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Gentlemen, It's a pleasure to be able to dialogue with you. I have to admit that I think that Brazilian rosewood benefits from a mystique that doesn't correspond to it value as a tone wood. I would defy anyone, listening blind, to reliably pick out Brazilian guitars from others. The reason I believe this is that other criteria, like to wood used for the top, thickness and bracing system has as much effect on the sound of a guitar as the species of wood used for the back and sides. Your feeling? All best, Robert

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Yours is a very pertinent observation, Oapless!

My first guitar was made of planewood. I mean, all the soundbox: back, sides AND top, everything was made of planewood. It is true that the instrument was made by a great master constructor. Besides that, my father played it, And he bought it from a professional guitar player taht played it for years. My point is, having learned and developped my basic skills on that instrument, I found it second to none, no matter if it was made of rosewood or pure gold.
I kept this opinion for more than 30 years, until I started making instruments myself. And then the day came when I found myself in Spain, at a guitar making course given by master José Romanillos, where I made a better instrument by my own hands, using German Spruce and Rosewood. And, above that, I made it under the wise advice of Mr. Romanillos. But, since there were 22 of us, and not everybody was using rosewood (some used maple, some used cypress, and so on), I could hear the difference: all guitars had spruce tops, all were made in similar soleras, all had rosewood bridges, all had similar bracings. Well, rosewood is THE wood. I don't say the Brazilian variety makes a huge difference, but I grant you, rosewood makes a difference. It produces a very distinctive sound.

However, I agree with you at one point in favour of Chinese-made $20 watch: If you play your own guitar, you can bring the sound out of it like nobody else. And there ain't no guitar that satisfies you as much as the one you're accustomed to play. When you buy another instrument, you take weeks, or months, to learn how to make it sing, right? No wonder people that don't have a rosewood guitar think rosewood isn't that good after all...

One day, some 12 years ago, I attended a conference given by a professional constructor here in Lisbon. He broght two concert mandolins he had made, of with back and sides in rosewood, the other with back and sides in maple. They sounded really different: The maple one was bright, the rosewood one was deep.

I like to put it this way: acoustic instruments have no tone knob. The EQ is obtained by using different woods. That's how you may sculpt the sound. I personally use a rosewood guitar when I'm supposed to play solo; however, when I play in trio, I use a walnut guitar, because I'm backed by a steel string guitar and an electric bass. The walnut back and sides give me an extra brilliance, wich makes my leading instrument stand out. That's my "tone knob"...


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