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Old 04-14-2007, 05:22 PM
35' Sunburst 35' Sunburst is offline
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Default Sitka vs. Adirondack Tops

Hello everyone. I've been away for a while but I'm back.
Today I was down at the local guitar store and was giving a few nice acoustic guitars a try and was noticing a difference in wood tones with respect to top wood. The guitars with Adirondack had a noticable difference in tone and to my ears - preferable. Didn't matter if they had Mahogany back and sides or Rosewood. Of course they were upper end guitars with probably better tone wood all around but they did sound more alive with the Adirondack tops.

Any other opinions or observations concerning top woods?
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Old 04-14-2007, 07:55 PM
grantgsc grantgsc is offline
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Default Adi/Sitka

You've got my vote on the Adi. Nothing wrong with Sitka, but if I had a choice, I would take the Adirondack, especially with a dreadnaught. However...Today, I played a Santa Cruz Dreadnaught, (PW) that had a Sitka top with Mah. b/s... and WOW I had to run out of the store and wrecklessly drive away because my credit card was burning a hole in my butt!
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Old 04-14-2007, 08:09 PM
jlott00 jlott00 is offline
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is adi brighter and louder basiclly?
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Old 04-14-2007, 08:38 PM
35' Sunburst 35' Sunburst is offline
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It is more articulate. It is more touch responsive. Seems to breathe more.
I wouldn't necessarily say louder but maybe more open. At least that's what I got out of the guitars I checked out today.
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Old 04-14-2007, 09:10 PM
jlott00 jlott00 is offline
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im actually thinking of getin a sapele/ adi GS.....i tihnk it will be awesome and super clear
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Old 04-14-2007, 09:43 PM
scub73 scub73 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 35' Sunburst View Post
Hello everyone. I've been away for a while but I'm back.
Today I was down at the local guitar store and was giving a few nice acoustic guitars a try and was noticing a difference in wood tones with respect to top wood. The guitars with Adirondack had a noticable difference in tone and to my ears - preferable. Didn't matter if they had Mahogany back and sides or Rosewood. Of course they were upper end guitars with probably better tone wood all around but they did sound more alive with the Adirondack tops.

Any other opinions or observations concerning top woods?
Adi is typically the "hardest" of the spruces.. as such it will typically be the loudest and should not break down under any conditions of hard strumming or flat picking.
My guitar has full adirondak bracing (the first one R. Taylor has produced) and the guys at the factory felt it was LOUD! They could only attribute this difference between mine and others just like mine that they have made, to the adirondak bracing.. I believe that many of the old Martins used to be made from Adi until the availability dried up..
It is an upgrade with most makers, it certainly is at R. Taylor. I chose Swiss alpine as I am more fingerstyle and I don't strum or flatpick much.. If I did, I might have gone with Adi..
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Old 04-14-2007, 09:47 PM
jimmybcool jimmybcool is offline
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My understanding is the adi tops will also open up more over time. And it is usually a $500 or more upcharge for that top.

But I have a few guitars with Engleman that are amazing also. In the end it is the total combination of wood and manufacture that makes the guitar.
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Old 04-14-2007, 10:16 PM
scub73 scub73 is offline
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Originally Posted by jimmybcool View Post
My understanding is the adi tops will also open up more over time. And it is usually a $500 or more upcharge for that top.

But I have a few guitars with Engleman that are amazing also. In the end it is the total combination of wood and manufacture that makes the guitar.
Engelmann is a softer and more responsive wood for fingerstyle while the Adi is more suited for stumming and flatpicking.. Adi is definitey a harder spruce and will not breakdown under heavy playing where Engelmann will tend to breakdown under heavy strumming/flatpicking.
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Old 04-14-2007, 10:26 PM
jimmybcool jimmybcool is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scub73 View Post
Engelmann is a softer and more responsive wood for fingerstyle while the Adi is more suited for stumming and flatpicking.. Adi is definitey a harder spruce and will not breakdown under heavy playing where Engelmann will tend to breakdown under heavy strumming/flatpicking.
Interesting. I play acoustics mostly fingerstyle. And, come to think of it only have one adi topped guitar. But it sounds great. They all do though.


Nope, two adis. The Martin Marquis is also adi. Sounds great fingerstyle. Might have to take a pick to it to see the difference.
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Old 04-15-2007, 07:20 AM
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If I may generalize about the Sitka vs. Addirondack.

Both are, of course spruces and things are going to vary from tree-to-tree, billet-to-billet, and guitar top-to-guitar-top. Spruce has a high strength to weight ratio, one of the reasons it makes a good top for guitars. Sitka will tend to have more of fundamental (one very strong note in frequency in the spectrum analysis.) This is not a bad thing, it is just what it is. Adirondack tends to be a little stiffer and denser which sometimes may make it a little better for hard driving aggressive playing. On the hand it does seem to have more overtones in addition to the fundamental, which depending on many other factors may get you more “color” to the tone or in the end a more piano-like sound. That said, many Sitka-topped guitar can have piano-like sound.

There are so many factors that go into getting a particular tone out of guitar and as it has been said in many other threads on this and other forums, it is more about the "build(er)" than the tonewoods. I tend to build guitars with lots of overtones, sustain and balance. Some blues guys would hate that!. Some want a quick attack, a strong fundamental and a fast decay. Each of these scenarios can be captured with the same type of top wood through the build process but choosing the “right” piece of wood for the tone your are going after at the start with may make it easier.

Based on it stiffness, I use Adirondack Spruce for my bracing material no matter what top is used (cedar included.) One of my favorite top materials for fingerstyle is Italian Spruce. I was fortunate enough to be able to hand select piles of this stuff. It is not quite as stiff as some of the Adirondack that I have but it overtone component is so strong which is what I was looking for.

Once again, all the above is generalizations based on what “I” have experienced. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 04-15-2007, 10:27 AM
35' Sunburst 35' Sunburst is offline
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Thanks John for that explanation and your experience with these woods. I really like the 000 size Martin and Martin style guitars and play alot of fingerstyle. I actually like the Adirondack tone on these. It covers alot of bases and find the tone to be more complex - to my ear - on the guitars I've tried so far. But as you said it has alot to do with the whole build. I've just been fortunate enough to have stumbled on a few really nice Martins with this type of top wood.
It is so true about the builder though. As Taylor brings a certain voice to the acoustic world so do all the other builders like Martin, Gibson, Goodall, Olsen etc. Thanks to this wide array of builds we can choose the voice and feel we like as individual guitarists.
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Old 04-15-2007, 11:00 AM
Taylor007 Taylor007 is offline
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My first experience w/ adi tops was on a martin d18ge. I had read a lot of hoopla on the guitar forums about adi over mahogany. Upon the first chord strum on the ge, I was convinced. Slowly all of my sitka guitars were replaced by adi. Don't ever underestimate the builder's touch when thinking about tonewoods though. I picked up a adi/mahog. by a well known builder once and its tone was...well lets just say it was a "dud." It was on consignment and I could see why.

When I'm playing, adi topped guitars seem to "move" more. Meaning you can really feel the notes as they fly off the soundboard. The headroom is better than sitka as well. Esp. on OM bodied guitars.
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Old 04-15-2007, 11:25 AM
jimmybcool jimmybcool is offline
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Thanks for that John.

In the end though it is a combination of stuff. I recently tried a consignment guitar of brazilian rosewood and sitka spruce. Dud. And a very well known brand which will remain nameless.

I like fingerstyle and one of the guitars I have best luck with is a Martin OM-28 Marquis. This has an adi top and sings. Just perfect tone. But I'm sure there are other OM-28 Marquis' out there that are duds. You gotta play em to know for certain.
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Old 04-15-2007, 12:06 PM
mjz mjz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Osthoff View Post
If I may generalize about the Sitka vs. Addirondack.

Both are, of course spruces and things are going to vary from tree-to-tree, billet-to-billet, and guitar top-to-guitar-top. Spruce has a high strength to weight ratio, one of the reasons it makes a good top for guitars. Sitka will tend to have more of fundamental (one very strong note in frequency in the spectrum analysis.) This is not a bad thing, it is just what it is. Adirondack tends to be a little stiffer and denser which sometimes may make it a little better for hard driving aggressive playing. On the hand it does seem to have more overtones in addition to the fundamental, which depending on many other factors may get you more “color” to the tone or in the end a more piano-like sound. That said, many Sitka-topped guitar can have piano-like sound.

There are so many factors that go into getting a particular tone out of guitar and as it has been said in many other threads on this and other forums, it is more about the "build(er)" than the tonewoods. I tend to build guitars with lots of overtones, sustain and balance. Some blues guys would hate that!. Some want a quick attack, a strong fundamental and a fast decay. Each of these scenarios can be captured with the same type of top wood through the build process but choosing the “right” piece of wood for the tone your are going after at the start with may make it easier.

Based on it stiffness, I use Adirondack Spruce for my bracing material no matter what top is used (cedar included.) One of my favorite top materials for fingerstyle is Italian Spruce. I was fortunate enough to be able to hand select piles of this stuff. It is not quite as stiff as some of the Adirondack that I have but it overtone component is so strong which is what I was looking for.

Once again, all the above is generalizations based on what “I” have experienced. Your mileage may vary.
Yes, my mileage varies. In fact, my experiences playing both on Martin dreads is that Sitka is the more forgiving top wood in terms of hard struming. I can get an Adi topped to really break-up or over modulate fairly easily, whereas Sitka can handle more than I can give it. I've also noted that older Adi guitars are a bit better - have more headroom.

In terms of fundamentals and overtones I find new Sitka to be more complex and more lush, mostly because of all the wonderful overtones going on. To my ears new Adi is harsher and glass-like by comparision. The fundamentals just jump out and grab ya. This phenomenon is completely opposite on the prewars I've played, however. I just don't know if it's old Adi or just the old guitar. Old or new, I hear more string separation with adi than sitka.

With the exception of the prewars I've played, when I've had to choose top wood on Rosewood, Sitka wins everytime. However, I own an Adi over rosewood on a 000 that just sounds killer, and ADI over mahoganey is heaven.

But all of that is just how my ears hear it and most of my experiencing these two woods is on Martin guitars. There's a whole palette out there I've never had the pleasure to know they way I know my own guitars.

max
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Old 04-16-2007, 09:34 AM
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"I use Adirondack Spruce for my bracing material no matter what top is used (cedar included.)" Originally Posted by John Osthoff

John...Why? Do you find that it does, indeed, increase volume or does it influence tone in some way?
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