Acoustic Woods Ltd.

luthier wood for guitar building



Grades of Soundboards

We have two sizes of soundboards: western steel string, and classic. In addition, we can supply smaller soundboards or "narrows" for very low prices. This range of sizes is a natural result of our sawing processes: we aim for the largest boards, but a percentage of smaller boards is discovered during grading.

For this reason, classic size boards are less expensive, even though sometimes more rare.

We offer five basic grades in Sitka and Engelmann Spruce: AAA, AA, SelectA (SA), A, and B. We also occassionally select the finest boards as Master Grade, but these are exceedingly rare. For most factories the "A" grade top is a good production top, and is our strongest seller, offering good quality for a reasonable price.

We offer four basic grades of Western Red Cedar: #1, #2, #3, and #4. We also occassionally select AAA/Master Grade cedar. Further, we frequently sell a mix of #1 and #2 grades. Many of our customers prefer this mix, which is consistently good for most guitars.

We can provide you with a custom grade or custom mix of grades. Please keep in mind that distinctions between grades can be subtle, so a custom grade is usually based on avoiding a specific characteristic that you find undesirable. 

Soundboards are graded based on visual and structural characteristics, such as color, stiffness, grain spacing, straightness of grain, evenness of grain, compression wood, winter growth etc. Because all the soundboards produced by Acoustic Woods are cut to exacting edge grain and run-out standards, “stiffness” and "edge grain" are rarely the considerations. Some "B" spruce tops and "#4" cedar tops do not have excellent structural quality, but structural problems are unusual even at this low level.

Our pricing is highly competitive. Please contact us for the current prices of all grades and species.


You need "custom" grading?

At Acoustic Woods, the standards for each grade are well established, such that our expert graders can easily maintain consistency from one shipment to the next. However, there are many subjective judgments that are part of the grading process, particularly opinions regarding appearance (colour especially).

This is the most difficult part of this line of business - understanding and choosing what we know each of our customers wants and expects. You can expect us to learn your needs and apply this knowledge to your orders.

You will be lucky if you get this consistency and custom attention from a "middleman" seller or even from most of our smaller competitors.