Bedell Guitars was recently featrued in the 1st installment of a six part blog series created by WRI. With the future of our forests and tonewoods in mind, writers Austin Clowes, Emily Kaldjian and Charles Victor Barber explore the subject of crafting guitars with Sitka spruce. The article begins, "To build our acoustic guitar, we first need to choose a wood for the soundboard (the top of the guitar), which determines most of the guitar’s tone, or quality of sound. We want a wood that is both stiff and light, which helps it transfer the most sound from the vibrating string. The best slabs of wood will actually ring like a wine glass when tapped. One of the favorites for guitar soundboards is old-growth Sitka spruce. Old-growth Sitka spruce is a case where sustainable forest management and conservation are not mutually exclusive, but where perfectly legal wood may nonetheless come from environmentally destructive clear-cutting primary forests.
Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) is a giant spruce native to coastal temperate rainforests in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. It is one of the largest, most commercially-viable woods in the region, with old-growth stands including many trees over 600 years old and 200 feet tall.
Thanks to their long, slow growth, these old-growth trees have tight growth rings that give them a great sound in instruments, with little of the cellulose fiber between rings that can deliver poorer tone. Young Sitka spruce grow quickly and are perfect for construction, but have too much cellulose fiber for instruments. The older trees are, pound-for-pound, stronger than steel. Their wood was even used for propellers in airplanes in both World Wars."
Continue reading this article at WRI.ORG.