The hard and the soft of it

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gene downs
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:58 pm

The hard and the soft of it

Post by gene downs »

I haven't built a guitar in a long time. Thinking about taking the plunge again.

I would really prefer to use the wood I have on hand, as I have way too much of it. But it seems I have a lot of woods that just don't go together terribly well.

I'm thinking of building something vaguely Tele-esque (a solidbody). I have some 4/4 lightly curled ash that I've pretty much decided to use for the top. I'd like to use alder for the backside, but I don't have any, and can't find any locally - can find hardly any anywhere, certainly not for a reasonable price. I could buy some poplar. Ugly, but usable. I could get some basswood. Or I could use spruce. I have a spruce 2x6 (three-piece glue-up) that has no knots at all.

My concern with the basswood and spruce options is the contrast in hardness between these woods and the hard White Ash. Do you guys think that would be an issue, for instance sanding the body edges uniformly. And what about attaching a bolt-on neck to a spruce neck pocket?

I remember once making a couple guitars with poplar and yellow pine bodies, respectively. I had trouble keeping the surfaces level because of the difference in hardness between the late and early wood in the case of both woods. I suppose a cabinet scrapper would be something to consider in such situations.

And yeah, I do tend to overthink these things.

Michiel Wildenberg
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:30 am

Re: The hard and the soft of it

Post by Michiel Wildenberg »

Hi Gene

I would not worry to much about the difference in hardness in body woods. I've used hard maple tops with pretty dense swamp ash without any problems. Just use sanding blocks (avoid sanding without blocks at all).

A neck pocket in a spruce body should be strong enough. Fender uses spruce bodies with maple necks. A neck plate divides the pressure of the neck screws and therefore hardness of the body wood is less critical. I'd say go for it. It's an interesting combination.

Good luck with your build, curious about your progress.


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