Swamp Ash

Swamp Ash

Posted by Daniel Austin Cooke on 26th Nov 2019

 Nothing too in depth, but hopefully you will have more appreciation of the instrument in your hands.

Ash grows in quite a few places.  

I even have a small 15 year old tree in my backyard (oregon).  But what makes swamp ash different?  

1. Weight

2. Color

3. Weight

4. Price

5. Weight

6. Availability

7. Weight

You might have noticed a trend to that.  

Weight of the Ash for Musical tonewood is the importland one.

Mahogany ranges from 2.5 lbs/bf up to over 4.5 lbs/bf.  

Ash... well I've seen it as low as 1.55 lbs/bf.  but that was so rare.  most are between 2.2 and 3 lbs/bf  

Now for furniture, doesn't matter.  

I don't carry my dresser around slung across my back and jump around with my buddies.  But I do that with my guitar.   The lighter that is, the longer I can play.  the more I play the better I get.  the better I get the more I play.... well you see what happens.

Now for the Tree.  

Only certain trees make the grade.  They need to be in certain types of soil (for the color).  And they need to be close to water (the water makes the bottom part of the tree flushed and thus less dense).  And then only the bottom 10 foot of the tree or so (the tree gets denser and denser as you move up the log).  Age is important (This gets the tree to be the right size for the clean wood away from the heart stain core).  You want it to be between 30 and 60 years old.  Trees get their height by 16 to 20 but they need many years more to get robust enough for the size of a guitar.

So it can be hard to find.  

The loggers can only get to the trees certain times a year.  Here in 2019 we had a bad flooding season and have had very minimal outflow to the mills.  But it gets tricky.  Everyone and their Aunt has Ash for Sale.  and great prices.  But Swamp Ash........