Sound Check Brazilian is Good Wood
posted by October 26 at 12:24 PMon
Top vs. back wood, stiffness, Brazilians, and thicknessing. Cue the porn music. What is this, HUMP 4? No, it’s classical guitar speak. And Brazilian rosewood is the sexiest.
Brazilian rosewood is a superior and coveted tonewood for classical guitar backs and sides. Its density and stiffness seem to be ideal for producing a rich and unique resonance in tone. There’s one drawback though - Brazilian rosewood is illegal to harvest.
In 1975, CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, came into existence and said it’s illegal to cut down Brazilian rosewood trees or export any new lumber. CITES also protects things such as bison and ivory.
Guitar builders who must have this kind of wood are getting their Brazilians from old furniture, floors, ships, and stumps. The price of Brazilian rosewood has soared because of CITES. Some say that by making Brazilian rosewood endangered, CITES has done more harm than good.
There is also debate about whether or not it really does sound better. For more info on Brazilian rosewood, we look no further than our very own Greenwood. There is a shop there called The Rosewood Guitar. Owner Bill Clements was nice enough to talk:
Brazilian rosewood has a very beautiful grain pattern. There is no doubt about that. It’s such a nice looking wood and that may be its most attractive feature. Sonically, its tone is rich, but I don’t know if it is any better than Indian rosewood. You could line up two guitars, one made of Brazilian rosewood and one made of Indian rosewood, and I don’t think you’d be able to hear the difference. The sound quality of a guitar really comes from the combined elements the builder puts in - the materials, the bracing patterns, the thicknessing, and the skill of that builder.
The top wood is the most important wood in the guitar. And spruce works fine. In 1862, Antonio Torres Jurado built a guitar with back and sides of papier-mâché. It had a top of spruce, and it sounded beautiful. So backs and sides of Brazilian rosewood are nice, but what matters is what’s on top.
The other thing about Brazilian rosewood is that it doesn’t grow straight. It twists and turns while growing, producing wood that has knots and fissures. That’s not good for guitar making. Bugs also love Brazilian rosewood. And that’s not good either.
Unless that bug is Hendrix reincarnated as a bug. Then he can have at it.
Rosewood Guitar - 8402 Greenwood Ave N.