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Guitar #043

Black Locust 12th fret OO size acoustic

Completed July 26, 2018 


Some of you may have seen my garage full of salvaged local trees, with Black Locust included in the pile. I plan on marketing that wood in a few years and this guitar is the "proof of concept" instrument.

You will almost never find a guitar made of Black Locust, yet this species of tree is closely related to two of the traditional woods - Rosewood and Koa - used for making guitars. It is literally a first cousin! And as such, has many overlapping qualities making it a very viable alternative to especially the rosewoods. However contrary to the norm, this is not a dark coloured wood, it is Gold in color, with gold sparkle when it is in bright light.   Rosewood is just too dark to pick up those same reflections even though it is similar in structure.  Together with the great tonal qualities, I consider this woods Canada's Golden Tonewood.

For guitar builders, this wood bends even easier than Rosewood, and with less blunting effect on tools, and with better glue holding properties. It's just an accident of guitar history that it has not been used. But now that Rosewood is over harvested all over the world, and now has international CITES restrictions, guitar builders will need to look around for alternates. This guitar is an example of how good our Canadian Black Locust is, and with no environmental problems associated.

This is a small body guitar - using the Martin naming system - it is a OO size body. and with a 12th fret neck joint like an older style instrument. Most guitar have the neck joint at the 14th fret, while most electric guitars are joined around the 16th. Yes, that makes a huge difference.
This guitar has a Sitka top, African Mahogany neck, East Indian Rosewood fret board, Black Locust back and sides.

A design detail here is the use of Indian Rosewood binding in contrast with the Black Locust back and sides. Both have very different colors but the secondary tones work well together. The fret board and bridge are also Indian Rosewood, thus tying it all together visually. The rosette is alternating Black Locust and Rosewood.
That hole on the side of the instrument is call a Sound Port, and is a feature of most custom acoustic guitars now a days.
Again, look how those medullary rays shine!

I like to bring wood from the back of the instrument to the front, so in this case, the background of the inlay image is also Black Locust.  The Chickadee is made of white Mother of Pearl and Ebony, while the Black Locust twig (yes it has thorns like this) is Black Walnut, with the thorns made of Katalox.

Black Locust is very yellow when freshly cut, sometimes showing hints of brown, or pale green, or even faint red, then aging to a more golden color.

Wood has cells across the grain that keep the wood from separating the way an onion will. Those cell are called "Medullary Rays". Those are what pick up the light and reflect it, and shimmering as the instrument is moved around.

The neck is African Mahogany with three black pin lines, for a 7 laminate sandwich construction. I like to include a volute on many of my guitars for a nicer feel at the head stock joint. The tuners are gold Schallers (Made in Germany).



Tonewood facts table 

Common name:                   Indian Rosewood                  Black Locust
Family:                                Fabaceae                              Fabaceae
Genus:                                Dalbergia                               Robinia
Species:                              D. latifolia                              R. pseudoacacia

Average Dried Weight:       52 lbs/ft3                               48 lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness:                 2,440 lbf                               1,700 lbf
Modulus of Rupture:          16,590 lbf/in2                        19,400 lbf/in2
Crushing Strength:              8,660 lbf/in2                          10,200 lbf/in2
Steam Bending:                  Very good                             Very good.