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View Full Version : Spruce Tops and Scratching



Jerryc41
06-25-2018, 09:52 AM
I recently read that spruce tops are rather susceptible to scratching, and that some sort of protection is recommended. Any truth to this.

I've had a couple of cedar tops that didn't scratch, but most of mine have been dark woods.

Rllink
06-25-2018, 10:06 AM
I have a Ohana soprano with a solid spruce top and laminate birch sides and back. I take reasonable care of it, but I don't take exceptional care of it and it does not live a sheltered life. It gets around. I've not noticed anything that would lead me to believe that it was particularly delicate.

Down Up Dick
06-25-2018, 11:41 AM
I have a solid spruce top baritone and haven’t noticed any scratches. :old:

DownUpDave
06-25-2018, 12:20 PM
Cedar and redwood are soft and prone to scratching and denting easily. Spruce is not known to scratch easily, it is harder than the other two woods. Spruce is softer then the hard woods like koa and mahogany. I currently have 5 spruce tops in house with no issues, cedar and redwood are a different story

SandChannel
06-25-2018, 12:22 PM
Cedar is actually the softer of the two woods and would (in theory) be the more susceptible to scratches. Th big difference in the two is how they sound and age. Spruce is known for its bell-like top end whereas cedar is typically warmer with enhanced lows. Cedar is also "opens up" more quickly as it ages, but spruce tends to take its time.

saltytri
06-25-2018, 04:09 PM
110029

Who worries about scratches?

Mivo
06-25-2018, 04:44 PM
No scratching or denting with the spruce topped instruments I own or have owned (Pono baritone, Moonbird concert, Alvarez parlor guitar).

ukulelekarcsi
06-25-2018, 09:53 PM
Two other factors contribute to scratches and dents (of the prevention thereof): finish (hard lacquers vs. soft varnishes and polishes) and the way it's handled (smashed around in campfires and played vigourously with acrylic fingernails or fingerpicks, vs. a pampered life...).

The idea with scratches and dents, is you either avoid them at all cost, or get it over with quickly. A friend had his brand new acoustic cedar top guitar out on a camp, and for a laugh some kids threw coins at him at the end, creating pitting and some serious dents (but no structural damage). And since then, 30 years later, it's still being used daily, without much fear of damage...

Jerryc41
06-26-2018, 02:23 AM
It was a review of a spruce-top on the Southern Ukulele Store site that mentioned spruce being easily damaged by fingernails. Maybe they mean the finish more than the wood itself.

"Spruce is a soft wood and the satin finish does leave it prone to a bit of a battering from your fingernails. Perhaps somebody who likes to keep their instrument shiny and new should invest in a scratchplate early on."

https://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/shop-by-brand/koaloha/koaloha-opio-tenor-ukulele-all-solid-wood-spruce-top-with-gigbag/

Doc_J
06-26-2018, 02:36 AM
If your playing technique has your finger nails hitting the top (typically the upper bout) you'll eventually scratch/wear that area of the top, regardless of the wood/finish. It's your technique, not the wood.

Jerryc41
06-26-2018, 02:50 AM
If your playing technique has your finger nails hitting the top (typically the upper bout) you'll eventually scratch/wear that area of the top, regardless of the wood/finish. It's your technique, not the wood.

I try to avoid hitting anything but the strings, and I usually do my strumming more on the neck than on the body.

Rllink
06-26-2018, 04:09 AM
Which is worse, a ukulele that looks like it has been played or a ukulele that has a scratched up plastic protector plastered on the front of it?

Jerryc41
06-26-2018, 04:39 AM
Which is worse, a ukulele that looks like it has been played or a ukulele that has a scratched up plastic protector plastered on the front of it?

After you remove the scratched up plastic protector, that uke will look better.

Rllink
06-26-2018, 10:50 AM
After you remove the scratched up plastic protector, that uke will look better.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ;)

Mivo
06-26-2018, 01:52 PM
I must agree with Hodge, it's more to do with technique than anything else, and of coarse the amount of playing the uke gets, check out Paul Hemming's Ko'olau, it will end up looking like Willie Nelson's guitar before too long! :D

Ouch! I wonder how/what he plays that causes the wear (damage) there. Even when I use a pick I don't hit the top. (He plays so well, thank you for sharing!)

Jerryc41
06-26-2018, 03:39 PM
I must agree with Hodge, it's more to do with technique than anything else, and of coarse the amount of playing the uke gets, check out Paul Hemming's Ko'olau, it will end up looking like Willie Nelson's guitar before too long! :D


http://youtu.be/yC1wAUrIcwM

I see he's let his hair grow!

SandChannel
06-27-2018, 06:00 AM
Some people have an alkaline that break down finishes as well. Check out Rory Gallagher's strat. It could be a combination of things at work.

Jerryc41
06-28-2018, 12:19 AM
Some people have an alkaline that break down finishes as well.

And you want to avoid shaking hands with those people. :)

Ukecaster
06-28-2018, 04:45 AM
I had a vintage Martin with spruce top, and in the few months I owned it, noticed nail wear on the upper bout. Technique, from my strumming style, I'm sure. Mahogany probably similar, it just shows more on the lighter colored spruce, IMO.

joakiml
06-28-2018, 11:45 AM
I believe scratching is more related to the finish of the instrument than the hardness of the wood. Although a softer wood, like spruce, would be easier to dent.