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We've been having a discussion regarding the Walden CO2000 (Sitka spruce over rosewood) and, in that discussion, 2 Eastman guitars were mentioned - the E20OM and E8OM.  The E8 has a Sitka spruce top, and the E20 an Adirondack spruce top.  I think there was about a $250 list price difference between the 2 models - which doesn't seem that significant ($1250 Sitka vs. $1500 Adirondack) - and Adirondack is perceived to be better.  Why?  And what of Engelmann spruce?  And, finally, when the manufacturer indicates a solid "spruce" top (as Walden does on its lower lines, and Godin does as well), what is it likely to be?

Thoughts? Knowledge?

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Replies to This Discussion

My spruce-topped 2009 Performer has a bit of the reddish hue you describe...perhaps it is Adirondack?

I've heard of German spruce and Carpathian spruce as well...are we just getting into appearance here?

My understanding is that because of availability, Sitka is the baseline most common spruce currently used on acoustic guitars and that Adirondack is what was used back in the day when it was plentiful, but now has become a more rare species and has gained a certain cache' as a result.  My feeling is that Spruce varieties other than Sitka carry the perception of being superior, and maybe they are, but I continue to be suspicious of the claims of many, that they can discern the qualitative difference between Spruce varieties by listening.  I'm sure some can, but I'm equally sure that most cannot.  Call me cynical if you must.

I don't think that is cynical at all... :-)

I am most interested in trying to find out which variety is used when a solid "spruce" top is mentioned - with no modifier...

When Sitka (or other specific types) are used, the manufacturers seem to be very interested in letting us know that this "better" spruce is being used...so, what is "lower" on the scale than Sitka?  What type is "spruce"?  Or maybe this is something we will never know...like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? ;-)

Yes, I know that Mr. Owl said it was "3"...

I believe Sitka Spruce is used when "Spruce" is specified ... here is a quote I lifted from another guitar site ...

"There are a number of different types of spruce you will find on acoustic guitars. The most common type is Sitka Spruce. Sitka spruce, from the area in Alaska with the same name, is an incredibly popular and affordable top wood. There is currently an incredibly large supply of this wood and it can be purchased at very reasonable prices so it is the most commonly used wood. Sitka spruce started to be used as a substitute to the more popular Adirondack Spruce during the late 20th century after Adirondack spruce became increasingly rare from over use."

I apologize for, perhaps, trying to find logic where there is none... ;-)

What I wonder is why (in Walden's case, for example) the lower-end 500 series is described as having a solid "spruce" top - in the progressively higher-end models, this is defined more fully as Sitka or Engelmann...

Perhaps "spruce" is a top wood of lesser quality - and, perhaps, the specific species will vary depending on the market - there might be a large quantity of lower-quality Engelmann that comes on the market for some reason...and then the "spruce" would be Engelmann for awhile...

Did anyone ever find out from Michel at Godin as to what type of spruce we have on our 'Gulls?

I agree it is very difficult to tell when played individually. In my experience testing two Martin HD28's (one with sitka, one with Adirondack), I went with a friend - We played one for an hour, and then the other for an hour. It was difficult to tell which was "preferable".   We then each played them back to back, while the other did a blind test. Both of us chose the Adirondack top guitar on blind test because of its "liveliness". - If that's even a word...It is now! :-)  

Yes, when simply "spruce" is specified, it generally means sitka. One is not better than the other, just different. Prices are based on availability and aesthetics. The most common misconception is that more expensive tonewoods are somehow superior. Personally I like sitka the best out of the three mentioned. There are other varieties used under the name "spruce", such as chinese spruce (which seems very close to sitka and may even be one that simply grows in china). With rising costs of spruce I've even seen luthiers use Pine, Fir and Hemlock.

When I bought a used Guild F47 w/ an Adirondack spruce top, I did some internet research. Some were of the opinion that it's superior because of it's ability to be 'pushed hard' w/ a resulting louder volume than other varieties. So, one might conclude it's more suited to a guitar that's a strummer vs. a good finger style instrument. Others might think it's better because it's relatively 'rare'.....

The more I read guitar geek/nerd websites (being somewhat of a geek/nerd myself), the less I know. If I only put that time into actually practicing....well......

I know that in the Artist series of Gulls, Adirondack is used for the bracing, as opposed to Sitka for the other lines (Please correct me if this is not so, but that is my understanding). So its natural to ask why Godin would do this, if it didn't have some impact on the sound.  My undestanding is that Adirondack allows the guitar more resonance, which makes the sound  more projective, and consequently louder to the ear. As far as tonal qualities go and what is "better", I think that's a totally subjective thing.  

I seem to recall Godin claiming most of the tonewood they use is grown in Quebec. I cannot find that reference at the moment, but it  included a claim they husband their own forestry.

From the Seagull site "About Us" section comes:

"Adirondack Spruce Bracing
The bracing for the new Seagull guitars is quarter-sawn Adirondack spruce, scalloped and carved to conform exactly to the curvature of the tops. The strength and lightweight qualities of Adirondack Spruce make for ideal bracing material. It provides the strength needed to resist string tension without weighing down the top, allowing it to be more responsive and vibrate freely."

So the bracing seems to at least be Adirondack and that is across the Godin lines from the available info on each brand site, but there is no mention on any Godin brand site about tops being Sitka, Adirondack or other variety of spruce.

As to Godin's forest husbandry, this is from the Art & Lutherie site:

"Art & Lutherie guitars are made with 95% Canadian woods that meet strict criteria in terms of their  tone as well as their impact on the environment. The eco-friendly method in  which the wood is gathered, takes place when previously fallen trees are found  in the forests of Eastern Canada. No clear cutting is involved. This not only  benefits Canadian forests but also gives rain forests the world over a  well-deserved break. The Canadian tone woods used in the Art & Lutherie  line possess excellent tonal qualities."

Whether or not that is throughout Godin's lines or just A&L is unclear. I seem to recall something about their forestry practices as well; might have been in the factory tour video?

Art & Lutherie site , yup that where it was ...

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