Paulownia, an alternative tonewood for nylon string guitars

Thursday, October 09, 2008

On hindsight, after building a traditional fan-braced classical guitar with paulownia, the fair coloured, resonant timber, like Felipe Massa in the first ever F1 night race in Singapore, has finished the qualifiers and takes pole position in a bid to be a universally (at least in my workshop) accepted alternative tonewood for guitars. For this, the finals will be decided after two more builds:-

(1) Rosewood back/sides with Paulownia top ; and
(2) Paulownia back/sides with Spruce/Cedar top.

The guitar top being the main tone producer, the 2008 Ngoh guitar's tone (Paulownia back/sides/top)is unlike what you would expect from the traditional Spruce or Cedar. Perhaps with a body resonance at low E, the basses are highly favoured and the trebles becomes dull and percussive, giving the trebles a truely oriental colour. (Hear an audio except.) It has a potentially powerful tone and wide colour ranges, though, with full persuasion from the player. It would be interesting to see how a Rosewood side/back will work with a Paulownia top, in final build (1). I wish for a longer sustain though. Maybe adding a soundport might help, by lowering the body resonance and a thicker kerf lining at the tail end. But in any case, it's a blessing to know that Paulownia will make a fantastic Flamenco guitar. This we'll see after final build (2).

Whatever happens, for sure Paulownia will finish the finals with flying colours, with the fuel line where it's suppose to be. If not a podium finish, at the very least a personal best in its inaugural race in the nylon string circuit!

Till then, subscribe.

Stop reading, get your guitar out and practise.

Keep the music alive.

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