View Full Version : Engelmann spruce

11-21-2017, 11:53 AM
Just been reading about Engelmann spruce .. it seems that it is used mostly for paper making and construction..the type that is used for instrument building is in the trees that grow on high ground where the growth is slower and grain is closer than trees grown on lower areas.
Question! how do you know which is which?....Sometimes sold as Christmas trees....and there is a Mexican variety as well...And did you know that Sitka spruce in Norway is regarded as an invasive species..and attempts are being made to eliminate it ..so if you want Sitka spruce ? Norway is the place to go:).

11-21-2017, 01:32 PM
No answers for you, but I love Engelmann topped guitars, once had a Larrivee OM with Engelmann top and black walnut B&S, man was that sweet. I also love the look of Engelmann tops, it ages to a creamy yellow color, while sitka often ages to pumpkin/amber. Don't see many ukes with it, although the Enya brand is now offering it.

Pete Howlett
11-21-2017, 01:46 PM
You can tell it's winter - Kenn has more time onthe internet and comes up wit these gems. I cannot recognise a tree that is standing. However I am pretty conversant with what they look like when they are converted! And in the end, that's all that matter to me.

I have red spruce, alpine spruce, englemann spruce and pencil cedar. I really do not like Sitka. In their converted form, englemann and alpine almost look the same. Of the four, I prefer red spruce because it is so mechanically sound and despite wide grain counts is unbelievably uniform when flexed. I'd use this wonderful wood every time were it not for clients wanting that 24 grain count + to the inch, ramrod straight grain, no runout wood that they think represents the holy grail. I have it. It looks great. It doesn't make for a 'better sounding' ukulele in my eperience. But hey, what do I know - I've only made 858 ukes to date and I am still learning :)

I've just read this - I'm leavinginthe typos... nobodies perfect and i think thisis the epotome of what I am - essentially, a frquently flawed individual who knows what he means but often, can't type it :)

11-21-2017, 07:51 PM
I love it! We are talking trees here. Now here are the species under discussion. All members of the Picea genus. I like sitka spruce because it is cheap and more or less local. Sounds great.

Picea sitchensis: (Sitika spruce) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spruce): Grows on the west coast of North America.

Picea engelmannii: (Engelman spruce) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picea_engelmannii): Grows in the northern Rocky Mountains of North Amercia.

Picea abies: (Norway spruce) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picea_abies: Grows in northern Europe and as a cultivar in North America.

Picea rubens: (Red spruce) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picea_rubens: Grows in north eastern North America.

Picture below of a sitka spruce. Lot of ukuleles in there...


Michael N.
11-22-2017, 05:27 AM
Generally speaking Engelmann is lighter/less dense than it's European spruce equivalent. In fact a lot of it will be more towards WR,Cedar, which is perfectly fine if you favour a slightly darker more rounded type of tone. The trees that grow at less elevated heights are likely to have very wide grain, perhaps in the 5 - 7 grains per inch? or even lower. I have used some pretty wide grain Euro spruce - kind of 12 -14 GPI at the inner and 8 GPI at the outer. It sounded very good even though I do say myself. In fact I was very tempted to make all future instruments with that type of wood but my stash is full of fine grain stuff! Just goes to show, don't believe all the hype and measure the properties of the piece of wood that happens to be in your hand. I actually prefer the look of the wide grain stuff, some of the very fine grain spruce just looks pretty bland from a distance of a yard. We've all been conditioned into this silly cosmetic spruce perfection. Amongst the lower grade spruce sets are some real bargains to be had that will sound every little bit as good as any master grade. I've rejected master grade tops that cost me 80 yet I've used and preferred the odd low grade top that cost me 10 !! that's for a guitar top. I do tend to reject tops with bad runout. If you are working and thicknessing with hand tools bad runout can be nasty to work with. I haven't got the slightest problem with wide grain, colour streaks or wobbly grain.