You Are My Density

QuartersawnFlatSawnForums can be a great source of information, but it isn’t all good. The problem is, how do you know whether the information you’re getting is legit or not? There’s no easy (or singular) answer. Sure, it’s easy to beat on forums in general, but that isn’t really my intention.

I was surfing a bunch of sites the other day when I stumbled into a musical instrument forum. There were lots of questions about various techniques for building guitars and other instruments. I was drawn to a thread about quartersawn versus plain sawn material. The basic question posed was, which growth ring orientation should the poster use to make a neck for his guitar? Much like asking furniture makers whether they cut pins or tails first, there were numerous and varied responses.

One response in particular caught my eye. Basically, the commenter stated that, in addition to better stability, there was a tonal quality difference between the two orientations because, “when you quarter saw the wood it is denser than simply flat sawing it.” I kid you not.

InternetTruthFortunately, further down the line a professional guitar maker responded in pretty much the same manner as I was planning (which means, like me, he was probably screaming at his monitor wondering how the commenter manages to successfully feed, house and clothe himself), and basically said, ‘How the log is sawn doesn’t affect the density of the wood in any way.’

And there’s the rub – if that guy hadn’t stepped up to the plate and dispelled that bit of misinformation, there would be folks out there that now believe that by merely rotating a log on the sawmill to get quartersawn boards, you can increase the density of the material. Does this make sense to you?

And I realize that, when taken out of context and isolated like I’ve done, the comment seems completely absurd, but in-context it just seemed like another innocuous “fact” being presented. Be careful out there people: It’s a jungle of misinformation.

Now, I’m off to that same forum to address the “fact” that maple is far less likely to cup and dimensionally change than mahogany (same thread, different comment) because it’s more stable.

— Chuck Bender

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4 thoughts on “You Are My Density

  1. Tell them they need to be making the entire guitar from mesquite.

  2. And THAT my friends, is why I trust Maestro Bender to get the straight dope.

  3. Good to know ya’ll are keeping everyone running in the right direction. These wood topics can have such a grainy informational image sometimes. Keep up the great work ! Bradley

    1. Bradley,

      Not sure if you got the memo, but we’ve banned wood puns from our site…because they’re often too pithy.

      Thanks my friend.

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