Adirondack or Red Spruce (Picea rubens)
Also known as Eastern red or Appalachian spruce, Adirondack defined guitars of the pre-WWII era. Its availability is beginning to increase slightly, as another generation of trees matures, although they’re still considerably smaller than their old growth forebears. Current supplies of Adirondack tend to lack a certain aesthetic purity of look (they tend to be wider-grained and more irregular in color and grain patterns). Tonally, Adirondack is even more dynamic than Sitka spruce, with a higher ceiling for volume. The payoff is the ability to drive an Adirondack top hard and hear it get louder and louder without losing clarity; it’s hard to overplay it. It has lots of headroom to strum the guitar aggressively without distorting. It also has a high Overtone content. For strumming and flatpicking you can't beat Red Spruce. Another sonic nuance that Bob Taylor loves about Adirondack is “an undeniable sweetness in every note, especially in the mids.”
Adirondack Spruce was popularized by Martin on many of their “prewar” guitars and remains a revered tonewood by players and collectors alike. Its use was all but discontinued due to over-harvesting of the resource but has recently been reintroduced, both thanks to 50 years of regeneration and to the legendary status that this traditional tonewood has attained. The small size of most logs and a shortage of wood conforming to market preference for even color and regularity of grain conspire to keep the price of red spruce extremely high.
Exceptionally good Adirondack Spruce soundboards are hard to get and come at exorbitant prices. However, they do build very fine instruments. Cosmetically, Adirondack soundboards tend to have wider grain spacing than Sitka or Englemann, and their color occasionally has striping that goes from creamy to light tan.
Creamy white in color, it is called both Appalachian and Adirondack spruce. Similar to Sitka, it responds well to either a light or firm touch, but has higher resonance. Interesting grain color variations make this another visually desirable top.
Red spruce is relatively heavy, has a high velocity of sound, and has the highest stiffness across and along the grain of all the top woods. Like Sitka, it has strong fundamentals, but it also exhibits a more complex overtone content. Tops made out of red spruce have the highest volume ceiling of any species, yet they also have a rich fullness of tone that retains clarity at all dynamic levels. In short, red spruce may very well be the Holy Grail of top woods for the steel-string guitar. If players and builders were able to overcome phobias about unevenness of color, grain irregularity, minor knots, and four-piece tops, many more great-sounding guitars could be produced while the supply of potentially usable red spruce is still available.
it has been the choice of bluegrass pickers for decades, and seems to add power to any guitar design. If it’s loud you want, Adirondack is for you. Adirondack is even more dynamic than Sitka spruce, and has a higher ceiling for volume. You can strum an Adirondack-topped guitar aggressively without distorttion or loss of clarity. For the aggressive player who wants volume and clarity without distortion; the player or collector who wants the vibe of a pre-war guitar. Like Sitka, it has strong fundamentals and responds well to either a light or firm touch, but has higher resonance and exhibits a more complex overtone content. Adirondack is relatively heavy, with a high velocity of sound, and has the highest stiffness of all top woods across and along the grain. New-growth Adirondack tends to be wider-grained and more irregular in color and grain patterns, than vintage pre-war Adirondack. Creamy white in color.