View Full Version : What Can You Expect?
I know in an ideal world you could answer this question very easy.
All thing being equal. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
What would the tonal response between mandolin tops carved out of each type ( sitka, engleman, red )of spruce be?
What could one expect from each type of spruce?
I think I know where this will lead but
I do want to know.
Here is a link that I like. It doesn't spell anything out but gives a builder a good idea of the differneces one might expect species to species. Wood Spec. (http://www.woodbin.com/ref/wood/strength_table.htm)
One thing to keep in mind is that when talking in generalities you can pidgeon hole the qualities pretty neatly, but when you are talking about one particular piece of wood the generalities go out the window, and you are left with the properties of that specific piece of wood.
There is so much variability in spruce, globally, that I think it’s unwise to attach much significance to any species. Even (or especially) when you examine the hard evidence of hundreds of controlled examples of well-chosen pieces, the results are pretty vague and contradictory. By this I mean looking at a long history of Martins made with Sitka, and then a whole bunch of (pick your brand: Martins, Collings, SCGC, Bourgeois) made with Sitka and compare them to the same model made by the same maker using Adirondack or Engelmann or whatever, the results are extremely subjective.
This subjectivity is further compounded by the fact that, with but a few notable exceptions, the folks who make these guitars seldom get a chance to evaluate their own instruments. They ship them out raw the minute they’re done, and never hear how they ripen. Few players get to experience very big pools of each possibility. But some astute dealers and repair people do have that opportunity, and generally they’re noncommittal about how superior any species might be. They know better. Wood is extremely variable. Different slices from the same flitch sound different coming from the hands of the same maker. Qualities fondly held to be characteristic of one species are very likely to turn up in a top of another – so often that it puts the lie to the original assumption.
Even the charts such as the one Gavin just posted, valuable as they are, only offer averages. Real luthiers never use average wood, they carefully select it for the qualities they believe will enable them to make a good instrument. They’re off the charts in the books. And even those criteria vary far more than you might suspect.
I think there probably is a basic profile of characteristics for the various species of spruces; they’re not all the same. But they are ambiguous enough that I’d recommend focusing on learning to evaluate and identify a good piece wood regardless of species.
Here’s a page (http://www.lutherie.net/eurospruce.html) I started a few years ago about so-called German spruce which contains more of my thoughts about spruce.
Chris......Thanks for all of the information and the link.
Michael....The tip on treating all pieces seperately is a good one.
Paul.......Wood is extremely variable and as we have read here on the loop, the wood is very different even in the same log.