Tops - Tonewood
There are a myriad of factors that determine the final tone of an instrument but the top is where most of a luthier’s effort is focused. Many people point to Antonio de Torres’ experiment of building a guitar with a paper mache back and sides to show how important the soundboard is in tone production. We have hundreds (if not thousands) of soundboards of varying grades in our warehouses with most of our stock being in the AA and AAA range.
A word on grading: With only one in a hundred (or more) tops receiving a Master grade, they are very rarely in stock. We consider our AAA grade stock as our best and we always have good stocks. AAA’s are chosen for stiffness across the top, straight grain, quartersawn, even color and good annular ring spacing. Some of the factors moving a top into AA are slightly wider ring spacing, mild color variation, or lack of silk or medullary rays. These AA tops are great tops and are easily the best bargain in each of our top species. In A grade there may be a bit of runout, lack of stiffness across the grain, or some visible cosmetic flaw.