What you do to pair African Blackwood?

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    • #3321
      Acoustic Soul


      • I was wondering what you do to pair a top wood to a set of African blackwood?  What do you look for?  I’m sure there are matters of absolute as well as matters of preference?

      I played one in Austin that was Adirondack/African and I loved it.  It just made me smile – probably top 2-3 santa cruz guitars I’ve ever played, but there were a few niggles I would’ve wanted different.

      – It seemed to be lacking some depth.  What do you do to compensate for any depth that feels like it’s been shaved off on an African Blackwood set?


      • I’ve found Adirondack to be my favorite top wood due to it’s attack and compatibility with a pick and sounding so full.  Is there anything that you have to work around when pairing the two woods?
      • If someone were wanting to ensure depth and woody punch like you’d find in mahogany (as much you can get with rosewoods), what would you do in picking the woods or building the guitar?  I’ve heard a few sets that had a mahoganily reminiscent mid range woodsiness along with some clear deep lows – seemingly without taking away from the rosewood thing at all… compiling into a perfect stew of sonic delight that always stuck in my head.

      Curious how that works, and how much wiggle room you have in order specification and within absolutes in the wood traits of African Blackwood.


      • Also, lastly, do you have access to African Blackwood that is “old growth” in the sense that it was grown in a setting that the tree grows at a slow pace for it’s species?  You mentioned in another answer on the forum that old growth was really that the trees didn’t have access to as much light so their growth was slower, steadier, and higher quality for instruments.  I was wondering if you have access to that quality of AB?
      • I was thinking a deep body would contribute well to an African Blackwood set since it has plenty of clarity and could use the umph.

      I want to get a set of blackwood or rosewood that has the low fundamental depth and woody punch in the mids that you would find on an adi/mahogany guitar smoothly and evenly balanced with the traits that you would also typically find in the wood otherwise.

      I played a Firefly and was amazed no matter how hard it got pushed it always maintained it’s EQ, and I thought that the balanced tone of that guitar was exactly what my ear wants to hear.  I would just like to have that blown up in a larger package.  I was SHOCKED you got that out of cedar/EIR.  Bone stock.  It was the best balance of nylon and steel string sound I’ve ever heard without even trying to smooth out the metallic part of the strings.  I’m very impressed with those guitars, but it may not be the most practical for me.  . . however the dynamics and sonic ethos and responsiveness to right hand position was bar none the best santa cruz I’ve ever played in those regards.  I don’t know why I can’t seem to find that in a larger SC.  All the traveling to shops I did this year, I didn’t get to play a single RS though.  I’m sure if the OOO to OM Grand comparison was any indication though, it will be great because the VS was pretty decent – hopeful for the 12 fret and old growth effect.


      Thank you!  I’ve done lots of experiments and traveling this year and have been cooking up these questions in my mind

    • #3607
      Matt Hayden

      Haven’t heard anything that sounded bad with dalbergia melanoxylon.  As Cyndi Burton and Jeff Elliott said, “African Blackwood is to Brazilian rosewood as Brazilian rosewood is to Indian rosewood.”   I’ll take their word for it – the instrument they built for Ralph Towner which was spruce/ABW is one of the best classicals I’ve heard.

      Sample of that instrument: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swVNSa8AAic

    • #3615
      Acoustic Soul

      Whew, that does sound good Matt!

    • #3625
      Matt Hayden

      I know, right?  It’s amazing.

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