Tonewoods

Updated: Feb 11, 2018


Garret our youngest son has taken a shine to the West of late so we have been doing some traveling out in that direction over the last few years.  We love the natural environment, our parks and seem to have a logical attraction to trees of all kinds.  In this blog, I’d like to feature some trees that fortunately will not be turned into instruments.   They represent a bygone era when old growth giants such as these were the norm rather than the exception.  I’m so grateful that we at least have parks where some of these spectacular trees can still be appreciated and preserved.  The first one we visited was this Western Red Cedar on the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington.

This is a good shot of the trunk but it is hard to get decent shots of the overall height of any of these giants. Quartered Western Red Cedar is excellent for classical guitars and other fretted instruments.


The next tree we visited was fairly close to that Cedar.  It is the oldest and largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world.   Quartered Spruce has always been one of the most popular woods for soundboards in fretted instruments, violins and the occasional hammered dulcimer.


In a recent trip to Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove of Sequoia Redwoods we got to see some beauties.  The scale of these trees is difficult to capture.

 It is an amazing experience to stand in the presence of these trees.

Garret is standing in front of one in cross section in Muir Woods near San Francisco. This tree was around 800 years old.


This is the wood I use for hammered dulcimer soundboards and other instruments.  I used to be able find some of this old growth wood at small owner operated lumber yards but most of that material is now gone.


Redwood is used for everything from siding to signs.  I’m currently building instruments with Redwood that is being harvested from stumps left from when they were still cutting down old growth trees. In my career, I’ve probably used a quarter of one tree.  These babies were so big when felled that they used to drill holes in them and place dynamite in the holes to bring them down to a manageable size.


If you get a chance, pay these trees a visit.

If you’d like to get better descriptions of these three species visit these links.

Western Red Cedar Sitka Spruce Redwood  

45 views

James Jones Instruments

1384 Coltons Mill Rd

Bedford, VA 24523-5259

540-586-6319 

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