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fiddle soundboard in cedar or redwood??

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Jul 30, 2020 - 3:20 PM
1 posts since 7/30/2020

Forgive the complete ignorance. I am not a fiddler or builder but interested in other acoustic stringed instruments. I am wondering if anyone has any experience with a cedar or redwood topped fiddle? It seems these are never built and I wondered what the reason was. Just trying to get some basic info. I love spruce instruments but wondered about anyone experimenting with other soundboard woods. Thx

Jul 30, 2020 - 3:27:55 PM

4719 posts since 9/26/2008

There's a guy here on the Hangout who uses unusual woods.
I'd venture to say, spruce and maple likely have the desired tonal qualities to make the particular notes available from the fiddle.

Jul 30, 2020 - 4:25:47 PM

274 posts since 1/5/2009

I have used western red cedar once for a violin top. It turned out to be to flexible to maintain the arch. This in turn caused the neck to warp the top plate. The instrument would not stay in tune. Replacement of the top plate corrected the problems. The plate was replaced with Engelmann spruce.
I have never tried Redwood for a top plate.

Aug 3, 2020 - 12:10:33 PM

147 posts since 11/28/2018

I have played a fiddle made largely from cherry and also one made largely from walnut, both built by friends. They were very attractive and sounded good to me, an old hack fiddler. But I have no idea whether they would cut the mustard for top-notch fiddlers or those playing in philharmonics.

If you talk to luthiers about this they tend to stick for the most part with "tried and true" materials and techniques. My suspicion is that there simply isn't a demand for things that will be considered non-traditional. And if they're going to spend a month or so making an instrument they don't want to make something that could have a very limited market.

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