Where I am talking about Wood, and luthier's adaptation
First, I want to apologize about this "blog-hiatus". I totally forgot about it, and I shared my thoughts on social medias instead... well, I'll try better in the future! This morning, I was busy finding the new batch of tops for 2022 builts, and I found two very different soundboards. They gave me the taste to write this post, to explain my vision about woods I add to my "library" and why I make X or Y choice. It is interesting to use spruce for this concept because the range of density or look, is small but huge at the same time... and why I deeply think that as luthier, my goal is to adapt myself to the wood I have the opportunity to work with.
Picea Rubens Soundboards
On this picture, you can see two Picea Rubens (or Adirondack) soundboards. They are different in every way: in terms of look, density, or weight. The one & only criteria they have in common, is how great they are. For most people who don't have any particular knowledge about wood, like my beloved customers (BUT they know a lot of things about the instrument and are better musician than myself), the visual criterias are the most important thing. Why? Because they put their fate in my hand to select the best wood in terms of mechanical properties, and they can judge the soundboard of an instrument with their eyes first. So, I will both chose those soundboards for different persons... but in terms of built, it will be another story. I deeply think that wood is like friends or lovers: you'll always be able to find the one that would be a match for you. So basically, when I have a big pile of soundboard in front of me, the 3 main criterias I keep in mind are: - the size of the instrument I need to build with; - my possibilities in terms of bracings; - the hardwoods I would pair it with. So, I need to stay open-minded about what I will have in my hands. Quartersawn is of course the only criterias that will count, and I try to avoid Runout at any cost. If a soundboard have the perfect density I am seeking amongst many qualities but a small amount of runout in it, I would gladly take it because it is very difficult to find amazing wood... but it would be my last top in the pile if some "no-runout" soundboards appears.
The main topic of this post was the compareason of amazing soundboards, that are great but not at the same level in terms of mechanical properties. One is graded as "2A" by the supplier, and is very stiff, heavy, with big compression & winter grain. The other top have the perfect stiffness for my usual way to build, very lightweight and perfect for the market in terms of aesthetic. Would I say no to the first one because the high-end lutherie market is judging that this kind of soundboard is not "mastergradish" enough? Not at all. Would I work with it on small bodies guitars? Same answer... but it would be a perfect match on a Grand Auditorium. For me, the luthier is here to work with the material he is lucky to buy, and I personally don't have the luxury to say "no" to an amazing top I have in front of me. I'll just have to find a way to work with it and to build something beautiful in terms of sound or appearance, even if it is an unusual piece for me. My mission is to work with the wood not against it... adaptation, at its finest.
Benjamin Paldacci Benjamin Paldacci Guitars