Pine, Birch, Poplar?

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Christopher Perkins
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Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Christopher Perkins »

Any suggested uses for the above woods? These are woods locally available near me, and I am thinking of doing the 100 challenge in april...any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Arnt Rian
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Arnt Rian »

What type of pine, birch and poplar, and what type instrument did you have in mind? And there's another "100$ challenge" in April?! (I'm sure I can find the info on here somewhere...). Poplar is commonly used for linings in violin family instruments, not sure what else (electric guitar bodies?), some types of pine has been used for sound boards and braces for various acoustic instruments.

Anyways, here's a mandola I did in another MIMF challenge, it had birch b/s and neck, which is a "traditional" use for these woods.

Image

Christopher Perkins
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Christopher Perkins »

I was thinking for an acoustic. Also, my mistake, I misread...there isn't going to be a 100 challenge in april...it was last april :( bummer. Sorry. I'm a mimf forum newbie, haven't really found my way around here yet

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Bryan Bear
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Bryan Bear »

Christopher Perkins wrote:I was thinking for an acoustic. Also, my mistake, I misread...there isn't going to be a 100 challenge in april...it was last april :( bummer. Sorry. I'm a mimf forum newbie, haven't really found my way around here yet
Maybe there should be one in April. . . I'm getting ready to start a project that will use only woods from my home town. So. . .

As to the woods you mention, Arnt pretty much covered everything I can offer. If you can find some split/quartersawn pine that is not too dense, I would think you could use it for soundboard and braces (if the stock is chosen carefully). I would treat Birch as maple. I once used poplar for the neck of a long neck dulcimer but it was pretty thick compared to the string tension so I don't know if you can use that as a case for it being suitable for guitar necks. . .
PMoMC

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Arnt Rian
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Arnt Rian »

Christopher Perkins wrote:I was thinking for an acoustic. Also, my mistake, I misread...there isn't going to be a 100 challenge in april...it was last april :( bummer. Sorry. I'm a mimf forum newbie, haven't really found my way around here yet
Hey, no worries! To your question of what the woods you mention can be used for, and what they are commonly used for in instrument making, don't let those things stop you from using them for something else, if you like. Rather see it as an indication of what they can be good for, and keep that in mind when you use them.

Alan Carruth
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Alan Carruth »

As far as stiffness is concerned, pine should work as well as spruce of the same density. I think pine will tend to be softer and easier to dent, but maybe not.

Roderick Jenkins
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Roderick Jenkins »

Christopher,

Stradivari commonly used Poplar for the back and sides of his larger instruments, mostly 'cellos. Ruckers harpsichords were almost all cased in Poplar. Willow and Poplar may well be difficult to tell apart and are very variable, probably depending on how close to water they were growing and there are several different species of each. Pine probably needs a closer definition as well - I should think that Scot's pine will be too knotty for making soundboards.

Rod

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Mark Langner
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Mark Langner »

A couple of us built archtops with poplar tops about 10+ years ago (in the old archives). (Yellow or Tulip poplar, that is). Epiphone used to make a line of poplar-topped archtops as well (1930's). Of course there was the archtop made by Bob Benedetto (and played briefly in his video set) with a construction pine top, knots and all.

I am currently working on an archtop guitar from all local woods (in the mtns of North Carolina) - back, neck and sides from sassafras and walnut, with a white pine top. Just put the top on the body yesterday.
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Mario Proulx
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Mario Proulx »

I think pine will tend to be softer and easier to dent, but maybe not.

Depends on the species of "pine", which can range from very soft and lightweight(white pine, for example) to very heavy and hard(yellow pine, red pine, etc..). Chosen carefully, it can be fine tonewood. I used red pine for my $100 challenge mandolin a couple three years ago and it's still doing great; if I had some red pine that was large enough for guitars, I'd definitely try it!

Birch has a long history of use on both carved and flat top instruments. Poplar can refer to so many different woods depending on where in the world you live that it's impossible to say what is "poplar", thus cannot be recommended simply of those grounds.

Matthew Lau
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Matthew Lau »

Pine can be used like spruce (if it's light and stiff). Tops and braces.
Poplar for linings--it's like willow or basswood.
Birch for back/sides/neck. Can make a top too, but pine is nicer.

I'd recommend splurging on good bracewood from a trusted supplier if this is your first build.

All these guys gave great advice.

Simon Magennis
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Simon Magennis »

Assuming poplar there is the same as poplar here, then a lute neck. Covered with a thickish veneer for strength and appearance.

Alain Bieber
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Alain Bieber »

Hi Simon,
I am not so sure poplar here is the same as poplar there. For instance the poplar used sometimes by the Cremona masters for back and sides of the quatuor instruments is "black poplar" (pioppo nero) also called sometimes "pioppo cypressino". The tree look different and I think the wood could be somewhat different. Cheap.. so to speak... cellos made in Italy can still be using that stuff. I saw a few of them in a local fair in Paris, some years ago.

Simon Magennis
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Simon Magennis »

Alain Bieber wrote:Hi Simon,
I am not so sure poplar here is the same as poplar there. For instance the poplar used sometimes by the Cremona masters for back and sides of the quatuor instruments is "black poplar" (pioppo nero) also called sometimes "pioppo cypressino". The tree look different and I think the wood could be somewhat different. Cheap.. so to speak... cellos made in Italy can still be using that stuff. I saw a few of them in a local fair in Paris, some years ago.
Me neither. There is a "joke" ascribed to various people that the "US and England" are "one nation divided by a common language". Certainly seems to be true about timber. Maple, sycamore and plane jump to mind immediately.

Jim Kirby
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Re: Pine, Birch, Poplar?

Post by Jim Kirby »

Yes, I think London Plane is a true Platanus (but orientalis, whereas our American Sycamore is Platanus occidentalis), while English Sycamore is a true Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus, basically false Sycamore)). So we trade the nomenclatures. How the heck did that happen?

English Sycamore is by far my favorite Maple.

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