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Padauk or Walnut?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by ogar, Mar 2, 2004.

  1. Hi there.
    I am ordering hollowbody fretless bass (something like Rob Allen's basses) and there is option of PADAUK as a resonant top. Does anyone have experiences with this wood?
    Other wood to use is Walnut. What would be your preferences when your goal is really acoustic (DB) tone.
    Thanks alot for your suggestions.
    Nice day!
    Edit/Delete Message
  2. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    if this is your goal, then buy a DB. Nothing can "really" mimic its sound!

  3. Oh yes, I know JP, you are right, but...
    There are (quite a lot) reasons, I can't get DB. I just want acoustic tone as opposite to my jazzbass-like 5 string, I think you got my point. My description was probably misleading. It is old story, many times discussed around...
    Anyway, thanks for your answer!
  4. Woodboy


    Jun 9, 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    I would say padauk is more resonant than walnut. This may not be a good thing, though. I would think walnut would have a more even sound, with less resonant peaks than padauk. Just a hunch.
  5. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    two of my favorite woods!!!!

    i've built a hammered dulcimer with a padauk soundboard and a three piece padauk/walnut/padauk back. nice tone, but way too much sustain (not always a good thing on a hammered dulcimer).

    the last bass i built has a wenge neck through a solid padauk body. very warm, punchy tone, but not particularly "woody," and certainly not as dark as walnut can be. again, loads of sustain (in this case a very desirable trait, as it's a fretless).

    currently, i'm working on a bass with a wenge and purpleheart neck though a padauk and walnut body. the walnut is the core, with front and back laminations of padauk (and thin layers of wenge and padauk in between). the walnut is a little less dense than the padauk, and typically darker and "woodier" in tone.

    in my experience, padauk is a great tone wood, with good punch and sustain, maybe a little like indian rosewood. certainly brighter than mahogany, but not nearly as bright as maple.

    one of the finest instruments i've ever played was a 12 string guitar with walnut soundboard, back, and sides by larrivee. it was uncommonly crisp sounding for walnut, which just goes to show that all this should probably be taken with a grain of salt, as different boards of the same species can sound quite different from one another, especially considering all the other variables that come into play.

    but to get around to the original question, i would bet that walnut would give a better approximation of an acoustic tone than padauk.

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