We are one of a few sellers who can offer this kind of tonewood due to our suppliers commitment, who work the traditional way. Moonwood has recently received a good revival among the guitar community and scientist. What now sounds new to guitar lutherie is an old tradition over here in the old world. Most violinmaker here would not discuss about it, because most of them used only moonwood, do so and will most probably ever do. The myth has recently reached the guitar community. In Germany this specific wood is called "Mondfichte", we call it Moonspruce.
We don´t see any need for myths, for us "Moonspruce" just stands for a careful and special way of treatment. We found no one claiming that this is way is inferior to "normal" processing, but got a lot of very positive response.
What is Moonspruce?
Moonspruce is simply a name for spruce that was harvested and handled according to a century-old tradition from the Alp-regions in Europe. Carpenters and luthiers had recognized that wood that was cut under certain conditions, differs from wood that is not cut using the old traditional way of handling.
Special "moon calendars" for the right times in using forests, from planting a tree to the harvest, were common within the old timber-"industry", long before industrialization took part. Now the regular forests got more and more used on a pure technical way, not considering the old traditional rules - and forgetting some hundred years of knowledge for the "right time".
These traditional rules for getting best tonewood is – simplified – as following:
- The best trees grow on the northwest slope of a mountain on altitudes from 1000 meter/3500 feet up to the limit of vegetation.
- The best trees measure ca. 50 centimetres/ 20+ inch diameter; considering the slow growth such a tree is ca. 300 years old (that’s when a tree hits it’s peak).
At these altitudes a tree grows around 1 millimetre/ 0.4 inch each year in radius = distance from the grain lines. Using a little mathematics it comes out to ca. 20 grain lines/inch, seldom up to 25+ grain lines/inch what is commonly considered to be one criteria for a “mastergrade”). Nature simply limits mastergrade tops.
- Cut an according tree within the last quarter of waning moon (end of waning moon phase) in the wintertime after the growing period of the tree has stopped (low sap flow).
- Let this tree as it is in the forrest for stabilization - including it’s branches and bark - until a first step of drying is done by nature and the cut tree tries to start to grow again after the end of wintertime (this is nowadays no more possible due to bark beetle plague).
- Then bring it down to the mill, get split logs out of it and cut these into tonewood. Air-dry the milling results.
Regarding this traditional method the old violin masters like Stradivarius etc. said that moonwood has several advantages to non-moonwood. This wood is more resistant against moister changes and it is stiffer: some analysis say that it seems to be ca. 15% denser than a comparable piece of non-moonwood and it feels like long-time stored wood that has reached a stable state.
Masterluthier Claudio Pagelli explains his opinion on moonwood for http://www.gourmet-guitars.com, resuming in the fact that a 1-year-stored moonwood top feels and compares to a 15-year-stored non-moonwood.
Click here to watch and hear an extract (you need QuickTime for viewing this in German with English undertitles – if the clip doesn’t start: get QuickTime for free from the link shown there).
For learning more about moonwood and for more scientific statements please visit i.e. www.tonewood.ch/moonwood.html , use Wikipedia or google for moonwood. Or feel yourself.