Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
User avatar
Tom Poore
Posts: 968
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:00 pm
Location: South Euclid, Ohio, USA

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby Tom Poore » Sun Jan 08, 2017 2:47 pm

For a soundboard, the one true thing is sound.

Cedar is a pretender, enticing us from the one true thing.

Cedar seduces with a pleasant smell. But smell isn’t sound. We don’t smell music.

Cedar promises instant gratification—it “breaks in faster.” But instant gratification appeals to shallow minds and frigid hearts.

Cedar says it’s more durable and less prone to cracking. It makes having a guitar easy. But ease isn’t sound. If it were, we’d build soundboards with reinforced concrete.

We who cleave to the one true thing care not for smell. We care not for instant gratification. We care not for ease.

Sound is the one true thing. It’s the only thing.

Spruce is sound. Spruce, therefore, is the one true thing.

Amen.

Tom Poore
Grand Poobah for the Loyal Order of Spruce, North American Chapter
South Euclid, OH
USA

User avatar
Peter5
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2015 8:47 am
Location: Ulm/Germany

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby Peter5 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 3:08 pm

I always admire when people have a passion for something and they stand for that... So I have complete understanding and estimation for the cedar fraction and also for the spruce fraction. Not much more to add to the discussion except one thing: while cedars and spruces certainly have their general characteristics, I have heard cedars and I could not believe that they are no spruce and vice versa. So there are clearly overlapping specific guitars which is very interesting.
Cheers
Peter

User avatar
tom0311
Amateur luthier
Posts: 1429
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:37 pm
Location: Witney, Oxfordshire

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby tom0311 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 3:17 pm

Exactly Peter. I too have heard cedar that sounds like spruce, and spruce that sounds like cedar. Maybe guitars just all sound like guitars, and they are all individual. There are rarely any facts involved in these discussions as it's all subjective, and it's easy to manipulate human decisions and opinions. Tell someone who walks into a guitar shop that spruce will have more separation and a wider final palette, and that's what they'll find.

John Williams, David Russell, Manuel Barrueco and many more pros play(ed) cedar guitars.
“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats.”

Marcus Dominelli
Luthier
Posts: 2757
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby Marcus Dominelli » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:48 pm

tom0311 wrote: I too have heard cedar that sounds like spruce, and spruce that sounds like cedar. Maybe guitars just all sound like guitars, and they are all individual. There are rarely any facts involved in these discussions as it's all subjective, and it's easy to manipulate human decisions and opinions. Tell someone who walks into a guitar shop that spruce will have more separation and a wider final palette, and that's what they'll find.


Hard to disagree with this one. I once had a client come in my shop inquiring about me building a custom classical....back in the days before I made double tops (so the spruce versus cedar question still had much relevance).
This fellow was convinced that cedar was the best wood, and he could not well enjoy a spruce guitar. Needless to say he was a bit shocked when I pointed out to him that his "cedar top" Japanese classical was actually spruce that was sprayed to look like cedar. This "cedar" guitar that he had been playing for all those years was in fact spruce.
He never ordered a guitar from me. I think he was so in shock that he had to go back to his den and mull over everything that had happened to his Universe....

dandan
Posts: 531
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:16 pm
Location: newcastle-under-lyme, staffs, England

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby dandan » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:50 pm

I know longer hold to any preconceptions of the characteristics of either, ever since I found out the guitar I had based all my ideas of a stereotypical spruce top on was actually cedar! Beautiful sounding guitars can be made from either. There seem to be more high quality spruce top guitars around though, possibly because most luthiers prefer to work with it because of the aforementioned softness of cedar.
1969 Rokutaro Nakade A9
1966 Sakazo Nakade model D
1977 Aria AG80

User avatar
tom0311
Amateur luthier
Posts: 1429
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:37 pm
Location: Witney, Oxfordshire

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby tom0311 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:13 pm

Dan,

I prefer cedar guitars usually, but even though I enjoyed building a cedar topped guitar I'm reverting to spruce for a few builds to avoid frustrations due to softness. Maybe your comment is right! Although I'm sure proper luthiers can handle different woods much better than I can.

Interestingly the last time I went to LGS the chap behind the counter said that in his experience people tend to prefer cedar guitars. Whether he meant cedar was a more accessible sound for players and non players, or just the players, I'm not sure.

Quite a funny story Marcus! Shows how deeply people can believe in something like this.
“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats.”

User avatar
Moje
Posts: 674
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby Moje » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:26 pm

Marcus Dominelli wrote:
tom0311 wrote: I too have heard cedar that sounds like spruce, and spruce that sounds like cedar. Maybe guitars just all sound like guitars, and they are all individual. There are rarely any facts involved in these discussions as it's all subjective, and it's easy to manipulate human decisions and opinions. Tell someone who walks into a guitar shop that spruce will have more separation and a wider final palette, and that's what they'll find.


Hard to disagree with this one. I once had a client come in my shop inquiring about me building a custom classical....back in the days before I made double tops (so the spruce versus cedar question still had much relevance).
This fellow was convinced that cedar was the best wood, and he could not well enjoy a spruce guitar. Needless to say he was a bit shocked when I pointed out to him that his "cedar top" Japanese classical was actually spruce that was sprayed to look like cedar. This "cedar" guitar that he had been playing for all those years was in fact spruce.
He never ordered a guitar from me. I think he was so in shock that he had to go back to his den and mull over everything that had happened to his Universe....



Ha!, That comes up in the Sakurai/Kohno Guitar Fanclub thread all the time. It baffles me that so many are convinced that spruce/cedar is some overarching consideration that trancends other variables; stranger still, people have very strong opinions that could be tested by doing a simple blind test: go to a store, have someone pass you guitars, and identify all the cedar guitars with your eyes closed.

Verily, the true evil is preconceived notions; be sworn to fun, and loyal to none. ; )
2014 Michael Thames 650mm Cedar & IRW
1976 No. 10 Sakurai 660mm Spruce & IRW

User avatar
Chris Sobel
Luthier
Posts: 954
Joined: Sat May 04, 2013 8:44 am
Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby Chris Sobel » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:01 pm

I'd agree with some of the sentiments expressed here. Almost all of the cedar guitars I've built have not fit into the accepted notions of "cedar". The question is whether cedar is actualy darker/more mellow/etc, or if cedar guitars are generally built more flexible than spruce counterparts. It easy to do since cedar is on average about half the stiffness of spruce but only 25% less dense.

I built two guitars in series about a year ago, with cedar and spruce tops that were the same density (~350 kgm3) but were otherwise similar and weighed within 20g of each other and identical resonances. It was actually the SPRUCE guitar that sounded more mellow and dark, the cedar was brighter for sure. All in all the differences were not huge, but each had an unmistakeable timbre and so they had their differences as well.

Chris
CE Sobel Guitars

User avatar
MrSteve
Posts: 318
Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2007 10:27 pm
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby MrSteve » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:10 pm

I've owned guitars built out of both cedar tops as well as
Spruce tops.

Some have been better than others, I would never suggest
That all my Spruce guitars sounded better than all my cedar guitars or visa versa.

I'm pleased when I accurately play a piece correctly or coax some great tone or expression from a particular measure.

I never think, "wow, that was pretty because it was spruce or because it was cedar". I'm just happy that I own some nice well made guitars built by luthiers who love what they do. That is what I hear from my guitars.

Regards
Steve
2016 Chris Sobel Luthier Guitar Cedar/Madagascar Rosewood
2007 Darren Hippner Hauser SP/BRW
Yamaha SLG130NW Classical Silent

2012 Yulong Guo Chamber Concert Double Top SP/EIRW (SOLD)

User avatar
tom0311
Amateur luthier
Posts: 1429
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:37 pm
Location: Witney, Oxfordshire

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby tom0311 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:18 pm

MrSteve wrote:I never think, "wow, that was pretty because it was spruce or because it was cedar". I'm just happy that I own some nice well made guitars built by luthiers who love what they do. That is what I hear from my guitars.

Regards
Steve


That's exactly how it should be :bravo:
“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats.”

Marcus Dominelli
Luthier
Posts: 2757
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby Marcus Dominelli » Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:43 pm

They are both excellent woods, otherwise we would never be having the conversation....
In my experience, for fan braced, traditional guitars, spruce makes for a better guitar in terms of tonal complexity, and the guitar will age better. A cedar traditional might open up faster, or be a little easier to play, in terms of right playability.

Cedar is a great wood, and I think it should be treated differently than spruce. For lattice braced guitars I have found cedar to be superior to spruce.
For double tops both woods, in very combination can work well.

User avatar
guitarseller345645
Posts: 1010
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:15 am
Location: Far East

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby guitarseller345645 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:53 pm

When I received my Guitar Salon e-letter yesterday, I was aghast. Some many fine makers, so many fine instruments - using the evil woood :)
Höfner HLE-SAZ
Kremona Fiesta FC

souldier
Posts: 629
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:45 pm

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby souldier » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:18 am

Marcus Dominelli wrote:I once had a client come in my shop inquiring about me building a custom classical....back in the days before I made double tops (so the spruce versus cedar question still had much relevance).
This fellow was convinced that cedar was the best wood, and he could not well enjoy a spruce guitar. Needless to say he was a bit shocked when I pointed out to him that his "cedar top" Japanese classical was actually spruce that was sprayed to look like cedar. This "cedar" guitar that he had been playing for all those years was in fact spruce.
He never ordered a guitar from me. I think he was so in shock that he had to go back to his den and mull over everything that had happened to his Universe....


Really enjoyed this story. You probably trigged a serious mid life crisis in this guys life. I don't know what I'd do if I woke up one day to discover I'd been living a lie :D
"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

RichardUno
Posts: 588
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:29 pm
Location: Land of Fruits and Nuts

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby RichardUno » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:38 pm

I never though of spuce vs cedar in term of good vs evil, mayby nice vs naughty. On the other hand, I'll bet Darth Vader would never play spruce. Dark side all the way!

JohnB
Posts: 554
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:17 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Re: Good Vs. Evil- Unique Discussion of Spruce Vs. Cedar

Postby JohnB » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:11 pm

Not sure that good vs evil applies to spruce and cedar ....

.... now if it was about traditional vs lattice ....
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"


Return to “Luthiers”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: bobmoore, Chris Sobel, CommonCrawl [Bot], mmapag, Ricardo Barros, Robert England and 30 guests