Grading for Physical/Mechanical Criteria

Timber for necks e.g – Mahogany or Cedrela, and fingerboards e.g – Ebony or Rosewood, primary consideration is straight and knot & crack free, long grain (i.e – little or no run out), even growth rings and end grain that is vertical (¼ sawn face).

In some cases horizontal grain (flat or slab sawn) is acceptable, e.g – bolt on fender necks. Timber that is neither on the quarter or slab sawn is downgraded:

Wood Grading

All the above applies to soundboards, e.g – spruce and cedar, with special attention to evenness, straightness, stiffness and showing medullary rays.

David Dyke Luthier Supplies

Grading for Appearance

This often includes the previous criteria, as the wood still needs to be free of the sort of defects which would make it difficult to work.

Desirable ‘figure’ includes flame, ripple, burrs, birdseye, spalting and good or spectacular colours, e.g – pale Indian Rosewood is graded lower than dark purple.

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder most of these features are best illustrated by photos, which we are happy to supply upon request.

All grades are cheaper as they fall in size, so it is always worthwhile quoting your finished sizes; e.g – a guitar back at 180mm wide is cheaper than one at 205mm.

Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia Latifolia)

How many Grades do we need?

Experience says three. Any more, and the definitions become even more fuzzy and adding extra like ‘mastergrade’ starts a process of one upmanship. The Indian system keeps to three, but they are ‘C’ ‘B’ & ‘A’. We have been using ‘A’ ‘AA’ & ‘AAA’ for decades and it has proved workable.

N.b – Occasionally if wood like quilted Maple has already been graded 4 or 5A in the U.S.A, we might keep that grade.

N.b – The top grade is not always available, as it is hard to find, but when this occurs we will contact you to discuss options.

Have some more questions?