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Guitar Tonewood Galore!

...out here you may have to settle on parched desert soils, or in dank, mossy forests; and you may have to take root where summers are 120 degrees in the shade or the winters 40 below year after year!

Art Boericke & Barry Shapiro, The Craftsman Builder, 1977

I might have an order for a custom guitar, I am trying to convince the client to chose from among these woods.

This is a redwood top that I re-sawed from a board that was salvaged from a barn that once was inside Yosemite National Park.

Canadian Spruce from Labrador, Canada.

A redwood top that I re-sawed from a board that I salvaged from a redwood water tank that my grandfather bought in 1942, I had to dismantle the tank in 1984, because contrary to popular belief, redwood does rot. I must point out that this piece had no nails in it, and the tannin in redwood does react to iron, hence the failure of redwood when nails are used. This top exhibits "pillowing" something that I have never seen in another chunk of redwood.

Alaska yellow cedar that I purchased from Alaska Specialty Woods, the growth rings are so tight they are hard to see.

Some amazing "fiddleback" big leaf maple that I purchased from The Wood Well. It's hard to believe that this is only the "medium figure" wood, next time I order the high figure stuff.

I am afraid I might have overwhelmed this client with wood choices, this is only half the photos I sent to them showing them what I have on hand, not to mention the other woods that I can use to make a classical guitar.

Those of you who visit my posting on a Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitarmaking please note that there are many different tonewoods to use for making a guitar. You are limited though to what you can use for tops: there are the Spruces (Abies); the Cedars, Western Redcedar (Thuja)or Incense Cedar (Calocedrus) [for me it is the best wood in the World!]; the Chamaecyparis, Port Orford Cedar and Alaska Yellow Cedar; and the Redwoods [Taxodium] Sequoia Sempervirens(Coastal Redwood) or Sequoiadendron giganteum(Inland Redwood).


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What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…

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Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979

So, you want to build a guitar.

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Guitar Making: Tradition and Technology, by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson
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The Woodwright's Companion
The Woodwright's Workbench
The Woodwright's Apprentice

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Anthony Lintner, guitar maker

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