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Seeking the Top

Seeking the Top

by Michael Sandén

previously published in American Lutherie #86, 2006

I have been building guitars for almost twenty-five years. One of the hardest parts of being a luthier is getting the right materials. Through the years I have bought wood from all kinds of people. In the beginning I thought that it was best to buy logs and cut them myself. Sure, I got a better price, but all of the work, and all of the surprises I would sometimes get when I got halfway into a log — wormholes, knots, and sap pockets — could sometimes make my cheap log just cheap; good for nothing but firewood.

I moved on to buying wood from dealers who were middlemen that would give you a very good price, but it often turned out that they didn’t know what they were selling. These mistakes made me start to buy wood from well-known dealers, ready-cut, so I could see what I was buying. I have even bought back-and-side wood through the Internet, where the dealer sends pictures. But when it comes to soundboards, I always want to look at them, flex them, and feel the weight. I don’t trust anyone other than myself. At least I didn’t until now.

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