The process of selecting, harvesting, cutting, and seasoning wood for violin family instruments is worthy an entire series of blog posts. While the appearance of the wood is important, it is only one of many factors luthiers consider when choosing the wood to build an instrument. Specific gravity, sound transmission speed, weight, age…these are just some of the important measurements.
While different makers might not agree on exactly what makes an ideal piece of wood from a sound quality standpoint, almost everyone loves a beautifully figured piece of wood! The “flaming” that we see on so many of the great old Italian instruments is still prized by makers and players alike. I had the chance to select two spectacular cello backs recently. They are too freshly cut to be ready to use, but we’ll be patient as they air dry. Finding wood with this figure that is already seasoned and ready to use would be much more expensive…if you can even find it. I love imagining what this will look like once it is varnished!