Alaska Specialty Woods Grading

Tonewood Product and Grade Descriptions
Nomenclature, Grading and Sizes.

Our grading system is meticulously designed to categorize our Sitka Spruce tonewood based on aesthetic qualities and other critical factors. It’s important to note that all our tonewood classified as suitable for instruments falls into the highest echelons of lumber grading. We further differentiate this top-tier quality into distinct grades, which are outlined below.

Texture: This attribute describes the nature of the wood’s growth and its annual ring count. Our texture classifications range from Fine, indicative of a higher ring count, to Coarse, denoting a wider spacing between rings. Variations can include a gradient from fine to coarse or a texture that is somewhat uneven throughout the wood.

Medullary Rays: Often referred to as “medularies,” these are the natural, silky patterns that run perpendicular to the wood’s growth rings and are highlighted when the wood is expertly sawn almost perfectly quarter-grained.

Stiffness: This characteristic pertains to the wood’s resistance to bending across the grain, an important factor in the tonal quality and structural integrity of the finished instrument.

Detailed Grading: Our tonewood grades are carefully determined, catering to guitars and smaller instruments, as well as larger ones up to the size of a cello. The differences between adjacent grades can be subtle and may be challenging to discern without extensive experience.

These classifications help guide our customers in selecting the ideal tonewood for their specific instrument-building requirements, ensuring a final product that meets both their aesthetic and acoustic standards.

Alaska Specialty Woods Grading

Master Grade: Showcases an exceptionally fine and even texture, with moderate to strong medullary rays and consistently even color. It stands out as a distinguished, one-in-a-thousand top.

AAA Grade: Features a very uniform texture and color, yet lacks the complete consistency that defines the Master Grade.

AAA Grade Western Red Cedar
AAA Grade Yellow Cedar Tone Wood
AAA Grade Western Red Cedar

AA Grade: Presents a very even texture and color but includes some variations that keep it from meeting the AAA standard.

AA Grade Sitka Spruce
AA Grade Yellow Cedar

A Grade: Still makes a nice instrument with character. Manufacturers use this grade on their models that average $300-$700. It just has an appearance that won't allow it into the next grade.

A Grade Sitka Spruce
A Grade Yellow Cedar
A Grade Western Red Cedar
  • #1 grade is used in the smaller instrument to generalize a- AA/AAA- grades
  • #2 grade is used in the smaller instrument to generalize a- A-/AA- grades

Double Bass fronts have somewhat different grade criteria in that the texture is considerably coarser over-all, sometimes to ¼” growth ring.

Figured Spruce Product and Grade Descriptions

Figured Spruce is divided into 3 categories:

Bear Claw Figuration Classification

In our catalog, the unique Bear Claw feature—also known by its German name, Hazelfichte—is categorized into two distinct levels of prominence: Light Figure (LF) and Full Figure (FF). This classification is determined by the extent of the figuration present across the surface of the tonewood.

The term “Bear Claw” is derived from the distinctive pattern that resembles the marks a bear’s claws might leave when dragged across the wood’s grain. The visual impact of this pattern can vary depending on how the wood is sawn, which can enhance or soften the effect.

Unlike the pronounced curl seen in varieties of Maple, the Bear Claw pattern in Sitka Spruce is more understated, offering a subtle yet captivating play of light and shadow that suggests depth and movement. While it may be less intense, the Bear Claw figure adds a touch of rustic elegance to the wood, making each piece uniquely attractive in its own right.

2-A LF Sitka Spruce
3-A LF Sitka Spruce
2-A FF Sitka Spruce
2-A FF Sitka Spruce
1-A Bear Claw Sitka Spruce
Curl: A wave in the grain very similar to curly maple, but more subtle.


Comprehensive Size Options for Sitka Spruce Tonewood

Choose from a variety of sizes tailored to fit your specific instrument-making needs, from small mandolin to large cello tops.

3-A one piece violin tonewood

Violin 1 piece min. size 15″ X 9.25″ X ¼” thick at center 2 pc wedge set- each pc-15″ X 5″ X ¼” joining edge X ¼” outside edge

3-A Mandolin Wedge

Mandolin 1 pc- min size 17″ X 11″ X 7/8″ thick at the center 2 pc wedge set- each pc.17″ X 5.75″ X 1″ joining edge Most mandolin tops are cut 18″-20″ long x 6+” wide.

2-A FF Sitka Spruce

Arch-top guitar Plank cut 2 pc. Book-set, min. pc. size 23″ X 9″ X 1 1/8″ thick
Wedge Cut, 2 pc. Bookset, min pc size 23″ X 9″ X 1 1/8″ X 3/8″ at the out side edge. Most arch-top guitar are cut 1 ¼” thick x 10″ wide.

3-A Bear Claw Cello

Cello wedges 2 pc. Book-set, min.pc size 34″ X 10″ x 1 ¼” thick x 3/8″ outside edge

Violin 1 piece min. size 15″ X 9.25″ X ¼” thick at center 2 pc wedge set- each pc-15″ X 5″ X ¼” joining edge X ¼” outside edge

Flat top instruments | Product and Grade Descriptions

Jumbo/Acoustic Bass Guitar

2 pc set, min. pc size 23.5" x 9.5" x 3/16".

Dreadnought Guitar

2 pc Book-set, min. pc size- 22.25" x 8.25" x 3/16"

Classical Guitar

Flat top mandolin

2 pc. Bookset, min. pc size 17" x 5 1/2'" x 3/16"

Ukulele Tonewood

2 pc set - min pc size- 13"x 5"x

Mountain Dulcimer/Flamenco Guitar Sides

2 pc set-min. pc size, 34"X 4.25" X 3/16" *will cut larger by request*

Harp Guitar

2pc bookset. Min. pc size 46" X 9" X 3/16"

Other Tonewood Products

Native Flute Stock

2 pc set, min. pc size 23.5" x 9.5" x 3/16".


Sold by the board foot not by the piece. For comparison, other vendors sell by the piece and when the volume is calculated, that volume is about .2bdft[2/10ths bdft] 1 bdft = 144 cu. Inches. The bracewood is random size pieces. These are from the correction wedges and end trims from guitar blocks.

Ordering Notes

From the ONLINE STORE you will see most of what we cut and or stock. If something is not listed, we can most likely cut it for you.

If you are rebuilding an instrument that is peculiar in size, like a bouzouki, or if you are building an over-size mandolin (and the regular top is too small and the archtop guitar is too big) contact us. I may have stock that is just right or just slightly oversize, such as a small body archtop. We are a violin tonewood suppliers and much more.

Business Hours

8-6 Monday through Friday -Alaska Time


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