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Author Topic: Coastal Redwood. Tonewood profile  (Read 439 times)
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« on: October 28, 2009, 03:21:10 PM »

Hi Folks!

For your viewing pleasure, I have just published a profile on Coastal Redwood as part of my ongoing tonewood database. As always, improvements, corrections and additional information/ your own experiences are much appreciated- I'll update the profile citing you and linking back to you! If you have an experiences or data to share, I would be very grateful.

I can't link pics directly to here so do pop by to

for the full Visual presentation. As always, I present the text portion of the interview for your consideration- although I do highly recommend popping by to see the pics!

Warmest regards,

Sequoia sempervirens | Tonewood Profile | ”Coastal Redwood”

Tonewoods Database

All pictures - Click to enlarge!
Please email with any corrections/ additional info
We aim to keep each profile as complete as possible & your help is appreciated!
Coastal/ California Redwood technically refers to the species Sequoia sempervirens. There are 2 other different, separate species are also referred to as Redwood:

      Sequoiadendron giganteum- giant sequoia
    * Metasequoia- Dawn Redwood

Quick Facts
Scientific name: Sequoia sempervirens
Trade names: Coastal or Clalifornia Redwood
Janka: ~450 (no firm references)
Uses: Tops, veneer
RIYL: Cedar/ spruce
Bling factor: Curly tops are not uncommon
Availability: Rare
CITES status: Not listed. No restrictions

Note: (RIYL) Recommended If You Like

Natural History

Costal Redwood is sole living example of the Sequoia genus with a natural range from to coastal California to southwestern Oregon. Sequoia sempervirens is a long lived, evergreen tree. It can live for a maximum of 2,200 years and can reach up to 115m high and 8 m in diameter.

Redwood has a soft fibrous bark up to 30 cm thick and when exposed reveals a bright red-brown interior. Costal Redwoods reproduce both sexually, asexually and through burls. It’s burls are capable of sprouting into new trees once removed from the parent tree.


The species as once subject to indiscriminate logging but now there are 899,000 acres (364,000 ha) of second growth redwood forest in California, managed for timber production.

Notable Trees

   1. Hyperion is currently the tallest tree measuring at 115.55 m high. it was discovered in the summer of 2006 by Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor and has been measured as the world’s tallest living organism.
   2. Lucky Strike is the most famous redwood tree amongst guitarists. Harvested by Craig and Alica Carter, ‘Lucky Strike’ is the name Craig gave to a log he thought of as almost, if not truly perfect for guitar tops. Read more about the lucky strike log next week in our Lucky Strike feature article

Physical properties

The timber has a deep red hue with straight grain and can often have curly grain. Coastal Redwood is valued for its straight grained beauty, light weight, and resistance to decay. The janka of redwood is around 450 and it has a specific gravity of 0.45.

As a tonewood…

Due to old age and large size of the logs, tops can vary greatly from soft to very stiff and whilst the very best tops can display an exceptional stiffness to weight ratio, some can physically resemble cardboard.

It is used for soundboards for guitars and the burls as top plates for electrics. Noted luthier, Dana Bourgeois says:

“Redwood is usually darker in color than cedar and often displays the same general tonal characteristics, leaning slightly toward darker tones, less definition in the bass, and lower velocity of sound.“

Subjective tone…

I would broadly characterise the tone of Coastal redwood as being a crisper than Cedar with all the rich, complex overtones of cedar.


As a managed species, Redwood stocks are still limited and the best tonewoods are harvested from salvage.

Links/ References:
Bourgeois Guitars

©2008 Terence Tan.

Pictures copyright individual holders.

Any infringement of copyright is entirely unintentional. Any copyright issues should be address to: We will attempt to resolve these issues quickly.

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