Hello folks,

I recently acquired some very old, and well dried redwood planks salvaged by my grandfather years ago from some old piece of furniture. There are four pieces, two broad planks that could be made into tops and two smaller ones that may have neck potential.

One of the broad ones has straight and very tight grain and is quartersawn! No warps either ......but has a tight split running a good two thirds of the length :-(

The other broad one is reasonably strait grained, though it is not as tight grained as the one above, nor is it exactly quarte sawn - though it is close to being so, with the grain slightly angled off axis from the perpendicular. This piece has no splits or warps of any kind.

Q1. Which would be best to use for a steel string guitar under these circumstances? Could the better piece be glued and clamped before being cut and planed or is this risky?

The small boards are just the right size for making a neck, and are in fact quartersawn as well, with no warps or splits.

Q2. Would redwood make a good neck?


Tags: Redwood, neck, splits, wood

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Yo could glue the split together and use it for a top. I don't think read wood would be strong enough for a neck but don't know as I have never-run across it being used.
My self I will not use read wood as it splits to easily and is to soft for my taste. I have used it 3 times so far.


Q2 first No. Redwood is one of the splittiest soft woods you could imagine. If you planned on doing a scarf join for the neck, know that you REALLY have to prime the end grain super well or the joint will starve and fail. Been there and done that with a Western red cedar neck. Also, it is of some advantage from a tone and sustain standpoint to use denser wood for the neck. Can't imagine redwood holding up under the stress of an adjustable truss rod either.

Q1: Sitka spruce. I know that sounds mean but, again, redwood is heartbreakingly splitty. If the board with the straight grain is only 10 degrees or so off quarter, it's probably just fine. Frankly, I'd be just as concerned about runout so you need to satisfy yourself on that count. After all, this is former lumber, not selected as tonewood.

I know that David Russell Young built a bunch of steel strings in the early '70s and wrote a book that featured the use of redwood. I'll dig out my old copy and see if there are any nuggets to pass along. That he didn't exactly start a revolution in steel string tops might be very telling in itself. Maybe that's why he quit building guitars and switched to violin bow making.

Thank you both for your thoughts. I was intrigued by the tonal characteristics described at LMI, so I brought back some of the wood when I visited my grandma recently. Picking up the smaller pieces and tapping them anywhere produces wonderful tones, and they seem strong and very rigid, so I thought I would inquire about neck use. I recently read that Ken Parker, of Parker Fly notoriety, has been making archtops with Douglas fir necks with thin veneers of maple over top of them with great success, so my imagination took off when I found the small planks! :-)

I might consider giving it a go at some point, but I'll play around with scrap first, and keep your comments in mind. Thank you!

If nothing else, redwood makes intriguing visual effects when used for wood-cut block printing.

i would only use red wood for a top no to the neck idea for me anyway
No Redneck!Redtop & maybe soundhole reinforcement....
Very good advice, thanks! I'm wondering though, with several pieces of this redwood in my possession, could I use the hard part of the grain to to serve as a crack filler in a spruce top, like illustrated in the old Don Teeter book? I know the color is a bit redder and darker, but I know of products that can lighten the color of wood, though I don't know if the physical properties of the redwood vs. spruce would be incompatible in such a repair. Just curious.

I would not hesitate to use the nicest straightest piece with no cracks of any sort for a top. Redwood sounds wonderful, especially for dulcimers. I'm lucky enough to get some every now and then. If you don't want the wood, I'll take it! :) For question #2: dont bother trying to make a neck out of it......too soft.
Mahogany is the excepted wood of all time and it is very soft! The good thing is it is very stable in the weather and the truss rods work very well.

Upon further consideration of the specific pieces of wood in question and all the thoughts shared here, I'm thinking of possibly putting the best pieces together and making a tele style body with the large planks and using the smaller ones for block printing (I'm a visual artist too). Not set in stone yet, but a possibility. *I've read somewhere that early Esquires and such were made with pine and that they sounded really good, but that pine's use was curtailed due to being too soft for production purposes - this could make a nice sounding solid body too I think. LMI has some redwood tops, might try that to be on the safe side when trying an acoustic- nothing happening soon though.

Thanks for your thoughts!


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