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Just came back from KJP hardwoods, here in Ottawa, and there are some delicious pieces of walnut, at a decent price, that could make a hard top for a body of some other wood. In other words, it could go where highly figured maple might. And it's light - lighter than I expected.

What is the collective experience with walnut as guitar-body material, whether as the entire body, or as a top?
 

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Why not? Walnut is pretty common for acoustic back/sides, no reason it wouldn't work on an electric. It's nice to work with, not stupidly expensive relative to the exotics, no real toxicity concerns or anything, and it can look great:) Might want to do some grain filling on it before finishing.
 

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tonally they are very similar, although Walnut is a bit warmer and a bit more complex.

Hard Maple is a very hard, heavy and dense wood.. The grain is closed and very easy to finish. The tone is very bright with long sustain and a lot of bite. This wood cannot be dyed. It looks great with clear or transparent color finishes.

Walnut, Luxurious coloring and grain patterns are the earmarks of Walnut. Whether using an oil finish or a deep clear gloss, the pleasing appeal of Walnut always delivers. This is an open grained wood. Walnut is in the heavy weight category but it's not quite as heavy as hard maple. It has a similar sound to hard maple but it tends not to be as bright.

if maple is graded as a 10 for brightness with ten being the brightest, Walnut is about a 7 or an 8 on that scale.
 
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Just came back from KJP hardwoods, here in Ottawa, and there are some delicious pieces of walnut, at a decent price, that could make a hard top for a body of some other wood. In other words, it could go where highly figured maple might. And it's light - lighter than I expected.

What is the collective experience with walnut as guitar-body material, whether as the entire body, or as a top?
KJP is always a gold-mine for beautiful woods. And they're just around the corner from our warehouse. :)

Walnut is a great wood for guitar bodies. It is similar in hardness, density, and strength to African Mahogany. That means it can also be good for neck stability, especially when combined in a multi-piece neck with other strong woods.

There can be a LOT of variety in how it is figured (if you found a piece with some nice figuring), which makes for a uniquely attractive top.
 

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Sorry, couldn't help it. :rolleyes:

 

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Black walnut is the most common native variety. There are also grafted varieties (bastogne and curly claro) that offer different aesthetic and tonal qualities.

I have a Bourgeois JOMC with curly claro back and sides that is quite a looker (and it sounds nice, too!).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
KJP carries a variety of finishing oils, and has a number of pieces of various wood species to demonstrate the finish after 1 or more coats (indicated on the piece). The walnut demo piece looked pretty special.
 

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I played my buddy's 70's walnut strat for a while. Really nice feeling guitar, weighed about 9lbs. Hardware and electronics from a 60's strat....a beast!

 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay, I think I'm sold. They have some pieces there, on sale no less, that are definitely wide enough to be complete tops, with a lovely, almost mahogany-like grain.
 

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I did a Tele body in Walnut. Machines nicely, sands very smooth, and doesn't need grain filler. A lot lighter than typical hardwoods if you find the right piece.
doublecut tele.jpg

I have also done some necks out of walnut. Seems very stable, no issues
 

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If you think about commercial logging practice and tree harvesting, IMO, it comes down to the size of the tree. If walnut trees in North America grew to the size of tropical mahogany, and with the straight grain of mahogany, then I think you would see many guitars with necks made out of walnut rather than mahogany. Mahogany logs are gigantic and were particularly so back in the day when guitars were first beginning to be mass produced. Walnut trees just do not grow as large and as straight as mahogany or maple. On the other hand, very highly figured walnut is quite rare compared to flame or quilted maple. Exhibition grade Claro walnut is one of the most expensive woods you can buy, much more than maple. Small trees, big cost.
 
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