What’s the deal with Moon Spruce?

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    • #6768
      SCGClover
      Participant

      I see a lot of back and forth on other guitar forums, and even started a bit of one myself recently- posters consider Moon Spruce everything from possessing nearly supernatural powers to PT Barnum grade bunk.  The fact that luthiers with the skills and reputation of the likes of Richard Hoover and Jason Kostal choose offer it as an option, charge more for it, and get the orders and the price tells me that there is something to it. From all my years of with dealing with SCGC I have come to regard RH as honorable above all else… so I know he isn’t pulling a fast one on us all.   I would love to hear some informed thoughts (no speculation please) on what this top wood brings to the party above and beyond, say, German spruce.

    • #6769
      Hank
      Participant

      As explained to me by Matt @ Eddies Guitars and By Carolyn Sills and By personal research on several tone wood suppliers websites and by Tad Laird, I have learned the following.

      The Spruce is cut at a certain time of the Moon phase when sap is not actively moving through the tree. The tree when felled is left laying “Downhill” and that moves the sap/resins to the “LOW” end of the log via gravity. My understanding is that the felled log is left in this position for some period of time.

      All of this process is said to make for a “Stiffer”/drier end product. The end result is a more responsive top.

      I have a SC 000 on order that is African Blackwood/ Moon Spruce on order.

      I have a F that is Maple/ German so I’ll be interested to see if I can hear a difference.

      If my info above is incorrect I apologize .


      1993 Martin HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa
      2019 SCGC FTC Granadillo/Redwood
      Life is a journey…not a guided tour,
      The Bay,The Gulf Stream , The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their secrets with.

    • #6772
      Daniel
      Participant

      Hey folks,

      I see that Matt (Old 97) has commented on a few threads, including this one.  But I’m not seeing his commments.  Is he in the dog house?  😉

      Daniel

      • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by Daniel.
      • #6774
        indexless
        Keymaster

        Not that I’m aware of, thanks Daniel, interesting

    • #6777
      iim7V7IM7
      Participant

      Most Picea abies marketed as “Moon Spruce” comes from Andrea and Annette Florinett of Graubunden, Switzerland started Tonewood Switzerland in 1996. Andrea is actually trained in forestry. This is where Richard buys their “Moon Spruce”. Wood is harvested between October and February after a new Moon. The wood is then processed between April and June and then dried.

      This is what Andrea has to say:

      “We offer wood cut during a certain phase of the lunar cycle, but it’s also a system that’s built on three pillars. First, it is good quality wood that we have selected in the forest ourselves, grown above 1000 meters and with mostly tight annular rings. Second, the point in the lunar cycle is very important, during the inactive sap flow before the new moon. Third, natural air-drying is just as important. Our wood is air-dried until it is stable. These three factors — in-house selection, specific cutting dates, and air-drying — all contribute to what we feel is wood of high quality.”

      This is their website:

      https://www.tonewood.ch/specialty-moon-wood/

      Martin Guhl’s company in Hamburg, Germany also sells Picea abies that he markets as “Moon Spruce”. You can read Martin’s “spiel” on the wood and it’s harvesting here:

      http://www.best-eurospruce.com/4.html#:~:text=Moonspruce%20is%20simply%20a%20name,old%20traditional%20way%20of%20handling.

      I own a guitar with a top that was sourced from Andrea Florinett as “Moon Spruce” in a guitar that luthier Michael Bashkin made for me. It is a fine guitar no doubt. I personally do not put any special attributes to it based on the top’s  method of harvest. It is simply high-quality wood, harvested from healthy, well located trees of a proper size that was properly processed, dried and selected for use by someone skilled in the art. I place more faith that and Michael’s ability to assess a sets acoustic potential than I do any “magical” properties attributed by the phase of the moon. There are great and not so great sets of “Moon Spruce” for sale out there. The folklore and imagery are compelling as in all things mysterious and guitar. I think that this is part of the attraction and any wood that can be named is always marketable in the high-end guitar business (e.g., Moon Spruce, Tunnel 13 Redwood, The Tree etc.).

      When specifying the top for my SCGC Model FS, Carolyn/Richard did not recommend a “Moon Spruce” set, but a fine set of Italian Spruce set that was sourced from Rudolf Bachmann in Antholz-Mittertal, Italy. Rudi is also another fine supplier of Picea abies tonewood.

      https://www.bachmann-tonewood.com/en/

      Fine European spruce can be sourced from Rivolta in Italy, Rudolf Fuchs or Andreas Gleissner in Germany, Carpathian Tonewood in Romania, Eurotonewood (in PA but sources from the Ukraine).

      The very BEST tops that I have had used in some of my guitars share two things:

      1) They were all selected by master luthiers for their acoustic, aesthetic and structural potential and

      2) They were all OLD! One top from Michael Millard (Froggy Bottom) was 130+ years old; another top from Nick Kukich (Franklin Guitar Co.) was re-sawn in 1968 and a top from luthier Bruce Sexauer was an old German Spruce top that he sourced from Ervin Somogyi that was from the 1960s as well.

       

      My $.02


      Santa Cruz Italian Spruce | Claro Walnut FS*

      *On Order

    • #6779
      indexless
      Keymaster

      I will tell you all we’re doing a p0dcast on this tomorrow and I’ll try to post it tomorrow, Richard is really the EXPERT on this and he’s excited to share.

    • #6780
      SCGClover
      Participant

      I can’t wait to hear this!

    • #6781
      bert
      Participant

      Moon spruce tomorrow, great.

       

      Rich, I also was reading a thread where Old97 disappeared ?  I always enjoy his comments.   bert

    • #6793
      SCGClover
      Participant

      I have to say how dumbfounded I am that I posed a question on the forum, and a few days later Richard Hoover himself spends the majority of a podcast answering.  Mr Hoover, I can’t thank you enough.

      There was some much really useful information, and frankly I hadn’t taken into account the provenance or the family history (as we call at me office “tribal knowledge”).  This was just fantastic.

      There was one bit of folklore that I still need clarity on- in Michael Watts’ video on moon spruce he claimed that in addition to the scheduling of harvesting as RH stated, he said that the tree is then left on the hillside, pointing downhill, branches still attached for some amount of time (I think 6 weeks minimum) before being brought in to be processed.  Any truth to that?

      Thanks again to Mr Hoover as well as TL and RN… this was terrific.

    • #6794
      indexless
      Keymaster

      You’re welcome. Let’s see what we can learn on that, it was great to grab Richard for this…..we’ll add it to the next time we talk. Thanks again, it’s a lot of work to do these although it may not appear it 🙂

    • #6797
      Hank
      Participant

      First….Thanks RH for the info on both Moon Spruce and on Walnut…….Selection, the building artistry, the reputation, the experience ALL play into the tonal voice of the finished product…. and few do it as well as,and none do it better than,  the crew of SCGC. I’m pleased I specked M.S. for the upcoming 000.

      Second…Thanks Tad and Richard (Big Mon) Newman for the rapid respnse to the subject appearing on the Forum….Well Done.

      Third…. The Youtube production values were very good.

      Fourth…..I kept looking at the Canary Date Palm over RH’s shoulder and then lifting my eyes to the one in my front yard……it created a very positive connection.

      Fair Winds,

      Hank


      1993 Martin HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa
      2019 SCGC FTC Granadillo/Redwood
      Life is a journey…not a guided tour,
      The Bay,The Gulf Stream , The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their secrets with.

      • This reply was modified 1 week, 2 days ago by indexless.
    • #6800
      iim7V7IM7
      Participant

      Thanks for conducting the interview with Richard. For those who are interested In learning more about Andrea Florinett and Florinett AG wood harvesting and processing practices there is an excellent interview with Andrea i. American Lutherie #93, 2008. If you are a member of Guild of American Luthiers (GAL) you can access it online. If not, I suspect back issues may be available for sale for those interested.

      I was glad that aside from Florinett in Switzerland, he mentioned both Rudi Bachmann and Rivolta in Italy. There are others of course but all of these harvest, process and dry high quality luthier Picea abies tonewood. To Richard’s point about how the sets are inventoried and recorded by the high quality wood producers. For example, here is the Italian Spruce from Rudi Bachmann to that they chose for my FS.  The “M” means “Master Grade” and the numbers mean: “19” Year of harvest 2019; “021” is log #21 and “151” is the set # 151.

      I also found it interesting that Richard referred the Juglans hindsii (Claro or California Black Walnut) as “Black Walnut”. This explains why Carolyn referred to the set used in my FS that is under construction as “Black Walnut” when I was thinking it was Claro Walnut. Black Walnut to me is eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigra). As Tad was referring to, the root stock of the orchard wood is Juglans hindsii because it is robust to local disease and it is grafted to Juglans regia (English Walnut) because it has higher yield of nuts.

      Here are some shots of the Claro Walnut (or California Black Walnut) back set for my FS from the shop last week.

       


      Santa Cruz Italian Spruce | Claro Walnut FS*

      *On Order

    • #6822
      tadol
      Moderator

      I REALLY want to see some finish on that walnut – truly spectacular material –

      It was great to get RH to respond so quickly to a forum question – he’s becoming far more comfortable and capable with technology, and my hope is we can start getting into a routine of a zoom Q&A with him included with every future podcast – it may be just a few minutes to check in and answer a specific question, or, if we get a topic which warrants more time, like moon spruce, we can give him the opportunity and audience to teach us all from his experiences –

      so – keep those questions and ideas coming!


      Lots o’ SCGC guitars! But never ask which is my fav

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