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

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
robert e
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby robert e » Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:33 pm

It's interesting how rapidly cedar became the standard and most popular material for classical guitar tops. Was it solely the Segovia effect or was it the result of a "perfect storm" of disparate factors coming together?

I'd love to hear a redwood guitar. Any examples online?

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

Postby simonm » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:38 pm

robert e wrote:It's interesting how rapidly cedar became the standard and most popular material for classical guitar tops. ...


I was under the impression that spruce is "the standard". :-) Plenty of cedar about but I think spruce is well ahead. Cedar is much cheaper from a manufacturing perspective especially where marketing drives the idea that narrow growth rings are of major significance.

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tom0311
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby tom0311 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:42 pm

When I went to classical guitars plus a few years ago, the guitars in my budget (up to £1000) were pretty much 50% spruce 50% cedar. Probably because the factories produce both for most models. Same at LGS from what I remember. As soon as I started looking at luthier guitars it was about 70/30 respectively.
“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats.”

astro64
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby astro64 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:40 pm

In terms of sales, it may well be 50/50. In terms of what you see played in concerts, cedar probably leads. If you look at the top 10 concert artists, you will find mostly cedar (Russell, Barrueco, Williams, Assad brothers sometimes mix it up, Friederich players such as Pierri, Dukovic, Aussel all mostly cedar, then add all Smallman players, Vidovic, etc). Majority cedar among the younger generation playing in competitions. It may vary by country/region. E.g. I think spruce is very popular for Brazilian music, and perhaps in South America in general. Overall, students tend to follow their professors in instrument choice.

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guitarseller345645
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby guitarseller345645 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:07 am

For me, cedar is the way to go for "factory" guitars.

For "luthier" guitars, I have no preference.

When I started off in the late 70s, it was spruce guitars mostly, where I live.
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robert e
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby robert e » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:17 am

For luthier instruments played by professionals, it seems more or less even to me. In mass market retail, though, cedar seems predominant, at least from what I've seen. That's what I meant by "popular"--sheer numbers, regardless of level. Sorry for not being clear about that.

I could simply be suffering from sampling bias, though, just because I haven't done any kind of formal study. But is it possible that with factory classical guitars, cedar is more likely to sound better off the shelf or out of the box, or in inexpert hands, than a spruce top?

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guitarseller345645
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby guitarseller345645 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:08 am

I remember some makers saying that, due to demand from other instrument makers, and a longer period of use, "good" spruce is harder to come by (?) I also see some manufacturers adding an extra charge if a spruce top is chosen.

For myself, I have no preconceived notions - whatever I play on my factory guitar just sounds "better" to me with a cedar top, with the exception of one Alhambra 1C(A) and one Admira Avila.
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Grooveman JS
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Grooveman JS » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:40 am

Jack Douglas wrote:
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.


Hi Jack.....thanks for the heads up; never heard of this maker......I'll do a search & decide whether to pursue this option or not. :merci:
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Grooveman JS
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Grooveman JS » Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:18 am

Because of the so many factors to consider & all things being equal; the not very significant difference between the 2....many a times its hard to say a straight Cedar or Spruce answer. I think there're good sounding guitars with both Cedar or Spruce tops.

But One thing is for sure; there's definitely a marked difference between a solid & laminated top; no matter Cedar or Spruce.....very notable difference in tone & volume
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Michael.N.
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby Michael.N. » Fri Jan 06, 2017 7:28 am

guitarseller345645 wrote:I remember some makers saying that, due to demand from other instrument makers, and a longer period of use, "good" spruce is harder to come by (?) I also see some manufacturers adding an extra charge if a spruce top is chosen.

For myself, I have no preconceived notions - whatever I play on my factory guitar just sounds "better" to me with a cedar top, with the exception of one Alhambra 1C(A) and one Admira Avila.


Good spruce is extremely easy to come by. What they probably mean is good looking spruce is hard to come by. That has got absolutely nothing to do with good sounding spruce though. It's the difference between listening with your eyes and listening with your ears.
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zupfgeiger
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby zupfgeiger » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:47 am

I prefer spruce tops and traditionally braced guitars in the Spanish or Hauser style. No lattice or doubletop guitar can produce such a sweet sound and such a variety of tone colours. I do play cedar guitars occasionally but get bored with the cedar sound after a while. So I never regretted selling a cedar - with the exeption of my Delarue which was an exceptional instrument. :(
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Andrea Tacchi, Enrique Garcia model, Spruce/BRAZ, 2016
Alain Raifort, cedar/EIR, 2004
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sosa6string
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby sosa6string » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:07 am

Im yet to play a cedar topped instrument that has that 'wow factor'. I've played some that i like, but none yet that i really really just can't put down.
Currently own:
Fritz Ober 2006 - Spruce/RW
Daniel Friederich 1967 - Spruce
Jim Redgate Wave DT 2011
Cordoba Master Series Hauser - Spruce
Graham Caldersmith Concert
Marcelo Barbero 1961

My wife thinks I have enough......... :S

dilettante1000
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Re: Let's Talk Tops - Cedar or Spruce......

Postby dilettante1000 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:59 am

Tx to Grooveman for the nice words.

I'm lucky, I have 4 CGs, 2 spruce and 2 cedar tops. They are all different, in the sense that each has its own features, but the differences between them are more noticeable than the similarities.

Having said this, I stick to the notion that there is a 'character' of sound which is broadly distinctive of cedar, and also of spruce. Defining this in specifics is hard, since so many other factors affect the overall sound of each guitar, but in broad terms, there used to be an idea that (opened up) spruce was numero uno choice, but cedar was an attractive alternative because it has richness and subtlety from the start. This kind of implies that cedar is a compromise, but many here would take issue with this.

Among my guitars are two which I would boast are 'close to concert standard', one spruce + maple, the other cedar+ IR. They are chalk and cheese. I love the sounds both of them make, but they have very distinctive voices. Build quality is broadly comparable, both are lightweight, one has a FP finish, the other NC, one has Aquila strings, the other 'carbons'. My sense is that the particular voice of a guitar really is a combination of all the elements which go into its construction and finishing (including the strings), and represents, more or less, the 'mystery' of the luthier's art.

IMO (here come the bullets), I'd say that the biggest differences between the tops become more obvious the better the quality of the guitar overall, and in factory-produced (no slight intended) guitars, the differences may be less significant than other factors which can make or break a guitar's sound.

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

Postby JohnB » Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:08 pm

sosa6string wrote:Im yet to play a cedar topped instrument that has that 'wow factor'. I've played some that i like, but none yet that i really really just can't put down.


I can't really judge, not having played instruments from lots of makers but recently I took my Hermanos Conde 1968 to a respected luthier for some work. His parting comment as I left was something like "I'll have to take the strings off this guitar or I will keep on playing it instead of getting on with work."
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"

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

Postby Jack Douglas » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:44 pm

zupfgeiger wrote:I prefer spruce tops and traditionally braced guitars in the Spanish or Hauser style. No lattice or doubletop guitar can produce such a sweet sound and such a variety of tone colours. I do play cedar guitars occasionally but get bored with the cedar sound after a while. So I never regretted selling a cedar - with the exeption of my Delarue which was an exceptional instrument. :(


It's taken me much experimentation to arrive at the spruce top/Hauser or Torres style guitar. The One Delarue I tried was exceptional and the guitar I have for sale by Thomas Malapanis also exceptional enticed me to try a cedar top. In the end I prefer listening to someone play a cedar top instrument rather than me playing the cedar top. My observation is that cedar is way more forgiving of technique and with the exception of the two makers above (my limit of exposure) lacks the clarity of spruce. On the other hand Cedar offers very rich bold basses and takes much less time to 'break in'
You've introduced a very interesting discussion and I thank you.
Hauser III 2014!


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