I agree. I like the looks of my first Ash rod better than the purpleheart. Not sure I made the right choice with the grey thread.
Yes the rod is round. (So was the six strip ash rod.) The strips are glued up into a blank and then the blank is mounted on a wood lathe. As the lathe spins the blank the blank is sanded to the desired taper. The only difference in the 4 and 6 strip rods is that with the 4 strip the strips are cut square and glued together into a larger square blank. On the 6 strip rod the strips are milled at 30 degrees and glued into a hexagon.