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Grading Spruce and Cedar Soundboards


Wood is graded with both objective and subjective criteria. Objective means a criterion can be measured and everyone will agree on the measurement. An example of an objective grading criterion is the number of grain lines per inch.


Subjective means that individual judgment is used to determine if the criterion is present, for example the presence of "color" in a soundboard. A grader must determine if the amount of intensity of "color" in a soundboard is slight, mild, strong or somewhere in between. Then the grader must determine which grade will allow that degree of color and be consistent in these judgments.


Only a grader with a deep understanding of how guitar manufacturers value a soundboard will be able to grade the board appropriately. Timbre Tonewood has this "deep understanding," earned through years of shipping millions of soundboards to the many different customers we serve world wide. This has given us the ability to clearly understand how guitar manufacturers grade wood.


Grading Maple

The intensity of the figure in maple varies from shallow ripples to deep, rolling undulations like bubbles in molten lava. Aside from the figure, the quality of the wood varies as well - both must be considered in grading:


Quality of the figure

Quality of the color: the lighter and creamier the better

Consistency of the color: it should not change from cream to orange (sapwood) within the guitar template

Quality of the wood: no imperfections, such as: "blue dots" (from the all-too-common woodpecker's drilling operations), stains, knots or pitch pockets