Annual rings in soundboard


Annual rings in soundboard

Post by yokohama » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:24 am


looking for an used concert guitar a retailer showd me one with an uneven soundboard, so that you could see and feel - with your fingertips - the annual wooden rings in the top (it was of 30 year old spruce).

The retailer praised that uneveness as special sign of quality (whatever he meant by that)!

I (a pure amateur) am not so sure about that! Could it not be much more a sign of former mistreatment of the guitar? E.g. to heavy changes in humidity in the past?

It would be nice to hear some comments about that, as I nevertheless liked the guitar.



Re: Annual rings in soundboard

Post by strings » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:44 am

An Uneven soundboard is, possibly, not Ideal.30 year old spruce, is not old. How does the guitar sound,How does it feel when you play it.Bad guitars, have a dead and heavy feeling.Good guitars, you can feel them respond to the sound.Is there only one shop in your town ?.Look at every guitar you can find,even the ones you can't afford.Don't rush ,take your time and eventually you will know the difference.

Marcus Dominelli
Posts: 2860
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Re: Annual rings in soundboard

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:45 pm

Hi Yokohama,
I'm not sure what you meant by "feel the spruce." Once the finish has shrunk, (provided that it's either a lacquer finish or a french polish) you'll be able to see and feel all the grain lines of the top when you lightly rub your fingers along it. The thin summer lines in the spruce will be higher than the wider spring lines. This is usually good, simply because it's a sign that the wood and finish are aged to a degree. Older guitars, especially spruce ones, age well if they are made to correct tolerances and played a lot.

I hope this helps,
-Dominelli Guitars


Re: Annual rings in soundboard

Post by newyorkhorseman » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:12 pm

When you pick up THE guitar that speaks to you, you'll have no concern about annual rings. I somehow think guitars choose their owners.

If the guitar motivates you to practice and play better there's nothing more to be said. During my work day I often think about my guitar and how I can't wait to get home and take hold of it. What could be more satisfying as a player?

In my steel string days a dealer by the name of Richard Glick (may he rest in peace) would blindfold you when trying out guitars. No prejudices regarding brand, wood, price etc.

I can't think of a better method when choosing a guitar of any genre. Enjoy the search!



Re: Annual rings in soundboard

Post by yokohama » Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:48 pm


and: thanks for the comments.

From the given answers it seems to me, that the uneven top (very little waves between spring and summer lines which one can feel with the fingertips) depends mainly on the finish - and that this may generally be o.k, at least it is no sign of damage or mistreatment etc.!

But - perhaps - may different hygroscopic behaviour of the summer and winter lines not be important as well? And if so, can one avoid the resulting uneveness, e.g. by a constant humidity?

What do you think?


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