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What is AAA wood?


powerpopper

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I'm guessing "AAA" means roughly "premium grade wood" but is there something more to it than that? Is the wood that goes on a J-45 Standard or Modern Classic simply "A" or "AA" wood?

 

I have a couple of guitars that supposedly have a AAA Sitka Spruce top, but now my AJ has AAA Rosewood back and sides.

 

Also, on a totally different note...are Adirondack Spruce and Adirondack Red Spruce anywhere near the same (one being red and the other not?...that was a joke)?

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There's a link i'd seen at some point that i can't seem to dig up right now that spelled it out pretty well. I think you're basically correct, there's also something to do with the amount of figure in the grain.

 

Someone else can probably give a better description...

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Take a peek here for a discussion about grading (don't know how it compares w/Gibson's grading system), and here for a database of different tone woods.

 

My understanding is that Adirondack Spruce and Red Spruce are the same thing, but as Skip James said, I could be wrong (then again, I could be right). Check here for details.

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Taxonomists don't identify any tree as Adirondack anything.

 

"Adirondack Spruce" is a guitar maker's reference. All it really says it is, "Spruce that comes from the Adirondack area of New York state." Primarily spruce coming from this geographic area is Red Spruce (recognized by taxonomists) but it could refer to Black Spruce or White Spruce or other related or even a hybrid variety.

 

Epiphone referes to 'Select Spruce' tops. "Select' is a positive buzz word, that bespeaks, someone taking the time to select just the right lumber to make the top. 'Select' tops are laminate. 'Adirondack' is a term that bespeaks, back in the hills, serene, idyllic setting where many NewYorkers go and have gone to 'get away from it all'. It's an industry buzz word.

 

Triple "A" grade is not a lumber grade, it, again, is a guitar industry term. Possibly just a buzz word. The only lumber, raw dimensions of wood, that use letters is plywood. Single "A" is about is a good as it gets.

 

'Red' either means the wood has a red hue or the trunk / bark is redder than say... black or white spruce. Individual trees and wood taken from different areas of a given tree will vary in coloration or shading.

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There is a real nice article here that deals with tonewood grading.

 

http://www.oldworldtonewood.com/about.html

 

and here:

 

http://instrumentmakers.net/LLcom/tonewoods/tonewoods.html

 

While it doesn't deal so much with grading, here is a great read on a luthiers process in general. (I'll bet ksdaddy has already seen it.) Click through the links on the top left of the page.

 

http://instrumentmakers.net/LLcom/tutorials/cumpianokoa/workshop001.html

 

 

and here:

 

http://www.parachodelnorte.com/RKReconstruction.htm

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Old World Tonewood Co. said it quite simply:

 

 

"Spruce Tonewood Grading...

 

Unlike the lumber industry, there is no standard for grading of tonewood. Our spruce is graded as "AAA", "AA", "A", and "B". I will say that very occasionally I will find a very outstanding guitar top that I must set aside as a "Master Grade". Some suppliers have expanded this older, perhaps more traditional, grade scheme where the highest grade is "AAA" to include 4A, 5A, even 7A, and so on! Because there is no standard, you must understand how each individual supplier grades. Otherwise, grading is of little objective use to you in selecting wood sight unseen. We prefer to stick with the "traditional" tonewood grading nomenclature."

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Old World Tonewood Co. said ... there is no standard for grading of tonewood ... Our spruce is graded as "AAA"' date=' "AA", "A", and "B".[/quote']

 

Sounds countradictory to me. Bottomline: If you know what you should about musical instrument wood, you know that "AAA" has tight, straight, consistant grain and color, and when cut on the quarter it is well figured; "A" is more or less what a wood worker would call "clear grade" - clear of knots and more or less straight grain, after that, "A" is a crap shoot. Yes, there is no agreed upon standard certified by some sanctioning body, but everybody that works with these types of woods on a professional level knows the difference "AAA" and "A". BTW, Gibson has been getting sloppy when choosing neck wood - when it's a one piece neck, the grain should be completely straight and run in parallel with long axis of the neck. I've seen quite a few necks with grain running on angle completely off the neck.

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Sounds countradictory to me. Bottomline: If you know what you should about musical instrument wood' date=' you know that "AAA" has tight, straight, consistant grain and color, and when cut on the quarter it is well figured; "A" is more or less what a wood worker would call "clear grade" - clear of knots and more or less straight grain, after that, "A" is a crap shoot. Yes, there is no agreed upon standard certified by some sanctioning body, but everybody that works with these types of woods on a professional level knows the difference "AAA" and "A". BTW, Gibson has been getting sloppy when choosing neck wood - when it's a one piece neck, the grain should be completely straight and run in parallel with long axis of the neck. I've seen quite a few necks with grain running on angle completely off the neck.

[/quote']

 

I know what you mean about seeming contradictory - but the way I read it is that the grading system is almost an internal issue, and subjective. One company's AAA may be another's A for example? I however have no prior knowledge of working with wood (my attempts to build bird boxes at school do not count -a right fiasco!!) however, but that's just the way I see the article.

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I know what you mean about seeming contradictory - but the way I read it is that the grading system is almost an internal issue' date=' and subjective. One company's AAA may be another's A for example? I however have no prior knowledge of working with wood (my attempts to build bird boxes at school do not count -a right fiasco!!) however, but that's just the way I see the article.[/quote']

 

Yes. No one would cross up AAA and A, but I agree with you in that one company's AAA might be another's AA or a third's AAAA. There have been enough complaints (not just with Gibson) that the manufactures should get together, agree on standards and then authorize a sanctioning body to certify the grades.

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... manufactures should get together' date=' agree on standards and then authorize a sanctioning body to certify the grades.

[/quote']

 

I'll second that. Until then I can offer my Epiphone FT145SB with AAAAAAAA+++ grade Spruce top for sale without any repercussions. If I were to offer her for sale, that is.

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