Wood selections for soundboards
Sitka spruce – picea sitchensis
We are fortunate to have this tree growing in our back yard. It is an excellent sounding wood for any size
guitar. This tree grows on the west coast in the wet zone and it gets really big ( up to 12 feet in diameter and 250 feet tall ) so the yield of clear straight grain wood is quite high.
Engelmann spruce – picea engelmannii
Generally a smaller tree than sitka, it grows at a higher altitude so the annual rings can be very close together. Usually fairly white with an even texture. Excellent sound.
White spruce – picea glauca
Grows all across Canada. Can grow to 4 feet in diameter ( wish I could find one ) but is usually smaller so high quality soundboards are scarce but make great sound. Very stiff and aromatic
Red spruce – picea glauca
An eastern tree also known as Adirondack spruce. This tree does not grow very large so high quality wood is in limited supply. Excellent tonal properties.
Western red cedar – thuja plicata
A western tree that grows very large ( up to 8 feet in diameter or more ). Lots of high quality wood available. Nice rich colour , lightweight , sounds great.
From time to time imported spruce from Europe is available. Please enquire.
Canadian Wood selections for back and sides
Black walnut – Juglans nigra
One of Canada’s finest woods. Rich in colour , very stable , excellent sound properties. Fairly hard and dense. Usually straight grain but is sometimes figured.
Black cherry – Prunus serotina
Canada’s other finest wood. Nice colour , fine grain , stable and fairly hard , sometimes figured. This wood has nice tonal properties.
Sugar maple – acer saccharum
Often figured, quite hard and dense, this wood has a nice ring to it. It takes colour very nicely.
Big leaf maple – acer macrophyllum
Usually figured, this west coast is wood lighter in weight and density than sugar maple but still delivers great sound.
Exotic wood selections
East Indian rosewood
An all around excellent tone wood. Very dense and hard. Beautiful colours although quite variable.
There are many species available and they vary from one to the other. Generally they all sound quite good. The South American species is now in limited supply due to overharvesting so its trade has been restricted , however , there is good wood still available.
This wood from Hawaii is quite stunning in appearance when it’s highly figured. The supply varies because there’s not much of it and the people of Hawaii also like it because it sounds really good.
I have used other woods with good results. Wood like figured imbuya is quite nice, Paduk and Bubinga are interesting hardwoods. There are many different species of wood becoming available to guitar makers these days. Because high demand for high quality wood has put the most beautiful wood on the planet at risk or endangered we must leave these trees alone for a while and let them regenerate while we learn to use and enjoy other wonderful woods of world .