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Spruce: Sitka vs. Engelmann vs. Adirondack

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  • Spruce: Sitka vs. Engelmann vs. Adirondack

    I am wondering, if the guitar body, for example, is Dreadnought, the back and sides are Indian Rosewood, how do these spruce tops (Sitka / Engelmann / Adirondack) affect the sounds? Thanks!

  • #2
    My solid-Sitka-spruce-topped Yamaha FG730S (dread) is louder and brighter sounding than my solid-Engleman-spruce-topped Yamaha LS-6 (OM/000). Both have layered rosewood back/sides.

    Not a totally accurate/fair comparison though, considering they're shaped differently, and have other construction differences.
    Yamaha LS6
    Yamaha FG730S
    Alvarez MD350

    Comment


    • #3
      My take;
      Sitka is warmer for strumming, Engelman is stiffer, "Punchier" for fingerpicking, Adirondack is a combination of the 2. Then you get into grain lines per inch as a factor of sound.
      That said. Others will have other defintions and from thier playing style they will be right also.
      Origin of top wood can be the big lie. I just read of a dealer in Germany was rebadging Canadian spruce as German spruce. I am trying to find Documentable Pennsylvania Adi. The same anwer I got from 2 dealers "you want it to be from Pa.....it's from Pa." (I am going to build Parlors from Pennsylvania Walnut, Pa Cherry for the neck, now I have to find the top wood. Even if I have to take a Chainsaw in the woods in the Poconos!)
      The top wood I find interesting is Ezo spruce. Yamaha seems to be the only one that has used the wood. They only use it for Japan only releases and they had used it on the great L50 series and the FG500, 1500, and 2000.
      I saw Kawai (spelling?) made a great anniversary Piano from Ezo.
      Another top wood I have a ton of from my recent buyout but have never heard on a guitar is Lutz. It looks like the Engelman but softer like the Sitka.
      My favorite top wood is Western Redwood. Sounds like Cedar but much tougher. I love the tone of Cedar but fear it like Balsa Wood.

      Comment


      • #4
        My take;
        Sitka is warmer for strumming, Engelman is stiffer, "Punchier" for fingerpicking, Adirondack is a combination of the 2.


        so, is that the reason why Sitka is more often used than Engelman for the top wood of dreadnoughts?

        Can I say, if I use the dreadnought for fingerpicking, I better choose an Engelman spruce dreadnought? If for strumming, sikta is a better choice??

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        • #5
          Sitka is more plentiful.

          Comment


          • #6
            Large companies tend to use Sitka because it is cheaper and more abundant. Englemann has a tighter grain and is a little less abundant. Many think that Englemann is the best way to go sound wise. Adirondack Spruce used to be widely used and sounds great but is much less abundant today.

            BigAl
            Instruments:
            Custom Dreadnaught Solid Hog

            Comment


            • #7
              There are way many more factors that are probably more significant than the taxonomy species of spruce used.

              How thick is that soundboard? How is it braced? How dense is that sample of spruce as far as lines per inch? Was the tree from a high altitude forrest with minimal rain competing with other trees over a long time with uniform growth or did that same species tree come from a tree farm? Was the spruce quartersawn well? Was the wood cut from split billets or just milled from quartered billets? How much runnout is present if any? Are the two pieces bookmatched well?
              Wait a minute...we haven't even gotten into what kind of finish is on that soundboard...nitro,poly,shellac,oil?.What kind of glue is used for the center seam and braces? hide glue? Aliphatic resin? Oh yea...the braces...are they the same species as the soundboard? How were they shaped? How thick are they? Were THEY cut from split billets? How tall are they? Scalloped? What's the bracing pattern? How large is the soundhole? Oh **************** I forgot about the scale length and box volume and soundboard SHAPE. Wait a minute... didn't some luthier say that the BRIDGE is the most important brace of the whole soundboard? what species of wood is IT made out of? What shape and size? What about the bridge plate?How thick? What species? What size/shape? Let's not forget about that ALL IMPORTANT BACK AND SIDE WOODS! What species is THAT? (Of course if it's Brazilian rosewood we might have to just chuck everything else out the window because that's the wood Jesus' guitar was made from.) Wait a minute..was this a classical guitar or a steel string guitar we're talking about? That might be an important factor to consider.
              Oh yea we never talked about the saddle material. Bone? Ivory? Micarta?
              It seems like the brand of strings makes a difference too.

              But **************** all that...What does Engelman sound like compared to Sitka? that's all people really want to know....
              "I don't want to be immortalized through my work. I want to be immortalized by not dying." Woody Allen

              Comment


              • #8
                There are way many more factors that are probably more significant than the taxonomy species of spruce used.

                How thick is that soundboard? How is it braced? How dense is that sample of spruce as far as lines per inch? Was the tree from a high altitude forrest with minimal rain competing with other trees over a long time with uniform growth or did that same species tree come from a tree farm? Was the spruce quartersawn well? Was the wood cut from split billets or just milled from quartered billets? How much runnout is present if any? Are the two pieces bookmatched well?
                Wait a minute...we haven't even gotten into what kind of finish is on that soundboard...nitro,poly,shellac,oil?.What kind of glue is used for the center seam and braces? hide glue? Aliphatic resin? Oh yea...the braces...are they the same species as the soundboard? How were they shaped? How thick are they? Were THEY cut from split billets? How tall are they? Scalloped? What's the bracing pattern? How large is the soundhole? Oh **************** I forgot about the scale length and box volume and soundboard SHAPE. Wait a minute... didn't some luthier say that the BRIDGE is the most important brace of the whole soundboard? what species of wood is IT made out of? What shape and size? What about the bridge plate?How thick? What species? What size/shape? Let's not forget about that ALL IMPORTANT BACK AND SIDE WOODS! What species is THAT? (Of course if it's Brazilian rosewood we might have to just chuck everything else out the window because that's the wood Jesus' guitar was made from.) Wait a minute..was this a classical guitar or a steel string guitar we're talking about? That might be an important factor to consider.
                Oh yea we never talked about the saddle material. Bone? Ivory? Micarta?
                It seems like the brand of strings makes a difference too.

                But **************** all that...What does Engelman sound like compared to Sitka? that's all people really want to know....


                Actually, the prime determinant of the sound of the top is the BRIDGE PINS!

                BigAl
                Instruments:
                Custom Dreadnaught Solid Hog

                Comment


                • #9
                  Actually, the prime determinant of the sound of the top is the BRIDGE PINS!

                  BigAl


                  And I always thought it was proportional to the amount of bling in the rosette.
                  - Rob

                  YouTube (GuiTuber)
                  Proud Member of the Alvarez Alliance & Yamaha Player's Guild

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If the guitar body, back and sides, specs ..... are the same, what does Engelman Dreadnought sound like compared to Sitka dreadnought??

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Engleman is driven easily, but lacks the headroom of Sitka or Adirondak so when you really play it hard the sound may begin to break up. The upside is that it sounds great played softly. Super for fingerstyle.

                      Adirondack has lots of headroom and can be pushed very hard, but is a very stiff wood meaning played gently it may not yield the sound you are looking for. Perhaps not the best wood for fingerstyle.

                      Sitka is somewhere in between. Sounds great played softly, and has lots of headroom.

                      These are all generalizations that do not take into account the fact that a skilled luthier can build a guitar with any of the spruce species and get the results that are desired.
                      2015 Taylor 514ce-qs Sitka/Quilted Sapele

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Engleman is driven easily, but lacks the headroom of Sitka or Adirondak so when you really play it hard the sound may begin to break up. The upside is that it sounds great played softly. Super for fingerstyle.

                        Adirondack has lots of headroom and can be pushed very hard, but is a very stiff wood meaning played gently it may not yield the sound you are looking for. Perhaps not the best wood for fingerstyle.

                        Sitka is somewhere in between. Sounds great played softly, and has lots of headroom.

                        These are all generalizations at do not take into account the fact that a skilled luthier can build a guitar with any of the spruce species and get the results that are desired.



                        Bingo.

                        +1 on all counts.
                        Circular logic is best because it's circular.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          BTW it's only logical that if you throw a sugar cube into a swimming pool, the resulting water will be sweeter. Sugar always has that effect in water.
                          "I don't want to be immortalized through my work. I want to be immortalized by not dying." Woody Allen

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Large companies tend to use Sitka because it is cheaper and more abundant. Englemann has a tighter grain and is a little less abundant. Many think that Englemann is the best way to go sound wise. Adirondack Spruce used to be widely used and sounds great but is much less abundant today.

                            BigAl


                            Still, I know lots of old folkies that believe Adirondack is the best and will pay handsomely for it.
                            The secret of man's creative power is imagination.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              There are way many more factors that are probably more significant than the taxonomy species of spruce used.

                              How thick is that soundboard? How is it braced? How dense is that sample of spruce as far as lines per inch? Was the tree from a high altitude forrest with minimal rain competing with other trees over a long time with uniform growth or did that same species tree come from a tree farm? Was the spruce quartersawn well? Was the wood cut from split billets or just milled from quartered billets? How much runnout is present if any? Are the two pieces bookmatched well?
                              Wait a minute...we haven't even gotten into what kind of finish is on that soundboard...nitro,poly,shellac,oil?.What kind of glue is used for the center seam and braces? hide glue? Aliphatic resin? Oh yea...the braces...are they the same species as the soundboard? How were they shaped? How thick are they? Were THEY cut from split billets? How tall are they? Scalloped? What's the bracing pattern? How large is the soundhole? Oh **************** I forgot about the scale length and box volume and soundboard SHAPE. Wait a minute... didn't some luthier say that the BRIDGE is the most important brace of the whole soundboard? what species of wood is IT made out of? What shape and size? What about the bridge plate?How thick? What species? What size/shape? Let's not forget about that ALL IMPORTANT BACK AND SIDE WOODS! What species is THAT? (Of course if it's Brazilian rosewood we might have to just chuck everything else out the window because that's the wood Jesus' guitar was made from.) Wait a minute..was this a classical guitar or a steel string guitar we're talking about? That might be an important factor to consider.
                              Oh yea we never talked about the saddle material. Bone? Ivory? Micarta?
                              It seems like the brand of strings makes a difference too.

                              But **************** all that...What does Engelman sound like compared to Sitka? that's all people really want to know....


                              Congratulations... your list of variables rivals your supply of Asian avatar babes.
                              The secret of man's creative power is imagination.

                              Comment













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