Acoustical properties of nontraditional woods
Rowell, Roger M. Department of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
- Wood performance and acoustical properties
- Nontraditional approach
- Vibrational properties of acetylated wood
- Musical instruments made of acetylated wood
- Additional Readings
Historically, people have taken advantage of the natural qualities of particular species of wood in the creation of wooden musical instruments. For example, Sitka spruce is selected for soundboards in pianos because of its tight, uniform grain, which helps ensure consistent vibrational properties of the wood across the entire piece. Ebony is used for woodwinds such as clarinets, oboes, and bassoons because of its black color and its high content of waxes, oils, and resins, which can reduce the rate of moisture sorption. Rosewood and bubinga (known as African rosewood) are used to make professional recorders. However, high-quality woods of some species are becoming rarer, and they are expensive. Thus, the wooden musical instrument industry, although continuing to prefer traditional woods, has sought alternative species that are less expensive and more available. For example, maple is often used today for woodwinds, though mainly for student-grade instruments and not for professional-grade instruments. Still, as the availability of high-quality tropical hardwoods goes down and the cost of traditional wood species goes up, the wooden musical instrument industry has started to look at common, inexpensive, native woods as substitutes for the old traditional favorites.
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