View Full Version : Norway spruce in vintage Gibson tops

Aug-16-2009, 1:30pm
On the Harwood thread in this forum, Jeff Mercer pointed out that a 1920's Jenkins Music Co. catalog was up for auction on ebay. See threads #64 and #65 here:


While looking over the page showing the Gibson F2 and F4 mandolins, I saw that it describes them as having Norway spruce tops. Unfortunately, the exact date of this catalog is not known.

I have a copy of the 1929 Jenkins catalog and here it describes them as having "select", "choice" or "finest" spruce tops.

My question is: Were the earlier tops really Norway spruce, and if so, when did the switch to "select" or "finest" spruce occur, and what exactly was "select", "choice", or "finest" spruce?

I've attached some images of the catalog pages. Very entertaining.

Bob Jenkins

Aug-16-2009, 1:46pm
It's pretty near impossible to ID the spruce in those instruments, unless it's Sitka (which is ID-able by using a hand lens)...

The main (only) suppliers of tonewoods in the States till well into the 70's dealt in European wood, and European wood only, so I'm sure a lot of that found it's way into these mandolins...

But what about the war years?
Like Handel tuners, European wood would have gone by the wayside, and domestic sources explored...

And the wood we see in a lot of those instruments (especially the Loars), would have never made it out the doors of any German wood suppliers.
A lot of that stuff is horribly off-quarter and funky--good signs that they were sourced from the lumberyard...