grading wood .

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Joe Holden

grading wood .

Post by Joe Holden » Sat Mar 19, 2016 9:57 am

Hello everyone . I'm a newbie to building although I have a few going on and in various stages of a build . I've seen were one guy has built a guitar out of wood from a home depot and the next guy comments on it being of a top grade wood . I've been coming across this topic more and more and would like to learn what is meant by that and in what why it applies . Also the lingo , the terminology etc and what to look for in usable to master grade wood . also how the different types of wood react to each other . i.e. when I took my luthier course the common purfling wood was bass wood but I see others use other woods ... whats your guys thoughts ? Cheers all , Joe

simonm
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Re: grading wood .

Post by simonm » Sat Mar 19, 2016 10:32 am

Lots of discussions about wood if you do a search here. Check out threads where Alan Carruth has posts about the physical characteristics of wood. In general you are paying for appearance/rarity when you buy very expensive wood. As long as you are asking this question then buy your timber from a tone wood supplier. Tonewood is specialized -leave it to the experts. Don't use "master grade" wood until you have at least 10 completed instruments under your belt unless you are in the enviable position of not needing to know the price of anything before you buy it.

edit - typos (and spell check "help") corrected.
Last edited by simonm on Sat Mar 19, 2016 2:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Joe Holden

Re: grading wood .

Post by Joe Holden » Sat Mar 19, 2016 12:11 pm

Thank simonm . I agree with you totally and its also why I'm asking as the day will come when i want to take it up a notch and so the learning curve is now . I'm hoping that one day in the not to distant future i will hold myown in the wood discussion as I'm not to bad at it but a rookie all the same . Thanks for the tip . I will be sure to check out Alan Carruths .

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Re: grading wood .

Post by jim watts » Sat Mar 19, 2016 7:15 pm

In addition to this site, if you peruse though the some of the long established tonewood suppliers websites (luthiers Mercantile, Allied lutherie, etc..) you should find some information on grading,terminology, etc. Keep in mind that most grading is primarily done by visual standards with the exception being how well quartered it is and the amount of run out it has. Also, regardless of what e - b a y wants you to believe, flatsawn eye candy is not master grade. Wood like this would've been downgraded not all that long ago.
Last edited by jim watts on Sat Mar 19, 2016 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Steve Ganz
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Re: grading wood .

Post by Steve Ganz » Sat Mar 19, 2016 7:22 pm

Unfortunately, grading has no clear industry standard. Vendors differ in their usage of terms like A, AA, AAA, AAAA, AAAAA, etc. More A's indicates better usually...some vendors don't go beyond 3A. Usually nobody sells other letters, although B probably means reject. I suggest that you find a few vendors, and call them to explain what they mean by their grading nomenclature. You are likely to get different answers, but you will get a more relevant frame of reference by talking with someone who actually uses a system and clearing up any terms that you do not understand.
I see that during my editing of this response, jim watts suggested something similar.
Steve

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Michael.N.
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Re: grading wood .

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Mar 19, 2016 7:38 pm

jim watts wrote:In addition to this site, if you peruse though the some of the long established tonewood suppliers websites (luthiers Mercantile, Allied lutherie, etc..) you should find some information on grading,terminology, etc. Keep in mind that most grading is primarily done by visual standards with the exception being how well quartered it is and the amount of run out it has. Also, regardless of what e - b a y wants you to believe, flatsawn eye candy is not master grade. Wood like this would've been downgraded not all that long ago.
Virtually all of them state 'runout free'. Rarely does it actually mean that, even in some master grade sets. 'Less runout' might be a more accurate term. Largely they grade on colour, straight grain, tightness of grain, quartered, even grain spacing across the board. Of course some of these aren't all that important (if at all).
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Re: grading wood .

Post by MessyTendon » Sat Mar 19, 2016 8:08 pm

Buy the cheap stuff and practice with it. That's what I'm doing. It's going to take awhile before I am decent enough to use good stuff.

Much of this Mastergrade wood is just cosmetic. You pay more for extra growth per inch, tighter lines and less run out. But all wood is imperfect. You could likely build a gorgeous responsive instrument with rejected tonewood.

One way you can cut out the middle man is to find the raw wood yourself and have it cut for you. This is either going to work great, or be a moot point. But there is no reason to seek out wood yourself.

Mastergrade does not mean an acoustically superior instrument. It just means the wood is accepted by the orthodoxy as better because it looks like money :)

Joe Holden

Re: grading wood .

Post by Joe Holden » Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:54 am

Wow . Thanks guys . I knew posting on here would start to bring around what I'm trying to understand or at least get me pointed the right direction .
So thanks to Jim Watts , I'll be sure to check these suppliers out . You guys are great taking your time ... that's what its all about I suppose .
I thought that might be the case Steve Ganz , This to will get some attention from me. I thought B grade was for furniture , haha . thanks .
Michael N. Thanks for your input . I have been in the logging business for some years , I've always had a love for wood ( beats the oil patch ... well not in Bucks mind you ) . I have looked at a number of tops , the guy who taught me how to build guitars was a botanist and was always on about the nature of wood . He's not with us anymore so ... guess that's why I'm here with you lot . lol . I learned lots about wood from the guy I just wish it could have been more , but such is life . So I'll look into all your suggestions . That should fire up the next round of Q & A .
So thank you all for all your input , I also like what you have to say Messy Tendon .... I may take a shot at sawing my own someday as there's lots of logs around but I'll have to bone up on air drying etc , figure if its really for me and it might be then ... we'll see . That's where a lot of this may be leading to in the future . Thanks again All , As for the cheap stuff , may be I'll try to make a bunch of guitars from the home depot verity and give them to kids around just for the fun of it . haha . Cheers All .

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DenisJ_III
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Re: grading wood .

Post by DenisJ_III » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:24 pm

For Indian Rosewood, this picture gives you an idea of one supplier's grading. Three guitar back sets, from left to right:

Grade 'A' (Second) cost around 38 euros, excluding taxes,
Grade 'AA' (First) 49 euros,
Grade 'AAA' (Special) 71 euros.

download/file.php?mode=view&id=50857

If you could make three otherwise identical guitars from these sets, my guess would be that there would be no discernible difference in sound or playability. The difference is largely a visual aesthetic.

Maybe some could be easier for the luthier to work with- I'll leave that for experienced makers to comment on. :wink:

Denis
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Joe Holden

Re: grading wood .

Post by Joe Holden » Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:40 am

Thanks Denis , I appreciate the contribution as well as the picture . I think it goes to show that there is a lot of wood out there that's totally usable , At least at a mid level of building , as long as certain criteria is met . Alot of it seems to be more of how "pretty" you want it to look . I love the looks of exotic woods , I could star at it all day , but for actual tonal quality .... that's were I'd like to hear from the pro's . After all every guitar sounds different one to another even made from the same woods from the same trees . So I'm wondering just how far that rabbit hole goes .
Peace Pal .
thanks for the input .
Joe

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Re: grading wood .

Post by gjo » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:15 am

A friend of mine once joked about the many grading systems saying, "Well, I am a master guitarmaker and passed all examinations, so every piece of wood I use is 'Mastergrade'." And I have to say that he is right because his guitars are very good.

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Re: grading wood .

Post by simonm » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:33 am

gjo wrote:A friend of mine once joked about the many grading systems saying, "Well, I am a master guitarmaker and passed all examinations, so every piece of wood I use is 'Mastergrade'." And I have to say that he is right because his guitars are very good.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I agree entirely. By many accounts this could sum up Antonio Torres' wood choice too.

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Michael.N.
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Re: grading wood .

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Mar 22, 2016 11:07 am

Speaking of Torres. I recently bought four birds eye maple sets for FE 28 copies, all from David Dyke. I deliberately chose his AA grade thinking that they wouldn't be too fancy. His highest grade is AAA. The back on FE 28 is extremely plain looking, at least for birds eye maple. I didn't want wood that was absolutely riddled with birds eye.

Image

I think I should have dropped down a couple of grades, maybe to a B grade.

A 'AA' grade Yew set.

Image

That's not runout, I put a bit of shellac on one half of the boards. Perfectly quartered, the sides show both sap and heart wood. The grain on the sides runs very straight considering that it's Yew. This stuff would be good enough for Robin Hood and his merry men, it's good enough for me.
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gjo
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Re: grading wood .

Post by gjo » Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:08 pm

Why do you join the yew this way?

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Michael.N.
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Re: grading wood .

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:15 pm

It's not joined. I haven't decided which way to join the two pieces, I haven't even thought about it. I won't use this Yew for at least another 6 months or so.
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