Red Spruce and a Spraybooth

  • September 1, 2013

Yesterday I had a great visit from legendary luthier and wood supplier, John Arnold, and his protege’, Nathan Hampton, who have recently harvested several Carolina Red Spruce trees, and now have several hundred of the sweetest, stiffest guitar tops I’ve ever encountered. I was fortunate enough to get early access to some of their product, and I’m just blown away by their stiffness and beautiful bell-like ring when tapped.

It’s always a treat to get to chat with John for a while — he ‘s truly an encyclopedia of knowledge regarding all things wood-related, and especially involving the selection and processing of trees for tonewood, in a way that’s sensitive to long-term forest health and conservation.


In this detail, the widening of the grain lines in two places indicates years when the forest was selectively timbered, allowing more sunlight to reach the tree, and causing faster growth. as time goes on, the forest again closed in around the tree, slowing growth and hence the tighter grain lines.

These tops all came from hand-split billets, which means the grain orientation is perfect, resulting in the greatest strength-to-weight ratio, and hence, the best-sounding guitar tops, because they can be made very thin yet still strong enough to withstand many years of constant string pull. Strong and light is the goal in achieving the best tone from the guitar top.

I also picked up a few hand-split sticks of red spruce bracewood, which will need to be cut down then stickered and left to dry for at least a year before their moisture content is low enough to be used for building.

I’m making slow and steady progress on the spraybooth. This week, I hope to get the wiring and ductwork done, then I just need to get some plexiglass for the lights, then it’s off to the races!

And finally, a couple of shots of the current build with it’s first coat of epoxy pore filler on. Looking good!

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