I, like many other guitars makers, used to have my guitar tops wood sent to me by wood suppliers all over the world. After some time I began to notice that I was returning more wood than I was keeping. This was due to the fact that as I grew in experience, I began to hone my ear to be able to hear the different sounds between woods grown in different parts of the world. I noticed that I achieved a most balanced, clear and powerful sound in my use of European spruce and cedar guitar tops.
As I found myself wasting time sending tops back due to them not being up to my specifications, I went to a lot of time and trouble to find who the actual woodcutters were. This was a marvelous adventure and I now have four suppliers in Europe who are all fourth generation woodcutter families. Their skills and exclusive access to often secret sites in the alps have been handed down from father to son and daughter for two hundred years and more. One of my suppliers cuts from a site in the Italian Alps which neighbours the exact place that Stradivarius cut his wood from for his violins and cellos.
On discovering who these families were I went on what one may call a pilgrimage to visit with them and discuss my needs. Some of these woodcutters are not accessible by plane or train. I now visit every five years and hand-select the best master grade tops which, to my ear, surpass anything I have ever seen or heard available elsewhere in the world. There is something very alchemical and even magical in the process of refining and hand selecting fifty tops from the thousand I generally look through.
All tops are preferably over 20 years old hand selected over many years Alpine or European spruce.