Old aged, premium master grade woods for flamenco guitars
Besides the flamenco guitar maker his skills, his devotion and the design of his flamenco guitars, the quality of each individual piece of wood is very important to make an excellent flamenco guitar. Classical and flamenco guitar makers consider their stock of solid, old woods as their personal treasure. Solid woods used to make a premium flamenco guitar have aged at least 25 years in humidity controlled workshops, providing the special sound, guaranteeing stability and avoiding warped guitar necks or cracks for many years to come. And even, after all this time of drying and aging, still some of the initially, very carefully selected solid woods can have concealed defects, making them unusable for premium flamenco guitars. The relative humidity in the workshop of most flamenco guitar maker varies between 50 and 55% since classical and flamenco guitars lose their brightness above 70% and below 40% the risks of cracks are high.
Due to the reduced availability of woods cut from old forests, a large number of different woods are used for flamenco guitars. No two pieces of wood are exactly the same since the age of the tree, the annular growth patterns and the grain orientation vary a lot. Guitar woods can also reflect different characteristics when used in different guitar models. In addition, solid tonewoods will also respond differently by the design of the soundboard or in the hands of another flamenco guitar maker. In other words, there are much more differences in sound between flamenco guitar makers all using the same solid woods than between different woods used by one single flamenco guitar luthier. The tone quality of flamenco guitar woods depends on how they are cut, dried, and aged. In order to determine if a wood is an excellent wood for a flamenco guitar, luthiers have to evaluate all those criteria as well as density, transmission of vibrational energy, harmonic qualities and aesthetics. A fast transmission of sound waves is an important requirement for a good flamenco guitar wood. Since sound travels along the long grains any deviation from straight grains reduces its strength. Therefore grains should be totally straight with each grain parallel to the others. Specifically spruce soundboard woods required a lot of little cross silk grain patterns. Try to consider those little grains crossing the vertical long grains making some kind of bridges between the long vertical grains enabling the wood to respond in all its registers. To determine if the aged woods are premium quality, luthiers hold the wood with two fingers in the left corner at 3/4 of the vertical height. This usually is the spot projecting a clear sound. Next they tap the wood on several locations to identify clarity of tone and overtones.