This page shows some examples of some of the material that we use for tops. All top material is hand selected for it's acoustic properties by holding the plate in a certain location and tapping it with the other hand in another special location. The resulting "tap tone" gives us an indication of what the end product will sound like. Since this is one of the most important elements of the guitar, it deserves a great deal of attention...

 

We have commented on the properties on the various tonewoods. These are generalizations and there can be much variation within a species and even within the same tree for that matter.

 

--- Click here to see a Gallery of some of our available Sinker Redwood top material ---

 

 

 

Sinker Redwood

 

If you have looked at our Sinker Redwood on the Wood Gallery page, you know there are a wide variety of shades and striping in this material. One thing they all have in common though is a stunning sound.

 

Many have commented on its good balance from bass to mids to trebles. The sound of Sinker Redwood has been termed "complex" because of the richness of its overtones. Pluck a string in a quiet room and listen carefully. It is as if a choir shows up and is singing along. It has rich and strong overtones similar to Western Red Cedar and crisper, punchy treble frequencies reminiscent of spruce.

 

Because of its light weight, it is very responsive. Sinker Redwood is softer than Sitka Spruce and requires slightly more care. Also, use light gauge strings only.

Redwood

 

Redwood is very similar to Sinker Redwood in every way except the color. Like Sinker, this old growth Redwood has a responsive, 3-dimensional brilliance that fingerstyle guitarists really love.

 

Sitka Spruce

 

Since Sitka Spruce is the most commonly used top material on steel-string guitars, it has become the basis of comparison for other tonewoods. For its weight, it's one of the strongest woods in the world. It is usually best if medium gauge strings are used but good for light gauge also. It has a strong fundamental but also good midrange brightness.

 

This material tends to have the best headroom, that is, it retains clarity and definition when played hard.
 

European Spruce
 

Also known as Silver spruce and German spruce, this is the top of choice for many classical guitars. It works excellent on steel-string guitars as well. It has a lighter color than Sitka and a wonderful harmonic complexity. People comment on its fullness at the lower end of the dynamic range.

 

This material responds well to a light touch and hangs in there well with more aggressive techniques. More expensive than Sitka.

Engelmann Spruce
 

This spruce is lighter in color and weight than Sitka or European. It has a more homogenous look to it, you can barely see the grain lines. Less stiff than Sitka, Engelmann has a slightly lower velocity of sound and a slightly weaker fundamental tone.

 

That said, it produces a noticeably broader and stronger overtone component. Engelmann is a good choice for players who require a richer, more complex tone than can be obtained from most Sitka tops. This is particularly true when the guitar is played softly.

 

Adirondack Spruce
 

Also known as Eastern Red Spruce and Appalachian Spruce, this material was used by American guitar manufacturers before World War II. Because of over harvesting, it fell into disuse until recently thanks to 50 years of regeneration.  

 

The new generation of Adirondack Spruce has retained the same wonderful properties of the older one but even the best tops have more variation in color and grain than before.

 

Like Sitka, it has strong fundamentals, but it also exhibits a more complex overtone component. Tops of this material probably have the highest volume ceiling of any species. The great thing about this Spruce is that it has a full richness of tone that retains clarity at all dynamic levels.

 
   
   

Rick Micheletti

19590 Shafer Ranch Road

Willits, California  95490

(707) 459-0820

rick@michelettiguitars.com

Copyright 2003 Micheletti Guitars. All rights reserved.