Hello friends: I am thinking about building a solid body 4 stringer with about a 23"scale length.

Can I use just about any wood or do certain woods work better.  I may be wrong but I've always thought  since its electric , the wood doesn't really make much difference. I'm not a purist so I'm not as concerned with the finer points of it.

I'm going to build it because VOX doesn't make the "ukelectric" in baritone size.


Ron H

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I have made several solid body license plates out of poplar and have been pretty happy...

If function is your main objective almost any wood will work well. The advantage of more exotic woods is appearance in my opinion. I know all the arguments of tone woods, and I think its mostly subjective. If it costs more its better. I have glued construction grade 2x4's edge to edge to make a body blank and ended up with a great guitar. Would it have been better made of ash? Maybe but not much. 

Some people have very strong opinions on this, me not so much, but  it  does make sense to me that harder woods will transmit the string  action better and softer woods absorb it to a degree, but you are only 1 pedal away from fine tuning your sound whichever way you go.

Ah, but don't forget, that pine, a relatively soft wood, was used on Les Paul's original Log. For better sustain. He went thick with it because thin would have bowed.

I'd say get some found pallet wood, glue it all together, then cut your blank out of that. Use the best mag pups you can afford. And don't forget, most of the tone is in your DNA. If you're a mutant ( and who isn't?), you might come up with something interesting.

Hardwoods will hold the neck better. But you could always use a strip of hardwood in the center. And softer on both sides. Ply is great but only if your not doing any shaping or beveling. Like on the body of a strat. Ply would take a lot of filler to make smooth. You could get around the higher cost of good wood by doing the back half in ply. But not soft wood. The back half is what holds the neck in place. 

Soft woods have yet another disadvantage. They dent easily. 

Sounds cool! Looking forward to seeing pics!

I'd say to just use wood that you like, or already have.  It sounds like a cool idea, but isn't a baritone uke around a 20" scale?

Yes a baritone is around 20". A tenor guitar is around 23"

The most accurate name for it would be a "Fretted Chordophone"

Ron H

Thanks, I wondered after looking up the vox ukelectric and saw it in uke concert size. Seems like a cool instrument though.

The centerline from tuners to nut down the fingerboard to the neck+body junction to the saddle/bridge/tail carries the stress of the string tension, as long as you account for that you should be good.

The wings of the body ( outside that line called bouts or horns or wings or whatchamacallits ) are mostly for looks, partly to hold stuff like knobs and jacks and strap buttons and could be made of cheaper woods like so many commercially produced instruments have.

Yes thanks for the info. I'm going with a solid body with a bolt on neck
It will be sealed and sanded and painted so wood grain etc won't show anyway
Probably I will rout it out for components and cover it with a nice pickguard

A lot of people don't realize that pickups also pickup the vibrations from the body and neck, so wood can color the tone of a guitar more than you realize. Some woods can have less impact due to the Renascence of the particular pieces used. This can lead to the thoughts that wood doesn't matter.

All types of wood offer their own tonality. Some offer a dark tone, some are bright, some are twangy and some are sweet as molasses. Pickups do have a lot to do with how a guitar sounds, but it only projects the signal that comes from "ALL" the parts of the guitar.

Poplar is great for guitars and has/is used by Fender, Epiphone and other companies. I made a guitar from it with large single coil pickups similar to Tele bridge pups or P90's and it had a great Hard Rock guitar tone.

Pine can be twangy and great for single coil Tele pickups for Country music. Alder and Ash work well for this too.

Take a Alder/Ash Tele/Strat and put hot Humbuckers in them for hot bright Rock N Roll.

Mahogany(my favorite)  can offer clean mellow Jazz, growling Rock Riffs, sweet Folk or blistering lead guitar.

Sure you can use anything to make a guitar and I've used other materials before, but some things matter.

I have made a couple of solid body 3-string guitars.  I used a 1.5 x 1.5" piece of poplar from a big box lumber store, for the entire headstock/neck/center of the body.  Started at 36" long, cut to length as required.  Also band-sawed the taper of the neck and angle for the headstock.  (And shaped the neck further with a spokeshave.)  So all one piece.  I then added the sides of the body to make the full guitar.  One used recycled semi-trailer flooring, and one used different strips of wood laminated and thickness planed much like a cutting board.  The 'semi' was really hard maple, beautifully distressed; the 'cutting board' used maple, cherry and walnut.  I see you're bolting on the neck, but the same concepts might work well for you.


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