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Old 04-18-2017, 02:28 PM
Nailpicker Nailpicker is offline
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Default Norwegian/European spruce

Just wondering how common is European spruce used for top wood? And does it matter what part of the world it comes from? I just did a little research that says that at one time European and Norwegian spruce were considered to be different species or sub species I guess. But people who assign taxonomical names have now merged the two together as Picea abies. I love my giant Norwegian Spruce that sits next to my driveway. It is also loved by many species of song birds that use it for shelter. But someday I will need to cut down that lovely tree as it encroaches more and more over my driveway and house. Does an American grown Norwegian spruce have any value for top wood?
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Old 04-18-2017, 04:41 PM
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That depends on how big it is. You need at least 24" diameter to cut top sets.
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Old 04-18-2017, 05:43 PM
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It's easily 24" in diameter, but my question really was about how desirable North American grown Norwegian/European spruce might be for guitar tops.
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Old 04-18-2017, 05:52 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is online now
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It is true that all native European spruce is now regarded as Picea Abies.
Like the humans who developed some time after the trees, there are regional variations due to environment.

There are transplanted spruces in Europe as well as in the Americas.

I don't assume expertise, but I think it is a challenge to estimate the quality of timber as a tonewood from any tree until it is felled.

I am sorry to hear of the fine tree on what is currently your land.
I'm sorry to hear that it is "encroaching" on your driveway and house.

Considering the longevity of trees, and humans, could it not be that your drive and house are encroaching on the tree?
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Old 04-18-2017, 05:58 PM
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It makes fine guitars, but much that is grown in the open will have very wide grain. Open grown trees also tend to have too many limbs, which means knots.

There is a story about a Norway spruce that was growing next to the Martin factory many years ago. When it needed to be removed, Mr. Martin said it should be cut for braces. But when it was cut, it was discovered that the grain was too wide for their specifications.

Last year, Martin actually had a guitar on display at the factory that had a locally grown Norway spruce top.

Wide grain European spruce (specifically Carpathian) has become more accepted lately....possibly because of the recent increased use of wide grain red spruce.

The idea that tight grain old growth spruce is better than wide grain second growth is largely a myth.
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Old 04-18-2017, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post
I don't assume expertise, but I think it is a challenge to estimate the quality of timber as a tonewood from any tree until it is felled.
I assume that is true. My question was intented to be more in general if NS is/can be a desirable tone wood given proper qualities for guitars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post
I am sorry to hear of the fine tree on what is currently your land.

Considering the longevity of trees, and humans, could t not be that your drive and house are encroaching on the tree?
Not sure why you'd be sorry about me having a fine tree on my land, but I can assure you that neither my house, nor driveway have grown one inch to encroach on my tree. Perhaps your question is simply too intellectual, too existential for me to understand Seriously, I do get somewhat sentimental about my trees, especially when they harbor all the wonderful song birds they do. At the same time I am a realist about them. I don't romanticize or get "spiritual" about them. All trees someday die from natural causes (disease, injury), and indeed old age, just like all living things including people. We use trees for fuel, building, paper, a variety of chemicals, musical instruments including guitars, etc.

Unfortunately, what I've read and my tree seems to confirm is that NS, unlike the balsams, red pine, popple, birch and giant oaks on my land, do not naturally reproduce well. I wish they did, but that is likely why my NS was planted by a previous owner of my property.
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:05 AM
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European Spruce seems to reproduce well enough in areas where there's lots of them already. Much like humans?

What kind of climate and location does your tree have? Temps, humidity, sunlight, other trees groing nearby??

Some years ago, I decided to see what was in a recently fallen spruce tree. Looked pretty good, until I split it and found a severe "propeller twist".

You don't necessarily have to cut down the whole tree for encroaching something. You can remove or shorten the branches that get in your way. In tight growth, the low branches die anyway. Sometimes forest owners remove branches, starting early on, to produce timber with fewer knots, and smaller.
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Old 04-19-2017, 08:58 AM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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European spruce (AKA German, Carpathian, Austrian, Alpine, Italian, etc.) is considered by many to be the ultimate spruce for instruments. It has been used since before Stradivari was alive.
Euro spruce combines the light weight of Engelmann with the stiffness of red spruce. High stiffness and low weight are the key to making a guitar that is both loud and responsive.
I live in the SE US, and while Norway spruce is often planted in yards, I have never seen it reproduce....in spite of heavy production of cones. I suspect the summer temperature is too warm.
In the great tornado outbreak of 2011, a Norway spruce was uprooted a block away from my house. I obtained some of the wood, and it will be serviceable. But it is very wide-grained (the tree was born in 1954, just like me), and the many knots produce grain swirls ('knot shadows') that can reduce strength if they are in the bridge area.
My plan is to make a neighborhood guitar, where all the wood came from the area right around my home. For years, I have had plenty of hardwoods (cherry, maple, walnut, dogwood, hackberry, pecan, black locust), but until 2011, I did not have any spruce for a soundboard.

Last edited by John Arnold; 04-19-2017 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 04-19-2017, 03:45 PM
Nailpicker Nailpicker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perttime View Post
What kind of climate and location does your tree have? Temps, humidity, sunlight, other trees groing nearby??

You don't necessarily have to cut down the whole tree for encroaching something. You can remove or shorten the branches that get in your way. In tight growth, the low branches die anyway. Sometimes forest owners remove branches, starting early on, to produce timber with fewer knots, and smaller.
NW Wisconsin. Gotta believe it's no hotter than much of Europe. It's got full sunlight, and as I alluded to my property has a full mix of 3 species of oak, popple (aspen), birch, balsam, red pine, and brushy types like cherry, choke cherry, sumac, dogwood.

I have already removed dead and low branches to reduce encroachment, but the tree is huge and simply keeps spreading. Sooner or later, if I don't cut it down, likely a wind storm will push it over....hopefully not in the direction of my house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
I live in the SE US, and while Norway spruce is often planted in yards, I have never seen it reproduce....in spite of heavy production of cones. I suspect the summer temperature is too warm.

My plan is to make a neighborhood guitar, where all the wood came from the area right around my home. For years, I have had plenty of hardwoods (cherry, maple, walnut, dogwood, hackberry, pecan, black locust), but until 2011, I did not have any spruce for a soundboard.
What you've seen in regard to heavy cone production, but no reproduction follows what I'm seeing. However, living in the northern tier of the U.S. I wouldn't think high temps would be an issue.

Sounds like a wonderful idea of building a "neighborhood guitar." Wish I was knowledgeable and talented enough to build guitars.
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Old 04-20-2017, 12:03 AM
perttime perttime is offline
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"In the northern US and Canada, Norway spruce is reported as invasive in some locations"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picea_abies

In my part of Northern Europe, spruce seems to thrive on relatively humid ground. Like, you have moss on the ground and it usually remains a bit too wet to sit on comfortably. More dry areas get dominated by pine.

Edit:
in Europe it seems to grow naturally in areas that get covered with snow in winter: the north excluding places under direct Atlantic influence, and in mountainous areas.
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Last edited by perttime; 04-20-2017 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 04-20-2017, 06:59 PM
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Good stuff. Yes - European spruce.

Yard trees = wide grain and dense wood... The tree doesnt have the forest to support it - so it grows harder, more dense wood... Fast growth = wide grain... Often 1 to 5 rings per inch. Not generally what we are looking for....

Unless you made a point to prune off the bottom branches when the tree was small and through the years as it has grown - you likely have a bunch of knots inside the tree where you would really like to find a top.... Not impossible, but more difficult to cut clean tops without pin knots and knot shadow. M

But is can make a fine guitar.

And - if you have to take it out anyway - you may as well get some good wood out of it.
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Old 04-21-2017, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
European spruce (AKA German, Carpathian, Austrian, Alpine, Italian, etc.) is considered by many to be the ultimate spruce for instruments. It has been used since before Stradivari was alive.
Euro spruce combines the light weight of Engelmann with the stiffness of red spruce. High stiffness and low weight are the key to making a guitar that is both loud and responsive.
I live in the SE US, and while Norway spruce is often planted in yards, I have never seen it reproduce....in spite of heavy production of cones. I suspect the summer temperature is too warm.
In the great tornado outbreak of 2011, a Norway spruce was uprooted a block away from my house. I obtained some of the wood, and it will be serviceable. But it is very wide-grained (the tree was born in 1954, just like me), and the many knots produce grain swirls ('knot shadows') that can reduce strength if they are in the bridge area.
My plan is to make a neighborhood guitar, where all the wood came from the area right around my home. For years, I have had plenty of hardwoods (cherry, maple, walnut, dogwood, hackberry, pecan, black locust), but until 2011, I did not have any spruce for a soundboard.
I too can attest to Norway Spruce not reproducing in spite of a plethora of cones every year. When I bought my country home back in Ohio in 2003 I planted 18 Norway's that were roughly two feet tall. In 13 years they grew tremendously but I never saw a single new sprout. Of course,if you're a grower it's simple to collects seeds and grow trees that way.
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:42 PM
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Let me know when you cut it down
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Old 04-21-2017, 03:49 PM
perttime perttime is offline
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I need to take a shortcut tomorrow and get pics of Norway Spruce sprouting on its own on the damp hillside...
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:48 AM
perttime perttime is offline
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Here's the smallest ones I saw, next to a Spyderco Delica knife.



Otherwise, the woods were full of spruce trees from 5 cm to 30 meters tall. Mixed with pine, birch, rowan, alder, willow, aspen, maple, at least.
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