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I'm just curious. Other than myself, does anyone here use Sitka Spruce?

I use only North American woods.

Not only do I use only domestic woods, but personally I have used other domestic belly woods, and have found them wanting somewhat. Including Engelmann.

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I plan to use Sitka tops, as well as Engelmann and European.  I think a great violin can be made with any of them.  Stradivarius used the variety that was available to him; if that had been Sitka, he would have used that (no internet ordering for him).  

 

With all the discussion about the different varieties of spruce, I got out my five Alaskan Sitka tops last night and measured and weighed them.   SGs: 0.41, 0.43, 0.46, 0.45, and 0.45

 

My Engelmann tops: 0.37 and 0.36 (from Simeon), and 0.46 from an Oregon supplier (Gilmer Wood).

 

My European spruce tops: 0.42, 0.43 (from Lemuel), and 0.43 (from International VIolin).  

 

I'm letting them all age while I finish my house remodel.  :)

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I'm in the process of making a Sitka top now, for an experiment.  It hardly qualifies as a valid comparison, though... it started life as .36 density, then had a near-death chamber experience which left it at slightly under .33.

 

Sitka tops have done quite well tonally, winning quite a few VMAAI contests, as well as being the most preferred at the first Oberlin Acoustics workshop I attended, with several different kinds of spruce tested.

 

From my charts I posted in the Engelmann thread (http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/330889-engelman-spruce/?p=666317), my Sitka samples are all over the place in density and speed of sound.  I must note that I never actually went to a wood vendor to get any of these... they're random accumulations from various sources, mostly other makers, and some samples I suspect are still around because they didn't dare use them.  Try hefting a slab of .54 density Sitka, and decide if you'd ever make a violin out of it.  Rap it with a hammer, and all you hear is the hammer resonating.

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 Try hefting a slab of .54 density Sitka, and decide if you'd ever make a violin out of it.  Rap it with a hammer, and all you hear is the hammer resonating.

 

;-)... and the hammer will probably get the dent !

 

 

Then think... if it's strength is equitable with its weight, how thin could you go with such wood, and retain the proper strength necessary to resist the downward force of the bridge?

 

Sitka has some interesting features.

 

Well aged, well quartered, very dense Spruce works well for particular applications - that's for sure. 

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I plan to use Sitka tops, as well as Engelmann and European.  I think a great violin can be made with any of them.  Stradivarius used the variety that was available to him; if that had been Sitka, he would have used that (no internet ordering for him).  

 

My thinking exactly.

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I 've only made10 instruments, and 3 of the ones I made of Sitka aren't finished, but I like the way that Sitka looks, and finishes better than the Engelmann that I used on the first 5, and the one I made of Red Spruce.  That said, Sitka, and Englemann can be all over the place,  I had .32 Engelmann, that I pared with a heavy birch back, and a 20 mm arch; and it came out very nice.  Easy, pure sound.  Also had some .42 Engelmann, that was probably better than I knew what to do with.

 

The Red Spruce is very different from either.  The winter lines are VERY hard.  Much harder to carve.  I need to string the thing up to see how it sounds.  Messed up on the varnish, and need to get it right.  It has been done 3 years with no strings.  So sad.  (I know repariting is part of the job, but haven't come to grips with it yet)

 

The Sitka is all over the place too.  I need to get more from Bruce at Orcas Island.  I like the look of Sitka better than the others.  I like bearclaw, and I can get Sitka that has bearclaw up the wazoo.   I can get it fine grain, or wide grain, or curly grain.  I haven't measured the Sitka at all.  It feels about right.  Not real light, but it isn't as heavy as poplar; although it may be close.  

I need to do some glue ups, and varnish fixes to have something more than one of each to go with.  

Ken

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And find a piece of low density maple for the top. :D

 

  I actually have a bunch of spalted silver (soft) maple that has an SG of 0.40!  Somehow with the fungi having eaten it, I'm not sure it would be strong enough.  Sort of like building with balsa wood (I guess that's also been done).   :o

post-76933-0-75689400-1425253812_thumb.jpg

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  I actually have a bunch of spalted silver (soft) maple that has an SG of 0.40!  Somehow with the fungi having eaten it, I'm not sure it would be strong enough.  Sort of like building with balsa wood (I guess that's also been done).   :o

attachicon.gifSilverMaple.JPG

That stuff would work for c-bout ribs only and only if you can disguise them well.  We won't tell Chris.

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I get it from the same source as you craig . From what I have read and  talked to people about, in the US,  in my limited experience , it was used more but seems to have fallen out of favor for violins,

and more Engelmann and European, is used now. , maybe because of availability, or more successful makers use it,

Before the internet,  getting info on wood , tools, how and why to make violins was pretty limited if you didn't know a luthier. 

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Hi

I made one violin with Sitka top and a friend of mine too. Both have a similar: some muted sound.

The grain is not perfect straight, it is a little curled.

I only want to improve this violin changing some things. If I can´t get it better I will make another top (spruce or engelman)

Regadrs

Tango

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Well,

Sitka from Orcas Island - for me - has always been hand split and perfectly straight grained.

Back wood has been both split billets, and sawn slabs - depending.

I could always talk to Bruce and specify what I wanted and he'd always send what I asked for.

Great quality Sitka is fairly common. Many of the trees are very big, and the grain can be very dense.

 

But honestly, I was generally more impressed twenty years ago with the quality of a specific batch of Sitka that I bought that was from a viola maker that had resold his wood, and I bought all of it that I could, and I have gone through that specific batch...

 but the more 'modern' Sitka I've bought, is just as workable - but I'm thinking that perhaps the first wood that I bought was the last of a particular batch of really great quality, old, hand split, very dense billets.

 

Ahh, wood, what a thing to debate here, funny isn't it?

I know that Englemann is as good as Sitka - but I have bent my skills around a particular wood, and cannot (I have tried) seem to make any other wood work as well...

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Does the red spruce ring good during thinning and tuning? 

 

The red spruce seemed to work real well.  One thing is that it doesn't have the fuzziness that Englemann seems to have.  And, it had exceptional stiffness, and to tune it, you must work on the hard lines, so everything has to be sharp. Englemann as very soft winter lines; it is almost homogenous; and Sitka appears to be in the middle, but not nearly as hard as Red Spruce.   I need to strip the varnish , and try again, instead of trying to fix it, and string it up and listen to it.  Maybe the Red Spruce is the way?  If I could find some with cool grain, and bearclaw.....

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It was an older European maker from some time back that if an American? or whomever?  was going to use a spruce from here he would need to use the "red" variety.  He may not of had a chance to get his hands on Englemann if none was on the east coast back then.

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Not a Violin but I made a Classical guitar with a Sitka top some 20 years ago. I'm almost certain it was the finest sounding instrument that I've ever made.

How very odd that I've never used it since! But that's perception for you. Sitka is very rarely used on Classical Guitars.

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  I actually have a bunch of spalted silver (soft) maple that has an SG of 0.40!  Somehow with the fungi having eaten it, I'm not sure it would be strong enough.  Sort of like building with balsa wood (I guess that's also been done).   :o

attachicon.gifSilverMaple.JPG

Chris, I went out and looked at my stock of silver maple.  If you have successfully constructed a violin out of the stuff we are supposed to use I wouldn't waste the time with the spalted silver.  Your next efforts could be rewarded better just by using the good stuff.

  If you haven't attempted a build yet here's some advice.  Pick the best plan available and do your best when shaping to form.  This here's my opinion about silver maple.  When lowering the weight and tapping stop when the piece starts ringing real true.  I wouldn't worry about weight. it's already light.  Going past will just weaken it tonewise.  Another way, albeit not as good, is to carve it like any other piece of maple however thin you think it should go then go back and add a bunch of cleats to strengthen it back up.  I'm far from being the world's greatest violin maker but I know this wood like the back of my hand.  I think along time ago this species of maple hybridized with a cottonwood or some type of poplar.   It just ain't all there.  Think of this wood as 75% maple and 25% other.

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Chris, I went out and looked at my stock of silver maple.  If you have successfully constructed a violin out of the stuff we are supposed to use I wouldn't waste the time with the spalted silver.  Your next efforts could be rewarded better just by using the good stuff.

 

  It was never my intent to use this wood in a violin.  I mentioned it because another poster proposed using a low density maple top in conjunction with a high density spruce back—all in good humor.  The spalted maple came from a tree I cut down 15 years ago; when I discovered the spalted patterning in the trunk near the ground, I cut it up into billets sized for solid-body electric guitars (the spalted maple carries a premium for that purpose).  I haven't used any for guitars yet, and am now planning to use most of it for drawer fronts for the cabinets I'm building for my new kitchen.  No tonal requirements there!

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 Thanks saintjohnbarleycorn!

 

Interesting that Sitka has such a well established place in mando world.

I'm waiting to see what kevin Prestwich has to say about the Sitka billet I have sent him, and we'll see what I think of the Engelmann piece that he is sending me...

I'm somewhat hopeful that in the past, I may have simply had experience with a different type of Engelmann, from someone else.

We'll see.

This is going to be most interesting as I believe this may be his first look at "very good" Sitka also.

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