Custom Made Ed Roman "Gangsta" Bass

Walnut Construction


Walnut is another one of my favorite tone woods, Bass Guitarists have long known about Walnut's tonal qualities.  Just to be clear, I probably think Korina is one of the best tone woods for the back of a guitar and isn't necessarily overwhelming as a top.  Walnut makes a great tone wood for the top or front of the guitar. It's dense like Maple but it's usually more stable and Walnut grows slower so the grain will be tighter and the sound richer than Maple.  Solid Walnut works extremely well on a Bass Guitar.

Very few guitar players have ever experienced the tone of Walnut.

1. There are probably 150 Guitars sold for every Bass sold. Walnut is simply not plentiful enough for guitar manufacturers to seriously consider using it. Boutique Bass manufacturers like Alembic, Dingwall, Carl Thompson, & Myself use it because the amount of instruments built is small enough to warrant the locating and purchasing of it. Recently I have bought several Crusader  6 string Guitars made from Walnut and I was extremely impressed with the tone.  Based on this I decided to try and locate some Walnut to build guitars with.  This brings me to the 2nd reason for it's rarity.  The root of the problem if you will.

2. In my attempts to locate solid Walnut for building guitars I found that many of the premium rifle manufacturers like Weatherby for example have driven the cost of Walnut way up. The really great Walnut,  Claro Walnut is one of the most stable woods available.  In zeroing a rifle, stability of the wood is of extreme importance. In many competition rifles the manufacturers are using Delrin and /or other composite graphite materials.

Some of these custom guns sell for $20,000.00 up to $100,000.00 (And we thought Gibson & PRS's  were expensive)  These same guns that cost so much actually cost less than a medium priced guitar to manufacture. However the gun market is a very strong market and prices will always be very high. In any case the Walnut mills are not going to want to waste time talking to guitar manufacturers when they can sell the wood to gun companies for so much higher. 



 Custom Made Centurion Body Shape

As I stated above one of my customers happens to be a Walnut grower and he cut some gorgeous Claro Walnut and stashed it for guitar usage. I was able to talk him into selling me some of it.  This wood was air dried for 6 years and after some very careful cutting I was able to get enough for 7 guitars. The wood is extremely marbleized & figured.

I am planning to build at least 3 Quicksilver Guitars and maybe several PRS bodies from this wood.  I will probably marry it to some similar shaded Black Limba AKA Korina. I fully expect these guitars to have incredible resonant qualities.


Below are some pictures of Walnut Guitars

Walnut looks a little dull unless it has a shiny gloss finish on it
But that shiny gloss finish detracts from the lower end and causes poor tonality

Walnut Quicksilver With A Little Red & Yellow Stain

My Good Friend John Schmallbach Used To Accompany Me on Wood Buying Expeditions

Here is Some Walnut I bought in 1997, each board was selling for $1,200.00
The high figuring only occurs at the top of the board

Here is what the top of 3 of the boards look like.
If I am lucky I'll be able to get 2 spectacular tops from each board.
The rest of the board is average figure.


Walnut is a beautiful, rich, brown wood. Walnut is similar to mahogany, but with larger pores and less stability. It is also much more expensive. Walnut has a very appealing grain pattern. 

Walnut is not quite so heavy as hard maple and has a similar sound though not as bright. Walnut is very beautiful with an open grain. Oil finishes can look nice on walnut.

From the United States and Canada.
The color varies from light grayish brown to deep chocolate brown to an almost black purplish brown. The appearance of the wood is usually described as warm and inviting. The grain is slightly open and usually straight, but may be wavy or irregular. Texture is usually coarse, but uniform. Surface is generally dull, but is reported to develop a lustrous patina after many years in use. The wood has excellent finishing characteristics.
Common uses include cabinets, caskets, decorative veneer, fine furniture, gun stocks, paneling, handles, stencil & chisel blocks and wainscoting.
Specific Gravity is .59 (dense). Turns easily. 

Weight: 45
Grain: varies from straight to all kind of wild figures. For model building straight is selected.
Figure: when freshly cut, the wood is purplish-brown turning to a chocolate brown with simple figuring of darker brown streaks. Sapwood is a light tan.
Texture: is uniform and moderately coarse.
Properties: a very nice working wood with power tools right down to a carving knife. Very stable and it will not shrink or expand once in use. For its weight, Walnut is exceptionally strong.
Use: decorative planking, carvings and moldings. Well suited for hull timbering and framing. American Black Walnut is in such high demand on the world lumber markets, and the timber has been so freely exploited, that supply is rapidly diminishing year by year. 


Walnut Ed Roman Magic Twanger  Built in 1997