Early Guitars and Vihuela

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When making lutes I have used soundboard wood for the bars, hence their grain direction is parallel to the soundboard. I would be interested to know whether this was also common practice for Baroque guitars, or whether it was more usual for the grain to be perpendicular to the plane of the soundboard as in modern guitars.

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There should be much more information out there, but to be going on with!  The two interiors which I have clear photos of - Alexandre Voboam and Fleischer(?) - have quarter-sawn bars, ie: the grain is parallel to the soundboard.  Incidentally, Eph Segerman did some testing, published in FoMRHI Quarterly perhaps thirty years ago, which suggested that there is very little strength advantage either way.

I don't know how relevant this is, but when cracks appear in softwood, like spruce, they seem (to me) to be mostly radial - that is perpendicular to the annual rings.  I'm not sure why, but maybe the medullary rays come into it . . .  So quarter sawn bars, with rings parallel to the soundboard, would be less likely to split if what I've said is correct.  As for comparative stiffness, I haven't a clue, but probably Eph's article will confirm there's not much to choose.  You'll probably be able to track it down on the FoMRHI website:


Thank you both for your replies. If there is indeed more information out there I certainly haven't been able to track it down yet. Meanwhile, I'll go with quarter sawn bars since otherwise I would need to buy some more spruce!
Somewhere I have seen a close up photograph of a Voboam that showed the grain direction of a harmonic bar. It was Lute style.


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