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 Post subject: Cedar topped guitars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:05 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:09 pm
Posts: 685
Location: Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada
First name: Conor
Last Name: Searl
City: Duncan
State: British Columbia
Zip/Postal Code: V9L 2E5
Country: Canada
Status: Semi-pro
So I've got this Simon & Patrick guitar that has a cedar top, it's quite old and beat up, and really sounds played out for lack of a better way to describe it. I noticed this on an old cedar topped Takamine Natural series guitar my dad had years ago as well, whatever tone was there seemed to evaporate over the guitars life. I remember watching a George Lowden interview and he talked about how old guitars have a wonderful worn in tone, which seems to be my experience mainly with old Gibsons and Martins etc. But he mentioned that while those old guitars have wonderful tone, they lack the sustain of a newer guitar.

So my question is, is this just a reality one has to deal with? Or is there any way to address a tired and worn out cedar top, or perhaps a way to mitigate these effects on a newer guitar to prolong the guitars lifespan?


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 Post subject: Re: Cedar topped guitars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:00 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:34 am
Posts: 3081
One of the very reasons I never used cedar on mandolins or guitars. I have heard several quality mandolins and a couple of guitars that seemed to go dull over the years. I really never thought they had much in the way of "tone", but they were LOUD in the beginning. Even that seemed to have deteriorated. Never had that problem with spruce. Folks would email me many years after delivery telling me their spruce topped instruments "just keep getting better and better".
I know of no fix for this. Reason enough to use spruce in my opinion...



These users thanked the author Haans for the post: Pmaj7 (Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:19 am)
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 Post subject: Re: Cedar topped guitars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:59 am 
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Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:27 pm
Posts: 334
First name: john
Last Name: shelton
City: Alsea
State: Oregon
Zip/Postal Code: 97324
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
I recently played a cedar top classic that we made 46 years ago. It was loud, sweet and sounded as good or better than our brand new guitars. Perhaps cedar is not the best wood for steel string guitars (we don't build them so have no experience) but it works beautifully on classics and flamencos and I've seen no evidence that it wears out any faster than spruce. I've played many old Spanish guitars which were played out and lacked sonority and some that still sounded great after 80-90 years of use. I suspect the individual piece of wood is much more important than the species when it comes to longevity.


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 Post subject: Re: Cedar topped guitars
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:56 am 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 1893
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
There is a totally fascinating interview with Michael Chapdelaine in the current issue of Fretboard Journal. He is offered the opportunity to play and record three "identical" Somogyi guitars - one with European spruce top, one with Sitka, one with cedar. He records one piece on each guitar and has some rather strong feelings about how each one sounds. He is surprised by the fact that he doesn't like the cedar guitar because it doesn't sound like the other cedar guitars that he has played. If you aren't a subscriber to FJ you should be.

Second little personal anecdote - I literally just finished my first cedar topped guitar. I strung it up a week ago, it is still settling in, I haven't even made the label for it yet (or taken any finished pictures). I've been playing it every night for the last week. Its an OM sized, cocco b/s so its fairly similar to my go to sitka over EIR guitar (which is 12 years old). My initial impression is that the cedar is warm, doesn't have the punch or volume of the spruce, I can't think of a better word to describe the mids and bass than "lush". I'm mostly a folkie bluesie sort of guy but this guitar makes me want to play all those great jazz chords that I don't know very well. However last night I tuned it down and grabbed my bottleneck - it doesn't have the bark but sounded really good playing some Kottke style slide. Short story, its different, I like it.

A common feeling among people that claim to know something about wood is that cedar will not open up the way spruce does - when you first play it thats what its going to sound like 20 (or 46) years from now. I don't know if I'll live that long to find out


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 Post subject: Re: Cedar topped guitars
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:12 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:27 pm
Posts: 2061
Location: South Carolina
First name: John
Last Name: Cox
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I think it depends on how the guitar was built to start with...

Cedar is a lot less dense than spruce on average... And it's physical properties are also proportionately lower... So if you build a cedar guitar to the same dimensions as an average spruce guitar - it's naturally going to come out comparatively "underbuilt" vs the standard design....

Classical guitars seem to have worked through this more.. And design wise they are already trying to beef up trebles...


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