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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Paldacci Guitars

W&W: Wine & Wood

Many of us, myself included, are comparing the Luthier to a Chef... but what about the wood itself? For me, it is very similar to wine & food pairing and you absolutely need a great sommelier to enjoy a high-end meal.

This is not a secret, I was born & raised in France. In 2009, I left Lyon to Quebec, and I studied lutherie. 4 Years & a half after that, I created my workshop and built guitars in it ever since. My family always loved to eat, and drink great bottles of wine. So, I developped a pallet for these kind of alcohol (and single malts too).

These kind of things, need years to be appreciated & refined. You don't really know the kind of wine you love at the first sight. It could be Bourgogne, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Jura, Languedoc... sooo many regions to explore! And when you know that two vineyards plots at 1 mile away produce two very different wines because of the soil, climate, breed... it is an endless quest.

Well, this is the exact same thing with wood. How could you know you love or hate one species, if you haven't tried it? We are not even talking about pairing one wood with another one, but the species itself. It is always an amazing trip to drive to a Château in France, Italy, California, or anywhere else, to taste the product of a winemaker, to talk to him for hours, and discover his reality. This is such a hard-craft, and they have to deal with many issues like the global-warming for example. In this way, this is very similar too the wood-supplying world. Forests are burning, vineyards are destroyed by hail & frost.

So, the best analogy I could do about a wood-stash, is a wine-cave. First, you have to maintain a stable environment in terms of humidity & temperature. That's why old mansions or castles, are the best for this kind of things because of their big and thick walls, that isolate all of these precious flasks. Wine or wood, is sensitive to UV light. It would be problematic if you'd want to age some high-end wine properly... and it would be the same thing for woods like spruce, maple or cedar. It is not a problem for these last ones, but still... personally, I try to avoid that. The storage & the way you stack what you have, to let the air flowing evenly, is so damn important because you want it, to age peacefully & equally!

Of course, you have to label your wood or your wine, properly. The first one don't have a timeline but you have to know when you've bought it, minimum. On the contrary, your precious liquid have its limit. It is like when you are voicing a soundboard. It have a peak in terms of mechanical properties, and if you cross it... it would not be as delicious as it would be. I personally have taste very old wine, that disapointed all of us around the table, because it was just tasteless. we don't really care if your wine is 30 YO... because you should have opened it 15 years ago. Your inventory need to be top-notch, for the sake of what you are storing.

Lucky Strike Redwood, Western red cedar, Adirondack spruce

So, when I was talking about wine & food pairing, I think that my way to think about it, is very simple: it is some kind of soundboard & back/side relationship. I will not talk about the intrinsic qualities of each board, but more than "Caracter" of each species. The result you could get from a rosewood will be different than maple, and is the same thing beetween spruce and cedar. It could be problematic when you'll have to assemble the top and the back/sides of the instrument, because possibilities are litteraly endless! It is easier when you have to buy some woods for special projects that give you some kind of guideline... but every luthier know that it really happen like that. We are buying wood all our lives, and when an order come from a customer, you show what you could chose for his future instrument.

European Maple & Bearclaw Sitka

Black Locust & Adirondack Spruce

Madagascar Rosewood & Austrian Spruce

In the end, the quest of finding the perfect wine or wood, and to take care of it until you drank/built with, is such a joy to follow. This is a very "romantic" way to see things but I think it fit pretty well with me!

Benjamin Paldacci

Benjamin Paldacci Guitars

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