StewMac tools

Question about mahogany and wood selection

Please put your pickup/wiring discussions in the Electronics section; and put discussions about repair issues, including "disappearing" errors in new instruments, in the Repairs section.

Question about mahogany and wood selection

Postby Steve Sawyer » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:58 pm

Two-parter here...

For those using mahogany for a guitar body, am I correct that many are using African Mahogany since the Central-American or "Honduras" mahogany is getting so scarce?

Second part - My current build-in-progress is a Tele copy, and am looking ahead to my second build which will be a copy of an LP. The LP plans I have indicate that the body thickness should be a tad over 1 3/4" and the cap just shy of 3/4 (one plan is metric and shows 45mm for the body, and 16mm for the cap which closely matches my measurements from the other drawing). I've been eyeing a hunk of quarter-sawn 8/4 African mahogany at my local Woodcraft that has a nice ribbon-stripe figure. Trouble is, it's billed as 8/4, but as is so often the case it's a tad less than 2". I'm planning on using some curly maple in my stash for the cap, but it 4/4 that has all been skip-planed to just shy of 1", maybe 7/8" worst case. I should be able to get 1 3/4 out of the hunk of mahogany I'm looking at, but the cap is going to be tough, as the re-saw is going to give me less than 1/2" to work with.

I could make a "sandwich" of some soft maple on either face of the curly maple before re-sawing, which would put another layer under the cap to compensate for the lack of thickness. I should be able to get away with this since this section will be hidden by the binding, but I'd have to be super careful when carving the top so as not to go through the curly into the soft, unless I do a burst to hide that transition, but I wasn't planning on tackling a burst on this build - doing the neck and body binding AND doing the carved top will be challenge enough.

I could scrap the idea of a carved top entirely, and just leave the cap flat.

Whaddya think? Any other options to solve this problem?
==Steve==
User avatar
Steve Sawyer
 
Posts: 376
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: Question about mahogany and wood selection

Postby Dan Smith » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:08 pm

Hey Steve,
Well, I've been buying Honduras Mahogany from Woodcraft at $5.80 a bd ft.
Not the best looking stuff, but not bad.
It's rough cut and needs some cleanup.

All of the African stuff I have found locally is heavy and prone to chipping.
I won't use it anymore. I'm not exactly sure what species it is.
I would get a feel for the weight and add hollow chambers if needed.

I did an LP carve top with a 3/8" top. Not a full carve, but looked Ok.
I think your idea of inserting a thin piece will be fine.

I put on a thin piece of Maple over Mahogany to build up the thickness on my current build.
The Maple will be covered by a piece of Mahogany, giving a Maple band around the edge.
This is the back view shown.

Sooner or later, I won't find Mahogany anymore.
I'm looking for alternates.

Dan
Attachments
IMG_2767.JPG
IMG_2766.JPG
IMG_2765.JPG
Ever-body was kung fu fight-in,
Them kids was fast as light-nin.
User avatar
Dan Smith
 
Posts: 302
Joined: Mon May 18, 2015 9:33 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Question about mahogany and wood selection

Postby Steve Sawyer » Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:32 am

Thanks, Dan.

I was wondering how thin I could go on a cap for a carved top. I shouldn't have any trouble getting 3/8 from this stock.

That's a ridiculous price for Honduran Mahogany. We're paying $14-$18 up here.And yeah, I was thinking about chambering this one. As to alternates, I'm tempted to try sapele. Less than half the cost, similar color and displays a beautiful ribbon -stripe when quartered. The back on yours is really nice!! I only have an 8" jointer, but my planer is a 15" and I've thought of trying a sled to face-joint a slab big enough for a body so I don't always have to bookmatch or otherwise glue-up the body blank. And that's one helluva plank you have there!!
==Steve==
User avatar
Steve Sawyer
 
Posts: 376
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: Question about mahogany and wood selection

Postby Brian Evans » Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:28 am

Spanish cedar is a good alternative to mahogany, for me anyway. Sometimes a little bit lighter in weight.
Brian Evans
 
Posts: 517
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:26 am
Location: Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia

Re: Question about mahogany and wood selection

Postby Freeman Keller » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:38 pm

Steve, remember that LP Jr's have basically flat tops. I built this one out of a standard LMI 1-3/4 body blank with a 1/4 flamed Spanish cedar (not really a cedar) top.

Image

Image

I carved it as much as I could but it isn't nearly as deeply carved as a standard LP. The thing that will limit you carving is your binding - usually 1/4 inch. I bound this one in rosewood - kind of interesting bending the horn LOL

Image

This guitar was chambered

Image

For comparison, here is a carved 5/8 maple top on a solid body

Image

The guitars are basically identical with the exception that the one on the left is solid with a 5/8 carved maple cap, the one on the right is chambered, 1/4 Spanish cedar cap.

Image

They have the same pups, electronics, neck, scale length, yadda yadda, but when played side by side thru the same amp there is a difference in sound. (There is also a significant difference in weight). Somewhere I've got clips of them - everyone who played them agreed that they are different but both are good.
Freeman Keller
 
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am

Re: Question about mahogany and wood selection

Postby Freeman Keller » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:46 pm

One thing to remember if you do change the thickness of the top is that it will change your neck geometry and angle. You should carefully lay that out on your plans using your actual bridge. I have had good luck making the fret plane hit the top of a ToM at its lowest setting - that seems to give adequate adjustment.

Image
Freeman Keller
 
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am

Re: Question about mahogany and wood selection

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:02 am

Thanks, Freeman. I was expecting to have to fiddle with the neck angle. Thanks for that ruke-of-thumb.

I hope mine comes out half as nice as either of those. Beautiful work.
==Steve==
User avatar
Steve Sawyer
 
Posts: 376
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: Question about mahogany and wood selection

Postby Freeman Keller » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:47 pm

Steve, this has worked for me but I would really like to find out how others do it (I posted a question on the other lutherie forum a while back but never got a good answer). Your plans will show the neck angle at 3-1/2 to 4 degrees but the thickness of the top at the bridge and how much you ramp it at the heel will dramatically affect the action. While setting the neck I like to clamp the fretted f/b on and extend the fret plane to the bridge. I put the bridge that I'm going to use on a couple of little wood blocks that simulates the thickness of the stud tops and the adjuster wheels (they seem to very).

Image

My theory is that this is the lowest you would ever want the strings (zero action). Lets say you are shooting for 60 to 90 thousands at the 12th fret - you will get about 7 or 8 from the nut slots, maybe 5 more from relief. That means you need to be able to raise the strings 90 to 150 more with the bridge adjustment. This all seems to work within the adjustment range of a standard ToM but you should check yours (and your plans). Unfortunately a set neck guitar isn't like a Tele where you can just throw a shim in the pocket if the angle isn't right.

Other forumites, how do you calculate your neck angle?
Freeman Keller
 
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am

Re: Question about mahogany and wood selection

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:44 pm

Looking forward to others' comments re calculating the neck angle. Seems I've seen discussions of that topic elsewhere on this forum, but don't have any of them bookmarked.

I assume you made those pickup rings. Beautiful! What species are those? Those have to be a b*tch to make unless you have some kind of jig for them...
==Steve==
User avatar
Steve Sawyer
 
Posts: 376
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: Question about mahogany and wood selection

Postby Freeman Keller » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:48 pm

Steve Sawyer wrote:Looking forward to others' comments re calculating the neck angle. Seems I've seen discussions of that topic elsewhere on this forum, but don't have any of them bookmarked.

I assume you made those pickup rings. Beautiful! What species are those? Those have to be a b*tch to make unless you have some kind of jig for them...


There was a very detailed and theoretical discussion in American Lutherier a while back on calculating neck angle and action on an acoustic - my method is a very simplified version of that. But I would like to hear how others do it.

The pup rings are from LMII - they offer a bunch of different woods. Someone has gone thru the trouble of setting up their cnc - might as well make a million of them. Mine are rosewood - all the trim parts on this guitar are rose.
Freeman Keller
 
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:34 am


Return to Solid-Body and Chambered or Semi-Solid Electric Guitars and Bass Guitars

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests

Your purchase from these sites helps support the MIMForum, but only if you start at the links below!!!
Amazon music     Amazon books     Amazon tools     Rockler tools     Office Depot    

The MIMF is a member-supported forum, please consider supporting us with a donation, thanks!
 • Book store • Tool store • Links •