Thanks a lot. That really is a fascinating overview of all the possibilities. There is so much to know about these things.
Regards Monica ----- Original Message ----- From: Azalais To: Monica Hall Sent: Saturday, May 25, 2013 7:50 PM Subject: Re: [VIHUELA] Baroque guitar soundboards What luthiers have always looked for in tonewood is fine, stable grain pattern and especially prized "bearclaw" cross graining (hazelficte) (to resist splitting when shaved thin), high strength to weight ratio, (making it strong and flexible when thin) and dimensional stability under varying humidity conditions, and resistance to insects and decay. If the wood meets these criteria and has especially good resonance when tapped or struck, it is usually set aside for curing as "tonewood". Spruce was and still is probably the most common tonewood: (Picea abies (variously known as Norwegian, German, Alpine, Italian or European spruce) The "cypress" currently used for Flamenco guitar soundboards is the variety: (cupressus macrocarpa), so it may well have been used for those dreaded street strummers' instruments?? There is also variety of wood from the Pacific NW that is referred to as "cypress" that was highly valued by ship builders AND instrument makers (legend has it that they fought over the best trees) The Spanish were there as early as 1543, and if they needed to make repairs, it's not beyond possibility that the ships' carpenters might have discovered excellent local lumber. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupressus_nootkatensis It is/was (mistakenly) referred to as "cypress", (it is now classed as a Chamaecyparis), but is not to be confused with the types of cypress found in Europe (cupressus macrocarpa). The climate of the Pacific Northwest is cool and damp which makes for excellent lumber. To satisfy my own curiosity, I built an experimental baroque guitar with a sample from a Nootka tree that was struck by lightening 150 years ago and left standing till it was harvested in the 1990s. Though it smelled like potatoes while working with it, it was a joy to work with. It bends beautifully, can be thinned down to very delicate thicknesses, and has a very clean, clear tone. I've never seen references to it used for 17th instruments, but I'm sure some homesick sailor may have tried! Thulja plicata (western red cedar, but not really a cedar) may also have been tried, (it is used often for classical guitars) but being less dense than spruce, it tends to fatigue and decompose relatively quickly, so there are fewer really old (two hundred year +) examples of instruments made with it. Some of the Cadiz school luthiers may have tried it?? (They tried tropical woods like mahogany too if I remember correctly). I'm an architect by training, an a dilettante luthier, but wood has always fascinated me! (I've restored my share of wooden sailboats and early plucked instruments too.) If you ever need trivia about early period materials and methods, let me know! Azalais On Sat, May 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM, Monica Hall <mjlh...@tiscali.co.uk> wrote: This may be a silly question but what type of wood is usually used for the soundboards of original 17th century baroque guitars? I am just looking through the RCM catalogue and it just says "front fine-grained" of "fine to medium grained". Are soundboards ever made of cypress wood? As ever Monica -- To get on or off this list see list information at http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~wbc/lute-admin/index.html -- References 1. mailto:azal...@gmail.com 2. mailto:mjlh...@tiscali.co.uk 3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picea_abies 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupressus_nootkatensis 5. mailto:mjlh...@tiscali.co.uk 6. http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~wbc/lute-admin/index.html