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Tonewood investments


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I was quite involved with the initial cataloguing of Davids workshop and spent the best part of a week working to go through everything and draw up a comprehensive list of the whole workshop and wood store…some of the materials where sold off before the auction but the majority of the wood and some of the tools went to auction…I can’t of the top of my head remember the house that handled it but the general feeling me and the others working on the inventory was that we should not hope that our families would live in luxury from the sale of our wood store and workshop after our demise…I seem to remember he had a set of “Henley optical company" infill planes and they did get more at auction then many expected.

The taste in good tone wood is pretty personal and I think one would be far better off buying nice bows as an investment ...and if you want to invest in raw materials, maybe top quality bridge blanks would be the best  bet :-)

 

I attended the workshop auction of the Canadian maker Joseph Kun. There was an impressive range of instruments, materials, tools and wood. I can't remember what the total auction fetched but i don't think it was a huge legacy for his estate. 

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Yes, that’s my feeling generally with workshop sales….. instrument makers tools and wood are worth the most to those that bought them and are not a particularly lucrative inheritance/investment for their survivors.

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Yes, that’s my feeling generally with workshop sales….. instrument makers tools and wood are worth the most to those that bought them and are not a particularly lucrative inheritance/investment for their survivors.

or....one mans pile of wood is another mans....pile of wood :lol:

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about guitars {steel string} vs violins....being one who has built a couple "regular violins" and then my type of violins and now guitars that are built like violins....imo guitars are MUCH harder and demand MUCH more skill to make than violins {at least the way i make them}. Violins on the other hand are MUCH more complex within the "what makes them tick" and demand MUCH  more of a knowledge base than guitars. These are like cars clubs...Violins are like the "modle T club" where you will build exacting replications of the original, and guitars are like a hot rod club where any thing goes, the cooler, wilder more original, the better {steel string that is} and that with all that "traditional building" {Martin style} and wild building dwell very comfortably side by side. Imo there is room for MASSIVE improvements in the world of guitar, as just like any endeavor the "that the way we do it" reigns supreme, however guitar world is MUCH  more receptive to learning new tricks and accepting new norms and has NO IMAGINARY TONAL BENCH MARK, no mythical god like creature {Strad} that one need to live up to and therefore has a much broader acceptance for "good tone" and many guitars are better for one style of playing vs another....Based on popularity between the two, I'm not sure the exact figures, but it seems to me there are 100 guitars sold to every one violin, and beyond that, the guitar is the "rich dude hobby players instrument of choice" and is a much more collected instrument, 5000 is the low end of the custom steel string market, with 7-10 more the norm with 15-25 not uncommon. Violin is like the 1%, there is mere handful of people participating in the high end violin market, in any capacity, dealers, makers, repair, whereas guitars are a more common instrument and has a much bigger pool of money in it.

 

Now if I can just get these nitro heads to understand conifer and linseed :D

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Having been immersed in the guitar world for many years I can tell you that an arch top acoustic jazz guitar is more difficult to make than a flat top classical or steel string. Curves are more difficult to get right than flat surfaces. Of course a bad arch top guitar is easier to make than a great Classical. ;)

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Having been immersed in the guitar world for many years I can tell you that an arch top acoustic jazz guitar is more difficult to make than a flat top classical or steel string. Curves are more difficult to get right than flat surfaces. Of course a bad arch top guitar is easier to make than a great Classical. ;)

And then there is F-5 mandolin that combines many nastines from both worlds... I could have made several violins in time needed for this one.

post-79009-0-61624600-1462913610_thumb.jpg

 

But back to original topic... I think there is possible investment in tonewood.... There are folks who are trying to grow curly maple trees. Of course it is much more work than just storing tons of dry wood in your attic, and it will take too many years to get results, but once it is going your grandchildren can thank you as great figured maple wood is certainly going to be rarer in the future.

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As Jacob mentioned it is all very well collecting a nice stock of wood but what if the woodworm beatles turn up?

I spray my stock against this. I hate to use the chemicals but I have a substantial investment in wood and it is stored in an old building that is treated but might have worm. Generally worm does not like dry wood in dry places but believe me these insects are hardy beasts that will attempt harsh climates!

 What do you folk here do?

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As Jacob mentioned it is all very well collecting a nice stock of wood but what if the woodworm beatles turn up?

I spray my stock against this....

 What do you folk here do?

 

I don't have all that much stock, so what I have is in a rack suspended over my work area.  Not likely to get much happening up there, but if I notice any sawdust or worm poop dropping on me, I'll take action.

Additionally, I hope to get all of my wood torrefied in the next year or two, which will make the food value extremely low.  One of the main purposes why torrefaction was developed was to prevent attack by fungus and other things.

post-25192-0-15827700-1463088120_thumb.jpg

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When I order tone wood, I order it green, from the sawmill, wherever that may be, and I order in as much bulk as I can afford. When months are tough; when paydays seem far and few between, I harass my colleagues and unload wood I've aged myself at 2-300% what I paid, while still hitting lower prices than one would see from wood retailers. Sans rental program, it is my steady paycheck after net; that workshop attic full of cello backs and bas tops...

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We do not see, or at least I do not see, violin wood suppliers doing this.

Most wood sold is relatively young.

 

I think if someone who is a famous maker died, and everyone thought that it was his/her wood that helped in their making,

then maybe it will auction for a lot of money.

 

As for me, an ambitious amateur, I will buy the best new wood I can get, and let it stabilize enough to do the job.

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I've used it, and am about to use another top. Seems fine.

Hi David, if you don't mind me asking what qualities do you look for in spruce? The trend seems to be towards very low density wood, which seems to work well but I've also has some experiences with heavier tops that I also thought sounded good. I don't know if that is because of, or in spite of, the wood. Sometimes I wonder if our ability to measure things gravitates us toward the extremes.

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Hi David, if you don't mind me asking what qualities do you look for in spruce? The trend seems to be towards very low density wood, which seems to work well but I've also has some experiences with heavier tops that I also thought sounded good. I don't know if that is because of, or in spite of, the wood. Sometimes I wonder if our ability to measure things gravitates us toward the extremes.

If I remember correctly, I was given choices of density, and I asked for something around medium. I'm not on the low-density bandwagon (not that I couldn't be wrong about that). I also specified a range of grain spacing for appearance purposes, and split tops, or tops with enough material that I could either get no runout, or choose the degree of runout I wanted. Some of my best sounding violins had some runout or "harlequin" , so I'm still a little bit up in the air about that.

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The trend seems to be towards very low density wood, which seems to work well but I've also has some experiences with heavier tops that I also thought sounded good. I don't know if that is because of, or in spite of, the wood. Sometimes I wonder if our ability to measure things gravitates us toward the extremes.

 

In the absence of experience, the theory suggests that you can get more volume (dB's) with lower density, lighter tops.  So that is how I started in that direction, testing the extremes to see what happens (although not as extreme as Roger Frankland, or Doug Martin's balsa fiddles).

 

With my experience, I'd say yeah, you can get a fiddle to go light and loud a little more easily... but not uniformly louder than normal, and it sounds "different", and different in violins is a bad thing.  For violas it might not be so bad (and I notice that many viola makers say they tend to use lower density wood).

 

So the ability to measure things can cause initial gravitation to the extremes, but staying at the extremes is not very smart if experience suggests otherwise.  My experience with more "medium" density wood has been better than with the ultra-low stuff, so that's where I'm going with violins.

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