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Old 01-28-2023, 08:12 PM
FingahPickah FingahPickah is offline
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Default Engelmann Spruce

I've often read/heard that Engelmann tends to have less headroom than sitka and adirondack.

My custom 12 fret SS dread (built by Alex Edney - Hiram, ME) has an Engelmann top and Black Walnut b/s which impressively holds its' own with my 3 Sitka top (EIR, mahogany and maple) dreads. It sings sweet and delicate as well as rings big and bold with clarity.

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Old 01-28-2023, 08:25 PM
Slgis Slgis is offline
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I think Engleman is terrific, but it does seem it doesn't seem to be as well regarded as Adirondack or European Spruce. Perhaps it's not a great choice for a bluegrass player or a heavy handed strummer, but it can make an excellent fingerstyle guitar. Of course there are stories that a lot of Engleman was sold to guitar builders as European Spruce, and no one seemed to notice.

I've owned several Engleman topped guitars, and they were all great. Years ago I had a Bourgeois Martin Simpson and a Martin D-18 David Crosby. Currently, I have a Schoenberg 000 12-fret with an Engleman top and Brazilian back and sides that is an exceptional guitar. However, it would not make a very good bluegrass instrument.
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Old 01-28-2023, 08:48 PM
Stevien Stevien is offline
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I have a Martin OM with Engelman over American Black Walnut. Very warm & responsive, & rewards a very light touch! Perfect for fingerstyle!
Steve
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Old 01-28-2023, 09:37 PM
FOG01 FOG01 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FingahPickah View Post
I've often read/heard that Engelmann tends to have less headroom than sitka and adirondack.

My custom 12 fret SS dread (built by Alex Edney - Hiram, ME) has an Engelmann top and Black Walnut b/s which impressively holds its' own with my 3 Sitka top (EIR, mahogany and maple) dreads. It sings sweet and delicate as well as rings big and bold with clarity.

ďAll generalizations are false Ė including this one.Ē ~Mark Twain
I had until recently an Engelmann topped Taylor GA, and it had plenty of headroom. It was whiter in appearance than the Sitka guitars Iíd had previously. Beyond that not much difference. Iíd like to hear how an OMJM sounds in person as I believe they have Engelmann tops.
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Old 01-28-2023, 10:14 PM
Sage Runner Sage Runner is offline
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The last guitar I crafted in 2019 I used a 20 year naturally aged seasoned AAA grade Engleman spruce top. Matched it up with a old set of EIR from the 1960s. Everything I had heard and read comparison wise was that Engleman was similar to a good German spruce. Nice Even across the spectrum tone. Plenty of juice but not as punchy as Adirondack. The Guitar is a deep Body Nick lucas size instrument so I purposely chose to match Engleman with Rosewood to try and mellow the low end overtones often associated with RW. I think using Engleman was pretty successful. Plenty of rich low mid punch and brilliant sparkling trebles. A finger pickers Dream but responds with Flat pick as well. I know Adirondack definitely would have not matched up as well for the tone and response I was trying to achieve
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Old 01-28-2023, 10:35 PM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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It depends on the luthier and the individual piece of wood being evaluated. I have heard some Engelmann topped guitars that have no discernible head room issues but generally speaking it probably doesnít beat out Adi in the headroom department.
Best,
Jayne
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Old 01-29-2023, 02:03 AM
docyoung docyoung is offline
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I have an Engleman Spruce Collings Baby 2HE. When I got the guitar I read that it was going to be rather wallflower and was good for quiet playing. I was wondering what I got myself into. After breaking in the top my worries have abated. This guitar has some volume and base that amazing. Although I'm not a heavy strummer it will take moderate strumming with the right attack. It has an amazing dynamic range from sweet to growl.
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Old 01-29-2023, 05:12 AM
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Iíve had several guitars with Engelmann tops. The first was a Martin Shawn Colvin and that was a strummerís delight. The other two guitars have been more focused on fingerstyle and Engelmann can excel there too, depending also of course on what the builder is trying to achieve.
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Old 01-29-2023, 06:13 AM
marciero marciero is offline
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I remember this being the conventional wisdom. After getting my Sitka Taylor 810 in the 80's I recall playing Engleman topped Taylors through the 90's that sounded warmer and richer and I attributed the sound to that. After years not playing flat tops I picked up this Engleman 910 last year which I love. But with medium strings I am just not hearing compression or breaking down of the top or squashing of volume that I assumed it would have. I play with a 2.0mm pick and can be very heavy handed. Not hearing less volume compared to Adi topped dreads I've recently played. Might it cut through less in a mix? Maybe but again not hearing it.

Last edited by marciero; 01-29-2023 at 06:19 AM.
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Old 01-29-2023, 07:04 AM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slgis View Post
I think Engleman is terrific, but it does seem it doesn't seem to be as well regarded as Adirondack or European Spruce. Perhaps it's not a great choice for a bluegrass player or a heavy handed strummer, but it can make an excellent fingerstyle guitar. Of course there are stories that a lot of Engleman was sold to guitar builders as European Spruce, and no one seemed to notice.

I've owned several Engleman topped guitars, and they were all great. Years ago I had a Bourgeois Martin Simpson and a Martin D-18 David Crosby. Currently, I have a Schoenberg 000 12-fret with an Engleman top and Brazilian back and sides that is an exceptional guitar. However, it would not make a very good bluegrass instrument.
"Regard "is an interesting thing, isn't it? Sure, the "loud crowd" only wants the wood that can handle hard playing. People don't seem to understand that response is a band from loud to soft. Typically, if you find a wood that handles hard playing it requires a lot of energy to get it going compared to a wood that it responsive to soft playing. The trade-off is shown in the extremes. While Engelmann doesn't seem to have the headroom of adirondack or sitka, the trade-off is that it has a more responsive quiet end than either of those. I love Engelmann and have had two guitars with Engelmann tops. Why? Because I am not typically a hard player. I love to play fingerstyle on a big-body guitar and I want some dynamic range at the bottom end. Engelmann does it for me for that application. It is horses for courses.

The bottom end of the spectrum seems to be cedar. It is wonderful as a fingerstyle instrument but starts putting out jangly overtones when you play hard. It doesn't do much compression. The top end of the spectrum seems to be adirondack. It has tons of compression at the top that keeps it from overdriving but is stiff at the bottom.

Choose wisely.

Bob
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Old 01-29-2023, 07:14 AM
FingahPickah FingahPickah is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymarsch View Post
It depends on the luthier and the individual piece of wood being evaluated. I have heard some Engelmann topped guitars that have no discernible head room issues but generally speaking it probably doesnít beat out Adi in the headroom department.
Best,
Jayne
True, Jayne.

The builder (I've known for years) told me there is often significant characteristic overlap when comparing and choosing a spruce top (Sitka vs. Adi vs. Engelmann, etc.,) and planning the anticipated outcome is huge.

When building my 12-fret slope shoulder dread (knowing my playing style) he used Adi braces on the Engelmann top for added strength and punch when playing heavy handed and Black Walnut back and sides for the warmth and sparkle (for fingerstyle).

I have three other dreads (Sitka tops) - a '73 Maple Guild (D44M), '00 EIR Martin (D40) and a 2022 Mahogany Martin (D18) - no headroom concerns - and the Engelmann/Walnut is essentially a blend of all three.
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Old 01-29-2023, 08:14 AM
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I have a Bob Thompson "oversized" OM with an Englemann top and Brazilian sides. If I could only have/keep one guitar, this would be it. Very heavenly sound.
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Old 01-29-2023, 09:29 AM
Riakstonic Riakstonic is offline
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Thereís always an exception to the rule . It can get loud just like turning your stereo up past 2 oíclock but itís clarity starts falling off at an earlier level .

Iíve not had good results with Engelmann but thatís just me so Iím put off by any future attempts to find one but Iím happy others like it . [emoji4]
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Old 01-29-2023, 09:59 AM
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You just can't "pigeonhole" any type of spruce....simple as that.

There is WAY too much variation.

I've owned instruments with Engelmann tops that were nearly as soft as cedar and ones so stiff it was hard to believe (David Webber with rectified Engelmann)

In the same regard, I have a nicely bear-clawed Sitka top instrument that you would swear was master grade Redwood. I remember the tap tone when I was picking it out. All I had to do was rub my fingers across it and I knew it was something really special.

Goes to show you never can tell.
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Old 01-29-2023, 11:53 AM
Stevien Stevien is offline
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I think it was Rick Ruskin that once said, "Give me spruce, any kind of spruce. No others need apply." This has pretty much been my experience as well. I hate to sound dogmatic, but I've had success with all spruces, not so much with cedar, redwood, etc. But that's probably mostly because of my (soft) playing style. Spruce has punch & quick response, which I need playing with the flash of my fingers. There is more variance in builders & individual pieces of wood, than there is between the spruce varieties. They very much overlap in character. The builder & density of the wood call the shots.
Steve
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