I have a Washburn "New Model" parlor guitar circa 1920's(I guess). The top was shot when I got it 40 years ago and it has been sitting in a junk box without a top for all that time. It is beautiful Brazilian rosewood. The neck is cracked at the heel and someone tried to install a truss rod before i got it. They routed through the top and braces and the original bridge had been replaced several times with various pin bridges, so the top was full of holes where the bridges had been installed.

I finally decided to refurbish(not restore) this guitar and plan to do abalone trim around the top only. I'm wondering what would be the best choice for a top? Englemann, Red Spruce, Sitka? I plan to just use this for a chair-side guitar for finger-picking, steel string, and maybe some light flat-picking. I will need to make a new bridge. I have an ebony fingerboard that will work and I plan to use some Waverly gold engraved tuners. I plan to French-polish,not lacquer. It will be a pretty guitar, so the only hang-up right now is what kind of AAA top wood? What think ye?

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I don't know what your level of experience is in building.

Mine isn't all that high so I doubt if it would really make all that much difference which species I would use for a project like this. I guess that what I'm saying is that it seems to me that the differences that these woods exhibit would probably only really be manifest in the hands of a skilled builder. In a case like this, I would look for high quality wood from a reputable luthier supplier then buy the one that was the least expensive in the class I wanted. This should ensure that I, at least, have a decent piece of tone wood to work with then I would build to the best of my ability. I believe that I would probably build the best top I was capable of building even if it was a cheaper choice. Of course, this is my opinion and your experience may be completely different. 

Englemann or Sitka imo...RedSpruce,cedar have given me trouble in the past in the form of splitting easily when glueing to curved braces...guess I'm too forceful at times.An Alaskan top would do well too! Nice clear mahog makes great tops also for old dark look.


I bought a top from Constantine's years ago when I first got this. It's just too wide-grained and red for this guitar. I like a fine grain on small guitars. I hadn't thought about the Alaskan spruce. I'll start checking prices. I'd like to get a top with close grain and silking. I'll go digthis thing out of the barn and see if I can post some pictures in thenext few days.

Ihave two guitars with Englemann and I think that's going to be my choice.

My number one choice for a parlor is Englemann with the tightest grain I can find. Second choice is European when I have it available. Just completed a Washburn Style A retop and used old growth European that sounds fantastic. Post pics if you get a chance.


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