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  • Local wood

    I live in the middle of the state of Washington, surrounded by the mountains, lakes and forests that I have loved for my entire life.   Near to me is a lake - 50 miles long and a mile wide, that extends into the Cascade mountains.   There is no access to the end of the lake except by water - yet there is a thriving community that even boasts a one room school house and a few hundred residents. 

    During the 50's a large lead/zinc/copper mine was active on the hillside above the lake.   It didn't boast of a school house, but rather a house with a red light on the poarch and the highest per capita beer consumption in the US.    Like so many mines, the Holden Mine played out and was abandoned - leaving a ghost town of delapadated equipment, housing and toxic tailings which are now leaching into the lake.

    The property around the mine was purchase by the Lutherian Church who established a retreat - even tho I am not of that faith I have been to the Village several times while hiking and climbing in that area - the Villiage is pretty much the antithesis of the mine and its relics.    But the mine couldn't be ignored and finally after all these years a multimillion dollar effort is starting to clean up the mess - every piece of equipment has to be barged to the site and all the contamination removed by water.    It was necessary to clear some timber to get the equipment in and out of the site.

    As they were falling the trees someone noticed that a couple of them were Engleman Spruce - desirable as tone woods.   They were removed at great expense and Bob Taylor has contracted to make a limited run of GS Mini's out of it

    http://www.holdenvillage.org/files/2213/8446/4842/Holden_Guitar_Story.pdf

    The other day I called Pacific Rim Tonewoods, the company milling the spruce and asked if I could get a couple of top sets - I told them that the lake and village were special to me and I would love to build a guitar or two out of that wood.   They said Taylor had spoken for the wood but they would see what they could do.

    I'm waiting....


  • #2
    Best of luck to you!I don't know exactly how you feel..
    But I once was invited to the basement workshop of a luthier in little artsy town just outside of Colorado Springs.
    One of my great recent memories.
    Having that connection to the area as well...I can only imagine the feeling of building a beautiful and beautiful sounding instrument from that particular wood.

    Comment


    • #3
      The problem with some spruce that has grown in cleared areas is uneven grain. Maybe that's not a rule issue for smaller guitars...but a tree will sometimes shift to wider grain spacing corresponding with the year when surrounding trees competing for light, water and nutrients were removed. Too wide grain spacing is often a problem with trees harvested from populated or farmed areas. Brazilian rosewood cultivated on farms is so inferior to forest old growth wood, that it's given another trade name.
      "I don't want to be immortalized through my work. I want to be immortalized by not dying." Woody Allen

      Comment


      • Tony Burns
        Tony Burns commented
        Editing a comment

        I hope it all works out for you Freeman -that would be so neat to have a local wood

        in a guitar you built -whats neater than that . I know wood can be different from piece to piece even on the same tree - and my knowledge tells me that less than 10 percent of any species is even usable as decent guitar wood - Im betting their may be a better sourse for that species -possibly even from that same mill that may be a better grade --


      • koiwoi
        koiwoi commented
        Editing a comment

        guitarcapo wrote:
        The problem with some spruce that has grown in cleared areas is uneven grain. Maybe that's not a rule issue for smaller guitars...but a tree will sometimes shift to wider grain spacing corresponding with the year when surrounding trees competing for light, water and nutrients were removed. Too wide grain spacing is often a problem with trees harvested from populated or farmed areas. Brazilian rosewood cultivated on farms is so inferior to forest old growth wood, that it's given another trade name.

        The heavy metals absorbed from the mining add extra stiffness to compensate for the grain spacing. Imagine having an acoustic that glowed in the dark! 


      • FretFiend.
        FretFiend. commented
        Editing a comment

        guitarcapo wrote:
        The problem with some spruce that has grown in cleared areas is uneven grain. Maybe that's not a rule issue for smaller guitars...but a tree will sometimes shift to wider grain spacing corresponding with the year when surrounding trees competing for light, water and nutrients were removed. Too wide grain spacing is often a problem with trees harvested from populated or farmed areas. Brazilian rosewood cultivated on farms is so inferior to forest old growth wood, that it's given another trade name.

        Since when is wide grain spacing a problem? Granted, tight grain looks prettier, but there are plenty of righteous guitars out there with wide or irregular grain spacing in their tops.

        Trade names for Braz???

         

        Sorry, but I smell bull****************.


    • #4

      Hello Freeman:  Dave Olson here, I'm a new member of this acoustic forum, and the fellow who found that wood last year up at Holden as a guest.  But I'm not a tonewood expert, and only got the ball rolling on an interesting project that has involved Holden, Pacific Rim Tonewoods, Taylor Guitars, and two NGO's providing clean water in Central America - El Porvenir and Living Waters for the World. 

      Your summary of the project was excellent!  I loved the description of the Holden mining days, with the red light on the porch, etc .  Ahem, it is a little different now in this century! 

      I would only add that every bit of the retail profit on these guitars will go to benefit non-profits, 20% to Holden Village and the remainder to clean water.    I played the prototype guitar made in El Cajon by Larry Breedlove and Andy Powers, and it is a great, unique sound with that old growth Engelmann top - you can check out some sound samples on the web page you listed.

      The wood is terrific - there were hundreds of trees that had to come down to reroute Railroad and Copper Creeks, and PRT selected just a fraction of a percent of that biomass for guitar tops - only the best.  Engelmann tends to be bit twisty and limby, and only a few big trees are truly suitable, but those few trees yield sonically and aesthetically stunning wood.   It was heartbreaking how many were rejected really on logistical grounds - we brought down only the best ones to the mill, and all those tops are spoken for.  But there are still logs up there.  I'd love to see someone up there split more billets from some of the logs before they are all ground to chips.  If you have interest, let me know - all I can do is make the intros...The remediation plan calls for the wood to be used as cover over the tailings once the pile of tailings is regraded.  We only diverted some of the best of that old growth to a higher purpose  

      Cheers, Dave Olson

      Comment


      • koiwoi
        koiwoi commented
        Editing a comment

        That's awesome!


        Freeman - you should head up and see if there is enough wood to made a series of charity ukuleles with spruce tops. With your craftmanship they'd fly out the door for a good cause. I'd buy one.


      • Freeman Keller
        Freeman Keller commented
        Editing a comment

        Dave Olson wrote:

        Hello Freeman:  Dave Olson here, I'm a new member of this acoustic forum, and the fellow who found that wood last year up at Holden as a guest.  But I'm not a tonewood expert, and only got the ball rolling on an interesting project that has involved Holden, Pacific Rim Tonewoods, Taylor Guitars, and two NGO's providing clean water in Central America - El Porvenir and Living Waters for the World. 

        Your summary of the project was excellent!  I loved the description of the Holden mining days, with the red light on the porch, etc .  Ahem, it is a little different now in this century! 

        I would only add that every bit of the retail profit on these guitars will go to benefit non-profits, 20% to Holden Village and the remainder to clean water.    I played the prototype guitar made in El Cajon by Larry Breedlove and Andy Powers, and it is a great, unique sound with that old growth Engelmann top - you can check out some sound samples on the web page you listed.

        The wood is terrific - there were hundreds of trees that had to come down to reroute Railroad and Copper Creeks, and PRT selected just a fraction of a percent of that biomass for guitar tops - only the best.  Engelmann tends to be bit twisty and limby, and only a few big trees are truly suitable, but those few trees yield sonically and aesthetically stunning wood.   It was heartbreaking how many were rejected really on logistical grounds - we brought down only the best ones to the mill, and all those tops are spoken for.  But there are still logs up there.  I'd love to see someone up there split more billets from some of the logs before they are all ground to chips.  If you have interest, let me know - all I can do is make the intros...The remediation plan calls for the wood to be used as cover over the tailings once the pile of tailings is regraded.  We only diverted some of the best of that old growth to a higher purpose  

        Cheers, Dave Olson


         

        Wow, Dave, thank you and a hearty welcome to HCAG.    I saw your name in the various articles and have to say that I am totally blown away by this project.    I've also contacted Eric at Pacific Rim - he pretty much said that all the wood had been spoken for but would let me know if something turned up.

        It was just a whim, but the area around Holden is very special to me and I thought that if I could score a piece of the wood I'd try to do something special with it.   The last time I was at the Village we were conducting a rescue mission on Bonaza Peak and the Villagers put up the rescue team, fed us, including all the ice cream we could eat (we got the injured party down OK).   As far as the red light on the poarch, next time you are in Manson check out Hard Row To Hoe winery (or goggle them) for a bit of mining history.

        And if I'm back packing up there next summer I just might look for some hunks of spruce laying about...

        Freeman


    • #5
      I think the general idea with spruce is that examples with a high density of grain lines is stiffer with a high strength to weight ratio. Less damping. There's also the aesthetic that it's older wood with each line being a year. CF Martin III told a story of felling a tree behind his house in order to make spruce tops...but discovering that the growth lines were to far apart to be used for guitar tops. He stated it was probably because the tree grew alone separate from any trees that would compete with it for water and light.
      "I don't want to be immortalized through my work. I want to be immortalized by not dying." Woody Allen

      Comment


      • Dave Olson
        Dave Olson commented
        Editing a comment

        I'm digging up stuff from graduate school a thousand years ago, but I hope it is still current and in agreement with you.  That's a great story about the Martin Dynasty... Spruce in general has relatively low density and relatively high stiffness, both of which make for high sound velocity and a good acoustic radiator.  Within those two parameters there is something of a trade off, and there is variability  between species.  There are a few things that are absolute, however.  Latewood (the dark line of the annual ring) is always more dense than the earlywood.  The darker the line, the denser it is - it is simply the result of anatomy, of having more cell walls of greater thickness per volume of wood.  I'll bet the Google has hundreds of images of spruce annual rings under  the microscope. 

        Sometimes, the higher density leads to higher stiffness, both across and along the grain, "compensating" for the higher density but yielding a different acoustic profile.

        Again, lots of variability, but  Engelmann will tend to have lower density latewood, and that's why the grain lines tend not to be as distinct as Sitka.  There are a few other minor factors, but if you have Sitka and Engelmann with the same annual growth rate, the Engelmann will be slightly less dense, the Sitka slightly more stiff.   All other things being equal, I wonder whether this is the essential difference acoustically?  When I've heard the same guitar side by side, the difference being the top, there is a marked difference to my ears.  The Holden GS Mini is one example of this - I had the opportunity to play both the standard model and the HV prototype side by side last month, and even my 10 year old could tell the difference from the other room (he's got a pretty good ear, though, better than his old man, I think ....

        Cheers, DO


    • #6

      The Holden Village GS Mini has been out for a couple of months in a "pre-sale" offered to the Holden Village constituency, and thru a very active thread on the Acoustic Guitar Forum (20,000 + views!).  It has been a huge success, over 300 sold, and with very positive reviews as these guitars find their way into people's living rooms. 

      I wanted to let you all know that the guitar is about to be introduced to the wide world, and that the Taylor Website now has a direct sale link:

      https://www.taylorguitars.com/taylorware/holden-village-gs-mini

      Of coure, this link can still be found thru the Holden Village website. 

      It has been a huge amount of fun to watch this unfold, and to see and hear the photos and clips of these instruments as they are introduced around the country. 

      Cheers, Dave Olson

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