Differences between walnut and mahogany

neuftone

Senior member
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110
I'm wanting a semi-dark wood to be the back of a rosewood topped bass body, and the two options I've considered are walnut and mahogany.

I'm curious for comments on the differences:

Tone:  I've generally heard walnut is brighter like maple, mahogany is warmer.  Is this a fair comparison?  I like a bright tone, so in this regard I lean to walnut.

Weight:  Both are mentioned to be heavy-ish woods...which would likely be heavier?

Cost:  This is known, walnut will be a $50 upcharge.  But I'm assuming for tone reasons I would prefer it.

Any comments?  Particularly on weight, I have no idea about that.
 

Tempest

Senior member
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770
Walnut will definitely be brighter sounding.  I think walnut will be heavier than mahogany.  Overall the neck wood has a far greater impact on tone than the body wood does though.  And pickups are the most important factors for tone.
 

Wyliee

Senior member
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1,931
One option with mahogany is to request a lighter than average body blank.  This can be done for +$45.

Another option is to consider black korina.  Similar to mahogany but with a bit more top.  The shop may also be able to find a lighter than average weight piece.
 

Rick

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4,134
Another option is to go with swamp ash and dye it.  Not unheard of.  And'll it save you bucks.
 

neuftone

Senior member
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110
Rick said:
Another option is to go with swamp ash and dye it.  Not unheard of.  And'll it save you bucks.

Hmmm...interesting!  I love the tone of ash.  Question is, with a rosewood laminate top, is there a reliable way to dye or stain the wood on the back without mucking up the rosewood on top?
 

nathan a

Senior member
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1,836
One more thing to consider, if this interests you: walnut is a north american wood, and so should (oh i hope it is) be sourced by W from within the US.
 

Rick

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4,134
on dying a laminate top, the folks at the big W could probably tell you how.  If they can do it, you can.
 

jackthehack

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5,630
Be stupid to dye a Rosewood top; and you'd have a hard time dying it anything but a darker brown or black, anyway.

"Hmmm...interesting!  I love the tone of ash.  Question is, with a rosewood laminate top, is there a reliable way to dye or stain the wood on the back without mucking up the rosewood on top?"

Just mask off the line real tight, you'd need to fill the ash with black filler and experiment a bit to get the back close in color. Might get away with using a rosewood stain instead of dye.
 

tfarny

Senior member
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4,481
One nice thing about walnut, aside from the looks, is that it doesn't require a grain fill,whereas mahogany and swamp ash are notoriously hard to fill.
My walnut bodied guitar tends a little bit to the dark side, who knows if the walnut is a contributor or detractor from that overall tendency.
 

neuftone

Senior member
Messages
110
If I went for a rosewood stain on swamp ash, and just masked it as best as I could, could a hand rubbed finish still work?  I hate to say it but I never filled the grain on any of my previous guitars (ash, mahogany, koa) and I was reasonably happy with the results...I'm not going for mirror finish, just protected wood with a tiny bit of shine.  So would a stain get messed up when topped with a hand rubbed oil/varnish?
 
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