Requesting a Lesson on Spruce Types

GAD

Wrinkled Member
Über-Morlock
Joined
Feb 11, 2009
Messages
14,173
Reaction score
4,130
Location
NJ (The nice part)
Guild Total
85
As I delve deeper into acoustics and archtops I’m seeing more distinctions that I don’t understand. Today’s ignorance is spruce.

I’ve seen mentioned (likely not an exhaustive list):

Spruce
Engelmann Spruce
European spruce
German spruce
Adirondack spruce
Sitka spruce

Please help this aging rocker understand the benefits/drawbacks of each and feel free to fill in any I’ve missed.

Thanks!
 

GGJaguar

Senior Member
Gold Supporting
Joined
Jan 17, 2011
Messages
5,755
Reaction score
5,182
Location
Skylands
Guild Total
31
European spruce is too generic a term. German, Italian and Carpathian spruce are all Picea abies (in the U.S. we call it Norway spruce). It just depends on where it is grown (which can make a difference, of course). Same for red spruce (commonly called Adirondack spruce). Most of what the large companies, like Martin, use is from Maine or Canada, not the Adirondack region. Some luthiers source red spruce from the Smokey Mountain region, too.
 

SFIV1967

Venerated Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2010
Messages
14,114
Reaction score
2,999
Location
Bavaria / Germany
Guild Total
8

cutrofiano

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2016
Messages
193
Reaction score
17
Location
Freiburg / Germany
Here some input of mine on the wide grain (Adirondack or fast grown other types of spruce) / tight grain (Alpine...) topic:

 

Rayk

Senior Member
Gold Supporting
Joined
Apr 19, 2015
Messages
4,929
Reaction score
402
Moon spruce ! Might be my next top if can afford another custom .
 

SFIV1967

Venerated Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2010
Messages
14,114
Reaction score
2,999
Location
Bavaria / Germany
Guild Total
8
Just make sure it's not a fake and you get the video documentation that the tree was indeed felled by chanting virgins at the strike of midnight under a full moon.
It's a big thing in Switzerland! And: Full Moon does not work !



"These traditional rules for getting best tonewood are – simplified – as following:
  • The best trees grow on the northwest slope of a mountain on altitudes from 1000 meter/3500 feet up to the limit of vegetation.
  • The best trees measure ca. 50 centimetres/ 20+ inch diameter; considering the slow growth such a tree is ca. 300 years old (that’s when a tree hits it’s peak).
    At these altitudes a tree grows around 1 millimetre/ 0.4 inch each year in radius = distance from the grain lines. Using a little mathematics it comes out to ca. 20 grain lines/inch, seldom up to 25+ grain lines/inch what is commonly considered to be one criteria for a “mastergrade”). Nature simply limits mastergrade tops.
  • Cut an according tree within the last quarter of waning moon (end of waning moon phase) in the wintertime after the growing period of the tree has stopped (low sap flow).
  • Let this tree as it is in the forrest for stabilization - including it’s branches and bark - until a first step of drying is done by nature and the cut tree tries to start to grow again after the end of wintertime (this is nowadays no more possible due to bark beetle plague).
  • Then bring it down to the mill, get split logs out of it and cut these into tonewood. Air-dry the milling results."




Ralf
 
Last edited:

Rayk

Senior Member
Gold Supporting
Joined
Apr 19, 2015
Messages
4,929
Reaction score
402
Just make sure it's not a fake and you get the video documentation that the tree was indeed felled by chanting virgins at the strike of midnight under a full moon.
Haha you really know your moon spruce ! Lol
 

Rayk

Senior Member
Gold Supporting
Joined
Apr 19, 2015
Messages
4,929
Reaction score
402
It's a big thing in Switzerland! And: Full Moon does not work !



"These traditional rules for getting best tonewood are – simplified – as following:
  • The best trees grow on the northwest slope of a mountain on altitudes from 1000 meter/3500 feet up to the limit of vegetation.
  • The best trees measure ca. 50 centimetres/ 20+ inch diameter; considering the slow growth such a tree is ca. 300 years old (that’s when a tree hits it’s peak).
    At these altitudes a tree grows around 1 millimetre/ 0.4 inch each year in radius = distance from the grain lines. Using a little mathematics it comes out to ca. 20 grain lines/inch, seldom up to 25+ grain lines/inch what is commonly considered to be one criteria for a “mastergrade”). Nature simply limits mastergrade tops.
  • Cut an according tree within the last quarter of waning moon (end of waning moon phase) in the wintertime after the growing period of the tree has stopped (low sap flow).
  • Let this tree as it is in the forrest for stabilization - including it’s branches and bark - until a first step of drying is done by nature and the cut tree tries to start to grow again after the end of wintertime (this is nowadays no more possible due to bark beetle plague).
  • Then bring it down to the mill, get split logs out of it and cut these into tonewood. Air-dry the milling results."




Ralf
Annnnnd Cut ! That’s a wrap ! 😂
 

GAD

Wrinkled Member
Über-Morlock
Joined
Feb 11, 2009
Messages
14,173
Reaction score
4,130
Location
NJ (The nice part)
Guild Total
85
Here's a fun view inside my slightly autistic brain:

Until I'd watched the awesome vid that Ralf posted about Swiss Moon Spruce, I never realized that spruce is "Christmas Tree" wood. Honestly, I never even realized that it was a kind of pine. And the farm I grew up on was "Pine Hill Farm"!

As my wife has told me repeatedly, I'm the dumbest smart guy she's ever met. 🤪
 

AcornHouse

Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
7,816
Reaction score
694
Location
Bidwell, OH
Guild Total
27
That guy's absolute passion for tonewoods is contagious! Watching him with these piece of cocobolo was wonderful:

Yes, but that’s a dangerous pastime. Cocobolo is notorious for causing developed allergies from repeated contact with its sawdust. Not always, but enough to be cautious.
 

adorshki

Reverential Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2009
Messages
30,421
Reaction score
1,767
Location
Sillycon Valley CA
cutrofiano, I think cocobolo is particularly bad re: respiratory distress. Perhaps it's a specific allergy. At least that's what I've heard from a number of builders who use other rosewoods and mahogany all the time.
Prob'ly the specific terpene that gives it its specific scent, all the rosewoods have an individual "profile" combination (like Brazilian's "bubblegum" scent), suspect cocobolo's profile contains a particularly irritating terpene or combo thereof.
 

AcornHouse

Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
7,816
Reaction score
694
Location
Bidwell, OH
Guild Total
27
Top