Why we go across the world just to look at wood

Most of you know the Woodstock Guitar Show is just around the corner.  The guitar I am presenting represents an important journey over the last year, resulting in a new era in my builds and a beautiful new guitar to share with you all.  Let me tell you about it.

Here in the US, the growing demand for high-quality spruce tonewood has sapped the good reserves of the best tops.  I decided the only way to get the premium tops I require for my guitars was to source them in person and go to Europe.  So, after lots of planning and scheduling I was off to Italy.

Not to get too technical, but my biggest gripe with most current spruce soundboards is runout. The proper way to preserve the greatest strength of any wood is to split it perfectly along the grain, but this is not the most efficient processing method. Sound board producers, to get the most out of a log, will mill tops that have runout.

There is no substitute for seeing and feeling woods in person.

With that in mind, I took a few weeks this year to search for the best spruce tops. I was determined to find spruce that embodies the qualities I need, optimal stiffness-to-weight ratio, even growth cycles, good color and of course no runout. My goals in flying across the world and visiting multiple wood sources in person were three fold: to see for myself how they process their lumber, finally locate wood up to my standards and to build long term relationships. Most importantly, I wanted to hand-pick each top based on the stiffness and responsiveness characteristics I need to create instruments that meet my standards for Kraut Guitars. 

It takes thoughtful, dedicated people to produce the right materials.

Another highlight was spending time with the people who have built their lives around instrument grade woods.  They know spruce lumber better than anyone in the world. These people have stories behind individual logs, specific reasons why they harvest certain trees at certain times of year, and have fascinating differences in how they process logs into soundboard materials. I visited several remote locations over hundreds of miles apart.  Some were larger manufacturing facilities, and some were sole proprietors with a deep love and understanding of the luthier’s needs.  I only chose the best.  After this effort, I can honestly say that the sets I shipped back to Oregon are the best currently available and most suitable for my needs.  

How this trip translates to a fantastic new instrument.

A lucky bonus to this trip was finding a small amount of truly fantastic and rare European Bird’s-eye Maple.  I immediately thought of building a guitar for this year’s Woodstock show out this remarkable wood.  The wood is so beautiful it speaks for itself as a design element, so I’ve added only simple and minimal inlays. The result is a genuine representation of the growth of Kraut Guitars and my own personal journey. It shows that a contemporary, maple, small-bodied guitar can sound, look and feel amazing.  

I cannot wait to show it at Woodstock!  I’m looking forward to seeing many of you so let me know if you plan to be there. Email me if you are interested in hearing more about this guitar, or want to book time together at Woodstock.