Cedar is softer, and not as strong nor as elastic as Spruce, but it is more stable with changes in moisture content. It is liked for its warm color, straight grain, and clear crisp tap tone. It typically has a throaty low end and a mellower sound than Spruce. The color ranges from light to reddish to chocolate brown. Cedar does not have an extended "break in" period like Spruce.
Alpine/Italian Spruce is the exact same species of wood as our German Spruce, but it comes from a different region and so has slightly different attributes. It is just a bit warmer in color and the winter grain, when visible, is a bit pinker. Tonally, it is said be more focused with a slightly stronger fundamental than regular German Spruce. For this reason it has a loyal group of devotees. We typically have a good number of higher grade tops with very tight grain and even color.
GERMAN/EUROPEAN SPRUCE German Spruce is a common term for Spruce coming from Europe, but it is not really accurate. Guitar grade Spruce has not come out of Germany for many years now. The best material comes from the former Yugoslavia region. Carpathian/Ukrainian Spruce is from the Caucasus and Carpathian mountains that surround the Black sea. This wood has a very creamy, white appearance but with slightly wider grain than the other European Spruces.
In the last few years Engelmann Spruce has grown in popularity. Many better known makers now use Engelmann in lieu of German Spruce since good Engelmann has many of the traits desirable in a good German top and it is more economical. In appearance it is like German Spruce, but unlike German Spruce, it seems to be more uniform in consistency. The tops are often more homogeneous looking with the early and late-growth rings being less distinct than those of Sitka.
Tonally, Redwood compares to Cedar but possesses more of the qualities associated with Spruce - so expect a bolder, crisper, punchier tone than Cedar, but with all the rich, strong overtones intact. These tops are much stiffer than you might expect for Redwood. In performing his soundboard testing, luthier Brian Burns found that some of the best strength-to-weight numbers are found in these tops.
Similar in appearance and scent to Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Port Orford Cedar is stiffer, lighter and thus more suitable for soundboards. Indeed, it is highly sought after for the bold, robust, responsive tone that it imparts on an instrument. It is very even textured, with a slight golden-white color and tight, even grain. A great advantage to the builder is that this wood is more immune to splitting than absolutely any other soundboard wood.
backs & sides
Cocobolo is a dense, stiff tropical hardwood with a fairly bright tone. Sonically, it's similar to koa, but resonates a little deeper on the low end, although it doesn't have quite the full low end of rosewood or ovangkol. Fast and responsive, with moderate note decay, it's articulate with lots of note distinction. Cocobolo is heavier than most other Rosewoods we offer, which may contribute to its strong tone.
Often considered to be the "ultimate" in tone wood, Brazilian Rosewood was used for the finest pre-war instruments by the major manufacturers. Its balance, clarity of tone, quick response, and beauty of color and figure are legendary.
It compares well to Brazilian Rosewood, and many claim it is superior, producing a well-balanced sounding guitar with great projection and strong lows and highs. In fact, during the 50’s and 60’s the great Spanish makers considered it to be the only acceptable substitute to Brazilian Rosewood! The grain lines are unusually tight and straight. The color ranges from a rich mauve to a brownish brick red with tight growth rings and occasional dark brown to black ink lines.
It is prized for figured specimens, particularly "curly" or "flamed" wood exhibiting the tight even curls of "fiddleback" figure, as well as "birds-eye" and "quilted" or "blister" figure. (Curly figure is most prominent on quartersawn surfaces, while "birds-eye" and quilted show best on flat-sawn faces.) European Maple is between Rock Maple and Bigleaf in hardness, and is fine and even-textured. Its appeal lies in its ease of working and in its lustrous, creamy whiteness.
One of the most popular and traditional guitar woods of all time, rosewood takes the basic sonic thumbprint of mahogany (which has a strong midrange) and expands it in both directions. Rosewood sounds deeper in the low end and brighter on the top end (one might describe the treble notes as zesty, sparkly or sizzly, with more articulation). If you look at its frequency range visually, rosewood would appear to be more scooped in the middle, yielding less midrange bloom than mahogany.
Another dense hardwood, Macassar boasts a lot of presence and is typically clear and loud with a broad dynamic range. It seems to be a wood that is uniquely responsive to different playing styles. It has a strong bass and lower mids; clear and transparent highs that respond like an accelerator pedal as you move your right hand closer to the bridge and dig in a bit; and a slightly scooped midrange.