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Old 08-12-2021, 12:41 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,673
How the Adirondacks defined guitars

If you're a guitar player and more importantly an acoustic player, you probably know the term "Adirondack Spruce" as being synonymous with great instruments.

Adirondack Spruce refers to Red Spruce that grows throughout the Northeast and Canada but historically, particularly good supply came from the Adirondacks. Apparently from some sources I've read the region of this particular species matters for guitar building because large, straight-grain logs with few defects are needed for instrument building. Beyond that it is said that some of the northerly versions of this simply aren't as stiff as those that grow here. C. F. Martin in Nazareth, PA was well known for producing amazing sounding pre-war guitars with Adirondack Spruce tops.

Little of the original stands of Old Growth Adirondack Red Spruce exist today due to the high desirability of this species. According to McMartin in 50 Hikes,

Adirondack lumbermen sought softwood stands because only pine, hemlock and red spruce could be floated to downstream mills on the region's rock -based, steeply dropping rivers and streams. Spruce was the most sought-after of the softwoods. It was more abundant in the northern Adirondacks. Southern Adirondack stands of spruce were often isolated and hard to reach; as a result, a few never-cut stands of spruce can still be found. Red spruce rarely exceeds 30 inches in diameter. It is not an especially handsome tree but the long, straight trunks, rising to a small growing tip, made the species economically desirable. Hence, finding and uncut spruce stand is a rare experience, one that is almost never duplicated in other parts of the eastern United States. These old-growth stands are distinguished by the varied ages of the trees, the deep rich mosses covering the forest floor, and the amount of dead and downed wood.
As far as the instruments, this site has a nice summary:

When carefully milled, red spruce produces stiff, straight boards whose sole true desire is to become guitar tops—not Christmas trees, paper pulp or packing crates. And what tops they are!

Enthusiasts fall over themselves searching for terms to top the tannins, burnt sugars and floral notes of the oenophile—robust, springy, clear, complex.

What it really comes down to is energy.

Adirondack spruce tops, due in part to legendary rigidness across and along the grain, translate the player’s intent—the slash of a pick, the caress of a finger, the genteel strum of a thumb—into sonic energy.

Last edited by montcalm; 08-12-2021 at 06:56 PM..
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