What Do You Look For In A "Tonewood" For A Guitar Top?

While browsing through the local Craigslist offerings I ran across an ad for "vertical grain Western Red Cedar".  The photo showed a stack of 2x8 boards that indeed appeared to be quarter sawn, so, after trading a few emails, I went today and looked at them.  The guy had about 50 boards he had been using to construct strip-built canoes and they looked to be excellent material for guitar tops.   I selected an 8' board that was perfectly quarter sawn with about 30 lines per inch on the tight side, and about 22 on the wide, absolutely no runout over the entire length, a nice light color, some silking evident on the wide face, and a lighter weight than most of the other planks.  I couldn't judge how stiff the boards would be when resawn for tops.  The 8' board cost me $80 which is about what I've been paying for a single "master grade" cedar top from my local tonewood dealer, Vikwood. I was able to resaw the plank into 12 bookmatched tops, or less than $7 each!


When I compared the tops from Vikwood that I've got stickered, the "master grade" tops appear to have significantly more silking, more grain lines per inch (40+), a darker color (which may simply be due to aging/oxidation), but  about the same weight as the tops I just cut.  Tomorrow I'll thickness sand the tops to joining thickness, and I'll be able to get a better idea as to the stiffness.


Since this is my first venture into buying what is basically lumberyard planks, I'm hoping I didn't waste my money.  I'd appreciate any  insight into others success/failure using lumberyard woods.



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I'm quite sure you'll have good results. I use lumberyard woods sometimes too, and I try to stick to what my eyes and ears feel : weight, grain pattern, bell-like tap tone...


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