Tone Woods

Top Woods

Cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)
Port Orford Cedar is the stiffest, the lightest and thus the most suitable cedar for soundboards. It is also the most stable of woods in terms of dimensional change. It is highly sought after for its clear, articulate and responsive tone with great sustain. 
Port Orford Cedar is an excellent choice for both classical and steel string guitars. It is very even textured, with a slight golden-white color and a tight, even grain. And it has a gorgeous peppery scent even under finish.

Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii)
Engelmann Spruce is known for its handsome appearance as well as its sparkling tone. Especially fingerstylists who play gently adore it. This Canadian and Western North American top wood will provide striking balance and dynamic range and seldom overdrives when played hard with a pick.
Engelmann looks like German Spruce, but the tops are more homogeneous with the early and late-growth rings being less distinct. Engelmann has a beautiful ivory sheen.

European spruce (Picea excelsa, Picea abies)
European spruce is considered the best top tone-wood available. There are several species that are sold as European spruce.
German Spruce has been used for instruments of the violin family for centuries. It is also a favorite among high-end steel string and classical guitar builders. Top quality German spruce has become very rare to come by and therefor is the most expensive of all European spruces.
Other alpine spruces are found in all high altitude regions of Europe: Switserland, Austria, Italy, Spain and even the former republic of Yugoslavia. These spruces are excellent alternatives to the German spruce.
European spruce is a stiff soundboard with a deep focused tap tone and a golden color. 

Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis)
Because of its strength and tough elasticy, Sitka is probably the most widely used top wood on commercial guitars. Sitka is a versatile top wood: it can stand hard playing without overdriving and it performs well when played gently. It produces a well balanced loud and woody sound. 
This North American top wood is often available in the "Bearclaw" variety. Bearclaw tops look as if the wood were scratched by a bear with artistic aspirations. Although this natural aberration has no impact upon the tone of the guitar, it adds a lot of character to the instrument.  
The color of Sitka Spruce ranges from white to light brown.

Back and Side Woods

California Laurel/Oregon Myrtle (Umbellularia)
Oregon Myrtle grows only in Oregon and Northern California. It is also known as California Olive, Pepper wood or Spice tree wood. The color of Myrtle varies from golden yellow, ocres, green, violet and deep brown. As no two sets, even from the same log are alike, each guitar will be unique.
This stunning wood is tonally similar to Maple but with the added warmth of Walnut.

European and Californian Walnut (Juglans regia, Juglans california)
Walnut is an excellent all-purpose back wood, especially for the larger sized guitars. It produces a warm and woody, yet bright sound. Walnut with lots of flame or with interesting figure can be unsurpassed in beauty. The combination with Engelmann or European spruce is ideal for fingerstyle players with a light touch.

Kotibe (Nesogordonia papaverifera)
Kotibe is a marvelous tonewood from West-Africa and one of my favourites. It is also known under the name Danta, Kissingungo, Ovoe, Ovoui, Arborbora, Otutu, Naouya and Kondofindo, depending on the country of origin. It has a reddish-brown colour with sometimes a pink hue. It is extremely fine textured and is very lustrous under finish. Sound-wise, it easily stands up to the best Central-American rosewoods. The only downside is that it dries very, very slowly. Fortunately, I have stock for several backs and sides that is seasoned for more than 20 years.

Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Maple is the traditional wood for instruments of the violin family and for archtop guitars. Especially the flamed, the birds-eye, the curly and the quilted maple are highly praised for their visual exuberance.
Maple guitars have great balance, a bell-like clarity and a rich, warm low end response. On top of that, they have very good string-to-string separation even when played hard. 
I prefer to put a natural (undyed) finish on this lustrous, creamy white wood.

Monkey Pod (Cassia marilandica)
Monkey-pod has a golden amber color with dark streaks sometimes resembling Koa or Black Acacia. It produces a woody, pulsing tone without losing the clear high frequencies.
Monkey-pod has very wide pores that normally can only be filled with several coats of epoxy. As I avoid the use of epoxy (epoxy has a devastating effect to the sound and responsiveness of a guitar), the shellac and Old Italian violin finish of a monkey-pod guitar is not as lustrous as on a maple or kotibe guitar. But the overall appeal is nevertheless spectacular.

Sapele (Entandrophragma spp.)
Sapele is native to tropical Africa and is an excellent substitute for the more expensive mahoganies. Its color varies from golden brown over reddish to light purple.
It produces a warm and romantic tone, similar to the other mahoganies and Monkey Pod. Sapele is very suitable for both small and larger guitars.
I have some magnificent curly birds-eye Sapele in stock.
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