Cedar or Spruce – That is the question
The top plate of a guitar is the most important component affecting its sound, at least we think so, and the choice of wood used for the top plate can greatly influence the tone, projection, and overall sound of the instrument. Spruce, Cedar, Sitka spruce and Thermo-treated spruce are all popular choices for guitar top plates, each offering its own unique advantages.
Spruce is a versatile tonewood that is commonly used for guitar top plates. But when we talk about spruce we mean Swiss or Dolomite spruce from local European sources. These are characterized by their bright, clear tone and quick response, making them ideal for a wide range of playing styles. Good Spruce is also very lightweight and resonant, allowing for good projection and sustain. It is a popular choice for many steel-string acoustic guitars, as well as classical guitars.
Cedar, on the other hand, is a softwood that is known for its warm, resonant tone. It is often favored by fingerstyle guitarists, as it produces a rich, warm sound that is ideal for delicate playing techniques. Cedar is also lighter than spruce, which makes is good for smaller-bodied guitars, and it responds well to lighter playing styles, producing a delicate, nuanced tone.
Sitka spruce is another type of spruce that is commonly used for guitar top plates. It is characterized by its tight, focused sound and quick response, making it ideal for flatpicking and other aggressive playing styles. Sitka spruce is a dense wood, which gives it a bright, punchy tone, and it is a popular choice for many steel-string acoustic guitars.
Thermo-treated spruce, also known as torrefied spruce, is a type of spruce that has been subjected to a specialized heat treatment process. This process changes the molecular structure of the wood, making it denser and more resonant. Thermo-treated spruce is known for its warm, responsive tone and excellent projection, making it ideal for a wide range of playing styles.
In conclusion, the choice of tonewood for the top plate of a guitar will depend on a number of factors, including the playing style, the desired tone, and the type of guitar. Whether you choose spruce, cedar, sitka spruce, or thermo-treated spruce, each type of wood offers its own unique advantages and tonal characteristics, so choose wisely and get ready to experience the full potential of your instrument!