collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

I dreamed last night I was far from harm, woke up and found my man in a sissy's arms. My man's got a sissy, his name is "Miss Kate". He shook that thing like jelly on a plate - Ma Rainey, Sissy Blues

Author Topic: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides  (Read 3113 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline pete12string

  • Member
  • Posts: 46
Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« on: February 02, 2012, 10:06:49 AM »
I'm looking at ordering a ladder braced 6 string from Michael Hauver - the Blind Blake model (http://www.hauverguitars.com/blind_blake.html), and I have the choice of Birch or Mahogany back and sides.  My thinking tells me that Mahogany is a more expensive wood and is probably more stable than Birch, but a lot of the vintage guitars used Birch.  Decisions, decisions...  I'd like to hear what other blues pickers have to say. 

Thanks for your input!

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2692
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2012, 10:51:34 AM »
If you can't play both before you buy, then buy both, keep your favorite, and sell the other one. It  will cost a little more, but at least you'll know for sure.

(How's that for some useless advice?  :P)

Offline Bald Melon Jefferson

  • Member
  • Posts: 177
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2012, 12:21:38 PM »
I've a birch Fraulini . The birch is absoulutely beautiful and it sounds just great to me. Clear and dry.... I most often see it compared to maple visually and sonically.   It's very stiff and stable. Not having two other identical guitars in mahogany and maple to compare directly I can't speak to the differences between them all. As a lover of mahogany and maple guitars I'm quite pleased with the birch guitar. I suspect a lot of your results would be determined rather by the build / builder than the back and side woods.  ( I've read time and time again about how bright and strident maple guitars are but the three I have are quite warm.)  What does Mike H. have to say?
Support the Music Maker Relief Foundation

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2605
    • MuckOVision
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2012, 07:33:00 PM »
Everyone comes back to mahogany in the end it seems. Its just got a special rightness and balance that allows it to disappear when necessary,punch out when called for. Its an all 'round wood.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Lipkowitz

  • Member
  • Posts: 4
  • Howdy!
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2014, 10:23:50 AM »
While there is a great deal of difference among guitars, it has nothing to do with the wood used in the back and sides. The inventor of the modern classical guitar, Torres, made a number of instruments with paper mache backs and sides in order to demonstrate this very fact. Backs and sides are structural, not tonal, elements.

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2605
    • MuckOVision
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2014, 10:55:33 AM »
I hope you're joking right? If not, I'm sorry, but that's not a statement supported by any experience I've had with guitars, nor is it the opinion of any builders I've ever spoken to. Its also so completely illogical that I suspect it must be a joke. EVERY contributing part of a guitar affects the sound. Is the top THE most important piece? In all likelihood, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the wood is irrelevant. Mahogany sound different than rosewood and Rosewood from maple, except to the completely undiscerning. For further evidence, try an Ovation guitar sometime to see what the absence of tonewoods gets you.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline yogi

  • Member
  • Posts: 40
  • yogi
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2014, 11:32:31 AM »
Interesting subject. I have a couple of each but they're different models and from different luthiers and I really can't say that one back and sides material produces a different sound than the other. Surely the main putpose of the sides and back is to create a stable bottom for the "sound box"? The back isn't supoposed to vibrate a lot I think? To be honest I can't even say there's a difference in sound between a solid back and a laminated one. Then again I'm certainly no expert in the field, perhaps a weenie luthier can explain?
 Yogi

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2605
    • MuckOVision
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2014, 11:35:28 AM »
This reminds me of arguments that used to go on about whether or not there were differences in sound between audio components. I concluded there were no differences for the people who were unable to hear them.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 11:36:40 AM by Mr.OMuck »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Lipkowitz

  • Member
  • Posts: 4
  • Howdy!
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2014, 12:01:20 PM »
No, i'm not kidding and neither was Torres. I was trained as a luthier. The back and sides of a guitar, unlike bowed instruments, are not involved in sound production.

Offline Parlor Picker

  • Member
  • Posts: 1630
  • Aloha
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2014, 01:40:59 AM »
Well in that case, O'Muck and I (along with loads of other people I know, including luthiers) must have some kind of superhearing as we can discern a difference in sound!
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline Norfolk Slim

  • Member
  • Posts: 983
    • Moonshine - Available at Bandcamp now...
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2014, 02:02:12 AM »
I agree.

The back and sides of a guitar vibrate when it is played.  You can feel that very clearly in many guitars.  Given that sound, effectively, is vibration, I can't see how it could not be involved in the sound the guitar makes.

Offline Parlor Picker

  • Member
  • Posts: 1630
  • Aloha
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2014, 02:18:51 AM »
The back and sides of a guitar vibrate when it is played.  You can feel that very clearly in many guitars.  Given that sound, effectively, is vibration, I can't see how it could not be involved in the sound the guitar makes.

Exactly - you can hear the sound against your body. Also, the thickness of the neck and how much it vibrates can have a considerable effect on the sound that the instrument emits.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline frailer24

  • Member
  • Posts: 337
  • Good Mornin', Judge
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2014, 02:24:23 PM »
Having trained under a luthier, I can say that yes, the back and sides play a role, with the back having more input than the sides. My own archtop has mahogany sides and a 3 piece birch and oak back. The birch provides the punch, while the hog smooths things over. The oak is more of a backstrip.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline nobocaster

  • Member
  • Posts: 137
  • Hot Dog!
Re: Opinions on Birch vs. Mahogany back and sides
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2014, 05:26:14 PM »
 Late to the party here...

   I build guitars, and believe the back and sides indeed have an effect on the sound of a guitar.  Most luthiers I've talked to tend to agree that the top of the guitar is the main voice, while the rest of the elements tend to add color to that voice.  I actually believe the builder has the biggest effect on sound.. and I have no doubt a beautiful sounding guitar can be made with paper mache, cardboard or whatever kind of back, if done well.  You can also make a bad sounding guitar with brazillian rosewood.

  Back to the OP...   Birch is a very stable wood (assuming it's well seasoned), and makes a great guitar (assuming it's well built).

 

Tags:
 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal