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Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

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Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Simon Magennis » Sun Feb 19, 2017 3:36 pm

On classical guitars I would guess that 90% or more have rosewood bridges. Occasionally ebony. What else might be good and not fall under cites regs?

As far as I can see lots of woods would work. Anything medium density, reasonably hard and which glues without undue difficulty. So maple and walnut should be fine - maybe we could say fruit and nut trees in general?

What have you used a part from rosewood or ebony?
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:29 pm

Rosewood (with the exception of Dalbergia Nigra) can actually still be used, those woods are junst under the weaker protection.
Its use is just required to be documented. Details vary from country to country. Ok, transferring the guitar between two countries may be cumbersome.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Simon Magennis » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:15 pm

I know rosewood is still ok to use, just wondering about other options to avoid the paperwork. :-)
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby David King » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:23 pm

Katalox, ziricote, bocote, red narra, purpleheart , padauk, santos mahogany, wenge, boxwood, pearwood, curupay, cumaru, satine, satinwood. imbuya, macore, chechen, iroko...
Last edited by David King on Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:28 pm

Some of these woods are under CITES protection as well, afaik, wenge.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby David King » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:34 pm

Not wenge that I've seen Beate, only pernambuco, one subspecies of bubinga, Madagascar ebony, one subspecies of granadillo, and a few shrubs.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby James Meloan » Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:14 am

I like katalox so far. I've done half a dozen bridges and some fingerboards with it.
I did a bloodwood bridge for my first nylon string guitar. looks kinda funny but sounds just fine (to my ears), and is pretty easy to work with hand tools.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Alan Carruth » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:59 pm

As with all wood substitution questions there's an easy answer and a harder one. The easy answer is that there are lots of woods that can be used for bridges. In many cases, as with walnut, for example, you have to be willing to alter the traditional designs a little bit to take into account the different material properties. What's hard is finding a substitute that the customers will accept. They've been brainwashed for so long by 'magic wood' propaganda that it's difficult to get them to accept something that's even a little bit different. Since 'everybody knows' that bridges are supposed to be made of either ebony or rosewood, you have to find something that at least looks like that. I've been using a lot of morado in the past few years. It looks more or less like a rosewood, but acts more like ebony in terms of density and damping. No matter; it looks right so of course it sounds right.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Simon Magennis » Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:55 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:... No matter; it looks right so of course it sounds right.


So pear wood colored black sounds about right then. That's what I put on a lute many moons ago.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Miguel Bernardo » Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:22 pm

Simon, I'd try something like padauk, muninga or narra.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Jack Stuart1 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:34 am

For choosing a wood for a guitar you need to have a thorough knowledge as different types of guitars require different type of wood. For e.g. Electric Guitars and Acoustic Guitars both will require different types of woods.
For Electric Guitars body you can use Alder, Ash, Maple, Rosewood and Korina. For Acoustic Guitars you can use and for Neck and Fingerboard you can use Maple, Bubinga and Ebony.
For Acoustic Guitars body Mahogany, Rosewood, Maple and Koa wood could be used.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Waddy Thomson » Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:34 am

I believe the original post was "Classical Guitar" related. I have been having good luck with Padauk and Walnut for my bridges. I started when I was having trouble getting the weight where I wanted. It was hard to find Rosewood that was light enough - I prefer to keep my bridges below 20 grams. I do infuse the string holes with CA glue and re-drill to reduce the string imprint in the wood, but both woods are light and stiff.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:34 am

Jack Stuart1 wrote:For choosing a wood for a guitar you need to have a thorough knowledge as different types of guitars require different type of wood. For e.g. Electric Guitars and Acoustic Guitars both will require different types of woods.
For Electric Guitars body you can use Alder, Ash, Maple, Rosewood and Korina. For Acoustic Guitars you can use and for Neck and Fingerboard you can use Maple, Bubinga and Ebony.
For Acoustic Guitars body Mahogany, Rosewood, Maple and Koa wood could be used.


That's it? seems limited... :?
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Doug Shaker » Wed Feb 22, 2017 4:30 pm

I use walnut for my bridges, but sliced in half horizontally with a layer of graphite cloth epoxied in. Then I use a maple/graphite/maple sandwich for the bridge plate. The whole assembly is lightweight, stiff, a nice color and resistant to string ball wear.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Todd Stock » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:46 am

The question was referenced to classical guitar bridges, which suggests woods close to Brazilian rosewood in mechanical characteristics which do not reside on the current CITES lists. Given classical buyers are even more sensitive to departures from a narrow range of appearance options than retro Martin buyers, it would be nice if the wood looked something like either Brazilian or EIR as well. Finally - workability and shear strength characteristics need to support the trend towards higher tension strings and more holes in the bridge's tie-block.

In addition to David's list above, heat-altered (roasted/torrified) maple seems suitable (slightly lower mechanical characteristics, including 18% lower density versus BRW), as does a domestic ebony like persimmon, although the shrinkage on persimmon and the lighter color may be an issue.

Much of the Macassar I buy is about as dense as the Ceylon and Gabon ebony I see, which means it is about 25-30% denser than BRW...some macassar does a passable imitation of of EIR, and does not have nearly the damping I see in other ebonies...along with African blackwood, it's my most common fretboard and bridge wood for steel strings, but it seems a little heavy for classical bridges, although i have seen it used as a replacement (which we removed and replaced with a BRW bridge...not much change, given the guitar was very overbuilt to begin with).
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Brian Evans » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:49 am

I had a really nice piece of jatoba that I made some bridges out of, it worked very well, seemed to be very light, polished really well, and was very hard, almost brittle. Of course it's a funny colour, that I happen to really like.

I was browsing Stewmac this morning and noticed that they don't ship anything made of any kind of rosewood outside the US any longer. Not sure when that changed for them, but I never noticed it before. I have noticed it on mother-of-pearl and other inlay materials.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby David King » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:28 pm

Brian,
FYI all true rosewood species (300+) went onto the CITES II list on January 2nd 2017. You can still buy from Canadian sellers or from international sellers who are set up for export with licenses and papers.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Alan Carruth » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:40 pm

I've had good luck with morado fro bridges. It can be close to BRW in density and stiffness, or somewhat denser. The damping tends to be higher, but I'm not sure how important that is. There do seem to be several different things that are sold as 'morado'.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Stephen M. Faulk » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:58 am

I have used Cherry for bridges on flamenco and classical guitars. It's possible to make a bridge 14 grams...but hitting 16 or 17 is easy. And 20 -22 is big fat bridge. Although I'm not totally sold on lighter bridge equals better guitar.

Maple works well if it's not super light, a good tightly flamed maple makes a great bridge for classical, and could be a off cut from a cello back, check with violin makers for trading.

Wenge makes ok classical bridges, but you have to mind the design. Get it thinned enough to be in the weight class you need, but don't make the edges and corners sharp or they crumble and break. You can leave a 1.5 mm high vertical plane around the perimeter of the bridge before you round over the wings. Less fragile. A good candidate for CA pore filling too because it consolidates the edges. Wenge makes stiff bridges if you need that.

Any of that stuff that is marketed under the name Ipe makes a good bridge if you can find it not super dense and the right weight when cut to size.

Other woods I've used, Black Acacia makes wonderful bridges, Koa, Honey Locust - if you are open to collecting wood that is not dark brown. Customers seem to like the idea of a choice between traditional rosewood and another option. I ask if they want to think about an alternate bridge wood? Many seem open to it, and if not, rosewood.

What I want to know is whether Osage orange would make a good bridge?

I have seen good bridges of Macassar ebony, but really thin winged and low tie block to reduce weight. They become flexible in that zone and depending on how you want the guitar to sound, that quality may be good or bad.

I've also observed that most players respond well if the bridge is something like Cherry, like reddish cherry and then you tint it darker with a stain or oil paint glaze and finish over it. Pulling down tone helps and make the wood of the bridge look more like rosewood. If the bridge looks warm on the top it helps a lot. If the bridge is light and the top finish it tined to look orange or brown the bridge will appear less dark. So tint the bridge dark as you can and make the top finish more clear, the bridge will read darker.

I think a lot the stigma against the alternate woods can be refuted by making the bridge look rich and warm. Luster, brownish/red tint and depth to the finish helps a non rosewood bridge look appealing. - I have not done this, but you could also tan the bridge by setting it under UV light in a foil lined box for a few days.....I might try that. When you stain over UV browned wood you can get pretty dark and rich color without clogging up the natural beauty of the grain and light refraction.
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Re: Post CITES bridge wood for classical guitars?

Postby Alan Carruth » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:33 pm

I can't see any reason why Osage would not make a good bridge. I'd watch the cut, as it is ring porous and can have weak grain lines.

In the 'Cherry Seven' project he supplied us with American Hornbeam for the bridges. Another name for it is 'Blue Beech' and it looks a lot like beech except that it has wildly figured interlocked grain. I used a walnut hull 'tea' to stain it (and the fingerboard of the same wood) brown, without covering up the figure. Everybody liked it.
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