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  #16  
Old 03-30-2021, 08:20 AM
J Patrick J Patrick is offline
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.....itís notable that tulip poplar, which is less common than the bulk of commercially available poplar does get used for acoustic instruments and can be very attractive...I assume it has different physical properties but have no experience with it...
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  #17  
Old 03-30-2021, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dru Edwards View Post
Hi Moon, welcome to the AGF.

Taylor does a great job with layered (laminated) guitars. Bob Taylor has said before that he doesn't believe that the wood Taylor uses for their layered guitars makes a tonal difference. In this case, poplar isn't what Taylor is talking about when they're comparing it to all solid wood guitars but rather layered in general compared to all solid wood.

It's a beautiful Walnut Taylor.
I think Bob was saying the outer laminate layers has no effect.

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Originally Posted by ascotia View Post
Both. There is a general consensus that solid wood construction has better tonal properties than layered/laminate, but solid wood comes at a price. Layered backs and sides are cheaper to produce but can still sound amazing.

In the Taylor 100 and 200 series guitars, Taylor uses an arched back in lieu of using bracing on the back. The arched backs (in my opinion) project the sound out of the soundhole in a way which flat-backed guitars do not. So although you're trading away the solid wood construction, you're also gaining a structural alternative which helps to make up for the lost tonal quality of solid wood.
Most backs that are braced have an arc built in. The sound is not projected out of the soundhole due to the arch.


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Originally Posted by J Patrick View Post
...I think the main reason itís overlooked as a tonewood is that itís very soft and most of it doesnít produce much tap tone....itís greatest strength in my opinion is how stable it is...which probably does make it a good core wood when combined with a harder more reflective outer ply...
The outer layer being harder does not make it more reflective.


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Originally Posted by Robin, Wales View Post
Regarding laminates: I think that the outer ply that lines the inside of the guitar body quite possibly has an effect on tone? I only offer this as a point of discussion as I have not seen anything written about its effect anywhere. The insides of guitars are raw wood and I wonder if the sound absorbancy or reflective nature of that surface makes a difference? The Yamaha Fg800, Fg820 and Fg830 being an example of this effect?
The 'sound absorbancy or reflective nature of that surface' is a non-issue. The wavelengths of the sound in the box are too long for any surface effects to manifest.



Taylor uses poplar because it is a fast growing tree that allows for the ply to be cut in a spiral from the outside of the log to the inside (peel off a thickness and unroll like a roll of paper). The resultant wood has minimal voids and is mostly homogeneous. Is the back an active back or non-resonant? Anybody here want to tap their back and see if it rings? Poplar has a tap tone in the range of maple and the like. I have not built a body with it yet, actually thinking about it at the moment.
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  #18  
Old 03-30-2021, 09:00 AM
Robin, Wales Robin, Wales is offline
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Originally Posted by printer2 View Post

The 'sound absorbancy or reflective nature of that surface' is a non-issue. The wavelengths of the sound in the box are too long for any surface effects to manifest.
Are you sure Fred? I was thinking that if the inside of the sound box was either felt lined or floor varnished then there would be a sound difference. This concept of different woods is similar but in a lesser way. I really don't know if it does have any effect but those FG guitars would suggest something it changing the tone. As far as I know Yamaha uses meranti as the middle wood of the laminate on all those models. The outer skins are nato (800), mahogany (820) and rosewood (830).
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  #19  
Old 03-30-2021, 10:24 AM
printer2 printer2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin, Wales View Post
Are you sure Fred? I was thinking that if the inside of the sound box was either felt lined or floor varnished then there would be a sound difference. This concept of different woods is similar but in a lesser way. I really don't know if it does have any effect but those FG guitars would suggest something it changing the tone. As far as I know Yamaha uses meranti as the middle wood of the laminate on all those models. The outer skins are nato (800), mahogany (820) and rosewood (830).
Yamaha is a little different than Taylor. Taylor has a thin sheet on either side which is basically cosmetic. Yamaha has thicker sheets on the outside and it may have some effect on the sound. Godin makes laminate guitars and all the layers, outside, middle and inside are all cherry (as an example) with each ply thick enough to make the whole a real plywood. Plywood in a good way.

On the inside of the guitar. If you put a felt or other sound absorbing material in the guitar it will vibrate and in vibrating lose energy. The wood, whether bare or finished, vibrate as one. An absorbing finish could change the dampening of the wood, although finishes that penetrate the wood is pretty much never use. The added weight of the finish can also dampen the guitar's response. But most guitars are not finished in the inside.

A 2 kHz sound has a wavelength of 6.75". A half wavelength is roughly just the depth of the guitar. 5 kHz is about 2.7", it can be effected by the depth of the guitar. But the actual wood surface is still smooth and the sound wave will see it as a solid surface.
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  #20  
Old 03-30-2021, 10:58 AM
gr81dorn gr81dorn is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J Patrick View Post
.....itís notable that tulip poplar, which is less common than the bulk of commercially available poplar does get used for acoustic instruments and can be very attractive...I assume it has different physical properties but have no experience with it...
That's actually not true. "Tulip" poplar is overwhelmingly the version of poplar used for manufacturing in the USA and pretty much anything commercially available being called poplar is Tulip poplar, the bulk of which comes out of the Appalachian mountains.
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  #21  
Old 03-30-2021, 11:25 AM
J Patrick J Patrick is offline
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Originally Posted by gr81dorn View Post
That's actually not true. "Tulip" poplar is overwhelmingly the version of poplar used for manufacturing in the USA and pretty much anything commercially available being called poplar is Tulip poplar, the bulk of which comes out of the Appalachian mountains.
....we have plenty of poplar plantations here in Oregon and I happen to have a massive old tulip poplar in the back yard of one of my rental homes in Salem...they don’t appear to be the same tree to me but if they are the same tree then I stand corrected...I do know that there are some 30 different types of poplar so it may be that the commercial harvest is not limited to a single species...

Last edited by J Patrick; 03-30-2021 at 11:31 AM.
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  #22  
Old 03-30-2021, 11:46 AM
gr81dorn gr81dorn is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J Patrick View Post
....we have plenty of poplar plantations here in Oregon and I happen to have a massive old tulip poplar in the back yard of one of my rental homes in Salem...they donít appear to be the same tree to me but if they are the same tree then I stand corrected...I do know that there are some 30 different types of poplar so it may be that the commercial harvest is not limited to a single species...
I am not sure what specific version of Poplar comes out of the pacific northwest, it may even be Tulip poplar, but it may be truer versions of poplar or the similar stuff like cottonwoods or aspen. I don't even think of hardwoods when I think of lumber crops in the PNW.

I work for a big hardwood company, probably one of the largest consumers of FAS poplar in north America, and we have a large lumber plants in the Appalachian region and sell lumber to manufacturers all over the world. We actually sell a ton of poplar into Oregon and Washington, so makes me think it must be different stuff you have up there or possibly it's just not a big component of the logging/lu,ber industry in the PNW, which is primarily rooted (pun intended) in softwoods and a few other things like Alder and Aspen.

There very well could be a ton of it near you and it's just not commercial forested there, but Tulip poplar is the primary forested poplar in North America.

Curious, how big are the trees near you?

The trees that we're getting are about 150 feet tall and maybe 8-10 thick at the trunk. Could be that Oregon tulip poplar is just maturing and the poplar in appalachia just got a big head start.
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  #23  
Old 03-30-2021, 12:23 PM
J Patrick J Patrick is offline
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Originally Posted by gr81dorn View Post
I am not sure what specific version of Poplar comes out of the pacific northwest, it may even be Tulip poplar, but it may be truer versions of poplar or the similar stuff like cottonwoods or aspen. I don't even think of hardwoods when I think of lumber crops in the PNW.

I work for a big hardwood company, probably one of the largest consumers of FAS poplar in north America, and we have a large lumber plants in the Appalachian region and sell lumber to manufacturers all over the world. We actually sell a ton of poplar into Oregon and Washington, so makes me think it must be different stuff you have up there or possibly it's just not a big component of the logging/lu,ber industry in the PNW, which is primarily rooted (pun intended) in softwoods and a few other things like Alder and Aspen.

There very well could be a ton of it near you and it's just not commercial forested there, but Tulip poplar is the primary forested poplar in North America.

Curious, how big are the trees near you?

The trees that we're getting are about 150 feet tall and maybe 8-10 thick at the trunk. Could be that Oregon tulip poplar is just maturing and the poplar in appalachia just got a big head start.
Yeah the poplar plantations just started up perhaps twenty years ago but it grows really quickly and Id guess much of it is starting to get harvested..Iím not in the biz but I suspect it could be destined for engineered lumber and strandboard manufacturing plants..and is likely a species more akin to cottonwood and aspen..lthe old tulip poplar at my rental house is massive with a trunk that is about five feet in diameter and a canopy that spreads at least 40 feet...itís been trimmed quite a bit over the years as it stands about 15 feet away from the house...Iíd reckon it was planted when the house was built about 70 years ago...
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  #24  
Old 03-30-2021, 02:12 PM
Robin, Wales Robin, Wales is offline
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Originally Posted by printer2 View Post
Yamaha is a little different than Taylor. Taylor has a thin sheet on either side which is basically cosmetic. Yamaha has thicker sheets on the outside and it may have some effect on the sound. Godin makes laminate guitars and all the layers, outside, middle and inside are all cherry (as an example) with each ply thick enough to make the whole a real plywood. Plywood in a good way.

On the inside of the guitar. If you put a felt or other sound absorbing material in the guitar it will vibrate and in vibrating lose energy. The wood, whether bare or finished, vibrate as one. An absorbing finish could change the dampening of the wood, although finishes that penetrate the wood is pretty much never use. The added weight of the finish can also dampen the guitar's response. But most guitars are not finished in the inside.

A 2 kHz sound has a wavelength of 6.75". A half wavelength is roughly just the depth of the guitar. 5 kHz is about 2.7", it can be effected by the depth of the guitar. But the actual wood surface is still smooth and the sound wave will see it as a solid surface.
Thanks. It is interesting that different plywoods act as tonewood in their own way.

BTW. The Godin wild cherry plywood is made up of 3 equal thickness layers of cherry / maple / cherry rather than all cherry. I only know that because I asked them specifically about their plywood and they were very forthcoming with the answer.
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  #25  
Old 03-31-2021, 08:34 AM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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A tulip poplar (AKA yellow-poplar) growing in Oregon was planted, because it is native to the Eastern half of the US. It is not a true poplar (Populus spp.); rather it is in the magnolia family. It is an important timber tree since it grows quickly and produces large logs that are clear and straight. The dark green appearance of the heartwood, along with the contrast with the creamy sapwood means that much tulip poplar ends up being painted or veneered over. Because of its stability, it has been use extensively for plywood cores. In solid form, it is often used for house siding or interior finishing. It is a harder, denser wood than the true poplars. I have not made a tulip poplar guitar, but the density is similar to mahogany, and I suspect the sound would be similar.
On rare occasions the heartwood of tulip poplar can exhibit multicolored fungal staining ('rainbow poplar') that is decorative and commands a premium. Colors ranging from yellow, orange, blue, purple, to black are possibilities.
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Old 03-05-2024, 01:43 AM
RogerHaggstrom RogerHaggstrom is offline
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Levin in Sweden used poplar in the parlor guitar necks from 1900 to about 1920. They are light and responsive, and often very green in the color under the lacquer. Levin shifted to heavier and thicker birch necks, probably because the poplar necks did not hold for steel strings. The medieval looking capo's at the time made deep pits in the back of the necks on some of these soft poplar necks.

Thing is, I love these poplar necks. They are light and have a great sound. With an added stiff carbon rod and a new hardwood fretboard on top, the neck will hold for steel strings too.
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  #27  
Old 03-05-2024, 06:20 AM
@lagatrix @lagatrix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
A tulip poplar (AKA yellow-poplar) growing in Oregon was planted, because it is native to the Eastern half of the US. It is not a true poplar (Populus spp.); rather it is in the magnolia family. It is an important timber tree since it grows quickly and produces large logs that are clear and straight. The dark green appearance of the heartwood, along with the contrast with the creamy sapwood means that much tulip poplar ends up being painted or veneered over. Because of its stability, it has been use extensively for plywood cores. In solid form, it is often used for house siding or interior finishing. It is a harder, denser wood than the true poplars. I have not made a tulip poplar guitar, but the density is similar to mahogany, and I suspect the sound would be similar.
On rare occasions the heartwood of tulip poplar can exhibit multicolored fungal staining ('rainbow poplar') that is decorative and commands a premium. Colors ranging from yellow, orange, blue, purple, to black are possibilities.
The misnomer of "poplar" lumber has driven me crazy for years. Perhaps we should just call ash oak because of its similarly porous grain structure (?!). You don't see stands of tulip trees in New England or upstate New York (at least I've never come across any), although I believe this species is native to the entire eastern US. In my experience, you'd be hard pressed to find a true poplar (pople, aspen, cottonwood) that wouldn't be rotten through by the time it gets to a harvestable diameter. We planted about 30 tulip trees a few years ago on our land, but I won't be around to see these majestic trees in their maturity. We have several stands of true poplar. It's an integral species in our ecosystem, but in terms of its practical value, it makes great kindling! It is traditionally used in maple sugar houses because it burns hot, fast, and relatively clean.

I've worked with "yellow poplar" for years. It is great for painted case work, easy to work, and easy on tools. It's been used in core layers for bent lamination a lot (hence its efficacy for Taylor's shaped backs). I have no idea how well it would work as a solid tone wood (maybe it would be similar to mahogany, although it has a very different grain structure). It's very vulnerable to small surface dents, much more like a typical softwood, and although a hard finish would help mitigate this, a finish is ultimately only as hard as the substrate. I personally like the colors when freshly cut—green, purple, black, pink, orange. but they are incredibly unstable, and will quickly fade to a mottled beige. I don't think the color would hold up even under the most sophisticated UV blockers.
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  #28  
Old 03-05-2024, 06:51 AM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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I played a very nice tulip Poplar guitar made by Dave MacCubbin. And it is not related to the Poplars we have here everywhere in upstate NY. These are closer to the Cottonwood. I have a lot of them on the western edge of my yard. They grow fast, but not to 4' diameter in 70 years! My biggest are nearing 2' at 35 years or so., Nice straight trees that shed way too much cotton fluff in the spring, are are not particularly pretty in the fall. Smooth light gray bark as they grow but as they mature, this bark is found higher in the tree and more normal bark appears at eye level. No one bothers to use the wood; I won't even burn it in the wood stove.
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  #29  
Old 03-05-2024, 06:59 AM
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Poplar was used at various times on Fender Strats, especially the taco casters.
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  #30  
Old 03-05-2024, 06:59 AM
RJVB RJVB is offline
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[QUOTE=Rudy4;6677052]Taylor's ability to produce a good sounding instrument from layered construction has a lot to do with the ability to form the back into a arch that is stable but doesn't need additional bracing. This helps produce a lightweight and resonant instrument.
/QUOTE]

That's interesting. I've been watching a number of demos of the 112ce and 212ce and while some mentioned that the listed B&S woods were mostly there for cosmetics because thin veneer over poplar, none said anything about arched backs. Are we talking arched like what Guild use in their archback models (so not really obvious to the eye), or the kind of arching you find in archtops and e.g. the Eastman Cabaret?

I agree these 112 guitars sound like they're probably quite resonant (hardly surprising for a spruce-topped Taylor that still costs upwards of 700Ä IIRC) but also rather bland/clinical. To the point where I wondered where the difference lies between a 112 or 214 besides in the veneers.
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