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Author Topic: Article on Tonewoods  (Read 1846 times)
ducktrapper
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« on: September 06, 2016, 01:20:57 PM »

I don't know if anyone has posted this yet. Forgive me if it has been. 

http://acousticguitar.com/a-tonewood-primer-how-to-pick-the-right-materials-for-your-optimal-sound/?utm_source=Acoustic+Guitar&utm_campaign=b225609022-AGN_AGK_New_Template8_24_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e3d13d8433-b225609022-163217417&mc_cid=b225609022&mc_eid=5f69e075e6
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George
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2016, 02:18:52 PM »

Very good read Thomas.  Thanks for posting... 
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2016, 05:17:12 PM »

That is an interesting article, but it doesn't include top woods outside of North America. I'm looking at a guitar lately with Austrian spruce. Would that be similar to the Italian alpine variety? Perhaps I should ask Matthew this.
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ducktrapper
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2016, 05:30:40 PM »

That is an interesting article, but it doesn't include top woods outside of North America. I'm looking at a guitar lately with Austrian spruce. Would that be similar to the Italian alpine variety? Perhaps I should ask Matthew this.

As I understand it, you can't be absolutely sure of the provenance of these Euro spruces. German, Austrian, Carpathian etc. etc.
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2016, 07:22:49 PM »

As I understand it, you can't be absolutely sure of the provenance of these Euro spruces. German, Austrian, Carpathian etc. etc.

So the trees don't know what country they're in?  bigrin

May I assume that the spruce growing in the Italian alps is the same as that growing in the Austrian alps? Just wondering if the wood (in Austria ) will have the same properties as the IS. I want to avoid two guitars with similar sound, specifically the forum 3 (IS/rw) and a OOO (Austrian/bloodwood). GAS plague  whistling
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2016, 08:22:40 PM »

I read some other articles some time back about European Spruce.  My interest was piqued during the time that Larrivee was advertising "MoonWood", which is not an independent variety of Spruce, but merely a harvesting and processing technique.  I was also much enthralled by my D10 top being one of the Hunt For Spruce Sitka tops.  Anyway, what I gleaned from the readings was that for Lutherie there is only one species of European Spruce and it is called by the many names of the countries where it is either harvested from or sold from.  The belief is that Alpine, Austrian, Italian, etc. are one and the same variety...  I read some other articles about Spruce and stiffness of the Spine (i.e. softness or the lack thereof), which is just another factor in top wood performance, and it compared all of the Spruce varieties that are commonly used for guitar tops.  I am not claiming to be a tree expert and this is just my two cents from what I Think I may have learned...
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George
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2016, 08:48:06 PM »

What goebro3 said.
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ducktrapper
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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2016, 09:14:57 PM »

Sure and a lot of this is simply marketing. One thing I know is that these days there are so many nice guitars being build that while it's possible to pay too much, it's hard to go too far wrong. Unless, of course, you buy a Taylor.   whistling 
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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2016, 10:58:40 PM »

I read some other articles some time back about European Spruce.  My interest was piqued during the time that Larrivee was advertising "MoonWood", which is not an independent variety of Spruce, but merely a harvesting and processing technique.  I was also much enthralled by my D10 top being one of the Hunt For Spruce Sitka tops.  Anyway, what I gleaned from the readings was that for Lutherie there is only one species of European Spruce and it is called by the many names of the countries where it is either harvested from or sold from.  The belief is that Alpine, Austrian, Italian, etc. are one and the same variety...  I read some other articles about Spruce and stiffness of the Spine (i.e. softness or the lack thereof), which is just another factor in top wood performance, and it compared all of the Spruce varieties that are commonly used for guitar tops.  I am not claiming to be a tree expert and this is just my two cents from what I Think I may have learned...

Thanks George, my instincts take me there as well. So it is the same variety of spruce. So my next question, how does the spruce in the alps compare to those varieties referenced in the article we've read?
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« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2016, 11:01:49 PM »

Sure and a lot of this is simply marketing. One thing I know is that these days there are so many nice guitars being build that while it's possible to pay too much, it's hard to go too far wrong. Unless, of course, you buy a Taylor.   whistling 

No argument about the hype Thomas, they all just want to sell guitars.
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« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2016, 11:08:53 PM »

Thanks George, my instincts take me there as well. So it is the same variety of spruce. So my next question, how does the spruce in the alps compare to those varieties referenced in the article we've read?

It's possible to generalize but what does it tell you about any individual instrument? I'm not sure. 
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George
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« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2016, 11:09:01 PM »

Thanks George, my instincts take me there as well. So it is the same variety of spruce. So my next question, how does the spruce in the alps compare to those varieties referenced in the article we've read?

Ha ha, loaded question!  How should I know?  There does seem to be a preference for the European Spruce by manufacturers of many stringed instruments...

That said, I sure do hope the 50th is going to be available with a Moonwood top and American Black Walnut back/sides...  

P. S.  My Alpine Spruce topped D-03 koa is a very sweet sounding guitar, not that the others aren't too...
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2016, 11:17:23 PM »

Ha ha, loaded question!  How should I know?  There does seem to be a preference for the European Spruce by manufacturers of many stringed instruments...


Sure but do the tops cost the builder as much as the markup they seem to get?     
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George
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2016, 11:20:33 PM »

I don't know that either, but I certainly doubt it.  Even the torrefied tops don't cost that much more, unless you insist on getting one that is perfectly clean looking.
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2016, 11:42:37 PM »

It's possible to generalize but what does it tell you about any individual instrument? I'm not sure. 

True enough Duck, and I wish I could afford a guitar with each nuance of tone my ears could hear. Thanks for the chuckles

Ha ha, loaded question!  How should I know?  There does seem to be a preference for the European Spruce by manufacturers of many stringed instruments...

That said, I sure do hope the 50th is going to be available with a Moonwood top and American Black Walnut back/sides... 

P. S.  My Alpine Spruce topped D-03 koa is a very sweet sounding guitar, not that the others aren't too...

Sorry George, I wasn't trying to nail you down for info or expertise. Just some questions floating in my head that I must satisfy before spending more than a poor working man should for a hobby.
As for the preference for alpine (European) spruce, could also be marketing hype. I wonder if Sitka is considered an exotic wood in Europe. Sitka is hard to beat for guitar tops. I've often commented that weeds found in the tropical climes can be put in a pot, and sold in the north as a "plant".
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« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2016, 11:59:12 PM »

That reminds me of when I was absolutely stupid about guitar manufacture and I thought Laminated Top was some kind of special finish...  They will use any marketing ploy or jargon to sell more instruments.  For example, Ibanez is advertising Baked Sitka Spruce torrefied tops and Open Pore Vintage woods as something superior for products with laminated backs and sides... But you know, they will sell more of them for saying it.
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« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2016, 07:00:24 AM »

Something to consider is that many covet the older instruments as superior, whether they are guitars or violins or dulcimers and especially pianos.  Most of those instruments, if they were made in Europe, have a soundboard that was made of whatever spruce was available to the builder.  In most cases, it was "Alpine spruce" because that is the spruce species that is most prevalent in Europe and easiest to obtain.  I don't think the classic makers searched out certain spruce species to make their instruments.  I think they just discovered how to optimize the material they were presented with.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
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If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
ducktrapper
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« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2016, 11:12:08 AM »

That reminds me of when I was absolutely stupid about guitar manufacture and I thought Laminated Top was some kind of special finish...  They will use any marketing ploy or jargon to sell more instruments.  For example, Ibanez is advertising Baked Sitka Spruce torrefied tops and Open Pore Vintage woods as something superior for products with laminated backs and sides... But you know, they will sell more of them for saying it.

And Martin uses genuine sawdust in their HPL laminates! 
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George
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« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2016, 02:46:37 PM »

Something to consider is that many covet the older instruments as superior, whether they are guitars or violins or dulcimers and especially pianos.  Most of those instruments, if they were made in Europe, have a soundboard that was made of whatever spruce was available to the builder.  In most cases, it was "Alpine spruce" because that is the spruce species that is most prevalent in Europe and easiest to obtain.  I don't think the classic makers searched out certain spruce species to make their instruments.  I think they just discovered how to optimize the material they were presented with.

I think that is absolutely correct.  Another interesting thing I learned about Alpine Spruce was that the best of it comes from the back side of the Himalayas where it was never subjected to glacial destruction by the Ice Age...  They are the larger and older stands of those Spruce forests... 

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George
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« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2016, 10:44:50 PM »

Regarding wood in classic instruments being put together with whatever woods were available, yes and no.  When economies declined (such as happened to the fine violins of Cremona, Italy) cheaper, more available woods were chosen for certain parts but the tops were still considered too important to compromise.  From what I understand, Stradivari was very specific and intentional in his gathering of his woods and many of his proteges carried out these practices such as gathering spruce from a particular area, on the North side of the Alps where it grows slower (and thus stiffer) due to less sunlight.  Also, the maple from Croatia that was chosen for being the stiffest and best sounding, despite being less ornate.

  Tonewoods have become a fascination of mine over the last couple years and I've come to discover that there's a big variation, not only in sounds, but in quality of grades within that very species.  Last year I had the pleasure of picking the brain of John Griffin of Old Standard Wood (who harvests most of the Adirondack guitar makers currently use) and learned about how great a variation there can be in quality, even from the same log.  He was even able to tell me a story about the day he found the monster old-growth Adirondack spruce log that made my special-grade Collings top over 15 years ago.

  The builder, body size, and wood selection clearly come first when it comes to tone.  But, when all other things are equal, it makes sense to go with a type of spruce (or whatever other wood) that bears qualities you enjoy.
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