Planning a Holdsworth

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HarlowTheFish
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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby HarlowTheFish » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:04 am

Srini wrote:
HarlowTheFish wrote:Kiesel uses Indian as far as I know, but that's still pretty locked down under CITES and it's a pretty big hassle to ship out unless you're a big company that can just mass-permit everything in advance. Kiesel would basically have to get individual permits for each guitar they're shipping (which takes a couple of weeks and costs a pretty penny) and while they can, it gets in the way of their standard process and holds up their production.


Ah...ok...I have Indian on one guitar and Madgascar on two others, and tone-wise, I can't tell the difference. I do believe the Indian is a bit more grainy to the touch, though. I wasn't planning on having them ship it outside the country, but I was hoping that the restriction meant they were using Brazilian - no such luck!

Honestly IMO Brazilian is overrated. I'm buddies with a luthier in my hometown who works with old-growth Brazilian, and I built a guitar with him (BRW back, sides, and board) and I still prefer the old all-mahogany/ebony board Martin a friend owns. Same size, scale, and design, but the ebony is miles better in playability and the mahogany tames some of the high end that takes up space in a mix while the rosewood amplifies it. Good on its own, but kind of a mix hog when you add anything else.

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:08 am

HarlowTheFish wrote:
Srini wrote:
HarlowTheFish wrote:Kiesel uses Indian as far as I know, but that's still pretty locked down under CITES and it's a pretty big hassle to ship out unless you're a big company that can just mass-permit everything in advance. Kiesel would basically have to get individual permits for each guitar they're shipping (which takes a couple of weeks and costs a pretty penny) and while they can, it gets in the way of their standard process and holds up their production.


Ah...ok...I have Indian on one guitar and Madgascar on two others, and tone-wise, I can't tell the difference. I do believe the Indian is a bit more grainy to the touch, though. I wasn't planning on having them ship it outside the country, but I was hoping that the restriction meant they were using Brazilian - no such luck!

Honestly IMO Brazilian is overrated. I'm buddies with a luthier in my hometown who works with old-growth Brazilian, and I built a guitar with him (BRW back, sides, and board) and I still prefer the old all-mahogany/ebony board Martin a friend owns. Same size, scale, and design, but the ebony is miles better in playability and the mahogany tames some of the high end that takes up space in a mix while the rosewood amplifies it. Good on its own, but kind of a mix hog when you add anything else.


That is very interesting! I've never had Brazilian, so I have no idea. In this case, it's probably best to stick with ebony.

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:11 am

ElfDude wrote:
Srini wrote:
ElfDude wrote:I'll just throw in that the Holdsworth pickups are currently my favorite out of all the Kiesel/Carvin humbuckers I've tried. Wonderful clarity and chime, but still warm.


Thanks so much! That's exactly what I've been reading myself. Do you have any thoughts on how they split, or do parallel?

Srini


Because they're not high output pickups, I find the split sounds a little weak compared to the split sounds my other favorites like the M22SD or the C22B. But because of their nature, I don't feel the need to split them very often. They don't have the... shall we say... thick sound that I associate with most humbuckers. The bridge pickup actually reminds me a lot of the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat (a humbucker-sized P-90).

I've never tried them in parallel wiring.


Makes a lot of sense!

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby spudmunkey » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:36 am

Actually...

Screenshot_20190717-083452_Samsung Internet.jpg


Some really organized, and simply-worded info about CITES/rosewood here:
https://www.taylorguitars.com/cites
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Srini
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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:54 pm

spudmunkey wrote:Actually...

Screenshot_20190717-083452_Samsung Internet.jpg

Some really organized, and simply-worded info about CITES/rosewood here:
https://www.taylorguitars.com/cites


Thank you, kind sir! That is great reading. I've learned a lot from you guys so far!

One more opinion question - to you, Harlow, elf and anybody else who cares - what do you guys think of a spruce top on chambered mahogany? This would be something along the lines of the PRS spruce top hollow body....too weird?

Srini

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby HarlowTheFish » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:10 pm

Killer combo IMO, especially if you're into that high-end jazz guitar vibe. You'll get a very resonant instrument, with a tonality (acoustically, anyway, but I think that's really important) that's warm in the top end and kinda soft and subdued in the mids, so if you like using multiple techniques (mixing fingerpicking, flatpicking, tapping, and swells and controlled feedback) you'll get a lot of ground out of this combo. I don't know if they offer spruce tops on the HH2, though since they have red cedar for the SH550 and the acoustics, you might be able to get that.
When I finally get around to picking up an SH550 it'll be maple neck, ebony board, mahogany body, and cedar top (unless I can talk them into doing spruce), for similar reasons. A really light and resonant top with chambering or a semi-hollow body gets really good results that a denser top can't. It's why I'm kinda meh on the Gibson semis, the maple-poplar lamination is a little stiff for my taste.

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:24 pm

That's what I thought too, Harlow. I've played a PRS hollow body spruce a couple of times, and there's definitely something mildly soft about it that I like. My style tends a little more to the Carlton-esque edge-of-breakup vibe, but I think this combo could work well. Cedar may be too soft, what do you think?

Not to plug or push anything, but here are a couple of examples of my playing (please feel free not to check them out if you'd rather not!):

Done entirely on a Gries 5 champ clone

Multiple amps and guitars

Point being, that's my tone, and you guys are doing a phenomenal job helping me narrow the HH2 to where I can still be in the ballpark.

Srini

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby HarlowTheFish » Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:31 pm

I would say that cedar is honestly a little less soft than spruce. The acoustic I built has Lebanese cedar bracing, and the guy I built it with said it sat somewhere between spruce and mahogany as far as density. Red cedar is softer than that, but I'd bet it's still a little harder than spruce and especially with the thickness of the top on the HH2 (a good bit thicker than your average acoustic or bent archtop), you're not gonna have issues with it being mushy. Maybe ask for pieces of your woods that are a little on the heavier side? The HH2 is small enough that it really doesn't matter that much, and the extra density might work in your favor if you're looking for a bit more focus.

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby HarlowTheFish » Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:33 pm

HarlowTheFish wrote:I would say that cedar is honestly a little less soft than spruce. The acoustic I built has Lebanese cedar bracing, and the guy I built it with said it sat somewhere between spruce and mahogany as far as density. Red cedar is softer than that, but I'd bet it's still a little harder than spruce and especially with the thickness of the top on the HH2 (a good bit thicker than your average acoustic or bent archtop), you're not gonna have issues with it being mushy. Maybe ask for pieces of your woods that are a little on the heavier side? The HH2 is small enough that it really doesn't matter that much, and the extra density might work in your favor if you're looking for a bit more focus.

That's some tasty playing too! I think a softer top might work in your favor too because of the headless hardware. It does some. . . Interesting things to the way the instrument responds and feels to play. It's present in both my CL and my Strandy, and the only thing they have in common is being headless.

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:37 pm

HarlowTheFish wrote:I would say that cedar is honestly a little less soft than spruce. The acoustic I built has Lebanese cedar bracing, and the guy I built it with said it sat somewhere between spruce and mahogany as far as density. Red cedar is softer than that, but I'd bet it's still a little harder than spruce and especially with the thickness of the top on the HH2 (a good bit thicker than your average acoustic or bent archtop), you're not gonna have issues with it being mushy. Maybe ask for pieces of your woods that are a little on the heavier side? The HH2 is small enough that it really doesn't matter that much, and the extra density might work in your favor if you're looking for a bit more focus.


Excellent information! By the way, I got a little clarification from Kiesel on a couple of issues. The extra thick neck is 0.030" thicker, you can, indeed, get tung oil on mahogany and the middle position of the pickup selector switch is the two inner coils in parallel - that's a lot better (for me) than the two humbuckers in parallel. My view is that since humbuckers in general don't split very well, there's no point trying to fake it. So I probably won't get the push-pull option.

Srini

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:38 pm

HarlowTheFish wrote:
HarlowTheFish wrote:I would say that cedar is honestly a little less soft than spruce. The acoustic I built has Lebanese cedar bracing, and the guy I built it with said it sat somewhere between spruce and mahogany as far as density. Red cedar is softer than that, but I'd bet it's still a little harder than spruce and especially with the thickness of the top on the HH2 (a good bit thicker than your average acoustic or bent archtop), you're not gonna have issues with it being mushy. Maybe ask for pieces of your woods that are a little on the heavier side? The HH2 is small enough that it really doesn't matter that much, and the extra density might work in your favor if you're looking for a bit more focus.

That's some tasty playing too! I think a softer top might work in your favor too because of the headless hardware. It does some. . . Interesting things to the way the instrument responds and feels to play. It's present in both my CL and my Strandy, and the only thing they have in common is being headless.


Thanks for the comment on the playing! I'm thinking a softer top could be a good thing for me....

Srini

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby canon_mutant » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:53 pm

Srini wrote:Out of curiosity, what did the walnut on chambered mahogany sound like? Did you get a nice warmth?
Srini


Oh, my TL is solid walnut and weighs a ton, nearly 14 lbs. Was just commenting on its neck. Plus I think layered necks are just structurally the way to go. Now my TL is quite warm but also a tad darker than some would like. The SD pickups I just put in brightened it up a bit.

For comfort reasons, I would suggest chambering going walnut over hog or all walnut. Until I own a chambered Kiesel, I'd have to reserve comment on its tonality. I would "think" for a less distorted bluesy tone, it would be bees knees but hopefully someone that owns one can chime in on that?

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:40 am

canon_mutant wrote:
Srini wrote:Out of curiosity, what did the walnut on chambered mahogany sound like? Did you get a nice warmth?
Srini


Oh, my TL is solid walnut and weighs a ton, nearly 14 lbs. Was just commenting on its neck. Plus I think layered necks are just structurally the way to go. Now my TL is quite warm but also a tad darker than some would like. The SD pickups I just put in brightened it up a bit.

For comfort reasons, I would suggest chambering going walnut over hog or all walnut. Until I own a chambered Kiesel, I'd have to reserve comment on its tonality. I would "think" for a less distorted bluesy tone, it would be bees knees but hopefully someone that owns one can chime in on that?


I think your take on chambered bodies is generally correct. They respond in a way more suited to a bluesy tone, which I go for. As for walnut, I'm not so sure. I'm pretty settled on a chambered mahogany body and neck. And given that I'm going for an extra fat neck, along with those carbon fiber rods, I doubt that structural integrity will be an issue, except for wood expansion with the weather. In that situation, you'd be correct about laminated/layered necks.

My indecision now is with the top. I'm vacillating between mahogany and spruce. I do want to add some highs, but not too much like maple would do. Of course, a mahogany top would not add any highs at all. But I once owned a PRS S2 Mira semi hollow, which was all mahogany (chambered body and top), and I didn't mind the tone at all.

Srini

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:00 am

Here's my latest thinking, thanks to you all and some info I have gleaned.

1. The top will most likely be mahogany. Second most likely is spruce. Those are the two options, and it's a tricky choice for me.
2. If I go with a spruce top, I'll select a rosewood FB, if I go with a mahogany top I'll pick ebony.
3. I'll go with the Holdsworth pickups and not worry too much about tone, and here's why. I have another guitar, which is very good, but definitely not great, that has my absolute favorite humbuckers in it (I have those HBs in all my guitars). They were wound for me and pretty much have my tone. So, I can always - and probably will - just pop those into the HH2 and put the Holdsworths into that guitar - the current pickups are way to good for that guitar anyway. Not to say the Holdsworths aren't great, but the odds are they won't be my thing.
4. I won't do the splitting thing. I've never heard a good HB split, so I won't bother. Also, it turns out the middle position of the pickup selector puts the inner coils in parallel, for a what could be a very usable funk rhythm tone.

In both cases (mahogany or spruce), I'm leaning towards a jet black matte satin finish with black pickup covers - all black! And if I pick an ebony FB, look out!

What do you guys think?

Srini

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby HarlowTheFish » Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:29 pm

Sounds like a killer build! I'd personally do an ebony fretboard with either top, and I'd go with spruce as the first choice if you can get it, but that's just me.

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Sat Jul 20, 2019 9:11 pm

Thanks, Harlow. I hear you about the ebony - and it's possible I'm making too much of the brightness thing. As you wisely pointed out, that's why there's a tone knob! If I go with the spruce, I will ask them about Madagascar, which I really like. Have you ever tried Madagascar? For a rosewood, it feels incredibly smooth.

About the spruce, here's something I found on the Gear Page:

1. "This is a very nice sounding guitar with a "thick" sound, tone to it. The guitar has 500k pots in it now and a pair of Throbak low wind type humbuckers with a coil tap. The guitar noticeably pushes the front of an amp in an unexpected way. It's a nice sound with tons of sustain and bloom even at low volumes. I seem to remember something similar to this with the PRS guitars only they were quite a bit softer sounding, not as much oomph. This push I'm talking about isn't distortion or an aggressive sound but a thickening as you turn the volume up. It's almost a sustain for dummies kind of thing, almost."

2. "Monty 7 here. Chambered mah body with Sitka spruce top. Mah neck with African blackwood fb. 25.5 scale. Neck pup is P90 kind of and bridge is a splitable blade HB. The chambering is on sides with solid center through the whole body.

The sound is somewhere between archtop and explorer - big, clear, full
TOM bridge. I suspect other type of bridge would change the sound alot.

Mine is great for bosa and jazz. Overdrive is sweet, but not as controllable as a solid body borrows Strat . But it gives a very piano like clean something different from 90 s rawk and bark sounds:)"

There are more, but my read of all the comments is that, while spruce has a lot of high end, it tends to be a sweet high end, and it has a lot of mids when pushed. Sounds like a great combo with mahogany, right?

Srini

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby HarlowTheFish » Sat Jul 20, 2019 11:10 pm

Sounds like I need me a hog/spruce axe, to be honest.
Dammit my finances were just recovering too :evil:

I haven't gotten a chance to try any Madagascar RW to my knowledge, but I've yet to play a RW board - Indian or Brazilian - that hasn't felt grainier than I'd like. If you're gonna get super tall frets then it's not as much of an issue, but at that point I'd be hard-pressed to say that the fretboard wood is gonna make any real tonal difference when you already have tall stainless steel frets.

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Sat Jul 20, 2019 11:40 pm

Really? That's interesting. Are you saying that if the string doesn't make solid contact with the FB, the wood won't impact the tone much? I had never thought of that....

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby HarlowTheFish » Sun Jul 21, 2019 9:10 am

Srini wrote:Really? That's interesting. Are you saying that if the string doesn't make solid contact with the FB, the wood won't impact the tone much? I had never thought of that....

It's just that since stainless is really hard and really dense and especially with minimal string contact, I'd think the fret material would have a bigger impact than the fretboard, especially considering how small a difference the fretboard makes in the first place.

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Re: Planning a Holdsworth

Postby Srini » Sun Jul 21, 2019 5:04 pm

HarlowTheFish wrote:
Srini wrote:Really? That's interesting. Are you saying that if the string doesn't make solid contact with the FB, the wood won't impact the tone much? I had never thought of that....

It's just that since stainless is really hard and really dense and especially with minimal string contact, I'd think the fret material would have a bigger impact than the fretboard, especially considering how small a difference the fretboard makes in the first place.


Excellent point!


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