Larry Stamm, Luthier

Stringed Instruments and Tonewoods

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Grade and Size Specifications

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Tonewood Sizes

Metric (mm) Imperial (in)
lengthwidth thickness lengthwidth thickness
Jumbo Guitar
560 210 5 22 8 1/2 3/16
Classical Guitar
535 190 5 21 7 1/2 3/16
Acoustic Bass
610+ 245+ 6 24+ 9 1/2+ 1/4
Archtop Guitar
610+ 230+ 32->10 24+ 9+ 1 1/4 -> 3/8
Small Archtop Guitar
585 210 29->9 23 8.5 1 1/8 -> 3/8
Bouzouki
455 185 5 18 7 1/4 3/16
Mandolin
405 150 25 -> 6 16 6 1 -> 1/4
Violin
395 110 22 -> 6 15 1/2 4 1/2 7/8 -> 1/4
Viola
455 150 25 -> 6 18 6 1 -> 1/4
Bracing 1
560 70 20 22 2 3/4 3/4
Bracing 2
405 70 20 16 2 3/4 3/4




Tonewood Grades

These grades are mostly visual grades, although I will downgrade a piece if it is noticeably lacking in stiffness compared with other pieces in that grade. I will also grade to a customers specification where feasible, with a 15% handling fee for this service.

Master
No discernible runout allowed; straight,even grain with 24+ lines per inch; quarter-sawn 2; even colour across the piece, although slight colour variation is allowed in cedar.

Sample images of Master grade wood.

AAA
Slight localized runout allowed; straight,even grain with slight variations in evenness and/or straightness allowed; 16+ grain lines/inch; quarter-sawn 8; slight variations in colour allowed.

Sample images of AAA grade wood.

AAH
This is a new grade designed to capture those tops that are otherwise of AAA grade except for slightly more colour variations across the pieces. Also allowed is moderate localized runout at the edges of the instrument outline and small defects that fall outside the instrument outline.

Sample images of AAH grade wood.

AA
Slight runout allowed over the whole piece, with moderate local runout; fairly straight grained, with more variation allowed than in AAA or AAH grade; Quartersawn 12; 10+ grain lines/inch; moderate variations in colour allowed; large defects allowed in wood outside instrument outline; in spruce or Doug fir, one small pin knot or pitch pocket allowed within instrument outline up to 2 mm in size.

This grade is often the best buy if evenness of colour is not of concern, as many pieces are downgraded to AA solely because of large colour variations.

Sample images of AA grade wood.

A
More runout and unevenness in grain allowed than in AA, quartersawn 15; 10+ grain lines/inch; pin knots or pitch pockets up to 3mm allowed.

Sample images of A grade wood.


I no longer stock any "B" grade wood, as there is little demand for it.

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Copyright Larry Stamm
Last modified: Jan 2, 2005