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sinker cypress from South Carolina


boscoe
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Anyone have building experience (any instrument type) with "old growth" sinker cypress from the south eastern US?

 

I acquired two rounds of sinker cypress about 1 year ago.  It had been in a South Carolina river for around 110 to 130 years.  I cut it into wedges about 2 months ago.  It rings very clear and loud, although sustain may be about 2/3 to 3/4 of the better European and American spruces I've encountered.  I measured the density at 0.46.  Grain is very tight, and grains per inch very consistent across the face (approximately 30 grains per inch (12 per cm)).  I was told that the tight and consistent grain was due to these trees being below the forrest canopy.  Streaking from mineral uptake is interesting in red and orange hues.

 

Thanks

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I can't speak to "sinker" cypress but I believe there was an article on using cypress some years ago; perhaps in Strad Mag.  It led Joseph Rashid to make at least one violin with a cypress top.  When I played it it sounded more "Cremonese" than any of his other several violins I played during that visit.

 

I'd like to know if anyone on MN has tried cypress of any variety, and how it worked out. 

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Nelson Thibodeaux made has some out of sinker cypress,

I played on one and it sounded very good, but all of nelson's fiddles sound pretty nice.

As I remember,, we tried to bend some of it,,, no way would it bend,

seemed to have more of a relation to carbon fiber instead of wood.

It felt dense and stiff,,, it rang more like steel than wood.

I might get it to bend now with more experience, it seemed rather brittle across the grain,

so it would probably have high mode 2 properties.

It was greenish in color with brown and blackish stripes in it.

I have never tried it but would if I had the chance.

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Will, there were roughly ten Rashid instruments with cypress tops.  He replaced a good number of them on the earlier instruments, for what I suspect to be tonal reasons.  I think a few did survive intact on later instruments.  

 

I believe there is one cedar top violin as well.  I have an unused cedar top he received from a luthier friend that is dark chocolate color and smells wonderful.  :)

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Will, there were roughly ten Rashid instruments with cypress tops.  He replaced a good number of them on the earlier instruments, for what I suspect to be tonal reasons.  I think a few did survive intact on later instruments.  

 

I believe there is one cedar top violin as well.  I have an unused cedar top he received from a luthier friend that is dark chocolate color and smells wonderful.   :)

Thanks, a/l,

I don't remember at the time him telling me he had done 10.

 

What I remember is that the exchange was amusing.  I played the violin and was very impressed and said, "This is the most Cremonese sounding new violin (meaning contemporary violin) I have ever played."  He said, "I did something different on this one, I used cypress."  I wish I could have played another few to know if that sound was similar in ALL the cypress topped instruments.  

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A few follow-on questions: 

 

Of those of you who have seen/played/worked with a cypress top, do you recall any arch characteristics?  I'm guessing cypress generally would produce a soft tone relative to spruce, perhaps similar to western red cedar.  In such a case, would a low arch be approriate if one wanted to aid in projection?  Would too low of an arch rob some of its sweetness?  Structurally, would it tolerate a low arch?

 

What I've learned to this point:  

 

It split poorly on quarter (very fiberous), cuts nicely on the bandsaw, has vertical bug tunnels about 1-1/2" from the outside surface ("pecky" as the seller called it, which I gather occurs with some frequency, but randomly), can suddenly split during bandsaw cutting when the blade is aligned with a wedge's quartered grain (ouch - found out the hard way).  It is interesting visually and tonally.  Some of mine has the aforementioned grey, but also orange and orange/red streaking from mineral uptake (which I believe would vary based on the local water/mud mineral content).  Also, I cut a 3/16" thick slice on the quarter - what a great deep sustained tone.

 

Any pearls of wisdom are appreciated, as I intend to give this wood a chance.  A very mellow quartet set might be the ticket; and, classical guitar.  There's a part of me that would like to see this limited supply wood have an accoustical opportunity before it's all relegated to patio furniture.

 

Thanks for your input,

Boscoe

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