Tone woods

Here I’ll list my current inventory of tone wood choices that are on-hand and ready for use. I choose only the highest quality materials available, so any wood you see here will contribute toward an heirloom-quality, superb sounding instrument. Other species are available upon request. Please note, these sets are not for individual sale. They are only for use in my commissioned instruments, and listed prices are added to the base cost of the commissioned instrument.

 

 

 

 

Back and Side Sets

Ribbon, Quilted, or Plum Pudding Honduran Mahogany, Swietenia macrophylla $350-650

Tonally, mahogany is one of my favorite back and side woods, and the myriad varieties of color, figure, and grain density make it incredibly visually alluring as well. Even very plain, quartersawn mahogany has a simple richness of tone and and beauty that is difficult to beat. I have many sets of gorgeous mahogany in a wide range of figure-types, colors, and densities that would pair very nicely with a stiff, feisty top — Adirondack (red) or Carpathian spruce top, for instance.

Quartersawn Macacauba, Platymiscium spp. — $400

Unbelievably sonorous wood — bell-like fundamental with a strong bass overtone. Will make an amazing fingerstyle guitar.

Tsalam (Mayan Walnut), Lysiloma spp.$550

Gorgeous fiddleback figure, like the finest koa. Strong tap, very similar to claro walnut.

Perfectly quartersawn striped Bocote, Cordia spp. $700

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this wood — very dense, it seems similar to Ziricote in tap. This paired with a redwood top could be phenomenal.

Ribbon-stripe Cuban Mahogany, Swietenia mahogani  — $700

Cuban Mahogany is a different species than the more common Honduran variety. It’s denser, finer-grained, and ridiculously beautiful. Under finish, it appears to burn with an inner fire of ruby-red intensity. It’s tap is more crisp than Honduran, and results in a guitar that’s got all the midrange sweetness, but with a more Rosewood-like bottom-end than Honduran. Really, the best of both worlds.

Malaysian Blackwood, Diospyros ebonasea $800

Incredibly beautiful, has a shimmering tap much like Brazilian. Chocolatey-brown with red and green highlights and dark black ink lines. Woah. Can also easily get a bookmatched headplate, binding, etc out of the huge back pieces.

High-Flame Koa, Acacia koa$800

Koa is one of my favorite woods to work with. Tonally, it’s very much like mahogany, but with a little more sparkle and punch. Koa of this quality and with such extraordinary flame is becoming extremely difficult to find. Tonewood babe not included…

Beeswing Honduran Mahogany, Swietenia macrophylla$800

Magical beeswing figure and a sweet tap, I’d love to have this on a personal instrument.

Smoke-figured Katalox, Swartzia cubensis — $800

Katalox is an outstanding tonewood with a deep sonorous ring much like African Blackwood to my ear. It’s also extremely dense, like AB. Most Katalox available as tonewood is fairly straight-grained and purplish in hue, but this amazing set has phenomenal Rorschach patterning in the bookmatched back, and nice straight-grained sides perfect for bending. This set combined with a cedar top could be delicious, although it would pair beautifully with a spruce top as well.

Mun Ebony, Diaspyros mun$1000

Stunningly beautiful set, with kaleidoscope figure and flashes of orange and green in high contrast with pale, creamy streaks. Terrific, crisp tap. Very rare.

Tasmanian Tiger Myrtle, Nothofagus cunninghamiiN/A

Possibly the most visually striking back and side set I’ve ever laid eyes on. I’ve just completed an Odalisque using this set and it is truly a sight to behold. I expect her to have a voice to match her intoxicating beauty. Has a strong tap similar to walnut. Paired with Swiss Spruce, this beauty will soon sing to the stars…

African Blackwood, Dalbergia melanoxylon — inquire

One of the densest woods on earth, and a true rosewood, Dalbergia melanoxylon. Many builders and professional musicians prefer it over Brazilian rosewood, it’s tap is like slate — shimmering treble overtones compliment a rich low-end fundamental, and this set is as good as it gets. I’ve looked high and low for another African Blackwood set that compares to this, with little luck. Fully quartersawn back and sides, with no insect holes, and a seductive line of sapwood at the join. Will make a huge, complex fingerstyle guitar.

Brazilian Rosewood, Dalbergia negra — inquire

The king of tonewoods, Brazilian Rosewood is unsurpassed in tonal brilliance across the spectrum, from bottomless basses with tons of punch to sparkling, crystalline highs. Brazilian has it all tonally, and this set is stunningly gorgeous, chocolatey-brown with green highlights,  incredible Rorschach-like patterning,  and jet-black ink lines. Other sets are available as well.

Pink Ivory, Berchemia zeyheri — inquire

“Rarer than diamonds”, Pink Ivory is a sacred wood of the Zulu People of South Africa, and it is sustainably harvested under very strict permitting and regulation. I’ve had the pleasure of playing several Pink Ivory guitars by Bill Tippin, Mark Maingard and a Steve Klein-inspired/designed Ivory Moon collaboration, and all of them have a very distinctive and pleasing punchiness in the low-mids that I personally love. The tap reminds me of Ebony, with medium damping. The color of this wood is unreal — under finish it will be a vibrant salmon red color, and there’s some beautiful figure in these sets to boot. It’s so rare to find pieces of this wood large enough to make a guitar, I look forward to honoring this incredible material to the very best of my abilities.

 

 

 

Soundboards

 

 

 

Old Growth Sitka Spruce — $250

Some of the stiffest tops I have are these old honey-colored sitka tops. I built a fantastic baritone with this wood. Sounds lush and throaty with great articulation.

 

Master Grade Alpine Spruce — $400

Super-tight grain lines, buttery, even color, and silky smooth yet punchy tap. An awesome top. You can hear the sister set here, paired with Ziricote back and sides.

Master Grade Carpathian Spruce — $300

I recently used Carpathian with Claro Walnut, and the results are absolutely magical. This is a fantastic tonewood that’s very similar to Red (Adirondack) Spruce, but I feel takes a little less break-in time. Weeks instead of months. I have several stunning sets that I’m looking forward to building with, all perfectly quartersawn with tons of silking. Hear an example here, as played by my friend, Al Petteway.

Carpathian

Master Grade Lutz Spruce — $300

Shane Neifer at High Mountain Tonewoods has some incredible trees. His “Lutz” spruces are hybrids of sitka, Engelmann, and white spruce, and they’re very stiff and responsive, and have a beautiful creamy texture with strong medullary rays (silking).

Red (Adirondack) Spruce — $300

Though not as pristine in it’s looks as Alpine or Engelmann per se, it’s revered as the king of soundboard tonewoods, and for good reason — despite the wider grain spacing, it’s extremely stiff given it’s weight. And that’s a big part of making a great guitar.

Carolina Red Spruce — $400

I’ve recently acquired quite a few sets of the stiffest, cleanest Red Spruce I’ve ever seen, and it was harvested less than an hour from my shop in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. This wood is extraordinary in every way.

Curly Sinker Redwood — $500

Dredged from a watery river-bottom grave, this incredible wood yearns to live again. Extremely rare.

 

 

 

 

Curly Sinker Redwood — $500

Mind boggling ribbon figure, with more striping than the sister set.. Extremely rare.

Lucky Strike Redwood — $750

Harvested in the mid-nineties in California by Craig and Alicia Carter, Lucky Strike is one of the most sought-after tonewoods in the world, due to it’s outstanding weight-to-stiffness ratio and incredible beauty. This top is absolutely phenomenal in it’s clarity and sustain. Rings for days on end. Absolutely stunning example of the great LS Redwood. This paired with Ziricote would sing to the angels…