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Korina "1958" Explorers - what are they made of?


MC87

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Hi

 

I just bought a "1958" Korina Explorer, was wondering what wood the body was made out of.

Some threads suggest its just a Korina (limba) laminate over a cheap alder core (Some don't even think it's a Korina laminate, just bleached mahogany).

 

Anyone know for sure?

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We've had a discussion on this once or twice in the past. You're right, some folks insist that, among other things, the guitar is:

 

1. A Korina laminate over various other woods

2. Another wood bleached or colored to look like Korina

3. Korina is not ever a real wood but a marketing name devised by Gibson

 

Let's start with the last one ... here's an ad I found from 1952 (six years before Gibson introduced the Korina Explorer and Flying V:

 

KorinaWoodBedroomset.jpg

 

Pretty safe to say that Gibson did not invent the name Korina.

 

Secondly, if you look at both the Epiphone and Gibson sites, they both clearly state that the bodies are made of Korina wood. Whether you believe them is up to you, I guess ...

 

Finally, I own the Flying V model and I've tried this myself: Compare the weight of your guitar against a mahogany model and see if you don't find it significantly lighter. The standard Explorer is a pretty heavy guitar ... especially with that big "tail fin" at the bottom. I don't think it's mahogany in that thing's body.

 

Bottom line ... enjoy your new guitar and post some pics! I think they are all beautiful. Another forum member has an SG made from Korina and it's breathtaking!

 

Welcome to the forum! Here's a pic of my "V":

 

SANY0014-1.jpg

 

Jim

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You have a good point there Jim, I've personally never held the Korina Explorer so I can't comment on the weight. I will however say that my Goth Explorer isn't all that heavy to begin with. I'd say halfway between my featherweight (paulownia) Strat and an LP Custom.

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Now that Paulownia wood is extremely interesting to me! You're right, Sjael ... it is feather light (at first I actually thought it was a plastic or some sort of composit) and resonant as hell. Aparently this is a fast growing species that is native to China, where they use it for reforestation. It's use for guitar bodies is a recently discovered use for this wood.

 

Check this guitar out.

 

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Dean-Vendetta-XM-Electric-Guitar-with-Tremolo-874213-i1452652.gc

 

I know it says $139.99 on the web-site, but we are carrying them in the store for only $89.99! I am inpressed as all hell by this guitar ... good sounding, solid feeling and it simply beats the crap out of any similarly priced electric guitar I've ever played!

 

Jim

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It is quite an impressive wood, I hadn't realised it was being put into production guitars yet. It's massive resonance and warmth belie it's diminutive weight. Plus it's good for modding, I personally routed the pickup switch wire channels into the body of my strat with a flathead screwdriver :D

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The Epiphones are made of Lauan or Phillipine Mahogany (which can be any of several species of woods' date=' not actually related to true Honduras or African mahogany) with a Korina veneer.[/quote']

 

Now that is a pretty definative statement, Parabar. I'm curious what your source is since the official word from the manufacturer is different. Thanks ...

 

Jim

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here's an ad I found from 1952 (six years before Gibson introduced the Korina Explorer and Flying V:

 

Pretty safe to say that Gibson did not invent the name Korina.

 

 

Interesting. So they did not invent it, but they did trademark the name? =P~

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Aparently this is a fast growing species that is native to China' date=' where they use it for reforestation. It's use for guitar bodies is a recently discovered use for this wood.

[/quote']

 

It grows well in Tennessee. There's a local shop here that has a small paulonia grove behind their building. (The Guitar Mill; http://www.guitarmill.com/index.html; sorry I have to plug my hometown.)

 

Pretty safe to say that Gibson did not invent the name Korina.

 

Regardless who "invented it", "korina" is the common name for African Limba.

 

And I know I shouldn't use Wikipedia for a source, but I don't care. Here's something interesting from the article: "Contrary to popular belief, it is not rare and expensive due to overharvesting and there is plenty of supply due to efforts in the 1950s to preserve natural supply of the wood. This species is reported to be relatively secure, with little or no threat to its population within its natural growth range, according to the World Conservation Monitoring Center in 1992."

 

If the above is true, wouldn't it be MORE expensive to lie about it and build them out of mahogany w/ veneers?

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Interesting. So they did not invent it' date=' but they did trademark the name? =P~ [/quote']

 

LOL, Rich ... your "hands off" policy lasted exactly two posts!

 

It's funny to hear Ed Roman wax so poetically about the wonderful properties of Korina:

 

http://www.edroman.com/customshop/wood/korina.htm

 

As much as he hates Gibson, you'd think he'd be screaming from the mountain tops if this was any sort of marketing scam on Gibson's part!

 

Hungry, the issue doesn't seem to be the rarity of the wood itself, but rather, finding suitably large enough unstained pieces to build guitars from. Consider these quotes from Gibson:

 

“The other big problem is that in its initial stages, Korina is a difficult wood to work with. Korina trees tend to grow very large, but good large pieces are very hard to come by. Like any wood, Korina has a lot of moisture, and when the water drains from it, it drains very fast and causes the wood to split very easily. When we make Explorers and Flying Vs, we require big sections of wood, and we can’t use sections that have cracks and splits,”

 

"The other problem with Korina, according to Wilson, is that the wood is highly susceptible to staining. While still in the jungles of Guinea, Angola, and Zaire, various forms of fungus and bacteria can attach themselves to the wood to feed off its sugar content, which causes large black blotches that penetrate deep into the core of the wood. Once dried, the stains become permanent, making the wood unusable for a guitar."

 

Interesting stuff ... and always a source for lively discussion!

 

Jim

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It grows well in Tennessee. There's a local shop here that has a small paulonia grove behind their building. (The Guitar Mill; http://www.guitarmill.com/index.html; sorry I have to plug my hometown.)

 

It's a really interesting wood, for sure. Like I said in an earlier post, at first I thought it was plastic or composit. When I undid a neck bolt on the Dean Vendetta, I could see that it was, indeed, wood.

 

Obvoiusly, it's pretty hardy and inexpensive. It will be interesting to see if this material begins to find it's way into more production guitars ...

 

Jim

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LOL' date=' Rich ... your "hands off" policy lasted exactly two posts!

 

[/quote']

 

Nah Jim, I'm just not touching the discussion on wether the Korina Epis are real Korina or just a veneer.

We've read people making some arguments on it being either one, but they're just guesstimates really. Untill I see a body sawn into pieces I'll refrain from comment.

 

I do have a normal interest in tonewood.

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MIDIMan56 wrote:

Now that is a pretty definative statement, Parabar. I'm curious what your source is since the official word from the manufacturer is different. Thanks ...

I spent nearly 8 years working in a custom cabinet and furniture shop, and got to be reasonably well-versed in different types of woods that are commonly used for different purposes. I've seen several of the Epiphone "Korinas," and even someone with only a rudimentary familiarity with woodworking techniques can see that the front and back of these guitars are veneers. The exposed sides have the distinctive grain pattern of Lauan (which does closely resemble the grain pattern of Honduras or African mahogany, but is not identical. Lauan is typically much lighter in color, but accepts stains well).

 

There's nothing wrong with that --- a perfectly good solidbody guitar can be made out of Lauan --- as always, the important thing is how it feels and sounds to the user, and evidently the authorities who determine the naming conventions for different species of wood are ok with Lauan being labelled as "Phillipine Mahogany" --- which in turn makes it acceptable for manufacturers to advertise products made out of it as "mahogany" in the generic sense, as long as they don't misrepresent it as a different specific type, such as Honduras or African.

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Here we go again with this Korina debate ,,,well ,,,heres my 2 cents,,,Behold: the UNHOLY Trinity,,my 3 "Korina" Epiphones,, When they look,,play and sound like these 3 do ,,i couldnt care if they were made out of Swiss cheese,,they're Goulda to me!!!

DSC00740.jpg

 

 

MY Noisemakers:

Epiphone 2008 Sg Custom Prophecy GX

Epiphone 2003 Korina G-400 Sg

Epiphone 1998 Korina Explorer

Epiphone 1998 Korina Flying V

BC Rich 1981 Maple Mockingbird Handmade

Ibanez 1976 Stratocaster

Gibson 1968 Les Paul Custom

Charvel Fretless Bass

Washburn Lyon P bass

Guild Madiera P-600 Jumbo Acoustic

Applause A-25 Acoustic

Chuan Yin Marina Mark 20SS classical

Carlo Robelli 5 string Banjo

Carlo Robelli Electric Violin

Kay Electric Mandolin

Lignatone Mandolin

Midiman Radium Keyboard

2 Marshall JTM-612 60 watt 1 12 Combos

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Well, i've read so many 'definitive' statements by people, all contradictory, surely it can't be that hard.

Someone must know for certain or have solid evidence.

 

I emailed Gibson support and this is what they came back with:

 

Hi,

Thanks for the email. This model has a multi-piece solid Korina body. It does not use alder or poplar.

 

 

Now IMO (and I am new to all of this) it is reasonable to believe that they are using a sandwich Korina core with a Korina veneer on top as it wouldnt be that expensive (unlike using a solid Korina blank). Especially as limba isnt actually a rare wood. (wikipedia) just solid blanks for one piece guitar bodies are hard to get.

 

But then people dispute Gibson's definition of Korina (being a TM etc) and say it refers finish rather than the wood (limba) and they can use whatever wood they want and call it "Korina". Which also would mean that their response to my query would be legally true.

 

Then also you have threads like this on this forum:

http://forums.epiphone.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=3661

Which seem to completely shoot down the Korina over Korina view.

 

Or does the wood change from guitar to guitar, some have said the wood under the veneer is just whatever the Epi factory has spare at the time of manufacture.

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I think by 'multi-piece solid Korina' they mean that it is made of perhaps two, three or four pieces of solid Kornia glued together, not just one solid piece, nor plywood. You'd be hard pressed to find any guitar constructed of one piece of solid wood rather than several pieces glued together I think, especially an Epiphone. And I would say that these solid pieces are covered in a veneer of Korina as well to enhance their appearance, as most Epiphones are.

 

Of course they could be bending the truth a little, but I see no reason for them to do that. So as I said, I think you can take from that that it is a number of pieces of solid Korina wood glued together with a veneer over top. Whatever it is, so long as the guitar is constructed to a high standard using solid wood and it sounds good, then you should be happy.

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As I said in my OP I thought they were multi-piece Korina cores with a Korina veneer on top. I'm happy with that, its still a Korina bodied guitar just not made from a single blank.

 

But then you have people like Parabar who definitively state that it is just a Korina veneer (some even think the veneer is fake) over some other wood core (be it laun, mahogany, alder etc).

 

And then you have the pictures from that other thread i posted earlier, where the veneer has been sanded out exposing the underlying wood:

http://i36.tinypic.com/9kmlva.jpg

http://i300.photobucket.com/albums/nn4/stan59/MVC-014F-1.jpg

 

I'm no expert, but is that Korina? It certainly doesnt look like the Korina veneer.

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As I said, you'll be hard pressed to find any guitar constructed from just one piece of wood, so really the fact that it is made of multiple pieces is inconsequential. It's common practice, and really doesn't impact the overall outcome of the quality or tone of the instrument in my opinion.

 

And, like I said, I see no reason why the Gibson support team would deceive you in telling you it's made of multiple pieces of solid Korina. However Epiphone may say it's Korina, but technically speaking it may just be a closely related kind of wood, in the same way they say it's mahogany, but it really is a more abundant, closely related specied of wood with similar properties to mahogany, or mahogany from a different part of the world as is often the argument. In any case there's no reason to shun any guitar because of the kind of wood it is constructed of, although some are definitely better than others. As I said, so long as it's made right, made well, sounds and looks nice, then I see no issue.

 

The Korina veneer that is applied to the top of the core wood is most certainly going to look different to the rest of the wood. That's kind of the point. The core wood can be any old gaudy looking piece of wood, which means they can maximise the wood they have, they don't have to restrict themselves to using just the good looking wood, and waste the stuff that's not quite up to par in terms of aesthetics, when it it is otherwise perfectly fine. The veneer is a thin layer of much nicer wood, applied over top to give it the appearance of being constructed from the more aesthetically pleasing stuff.

 

I'm not claiming to be an expert, just calling it like I see it.

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"It's All ****!" ;>)

CB

 

Now that is a new one on me! I've never heard of a guitar being manufactured from that material!

 

Can you imagine the "discussions" we'll have over that one?

 

1. The country of origin of the ****.

2. The age of the ****.

3. The quality of the ****

4. Is it a one-piece **** or is is actually several dicks glued together?

5. Is it just **** veneer over some other body part?

 

Obviusly there will never be an ending to this question. The manufacturers say one thing, our panel of experts say another. I've tried to post some actual quotes from various sources ... not that any of them should hold more water than any of the other opinions expressed.

 

The most (and only) important thing is that you are happy with your guitar. I know that I love my Korina Flying V and I also know that whenever I see Maniak's matching Expolrer and SG, I double over with GAS! Play, enjoy and bond with your new guitar, MC87. The proof is in the pudding ... and NO, I'm not saying these guitars are made out of pudding either!

 

Jim

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