Adirondack Spruce vs. Sitka Spruce- Revisited:
When a person buys or acquires a guitar, they’re getting a finely crafted instrument that was made from various materials, including wood. Oftentimes, guitars are made using wood from spruce trees.
Spruce trees are coniferous evergreens with needles attached singly to their branches in a spiral fashion. They’re large, often growing upwards of 60-230 feet. Generally, you’ll find spruce trees in different parts of North America. Two in particular, the Adirondack Spruce[Red Spruce from the Adirondack region of upstate New York] and the Sitka Spruce, are beloved by guitar makers as they produce the sound of the instrument rather well.
Adirondack Spruce[Red Spruce] grown in Upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains, as well as elsewhere in the Appalachians. Before World War II, Adirondack Spruce was the main type of wood that pretty much defined the guitars of that era. With so many trees having been cut down to make guitars and other products, only recently has Adirondack Spruce made a comeback as a new generation of trees have matured.
Today’s Adirondack Spruce tend to be wide-grained and somewhat irregular in both their color and grain patterns. What they lack in “looks,” though, they make up for in tonal quality. Some say the soundboards from this specie are able to offer a higher ceiling for volume And that Adirondack Spruce can be played loudly without losing clarity, and therefore it’s found on custom-made, specialty guitars. For aggressive players who want a certain sweetness in their notes, Adirondack Spruce is a fine choice.
But lets compare the actual properties of the two species. We would have to be general, as I know that old growth Sitka has quite a range of density and hardness. I cannot comment on the range of Red Spruce. We do have information provided by The Wood Database at wood-database.com, that provides average properties from test results.
|Red Spruce||Sitka Spruce|
|Dry Weight||27lb/cu.ft||27lb./ cu.ft|
|Specific Gravity @ 12%MC||.37, .43||.36, .42|
|Janka Hardness||490 lbf||510lbf|
|Modulus of Rupture||9580 lb/sq.in||10,150 lb/sq.in|
|Elastic modulus||1,560,000 lb/sq.in||1,600,000 lb/sq.in|
|Crushing strength||4,870 lb/sq.in||5,550 lb/sq.in|
We see the weight is the same. Specific Gravity is a of measure of density, and The Sitka spruce Wins in this category. Sitka edges out red spruce in hardness, so it won’t scratch as easily. Modulus of rupture is bending strength- Sitka wins this test. Elastic modulus is the wood stiffness with the fiber- Again Sitka is the stiffer. Crushing strength doesn’t have very much influence to tonal properties, but is an attribute that is measured by wood testing labs, and would be of concern for flooring application of wood.
In conclusion; What I gather from these tests regarding tone and the 3 most influential attributes of wood in regard to tone, Is that the Sitka Spruce, though the same weight as Red Spruce, out preforms the red spruce, With the least density and highest stiffness. Plus the Sitka is stronger and can therefore be made thinner. Maybe some soundboards made with Sitka, were over built and left to thick to Really move and be able to create the sound as it is able. And Sitka Spruce looks GREAT, generally having more than 200 yrs of recorded history within its slow growth, fine, close grain texture in 1 board of a book set. Old growth type fiber that one doesn’t get from younger tree forests of eastern North America.
Sitka Spruce, which Alaska Specialty Woods supplies to guitar makers worldwide, comes from the coastal rain forest of Southeast Alaska. It’s considered to be the tonewood standard of today. Did you know, for example, that Sitka Spruce is used on almost 90% of the guitars that Taylor makes? This is because Sitka Spruce works well on all styles of guitars, and pleases the majority of players with its broad and dynamic range. Whether a player wants to strum aggressively or do some finger picking, Sitka Spruce tonewood has a strength and elasticity to it that produces excellent articulation.