"I’m about 10 tops into a stack of 40 cedar tops I got from you, and whenever I want to start a new guitar, I just walk over and pick a top off the stack, and start building. They are all that great! I don’t have to dink around with the pattern, or select the “best" one: I just start building. I love that! I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your high standards, and what a pleasure it is to do business with you!"
Adirondack Spruce was used for the tops on many of the great pre-war American guitars. Many guitarmakers today believe that this wood is a significant contributing factor to the strong, clear tone of those vintage/collectible instruments. Unfortunately, guitarmakers who prefer it have found that the quality and useable sizes of this greatly desired tonewood to be very limited.
Finding available logs that will yield full dreadnought sizes in a quality similar to the Sitka and Engelmann Spruce available today is virtually impossible. Our 3A (AAA) tops are exemplary Adirondack tops and represent only a very small percentage of Adirondack Spruce being cut, hence the higher price.
In general, the visual/cosmetic quality in use today by the best builders and high end factories (typically the 2A (AA) tops) has more grain and color variation than either good Sitka or Engelmann Spruce - but that variation has been accepted in acquiring and working with this fine, great sounding wood.
Additional Grading Concerns with Adirondack Here is how we factor in some of the less desirable features of Adirondack Spruce when grading our highest grade 3A/AAA tops:
Winter grain (dark grain) - We will only allow this when we see tight grain in center and if it does not detract from an overall lighter color impression from the whole top. Normally it is only going to be on the outside edge of the top. If winter grain is found elsewhere on the top (somewhere in the middle) it is because it is not visually overbearing and because the tightness and evenness of the grain is so exceptional that it “outweighs” it.
Wide Grain - This is allowed if the top has an overall even and light color (rare in Adirondack). It may also be allowed in less evenly colored tops if it only appears on the outside edge and appears gradually.
Uneven Grain Spacing - This is allowed when the overall color impression is basically light and even or if the grain (especially in the center) is exceptionally tight.