Different Spruce? Sitka?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Tim522
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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Tim522 » Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:54 pm

Grooveman JS wrote:
Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:13 am
Sitka Spruce, Its used a lot on steel string guitars & while we're on this; I wonder what you guys say about Adirondac Spruce .....this wood is used a lot on Arch Top guitars................does anybody know of a CG topped with Adirondac Spruce :?: :idea: :?:
I've had two classical guitars made of adirondack spruce. The first one was nice and well balanced but i wanted the trebles to be a bit more creamy. MY current adirondack spruce is the nicest sounding guitar that i've ever owned. It's very clear and holds that clarity when being strummed aggressively (rasgueados). I have read that adirondack has the highest volume ceiling. I think what's more important and this has been said many times before, it's what the maker does with the wood that makes the biggest difference...

Grooveman JS
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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Grooveman JS » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:20 am

[quote=.........I think what's more important and this has been said many times before, it's what the maker does with the wood that makes the biggest difference...
[/quote]

Totally agree; just curious about how a CG would sound with Adirondac Spruce
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Alexandru Marian
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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Alexandru Marian » Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:24 am

The problem with Adi is that visually apealing sets are rare thus very expensive. It can be from 2 to 3 times more expensive than European. It is also a typically dense spruce which is harder to build - not everyone is comfortable with super thin soundboards. Next to Euro, it seems to be quite similar. I have several Adi sets and compared to equal density Euro, they tap and flex in a similar way. They do not seem to have anything extra or special when measured (stiffness, speed of sound etc) They look similar but perhaps the medullary rays are slightly different.

In any case, i am going to build one of them in the following months and report back on the tone. I expect the usual nice stuff that comes from dense spruce: solid, defined trebles that project and record especially well but slightly less of that "player excitement" which happens with low density stuff (cedar, double top or the occasional super light spruce)

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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Alan Carruth » Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:40 pm

I've seen American Red spruce that is as low in density as any European or Engelmann spruce. You have to hunt a bit for it, but it exists.

Back in the 30s, as they were running through the last of the old growth Red spruce, the Martin company used to source it from several different places. They got some from the mountains of Western Virginia, iirc, and called that 'Appalachian', but they got more from upstate New York, and that was 'Adirondack' spruce. It's the same species: Picea rubens. The stellar reputation it has is due to the fact that Martin supposedly made their best guitars in the 30s. Since they were using (mostly) 'Appalachian' spruce and Brazilian rosewood, those became the 'magic' woods, responsible for the fine tone of the guitars of that era.

Recently somebody pointed out that Martin, like all the other manufacturers, was working flat out through the 20s, but when the Depression hit they cut 'way back. Naturally, when they laid off workers they kept the best ones, and, of course, those remaining workers did their best work so that they would keep their jobs. There was no difference in the wood from the 20s to the 30s, but maybe the 'average' worker was better? To me that's a very plausible hypothesis.

tim522 wrote:
"I have read that adirondack has the highest volume ceiling. "

That property, which is often called 'headroom', seems to be a function of the density of the wood. Since the energy in a plucked string is limited builders generally try to make the top as thin and light as possible. The limit for that is established by the stiffness necessary to keep the top from folding up too quickly under string load. Denser wood tends to be stiffer at a given thickness, so you can work it down a bit to get the stiffness to be right. However, because of the way stiffness relates to both density and thickness, the denser top will tend to be heavier at a given stiffness. This makes it a bit harder to push, but also harder to over drive. For various reasons this sort of 'headroom' seems to be less of an issue in Classical guitars than it is in steel strings, and particularly in the scalloped-braced Dreadnoughts that Martin originated.

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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Grooveman JS » Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:33 am

:?: Hi Alan......just to clarify; i suppose you're referring to Redwood when you use the term American Red Spruce........
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Tim522
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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Tim522 » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:12 am

Grooveman JS wrote:
Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:33 am
:?: Hi Alan......just to clarify; i suppose you're referring to Redwood when you use the term American Red Spruce........
I believe American Red Spruce is also known as Adirondack Spruce...

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Alexandru Marian
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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Alexandru Marian » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:18 am

Red spruce is a generic name for the species as it grows in several mountain ranges not just the Adirondacks. The name comes from the color of the cones, while the wood is (creamy) white. Redwood is indeed red in color and much more similar to western red cedar, both grow in the West and are from the Cypress family. Spruces belong to the Pine family.

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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Zebulon Turrentine » Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:58 pm

Sitka can make a wonderful classical guitar. It's just about selecting the right piece and then its potential can be equal to that of any other spruce.

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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Alan Carruth » Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:51 pm

Redwood is Sequoia sempervirens. American Red spruce is, as stated, Picea rubens. Many of the woods we use have a number of 'trade' names, and these can be confusing. As I said, 'Adirondack' is a trade name that Martin used for P. rubens. I have seen people refer to European spruce as 'red spruce' too, even though it's a different species. OTOH, it has been claimed that 'Carpathian spruce' is American P. rubens that was introduced into Europe. Sticking with the botanical name is the only real way to avoid confusion.

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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Dave M » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:55 pm

A long time ago after Alan Caruth gave us a seriously useful description of the chemistry of wood and the degradation of the hemicellulose portion of it, a poster wondered if that had something to do with the qualities of sinker timber.

Well that is an interesting question.

Do we know what happens to the chemistry of wood that is kept underwater (and presumably with little oxygen)?
Do we get the degradation of the hemicellulose and hence the slow increase in stiffness to weight ratio seen in dry timber? Or are there other chemical processes going on that differ from the dry state?
Dave

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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Grooveman JS » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:52 am

Alexandru Marian wrote:
Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:18 am
Red spruce is a generic name for the species as it grows in several mountain ranges not just the Adirondacks. The name comes from the color of the cones, while the wood is (creamy) white. Redwood is indeed red in color and much more similar to western red cedar, both grow in the West and are from the Cypress family. Spruces belong to the Pine family.

Thanks Guys ......for clearing up this........sometimes generic terms can be confusing; especially if you're not in the trade. :merci:
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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by John Stone » Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:12 pm

Brian McCombs wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:55 am
All the guitars I built from Sitka were tight sounding. They were not disappointing but none of them had a voice that made me get excited....they sounded somewhat plain.
This has been my experience with Sitka guitars too.
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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Alan Carruth » Sat Jun 17, 2017 10:10 pm

If you're used to working to certain thickness measurements you can end up overbuilding with Sitka or Red spruce, or under building with WRC. Long-grain Young's modulus pretty well tracks the density in softwoods, and European spruce runs in the middle of the pack for density on average, with Red and Sitka spruce tending to be more dense and WRC less dense. Some makers get very good at judging stiffness from the feel of a piece when they flex it, but some tests of that I've heard about indicate that most people are not as good at it as they think they are. It's fairly easy to measure the properties of the wood you use. This allows you to either pick out less dense wood to work with, which usually ends up making a lighter and more responsive top, or, at least, to reduce the weight of the wood you have to a practical minimum.

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HNLim
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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by HNLim » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:53 pm

Any comments regarding Lutz Spruce?

Ryeman
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Re: Different Spruce? Sitka?

Post by Ryeman » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:34 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Sat Jun 17, 2017 10:10 pm
Long-grain Young's modulus pretty well tracks the density in softwoods, and European spruce runs in the middle of the pack for density on average, with Red and Sitka spruce tending to be more dense and WRC less dense. Some makers get very good at judging stiffness from the feel of a piece when they flex it, but some tests of that I've heard about indicate that most people are not as good at it as they think they are.
When I made lutes professionally I always planed a front down to thickness by holding it on a fixed board that had a row of carpet tacks nailed to its far end. The tacks stuck up about a millimeter and their heads dug into the endgrain of the wood being planed, and held the wood in place. I planed towards the tacks. I could tell when the wood was approaching its required thickness/stiffness because it would start to flex and lift slightly ahead of the plane, especially at the start of the cut. I did measure thicknesses, and I did hold the wood up to a light to observe its translucence. But the flexing of the wood along the grain, when it was being planed, told me a lot.
As ever, of course, this whole process became more controllable and "easier to read" with constant practice.

Alan

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