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Thread: Visual differences between spruce species?

  1. #1

    Default Visual differences between spruce species?

    I am curious about whether it is possible to tell visually between different spruce species.
    I guess I'll just stay right here, pick and sing a while...
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  2. #2
    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    I don’t think it’s possible, but I’m sure someone will say they can.
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  4. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    Sitka can be identified at 10X magnification, all other spruce wood is indistinguishable visually.
    (The trees can be identified visually, but I assume the question is about wood.)

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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    Sitka can be identified at 10X magnification, all other spruce wood is indistinguishable visually.
    (The trees can be identified visually, but I assume the question is about wood.)
    Sometimes even fir (abies) or other species of pinaceae family (pines, cedars, doug fir etc.) can be hardly distinguishable by bare eye or magnyfying glass from spruce without lots of experience with those species. Often color can be a hint by that's variable as well.
    Adrian

  6. #5

    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    Sitka can be identified at 10X magnification, all other spruce wood is indistinguishable visually.
    (The trees can be identified visually, but I assume the question is about wood.)
    Yeah, i was asking about wood. I thought it might be useful to know when looking at mandolins that I may not have a lot of information on.

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    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    I suppose it's possible on the raw material.
    I would think it would be quite difficult after stain and varnish or lacquer.
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    Quote Originally Posted by milli857 View Post
    Yeah, i was asking about wood. I thought it might be useful to know when looking at mandolins that I may not have a lot of information on.
    I’ll play Devil’s Advocate here … I’m sure you have your reasons. But why? Personally, what I care most about a finished mandolin is how it sounds and how it feels. If you believe different species of spruce make a big difference in sound for you personally, then you should be able to hear what species you are playing. At the least, you should be able to discern whether you like what you hear … so why?
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Iíll play Devilís Advocate here Ö Iím sure you have your reasons. But why? Öyou should be able to discern whether you like what you hear Ö so why?
    Itís not just tonality, what about the guy who used a hacksaw to chop off the scroll of his mandolin saying that it sounds the same, but now itís easier and lighter to carry?
    Iím thinking that where the wood comes from might be important, at least to the lumber jack and the trucker.

    Then again, what about the guy who canít sell his mando because the top is some wood thatís out of fashion. Sounds the same as others in itís class but people wont buy it as soon as they hear what itís made from. Doesnít seem fair.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    I’ll play Devil’s Advocate here … I’m sure you have your reasons. But why? Personally, what I care most about a finished mandolin is how it sounds and how it feels. If you believe different species of spruce make a big difference in sound for you personally, then you should be able to hear what species you are playing. At the least, you should be able to discern whether you like what you hear … so why?
    I'm with you in that if it sounds good, the wood species are not super important, I just like to have info about the mandolins I'm looking at as I am shopping for them.

    I think my next mando will actually be spruce-free, it's a celtic style with a redwood top. If I had just been paying attention to woods I probably would have gone for the identical model with a spruce top but the tone on the redwood one was just so sweet.

  12. #10

    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    I also have heard people on here talk about the sound of Adirondac spruce, but I don't really have a baseline for that because I've never been able to tell between wood species when trying out mandolins in the past.

    It'd be nice to know if the sound I like from a particular mandolin I try at a store comes from the spruce species or if it just had a better-carved top, so that I can look out for that in the future.

  13. #11
    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    Quote Originally Posted by milli857 View Post
    I also have heard people on here talk about the sound of Adirondac spruce, but I don't really have a baseline for that because I've never been able to tell between wood species when trying out mandolins in the past......
    You're in good company.
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  14. #12
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Visual differences between spruce species?

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    Sometimes even fir (abies) or other species of pinaceae family (pines, cedars, doug fir etc.) can be hardly distinguishable by bare eye or magnyfying glass from spruce without lots of experience with those species. Often color can be a hint by that's variable as well.
    edit: cedars, redwoods are not pinaceae but cupressaceae family. (Thanks Dave!)
    Adrian

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