Is Oak the new Rosewood?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by wintremute, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    Sandberg Guitars Innovates New Steamed Oak fingerboard

    "Sandberg has adopted a process which changes the chemistry of the wood’s pigments and oxidizes the naturally occurring tannins in the wood. Oak is loaded with tannins so the final ‘steamed’ result is a permanently deep and warm dark wood with accentuated grain patterns that will look familiar to those who favor rosewood."

    Have any of you used oak as a fingerboard?
  2. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    I'll go with "no, because the grain is very, very different" for the title question. Oak fingerboards have been seen here, from what I recall passing by.

    Searching for them is making my browser flip out - perhaps it's a secret knowledge, or perhaps I need to update this computer.

    Resorting to da google rather than the on-site search here's a few:

    $100 some kind of bass.
    $100 Bass Challenge - Double Trouble
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
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  3. regardless of the process they use that changes the wood, it still has a very open grain that needs to be filled, I don't think steaming would do anything to solve that. If oak is the new rosewood, then I could be sitting on a goldmine, most of the wood around here is oak, and used mostly for firewood.
  4. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    My Stick is a single piece of White Oak. The finish is smooth and it is highly stable - still straight and flat after 27 years...

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  5. I wonder if there is any grain filler in that fretboard?
  6. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I don't know, but unless it was fretless it wouldn't concern me. I can't recall the last time my fingers actually made contact with the fingerboard of a fretted bass...

    Although thinking again, I suppose if the wood couldn't hold on to the fret tangs I would have a problem. The Stick frets are stainless rods epoxied into slots just over half-diameter deep.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2017
  7. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    White oak also has "closed" pores as opposed to red oak's "open" pores, which is why white oak is what's used for barrels. But there still might be some filling going on, too.
    SteveCS likes this.
  8. Ah, yeah, I'm probably more used to red oak.
    SteveCS likes this.
  9. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    I love oak, and honestly think one of the main reasons it isn't used more often is that it can look like or remind one of furniture, and also because some cuts can be radically less dimensionally stable than other cuts. I've used it as tops/backs because you can get some really beautiful grain with amazing rays through it. I've used it for a guitar fretboard, and that piece was Garry oak (a local white oak variety) and was perfectly vertically grained - I've not heard yet of it's failure. :)
  10. JIO

    JIO Scott Lives Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Flamed oak is pretty cool looking but yeh, mostly on cabinetry/furniture. I got really sick of seeing it used on all that chunky ugly (Americana?) furniture and kitchen cabinets for all those years (primarily 60's-70's) On the old floors (many examples) when freshly sanded/refinished it can look good. There is also new high grade oak flooring that looks good too. I wasn't aware of oak being a tone wood and can't say I've ever seen a bass or guitar made of oak.
  11. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    All my diningroom furniture is steamed oak. It looks super dark like the darkest rosewoods. My father gave the set to me and when I got it I said thank god it's not oak when I looked at it years ago. He laughed and used to build and repair furniture and said the process which he said is no longer done on that scale of size is having the wood in a sealed tank and under pressure ammonia gas is pumped in. It permeates the wood through and through and darkens the tannins naturally there is no stain. This can also be done with vinegar and steel wool for the color aspect that's called iron acetate and it works excellent with oak.

    One thing it also does to the oak under pressure is it gets into the wood on a molecular level and bends super easily until the ammonia dries out of it. I think this may be what they are doing to the oak it's not a new or innovative but maybe re introduced. I have been looking forward to see what the new CITES regulations would do in the woodworking world to push manufacturers to do with new materials and more earth friendly renewable wood products.

    Of course what they are doing could be different but I think it would be at least similar. I like it and I think as a whole we need to conserve our resources responsively.
    wintremute likes this.
  12. Pics!
  13. Englishman


    Apr 26, 2017
    There's a good reason for that. A solid oak bass would weigh slightly less than a Titanic anchor.
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  14. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    Hey Reverendrally it was late last night when I was commenting and as I remember my conversation with my father more clearly I think he called it fumed oak and steamed oak in the same sentence. My set could use a little Howard's Feed and Wax again I do it every year or so. I wound up with the set because my sisters hated it. There are chairs and a few other smaller pieces.

    Attached Files:

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  15. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    The (usual) ammonia process is fuming, and is not typically done under pressure, so it's a surface treatment. If you added pressure (or [being an engineer is a disease] vacuum and then ammonia & pressure) it might be a through and through effect. I could also envision a similar vacuum/pressure regime getting iron acetate ("ebonizing" - reacts with tannins) deep into or throughout the wood) - and considering surface treatment techniques, you could have it in a fine-grained low-tannin wood (birch, maple, etc) if you first pumped it full of tannin-juice (tea, "oak chip tea", etc.) so the iron acetate would have something to work with.

    How much it's worth going to a "through and through" process will vary with the use/customer - it's obviously a lot more bother [expense] than a surface treatment, but for something like a DB fingerboard it would also mean that planing it down would not "reveal" the lighter sub-surface - but my (limited) experience of the DB folks is that most of them will resist mightily.
  16. Christopher DBG

    Christopher DBG Commercial User

    May 18, 2015
    Westerly, RI
    Luthier/Owner, Christopher Bass Guitar
    Which is, exactly what plantation grown Indian rosewood has been for a number of years now. I'm wondering how CITIES is going to negatively affect that renewable earth friendly industry.
    reverendrally likes this.
  17. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    i hate oak. i built a guitar with oak 30 some years ago and i can still taste the dust. i hate oak.
  18. This whole situation with Rosewood is beyond stupid. Getting it here in Australia will now be next to impossible. :(
  19. rwkeating


    Oct 1, 2014
    Stick's are finished with Watco Danish Oil, so I am guessing no to an added grain filler. I know that you can wet sand Danish Oil and that acts as a grain filler, but I've never heard of a Stick that was wet sanded like that. Doesn't mean it couldn't have happened but ... I just hadn't heard of it.
    Jisch likes this.