agree with those two statements above.
However...again..Marcus has a super valid point...and talk with the builder to really define what will work best for yourself. Analyze your playing style. That is another important factor. For my playing style...a certain type of sound works best...and it is usually quite a bit different than other playing styles. My friend was blown away by my newest guitar...and thought it was my best sounding guitar by far...but when he played that guitar...it did not sound as good with his style as some of my other guitars...for him...but for me it was the opposite...As I am a hard player and he is soft.
All I can say is you are on the right track...ask as many questions as you can..that is what I did...and I got lucky...and it worked for me..Big time.
Anyway...Good luck...and I will dying to know which wood you choose..Please keep us informed on the differences of sound.
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  #5  
Old 03-26-2018, 11:24 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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I've played plenty of guitars with wenge b/s and a few with padauk.
IMHO (based on what I've heard wjile playing and others have told me) both are excelent choices for those seeking an alternative to "standard" IRW/mahogany that are very cost-effective.

I recently narrowed down to both of these for a commission of my own. In the end I swung for padauk. Against it was the fact that it is very red and then ages to an uninteresting brown (as it happens my guitar actually tured out beautiful rich crimson). Against wenge was the fact that the pores are huge and difficult to fill (as has been mentioned), it's unpleasant to work with (splinters everywhere), and - most importantly - it has a tendency to split. I have encountered several wenge guitars under one year old with splits in the back, another characteristic it seems to share with BRW. Some of these have been from very high-end and well thought of luthiers, so it's not a build issue; it's a wood issue. No effect on the sonics, but I'd rather not have to deal with that.
That was the decider between the two for me.

I doubt you'd be dissapointed with either.

Cheers,
Steve

Last edited by steveh; 03-27-2018 at 12:28 AM. Reason: can't spell "padauk"
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Old 03-26-2018, 11:54 AM
Knives&Guitars Knives&Guitars is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveh View Post
I've played plenty of guitars with wenge b/s and a few with padauk.
IMHO (based on what I've heard wjile playing and others have told me) both are excelent choices for those seeking an alternative to "standard" IRW/mahogany that are very cost-effective.

I recently narrowed down to both of these for a commission of my own. In the end I swung for pauauk. Against it was the fact that it is very red and then ages to an uninteresting brown (as it happens my guitar actually tured out beautiful rich crimson). Against wenge was the fact that the pores are huge and difficult to fill (as has been mentioned), it's unpleasant to work with (splinters everywhere), and - most importantly - it has a tendency to split. I have encountered several wenge guitars under one year old with splits in the back, another characteristic it seems to share with BRW. Some of these have been from very high-end and well thought of luthiers, so it's not a build issue; it's a wood issue. No effect on the sonics, but I'd rather not have to deal with that.
That was the decider between the two for me.

I doubt you'd be dissapointed with either.

Cheers,
Steve
Great info! Love the forum for this. Can you describe the Tonal qualities you believe your Paduak guitar has.
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Old 03-26-2018, 12:10 PM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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I'm assuming that K&Gs modulus of rupture for the woods listed is long grain. Both wenge and padauk, in my experience, are somewhat prone to splitting when bent across the grain. Some of the local luthiers here in New England (guitar hell) have had very bad experiences with wenge instruments splitting due to low humidity. So far I have not seen that with padauk. You need to be careful when working with it, but once the guitar is together it's stable unless challenged by the baggage apes.
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Old 03-27-2018, 08:18 AM
Ernesto Ernesto is offline
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Thanks a lot for the scientific data, and player's and luthiers experiences, that really helps! In fact, I am leaning a bit towards Padouk now. Also I don't like the idea that you have to use tons of pore filler with Wenge. Wouldn't that effect the sound?

Nothing has been said about sonic differences between the two so far. Did anyone detect any?

Last edited by Ernesto; 03-27-2018 at 08:48 AM. Reason: Photo files do not open
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Old 03-27-2018, 11:24 AM
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SteveS SteveS is offline
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You have selected a builder based on his ability to build a guitar that sounds like you want it to sound. Trust his judgment. If you don't, you need to find another builder. If he says that these woods will work for you, then it is all about what you want it to look like.

Which one has a more ringing tap tone - it depends on the particular set. They are both great tonewoods.

To add to your confusion, if you want nice overtones and harmonic complexity, without lacking clarity, I would go with sinker redwood or maybe a real stiff red western cedar top over alpine spruce.
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Old 03-27-2018, 12:05 PM
Ernesto Ernesto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveS View Post
You have selected a builder based on his ability to build a guitar that sounds like you want it to sound. Trust his judgment. If you don't, you need to find another builder. If he says that these woods will work for you, then it is all about what you want it to look like.

Which one has a more ringing tap tone - it depends on the particular set. They are both great tonewoods.

To add to your confusion, if you want nice overtones and harmonic complexity, without lacking clarity, I would go with sinker redwood or maybe a real stiff red western cedar top over alpine spruce.
You are right, of course. I just like to dicuss these things -that's what we're here for, right? - and do not want to write him too many emails. In the end I will follow his advice. He likes both options anyway.

Redwood was an option we discussed, but he told me the trebles would be less round (round trebles was another important tonal characteristic).
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Old 03-27-2018, 01:03 PM
steveh steveh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knives&Guitars View Post
Can you describe the Tonal qualities you believe your Paduak guitar has.
In a few words, it's fabulous and has absolutely everything sonically that I could want. Build thread is here:

http://www.acousticguitarforum.com/f...ighlight=sands

However, I think - as has been said already - that the sonic fireworks are more to do with the luthier and style of guitar than the precise type of wood used. A Martin dread in padauk would sound very, very different to my guitar, obviously.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernesto View Post
Nothing has been said about sonic differences between the two so far. Did anyone detect any?
I have played at least two guitars in wenge from Tom Sands (who built my guitar) and I did detect big differences between those guitars and my padauk version. However, once you start getting into the fact that they are different sizes, with different neck/body joins, different tops, voiced differently...and the fact that no two pieces of wood from even the same billett are the same, then separating out the contribution of padauk vs. wenge (or indeed any other wood) gets a bit silly. I will say that all of the guitars sounded great; the luthier is the most important factor.

I like responsive fingerstyle guitars with lots of delicious overtones - both wenge and padauk provided that in abundance. To my ears they all sounded like "vitreous" rosewood guitars. I have a mahogany Claxton OM here that sounds more like an uber-fabulous rosewood guitar than it has any right to. It's the luthier...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveS View Post
You have selected a builder based on his ability to build a guitar that sounds like you want it to sound. Trust his judgment.
This is good advice but the fact is that sometimes the luthier will not express a clear preference. That was the case for me regarding exatcly this point. Tom said he could build a great guitar from either wenge or padauk and he didn't push me hard either way - he didn't think the decision was anyway near as important as some other decisions you have to make when speccing a guitar (size, top, scale-length etc.). Ultimately, I made the final choice based on aesthetics of the sets I was offered (wenge is a bit boring guys!), and what I'd heard about splitting, durability etc.

Cheers,
Steve

Last edited by steveh; 03-28-2018 at 03:56 AM.
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Old 03-27-2018, 02:13 PM
redir redir is offline
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I'm building an 000 with Wenge now and I absolutely love the stuff. I've got the shop RH down low during building to protect it in the future. The tap tone of this stuff is sensational. How that translates to a finished box is another story but it really has an incredible tap tone, glassy, brittle and bell like.

I have wondered about pore fill and tone in the past too and I don't want to open a can of worms here but I never like the idea of doing an epoxy pore fill that covers the whole body. I would use epoxy on Wenge though and sand back to wood. a more traditional fill would work like that and as such you will only have material left over in the pores themselves. It would be interesting to weigh the guitar body before and after, my guess is that it's not going to make that much of a difference.
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Old 03-27-2018, 03:45 PM
JSDenvir JSDenvir is offline
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I’ll be starting a wenge build in a little while. And much as I love the way it sounds, actually working with the stuff is a pita.

It’s splintery, cracks easily, and those pores...I think I lost a block plane in one of them the last time I built with the stuff :-)

But boy does it sound good.

Steve
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Old 03-28-2018, 07:18 PM
JoeCharter JoeCharter is offline
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I love the reddish hues of padauk, but prefer the grain of wenge...
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Old 03-28-2018, 07:36 PM
M Hayden M Hayden is offline
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I have worked with padauk and love it. The dust gets everywhere but it smells fantastic and it works as well as anything else....plus, BRIGHT RED GUITAR.
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