Master grade sets are
the absolute cream of the crop. These are the sets that are found in
top-of-the-line instruments all over the world. They are perfectly even in
color and grain. The end grain is perfectly vertical, meaning that the wood was
cut on quarter. For the luthier, this translates to a maximum
stiffness-per-weight ratio, and a predictable appearance. Master Grade sets are
rarely available, so please contact us and make sure we have what you are after
before you place an order.
3A sets are not too
different from Master grade, but they allow for slightly more variation. That
means that there may be some very faint coloring, or that the grain may
gradually open up, or get farther apart, as it goes from the center to the
outside edge of the instrument. For the luthier, this means the density of the
wood will decrease toward the lower bout of a guitar, or the rim of a mandolin
or violin. This is very much like the “graduated carving” or “Stradivarius
carving” that violin makers employ, carving the edges thinner than the center in
order to allow the vibrations of the instrument to be less inhibited as they
travel to the outer edges.
2A sets are far from
being “inferior”, in fact, they represent what we believe to be our best value
when it comes to tonewood. Some of our happiest customers are those who bought
2A wood. If tap-tone and stiffness are of greater concern than appearance,
these are definitely the sets to choose! For small orders we can hand pick your
sets, and make sure you get exactly what you want. You can expect some variety
from one set to the next, in terms of grain and possibly a few minor hard lines. If you are ordering these sets, call or email us and tell us what
it is you are looking for, and we can usually accommodate you.
1A grade sets are
good economical tops, and we have sold a lot of these tops to large
manufacturers. Although aesthetically pleasing to the eye, these sets
usually feature open and closed grain patterns, and some pinkish striping. A
great value in tonewood!
grade is mostly used in inexpensive guitars by our mainstream clientele. That
being said, these lower grade tops can - at times - be a tremendous bargain for
the luthiers who prefer to add a certain “character” to their instrument and
put more value in the tonal quality of the set, rather than its looks. Whenever
we list these lower grade sets on our website, we’ll make sure to select only
those for which the grading criterion does not do justice (for example where a
high grade stiff top will be downgraded to a lesser grade due to a minor
cosmetic defect such as color banding).
Our Factory grade
sets are a very small step removed from the Professional grade. This grade is
comprised of mostly striped sets be it with hard grain, or color banding, or
both. When we list these on our website, the same principal is used as with the
Professional grade: only the stiffest sets are selected for our website sales.
these sets are structurally sound, the color and grain variations in this grade
make these sets ideal for painted instruments.
+ signs in front of the grade denote better than the classified grade.
and OTHER FIGURED WOODS
in our woods is classified and graded using a five star system:
The + signs in front of the grade denote better than the classified grade.
GRADING CLASSIFICATIONS for non-figure woods
PREMIUM and HIGH GRADE refers to the quality of our non-figured
woods denoting the tonal quality, as well as the aesthetic appeal. Self-explanatory,
PREMIUM is the best available quality.
STANDARD is the usual mid-grade quality.
CUSTOM refers to sets which have wild grain
patterns, or cannot be classified using conventional grading standards. +CUSTOM grade has unique grain or
figure patterns. Since these do not fall into the standard grading criteria,
they’re mainly used on custom made - unique - instruments.
The + signs in front
of the grade denote better than the classified grade.