...like the classic Laurel or Bay..., it[Umbellularia californica] has a spicily aromatic and evergreen leaf. Hence the name of Green Baytree, Spicetree and Pepperwood.
Donald Culross Peattie, A Natural History of Western Trees, 1950
Just north of Manton, California, on the back way into Shingletown, there is a series of springs that flow out of the volcanic mudflow ridge which are surrounded by pepperwood trees. This grove was a classic grove of the west slope of the Sierra Nevada, no under growth, gray to tan trunks whose bark gave out the same peppery smell of the leaves. It was a good place to stop when I would help my uncle gather cattle because of the luxurious shade. Here we would loosen the cinches on our saddles, lift saddle and saddle blanket off the back of the horse to air out his back some. After we and the horses had a drink of water, we'd cinch up, swing into the saddle and I'd grab some leaves off the tree and crush them under my nose as we rode off. The smell invoked pictures I had seen of Tuscany, it reminded me of great classical music, great paintings, and that I would dance all night with a gorgeous brunette cow girl who could ride a horse better than me.
I love California laurel.
About 10 years ago, a guy I worked with gave me a board of California laurel, it was kind of a junky specimen, flat sawn and every thing, he thought he was going to dupe me, but I made over the board like it was kingwood. His face fell over my apparent joy.
Here's this wood opened up. Not bad, other than some bird pecks and flame it is a very plain piece of wood.
A little bit of Naptha brings out some of the color.
Seventeen years ago, I salvaged a nice 2x6 stud from a hotel remodel that I was working on thinking that it was a piece of quarter sawn Douglas fir only to find out that it red fir (abies magnifica) once I opened up the board.
Since it wasn't wide enough to make a full size guitar, I four pieced a top together and then I decided to add an all wood rosette to it. I was still fairly new to guitar making then and I screwed up the rosette. So I shelved the top.
That top has always been in the back of my mind because I often wonder what a guitar made from it would sound like. Today, I decided that the top needs to be paired with California laurel, laurel is a fairly hard wood, according to the United States Forest Service data sheets, laurel is a might bit hard than black walnut.
Laurel makes a great sounding guitar. Look else where in this blog to see a posting on a laurel guitar that I made.
This photo gives you an idea how small this guitar is compared to a standard size classical guitar outline.
Just the tiniest bit of bear claw in this top.
Once made I will offer this guitar as one of my Conservatory guitars. It will have a Port Orford cedar neck, flamenco tuning pegs, royal ebony finger board and a rosewood bridge. The price will be $1800-$2000.
Monday, October 5, 2015
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