Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Grooveman JS
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:56 am

Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Grooveman JS » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:59 am

There's definitely much more spruce guitars than cedar ones around.....personally; after hearing actual playing & comparisons on youtube for guitars of same make & model.....my take on it is...The Spruce ones offer a little more definitive sound, somewhat brighter; i guess that's why there're more Spruce guitars around.The Cedar ones are slightly more mellow. Overall; i think there's not very much or significant difference between the 2. That's my take on this......

While we're at this......must tone wood for the tops be limited to just Spruce or Cedar?
Masaki Sakurai MA-RF
Antonio Picado Concierto DT

User avatar
petermc61
Posts: 5445
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:11 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby petermc61 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:02 am

There are a few redwood tops around. I have never played one but I have heard the sound described as having some of the sound characteristics of both spruce and cedar.

Grooveman JS
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:56 am

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Grooveman JS » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:05 am

petermc61 wrote:There are a few redwood tops around. I have never played one but I have heard the sound described as having some of the sound characteristics of both spruce and cedar.



Ahhhhhh..... :bravo: That's nice; so we don't have to split hairs over this.....the best of both worlds.....Good idea :D :D
Masaki Sakurai MA-RF
Antonio Picado Concierto DT

User avatar
petermc61
Posts: 5445
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:11 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby petermc61 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:08 am

They are remarkably uncommon though. I suspect that is conservatism amongst guitar players rather than any specific drawback from using redwood.

dilettante1000
Posts: 252
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:29 am
Location: North Yorkshire

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby dilettante1000 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:00 pm

There's a bit more variety in the SS acoustic market. You occasionally see 'all-rosewood', for example.

The answer to the original question is no, there is no limit to the choice of top material, in theory. Think resonator guitars or carbon-fibre materials.

More mundanely, spruce and cedar have a long history of use, they are, relatively speaking, easy to source and reasonably priced, and they do the job that is expected. Over time, the sound that is produced when these materials are used has become a 'benchmark' for how a CG 'should' sound. (This is one of the reasons why innovation can be difficult).

I would hazard to suggest that someone could come up with a cheaper, more resonant, more easily prepared, more sustainable, 'nice sounding' material for guitar tops and there would still (and always) be those who will argue that 'it isn't the same' or that 'the old way is better' - which is a valid point, but in the end, a matter of opinion and taste, to some extent.

When someone with major influence comes out and plays a really great sounding CG made of something 'new', then there may start to be change. As of this moment I am not aware of such a material.

Grooveman JS
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:56 am

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Grooveman JS » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:35 pm

Hey dilettante1000....that's really some good insights there; well said :bravo:
Masaki Sakurai MA-RF
Antonio Picado Concierto DT

Grooveman JS
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:56 am

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Grooveman JS » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:38 pm

I just read somewhere in this forum.....don't remember where/what the Post/discussion thread is....some maker actually used a Spruce/Nomex/Cedar
combination for a Double Top guitar........now that's some innovation there; for that matter.....the double top concept is also a fairly new innovation that yields significant improvements.
Masaki Sakurai MA-RF
Antonio Picado Concierto DT

User avatar
souldier
Posts: 560
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:45 pm

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby souldier » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:41 pm

I've tried a redwood and compared it directly with a spruce from the same maker with the same back and sides. I would describe it as having the characteristics of cedar, but on steroids. Super deep basses and round trebles. If I get to try a few more redwoods from different makers, I could develop a more definitive opinion.

The spruce vs cedar debate is probably more complex than bright vs warm or clear vs muddy. Spruce tends to have more complexity and color and tonal variation to the sound as well. I've found that the trebles on spruce pops out more and balances better with the basses. Cedar has really deep, less focused basses with rounded trebles that focus more on the fundamentals. These are all generalities of course.

The classical guitar is constantly evolving and people are trying new things - lattice braced, double tops, different bracing patterns, sound ports, elevated finger boards, etc. My prediction is in the next 20 years, we'll discover another alternative top wood that will come on the same playing field as spruce and cedar. I've played many modernly designed guitars that I liked, but at the end of the day my ears keep going back to the traditional designs we've been using for decades.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

2014 James Frieson | Swiss Spruce . Madagascar Rosewood

Grooveman JS
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:56 am

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Grooveman JS » Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:09 pm

Hi Souldier found another Cedar or Spruce posting here.....

I'll reproduce it here......cos you put it so well......a good summary / generalisation:

"But in general, all else equal:
Cedar - Deeper less focused basses, rounder/warmer trebles, more fundamental/less overtones, narrower tonal palette
Spruce - Focused punchy basses, sparkling articulate trebles, more complexity and wider tonal palette. "
Masaki Sakurai MA-RF
Antonio Picado Concierto DT

Pat Dodson
Posts: 2650
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:32 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Pat Dodson » Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:31 pm

Based on previous similar threads, this could get interesting
Image

Grooveman JS
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:56 am

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Grooveman JS » Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:41 pm

Both my guitars are Spruce tops......I'm looking to acquire another guitar; I was thinking It'd be interesting to have a Cedar top for my 3rd....but after hearing some opinions & comparisons both on Youtube & hearing for myself in person......I decided that I'll try as many guitars as possible; those that I've shortlisted......& I'll go with the one that has the overall best sounding, good looking/workmanship & good playing/feeling be it Cedar or Spruce. :D :D
Masaki Sakurai MA-RF
Antonio Picado Concierto DT

Emil Krasich
Posts: 547
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:40 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Emil Krasich » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:12 pm

You'll find that there are spruce guitars that have cedar characteristics and cedar guitars that have spruce characteristics as well. It's really going to depend on the individual guitar. Either top can make an exquisite guitar. I like both equally and also really like combining the woods on double tops.
2016 Thames Dresden Double Top (CBS)
2016 630mm Dominelli Double Top (SNC)
1999 cedar Traphagen
19th century copy of an anonymous builder

JohnB
Posts: 508
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:17 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby JohnB » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:55 pm

"Spruce has a wider tonal palette?"

I haven't tried many guitars but I do have 2 spruce luthier guitars and 1 cedar luthier guitar (Hermanos Conde '68). My impression with these particular instruments is that the tonal palette of each of the guitars has a different "centre of gravity" so to speak, the cedar in particular, but that the width of tonal palette (i.e. the variety of colour and nuance) is probably greater for the Hermanos Conde Cedar than for either of the spruce guitars.

Of course this is very far from a representative sample of guitars and perhaps my impressions reflect my own technical limitations rather than the potential of the actual instruments.
Last edited by JohnB on Thu Jan 05, 2017 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"

Pat Dodson
Posts: 2650
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:32 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Pat Dodson » Thu Jan 05, 2017 3:19 pm

For newer members, or those who missed them at the time, you might be interested to try your luck/skill in determining whether three pieces played by member @rojarosguitar are played on guitars with a Spruce or a Cedar top.

At the end of the first thread are links to the other two recordings/threads. The answers lie late in each thread so do try not to cheat. :)

Have fun!

viewtopic.php?f=130&t=67301

Jack Douglas
Posts: 889
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:37 am
Location: Ashland, Va

Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Jack Douglas » Thu Jan 05, 2017 3:56 pm

Grooveman JS wrote:Both my guitars are Spruce tops......I'm looking to acquire another guitar; I was thinking It'd be interesting to have a Cedar top for my 3rd....but after hearing some opinions & comparisons both on Youtube & hearing for myself in person......I decided that I'll try as many guitars as possible; those that I've shortlisted......& I'll go with the one that has the overall best sounding, good looking/workmanship & good playing/feeling be it Cedar or Spruce. :D :D


Hi,
I have a cedar/cocobolo Thomas Malapanis listed with a Georgia dealer. It's a 2006 previously owned by Angel Romero. PM me if you would like the WEB site information. It's quite a guitar.
Hauser III 2014!


Return to “Luthiers”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Andy Culpepper, bacsidoan, CommonCrawl [Bot], Douglass Scott, jim watts, JohnB, johnd, KenO, SteveL123, Yong and 24 guests