We spend a lot of time in woodyards, poking around the stacks to find that special grain, or talking to manufacturers about their components and testing them. So our instruments are always made of the best materials we can find.
We select all woods with their function and aesthetic appeal in mind, but we are also aware of the environmental implications of what we do. Click here to read about our tropical hardwoods policy.
We usually use rock maple for necks because of its superior stiffness and stability.
Ebony or rosewood fingerboards are chosen for their hardwearing properties - this means it will be many years before you need a refret or a fingerboard-levelling job.
The woods we most commonly use for back and sides are mahogany, sapele, rosewood, figured sycamore, imbuia (a type of figured walnut), hyedua and jarrah (a beautifully figured red/pink wood of the eucalyptus family). We choose these woods for their suitability for the job in hand and their visual appeal. Mahogany is a relatively light hardwood and produces a resonant, responsive instrument. Rosewood, imbuia, hyedua and jarrah are heavy hardwoods; they contribute to the power and bass response of the instrument. Figured sycamore is of medium weight and gives a bright, brilliant sound.
We sometimes have other woods in stock, such as quilted and bird's-eye maple.
For soundboards, your choice is spruce or western red cedar. If you want a bright, cutting sound, go for spruce. Cedar gives a warmer, mellower tone.
For tuning machines we turn to Schaller or Gotoh for their finely-engineered designs, so our instruments both stay in tune and are easy to tune.
We select high-quality strings for their tone and playability, and spend a lot of time make sure the action is just right to make our instruments easy to play.
We use satin-finish acid catalysed lacquer, which not only enhances the beauty of the wood but also provides a durable finish without deadening the sound. We also use a high-gloss finish on some instruments.
In recent years there has been increasing concern over the use of tropical hardwoods and the need to save the rainforests from destruction. Conservationists advocate policies to improve management, prevent ecological damage and ensure that tropical hardwoods are available for future generations.
On average, only 10% of timber extracted from any tropical hardwood rainforest is put on to the international market. 90% is used or burnt in the country of origin. The UK imports directly less than 1% of all tropical hardwood production.
As instrument makers we appreciate the value of hardwoods for their beauty and acoustic properties, but they comprise less than half of the timber we use, the rest being native English hardwoods, and hardwoods and softwoods of North American and European origin.
We buy tropical hardwoods from importers who ensure their supplies are from areas of guaranteed reafforestation. Nevertheless, we will continue to increase the proportion of temperate hardwoods we use and can now offer our entire range of fretted instruments in woods of the maple family.