by Gene Wengert
email@example.com WOOD DOCTOR’S Rx
QIs there anyone in the woodworking business that will take on a question?
Here goes...rosewood. A
lovely smelling wood, moreover, a
gigantic gorgeous wood that takes the
sound of a guitar to a new level.
And the question is: Several guitar
manufacturing companies have fallen
victim to the CITES legislation and
therefore, stopped using rosewood on
their very prominent guitar models,
or as another story would have it are
now placing the cost of new non-aged
rosewood guitars through the roof.
Several companies are using a
substitute referred to as high pressure laminate rosewood which by all
research indicates that it is particles
of rosewood put together under enormous pressure and banded together
thus creating the laminate. Is there a
difference; my ears need to know!
Also, can anyone take the time and
write out or explain the difference
between mahogany and rosewood? Especially when used in the production
of guitar making. Thank you so much
AThe acoustic, sonic or audio properties of wood are quite complex, but we can provide a lot of understanding if we use an analogy. Consider a
pipe in a pipe organ. The length and
diameter, as well as the stress, that the
pipe is under, and the thickness of the
wall of the pipe all affect the sound.
The sound is actually related quite
strongly to the vibration of the air
within the pipe.
So, now let’s consider wood. Wood is
made of miniature, hollow tubes, called
cells, about 3 to 5 millimeters in length
and with a diameter of around 1/10 to
1/100 of the length. Sometimes these
wood tubes in a species are filled with
different amounts of chemicals that give
wood its odor, color, taste and the ability
to conduct water, plus other properties.
These chemicals within the cells maybe
be water soluble, alcohol soluble or basically non-soluble. The more chemicals
in these cells, the smaller the amount of
air space and the greater the variation
in diameter. As an example, white oak
is used for wine and whiskey barrels
because these chemicals totally block
the movement of liquids. However, red
oak is quite permeable.
Another property is the cell diameter and the thickness of the cell wall.
Of course, the cell length is also important. These properties are fundamentally the differences in species, plus
differences in growth rate of the tree.
One other key wood acoustic
See more at the Wood
Dr. Knowledge Center
See more columns at
Sponsored by Northwest Hardwoods.
Rosewood in guitars, revisited
Improving yield with automated crosscut saw.
; Want more? To search a full list of
Wood Doctor’s Rx question and answers, go to
Gene Wengert, “The Wood Doctor,” has been training
people in efficient use of wood for 35 years. He is
extension specialist emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Hickory drumsticks ring pleasantly when struck,
but pecan hickory sticks thud. Some drummers
like white oak sticks better than other species.