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  #1  
Old 07-30-2018, 01:09 PM
Daveyo Daveyo is offline
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Default whats the deal with Brazilian rosewood?

Does it sound better?
I don't think it looks better than Indian,imo
What gives?
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:13 PM
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Yes , it sounds better, and it looks better. Thatís the opinion of most guitar players which makes it a big deal!
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:19 PM
llew llew is offline
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You're likely to get a slew of different answers. But it's no longer being harvested that I know of so it's rarity makes it expensive. Personally...I think it looks and sounds better on the one guitar (Pre*War HD) I own with it. But I have several other dreads with EIR so I think a lot of it is personal preference. As far as pricing goes it's simple...supply is way less than demand. Depending on the builder the upcharge can be unrealistic. I got my PWGC HD before the original prices increased.
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:29 PM
paulzoom paulzoom is online now
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The deal is I that I like that tone wood.
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:37 PM
RedJoker RedJoker is online now
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I am happy to say that it is not my preferred tone wood. I don't hate it, it's just not my favorite. Everyone has an opinion and all of them are wrong, according to someone else.
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:48 PM
Ember Ember is offline
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Kind of curious if anyone got an answer for just how much more expensive Brazilian Rosewood is compared to East Indian?

The Martin D28 Brazilian is listed at $20,000, but it's got some other differences too like adirondack spruce top and scalloped bracing, as well as some ornament differences and then it's of course a limited edition model which probably bumps up the price as well.

If the difference was just Brazilian vs. East Indian, what would the price difference look like? Still ten thousands of USD?
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:57 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Some Brazilian rosewood sounds terrific. Not all of it. There's a lot more variance in tone with it than most people realize. The best Brazilian rosewood has a rich tonal response, with excellent bass and shimmering trebles (often described as "glassy.") If you get a good set, it's the ideal back and side wood for dreadnought guitars because the treble response of the Brazilian overcomes some of the tubbiness that that body size can generate.

But as I mentioned, not all Brazilian rosewood has that sought-after "Brazilian rosewood sound." A lot of it sounds no different than Indian rosewood, even the pre-WWII Brazilian rosewood that makes those pre-war Martin D-28's so astronomically expensive. I've played lots of pre-war BRW Martins, and I've found that about half of them have that ideal sound, with glassy trebles and a three dimensional quality to the lows and mids.

The rest sound no different than any other rosewood guitars.

The Brazilian rosewood that's available these days doesn't have as high a proportion of the ideal sound to it as the pre-war instruments. Based on the dozens of modern BRW guitars I've played, about 25% of them have "that sound." I mean, the others are nice guitars, but not showstoppers.

You find the same thing with koa. Koa is one of my favorite tonewoods (I like it more than BRW,) but most koa guitars sound like mahogany afflicted with severe ennui. Not the least bit lively. Then you'll pick up one that sings like an angel chorus, and suddenly it's completely understandable why so many players adore koa.

So, yes, good Brazilian rosewood is a magnificent tonewood, but not all of it has that incredible sound. Lots of it is merely passable.

Hope that makes sense.


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Old 07-30-2018, 02:01 PM
boneuphtoner boneuphtoner is offline
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I'm a newbie (both to guitar and to this forum) but the video comparisons with east Indian rosewood I've heard (with newer Taylor 814s) left me unimpressed. I could see how this combined with some of the old classics could be magical
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:01 PM
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I personally believe the blind tests where listeners were unable to reliably tell which guitar had what wood, and that the back and side wood selection of a typically braced (heavy thick braces on the back to deaden all resonance, increasingly sides designed to be acoustically dead so as to not rob energy from the top) side and back of a flat-top acoustic make very little difference. So, having answered my question about tone, it comes down to rarity, tradition, and beauty. Brazilian rosewood has all of that in spades, and it costs a lot more, and so it must be better... There is another facet to this - brazilian rosewood guitars have, for many decades, been the top of the line, the best made by the best luthiers. They really should sound better, even if the tone is a byproduct of the wood and not a direct result of the wood.

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Old 07-30-2018, 02:06 PM
247hoopsfan 247hoopsfan is offline
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I currently own a Larrivee D10 Brazilian Rosewood. I owned the same guitar in Indian rosewood when I found the Brazilian D10. So I had a long time to compare the 2. My experience was that the Brazilian had noticeably more overtones along with almost a glassy, reverb like characteristic. Individual lead notes, particularly high up the neck just seemed to echo out of the sound hole. There was also a difference in strumming as the Brazilian seemed more like a 12 string.
So, in my opinion, I prefer the sound of the Brazilian rosewood and I sold the EIR.
However, I would not pay thousands of dollars more just to get Brazilian. I have a Goodall Standard EIR that sounds amazing too. But it does make me wonder what a Brazilian Goodall would sound like....
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:15 PM
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Objectively, it's harder to come by and costs more than other tonewoods. Subjectively, some people really like the way it sounds (others don't especially). It's the wood that was implied by the mention of "rosewood" for many decades, going back to the 1800s. A "rosewood guitar" was a "Brazilian rosewood guitar" for much of the guitar's history (same for fretted instruments other than guitar). So, historically, many of the greatest guitars ever built used Brazilian rosewood. The extent to which their greatness can be attributed to the use of Brazilian rosewood is difficult to determine, of course. A consequence of that long, illustrious history, however, is some conflation of the "Brazilian rosewood sound" with the "great guitar sound." That is, people developed some expectations for what sound should come from what they considered a "great guitar," and the obvious association was with what was available, that is, Brazilian rosewood guitars. If that association is deeply entrenched in a player, then he or she is likely to prefer Brazilian rosewood to alternatives.

But really good Brazilian can undoubtedly produce outstanding guitars. Are they better than really well-made guitars that use other rosewoods or even non-rosewoods? That's entirely a matter of opinion. They can have a distinct sound that other woods don't fully capture. Whether that sound is better or merely different is, again, subjective. Personally, I tend to like mahogany guitars, which are miles from really good Brazilian rosewood guitars. But although the sound of a good Brazilian rosewood guitar isn't my usual preference, I do recognize it as a very good sound in its own right. I also own a Brazilian rosewood guitar and some Brazilian rosewood mandolins. Honestly, it's hard for me to say (as I suggested earlier) how much of their "goodness" is due to the wood species as opposed to the whole host of factors that differentiate one guitar form another.

I also think the virtues of Brazilian may vary as a function of the style of music you play. I have a cousin who's a professional classical guitarist and she really likes the tone of Brazilian guitars (although she ended up commissioning one made with Amazon rosewood as her main performing instrument due her perceived cost/performance balance). As a mostly blues guy, the virtues of Brazilian are lost on me. I can hear those virtues in a good example, but they're not necessarily qualities I am after.

So, there simply isn't a definitive answer to your question. Any strong feelings will reflect a strong personal opinion, not any fact-based, objective assessment that will meaningfully apply to different people with different preferences and different ears.
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:43 PM
merlin666 merlin666 is offline
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It smells better!
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:59 PM
crikey crikey is offline
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Taking nothing away from how cool a good slice of Braz looks and sounds, the deal for me is I'm really glad that the EIR on my builds satisfy my ears (and eyes) quite well, because I don't see the value in paying for a good slice of Braz vs. EIR. I could change my mind tomorrow of course.
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:59 PM
zmf zmf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daveyo View Post
What gives?
Dunno. Wish I had the hands-on experience to answer, but I've only played two BRW guitars. One, a Northwood, was as advertised -- dark and "glassy". A custom Collings was not.

I'm always amused when told that a EIR guitar would sound better if it were made of Madagascar, or a Madagascar would sound better if made of Brazilian. As if it were a linear relationship involving only the B/S tonewood.
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Old 07-30-2018, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC5C View Post
I personally believe the blind tests where listeners were unable to reliably tell which guitar had what wood, and that the back and side wood selection of a typically braced (heavy thick braces on the back to deaden all resonance, increasingly sides designed to be acoustically dead so as to not rob energy from the top) side and back of a flat-top acoustic make very little difference. So, having answered my question about tone, it comes down to rarity, tradition, and beauty. Brazilian rosewood has all of that in spades, and it costs a lot more, and so it must be better... There is another facet to this - brazilian rosewood guitars have, for many decades, been the top of the line, the best made by the best luthiers. They really should sound better, even if the tone is a byproduct of the wood and not a direct result of the wood.

Brian





Respectfully, your logic escapes me. As an analogy, Strads are far more expensive and tend to be preferred by performing violinists. But the evidence doesn't suggest they're fundamentally "better" instruments with regard to sound. Listening tests prove otherwise. But they cost more because people -- especially audiences -- believe they are better (a belief that doesn't survive objective testing) and performers can best succeed by giving their audience what they want. So costing more doesn't equate to "better."



Nor does rarity imply better. Black ebony has become very rare. And guitars have certainly been made with black ebony bodies. Does that mean that they're better than good guitars made with less rare woods? Some might prefer them, others won't. But the rarity of the wood (try finding ebony sets in sizes suitable for a dreadnought guitar) doesn't make them "better."



Nor is it the case that rosewood is always chosen for "top guitars." For some players, Brazilian is the perfect wood for what they want form a guitar. For others, it simply isn't, at any price. Back when "rosewood" meant "Brazilian," some people still preferred to spend comparable amounts on other woods, like maple. (Mahogany was always a special category in that it got associated with less expensive instruments that did generally cost less than rosewood. Martin has generally offered flattops in either mahogany or rosewood. So, by default, rosewood was the choice for their higher-tier models.) In the teens (the catalogs I had available) Vega, for example, offered its top "Special Artists" series guitars in curly maple in about 1917. A few years earlier, it had been rosewood but that was relegated to mid-level guitars by 1917. In that year, their lowest-tier models were mahogany and the mid level models were rosewood (which was undoubtedly Brazilian at the time). Likewise, its cylinder-back mandolins featured maple on the top models, rosewood in the middle, and mahogany on the least expensive. In a Washburn catalog from the 1800s (when they far outsold Martin), every guitar listed (and they range from $20 to $100), is rosewood. So its use on the cheapest offerings doesn't suggest that it was seen as particularly special but rather, pretty ordinary. Over at Gibson, some of their most expensive flattop guitars, like the Nick Lucas Special and the J-200 used either rosewood or maple at various times. There wasn't any strict price delineation by wood choice. Year, size, and other features seemed to be more important price determinants.


Beauty is certainly subjective, as well. Some of the most valuable Brazilian guitars around -- vintage Martins -- have straight-grain Brazilian backs that really don't strike me as more beautiful than Indian rosewood. The most visually striking Brazilian, with wild grain and color variation, would likely have been rejected by Martin for those 1930s guitars. And if tradition is the benchmark, there have been mahogany guitars for a very long time. And spruce-over-maple has been the formula for the world's most valuable stringed instruments for centuries. So, it depends on how you define things and what comparisons you choose to make, as to whether the rosewood tradition is the longest standing. For flattop guitars, maybe. For archtops, certainly not. And for prestige orchestral stringed instruments, certainly not.


So, rarity, cost, tradition, selection for top models, and beauty don't seem to be a basis for Brazilian's currently hallowed status. None of this diminishes the appeal of Brazilian rosewood for those who prefer it, of course. It's a great wood by any analysis. But as to whether it's the "king of woods" used in guitar building, personal preferences, bragging rights, investment protection, and the prestige of instruments built before Brazilian got scarce -- rather than an objective superiority of any sort -- seem to be the basis for such claims.
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