Top Woods This is a brief description of the woods and their tonal qualities used for the tops of my guitars.
European Spruce- This is the traditional top wood and is still available from a few suppliers although the quality is not as high as North American spruce. Most of the instrument grades of spruce come from the higher altitude mountainous regions of Europe including Switzerland, Germany and Italy. Spruce is a stiff and strong wood that is light colored and is tight grained when it grows at altitudes where the growing season is short. European spruce is harder than North American and it is difficult for the untrained eye to tell the difference between the two from appearances alone. European spruce takes the longest to break in but is worth the effort due its shimmering bell-like trebles, bright tone and full rich harmonic bases.
Engelmann Spruce- This spruce is about as close to European spruce as you can get from North American spruces. It is not as hard or dense as Euro. spruce but will produce a very fine sounding guitar. It doesn't take as long to break in as Euro. spruce and will produce the bell-like trebles and full rich bases. The quality of this spruce is very high and grows in the mountainous regions of Canada and the U.S. It is also light colored. I have never had a customer dissatisfied with it.
Western Red Cedar- This brownish-red colored cedar grows in the mountainous regions of western Canada and the U.S. and is a soft wood that has been traditionally used as a roofing material in the U.S. The quality of this wood can be very high with tight and straight grain. It produces a high quality but "warmer" sound in guitars, so the bell-like trebles will be subdued, and the bases will be strong and full. Cedar has a fine tap tone and excellent guitars are produced using this top wood.
Back and Sides These are the woods I currently use for back and sides and a brief description of them and why I use them in my guitars.
E. I. Rosewood This hardwood grows in India and is available in high quality and has been a substitute for Brazilian rosewood since the 1960's. It has a fine tap tone, easy to work with hand tools and finishes to a fine brown with black coloration and I use this wood for many of my guitars.
Cocobolo Rosewood This is true rosewood that grows on the Pacific side of Central America and is my first choice for guitar back and sides due to its beauty, density and fine tap tone. The color variations from tree to tree are enormous from dark browns with black streaking to orange-reds with black streaking with variations in grain that are most attractive. The bright oranges turn darker with time to produce some of the finest colorations you will ever see short of Brazilian rosewood. The most desirable of all is the guitar tones from this wood that are nothing short of spectacular and a step above E. I. rosewood in my opinion.
Maple This wood grows in North America and Europe with visual differences between the two and it is available with curly or fiddleback grain that is seen in bowed string instrument back and sides and even in birdseye grain. This is a medium density hardwood and will produce a guitar with bright tones.
Maple is a good choice for flamenco guitars.
Monterey Cypress This fragrant softwood is blonde in color and comes from the Western U.S. and is a good substitute for Spanish cypress in flamenco guitars. It is low density so not suited for classicals. It produces a bright tone desirable in flamenco guitars.
Black Walnut This wood is coming into favor for classicals and flamenco negras. It is lighter in weight than E.I. rosewood and very acoustically responsive.
Claro Walnut This wood is slightly lower in density than black walnut and sometimes available in curl condition which makes a beautiful guitar and very acoustically responsive.
Spanish Cedar This is my preferred wood for flamenco necks as it is strong and relatively light in weight and can be found straight grained and quartered. This wood comes mostly from Central America.
Mahogany This is my preferred wood for classical necks as it is very stable, relatively light weight, strong and resistant to warpage. This wood comes from Central and South America and from Africa.