Thanks a lot.   That really is a fascinating overview of all the
   possibilities.   There is so much to know about these things.



   ----- Original Message -----

   From: [1]Azalais

   To: [2]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

     Spruce was and still is probably the most common tonewood:
     ([3]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.
   [4] 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

   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!

   On Sat, May 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM, Monica Hall
   <[5]> 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
        fine-grained" of "fine to medium grained".
        Are soundboards ever made of cypress wood?
        As ever
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