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DaveGrima

How do you guys feel about Poplar as a Tonewood?

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Thinking about grabbing one of those super cheap GFS Tele bodies made of Poplar. I have some reservations. Ive read mixed opinions about poplar on the internet. Some say its a good tonewood similar to alder that accepts paint really well. SOme say its a 2nd rate "pisswood" that isnt true poplar anyway. What do you guys say? Anyone own or ever own a guitar made of Poplar? :wave:

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Fender used it for decades. See people rave about those old guitars...

Guess if it's vintage poplar it's fine, the new poplar sucks.

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It's a mineraly looking wood, so it's not the prettiest, but tonally it works great. Mustangs are traditionally made from it, and I've played poplar Mustangs that were astounding.

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I've never ordered from GFS but I have been thinking about trying one of their Les Paul copies but Rondo has a Strat copy with a stop tail that has caught my eye too. One thing about guitars, if you don't like it someone else will. I would say go for it.

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I have a Gibson Nighthawk with a maple cap and poplar body. It's got H-S-H, but the H's, i.e. the Burstbucker 1 & 2 humboogies, don't sound nearly as good in that poplar guitar as they do in a mahogany guitar. I think poplar can be a good tone-wood, but selecting an appropriately voiced pickup will be important. I still like that NH in some ways, the middle single coil actually sounds great on it, but the HBs lack depth and soul. Maybe that poplar guitar would sound better if it didn't also have a maple cap :idk:

 

In a Les Paul, however, those are two of my top fave pickups.

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It's a lightweight and sometimes softer wood.

 

Sounds fine and the light weight is nice. It's a favorite in Asia because the CNC routers can cut through it like butter without dulling the bits.

 

Not very pretty to finish with anything translucent easily.

 

Sometimes there can be issues with it holding small screws without stripping out the holes easily.

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Tastes like chicken. Serviceable, fills you up, tastes ok but it won't win any beauty contests.

Typically has a lot of green mineral streaks running through it.

Fairly light and of moderate hardness.

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I had a poplar Tex Mex Stratocaster (precursor to the Jimmy Vaughn sig) that was just lifeless. It dinged easily too. I haven't been back. Despite what's stated above, Mustangs are traditionally ash or alder. You don't get much response from the wood on those anyway due to the vibration suck at the vibrato system.

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I have one of the older Xaviere XV-850s with a poplar body. It sounds really nice. As has already been mentioned, Fender used to use poplar in place of alder fairly often because it was considered to have pretty much the same tonal qualities. And we aren't talking CBS board of directors says, 'sacrifice quality for profit' Fenders. We're talking pre-CBS when Leo and George were in charge Fenders.

 

I think poplar gets a bad rap mainly because the timbers are inexpensive, so it is more likely to find its way into some shit guitars. But that's simply because poplar is relatively plentiful. If black limba or Brazilian rosewood were just as plentiful, they'd be just as cheap.

 

One area where alder is arguably superior is aesthetics. Poplar does tend to have green mineral streaks and, by most standards, isn't as pretty to look at in a natural or transparent finish. This is why most poplar guitars have solid color coats (Or a veneer, like mine below).

 

In the end, it's important to remember that tone characteristics will vary from instrument to instrument, even when they are the same models made from the same woods. But I've never found any inherent inferiority in poplar as a choice of tonewood. In fact, I can think of a number of respected musicians, like Steve Morse, who prefer it.

 

DSC01589.jpg

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Like Alder, it grows like weeds around here, so it's always fairly cheap. As noted, it's usually on the ugly side with green and grey streaks, so it's usually painted an opaque color. Easy to work, but kinda fuzzy, and easy to finish. Makes for a great core wood for a guitar with laminated top and back plates.

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I had a poplar Tex Mex Stratocaster (precursor to the Jimmy Vaughn sig) that was just lifeless. It dinged easily too. I haven't been back. Despite what's stated above, Mustangs are traditionally ash or alder. You don't get much response from the wood on those anyway due to the vibration suck at the vibrato system.

Alder Mustangs have never been made, unless you count the 2012 Kurt Cobain Mustang.

 

Mustangs are poplar. A few were made in mahogany, and some natural finishes in 70s were ash.

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Poplar trees grow really fast and their wood is soft and greenish so they are used only in painted guitars usually. Its about as hard as alder but harder than basswood, and way softer than ash or maple, so the finishes dent very easily. Its cheap, which is why its used but, as with many body woods, people are more than willing to rationalize its presence in guitars they like.

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I really like poplar with a maple cap, resonant with great sustain. I have 2 Blueshawks and an XV-600 with maple over poplar bodies.

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Poplar trees grow really fast and their wood is soft and greenish so they are used only in painted guitars usually. Its about as hard as alder but harder than basswood, and way softer than ash or maple, so the finishes dent very easily. Its cheap, which is why its used but, as with many body woods, people are more than willing to rationalize its presence in guitars they like.

What I've always found weird is that acoustic guitars have had way more changes in wood in the last 25 years than electric guitars.

 

And acoustics are the ones where the wood really matters...

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I have a '92 Gibson MIII. The body is poplar and sounds great. It was painted solid black and is now faded in spots from the natural relic process of playing the hell out of it in those early years. It's now semi-retired to it's plushy case.

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the preferred woods are disappearing, as with most natural resources. Remember, with few exceptions, these woods were all readily available "back in the day" so the use of traditional woods (Brazilian Rosewood most notably) was for a real (possibly tonal) reasons. Pernambuco wood may be the perfect violin bow wood but there will be many alternatives in the future due to its increasing rarity. And if Mfg can sell you a guitar made of Basswood which is super cheap, super soft and easy to make/finish for a couple thousand with some guys name on it (cough-Satch-cough) then many will soon be convinced it has magical tonal properties.

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Fuck it. Im gonna try it. For $54 I cant pass that up and if its good enough for Steve Morse. . . Im gonna put most of the money into the neck, which I believe is more important to the overall quality and tone of an intrument.

Its gonna be a Tele finished in Dakota red with a Warmoth neck and Texas special pickups. :rawk:

The fact that its close grained and takes paint easily is a big plus for me. Not having to use grain filler and all that crap. I hate painting guitars and the faster and easier I can do it the better.

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Here's how Warmoth feels about it.

 

bwds_poplar.jpg______________BodyWoodsPoplar.jpg

 

Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera):

 

This is another standard body wood having been used by many companies over the years. Due to the grey/green color, this wood is used mostly when solid color finishes are to be applied. Its weight generally runs about one half pound more than Alder. Tonally, it is similar to Alder as well. Poplar is a closed grain wood that accepts finish well.

 

wood_toneometer_6.jpg

 

Source link: http://www.warmoth.com/Bass/Options/WoodDescriptions.aspx

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