This is an interesting piece of information I found; nothing exceptionally new or unknown, but interesting. Also potentially useful, so I thought I’d share it. I spend a lot of my time doing research and stuff like this comes up…which is the stuff I’ll be posting in this blog frequently!
So this is an excerpt from a book entitled “A Review of Ancient and Modern Violin Making”, published in 1899 by Author W.W. Oakes (for those interested in details the excerpt is from page 71 I believe). Have a look at the clipping below and then I’ll go over it:
Basically the significance of this is that coarse grained wood is less stiff than fine grained wood because there is a higher percentage of the softer, summer growth wood. As a tree grows, the amount it grows each year during the warmer months slows considerably, so the summer growth rings get narrower toward the later years (the dark rings being winter growth, which is slowed as the tree remains more dormant while the weather is cold). This explains why old growth wood is desirable – it is stiffer (which, in the case of guitar soundboards, is generally speaking a desirable characteristic).
More importantly though, it also means that you need to treat fine grained braces etc. differently than the ones which are coarse grained (since it is likely that some of your braces etc. will be more coarse or fine grained than others – they will not be identical, and must be treated differently when tuning your soundboard). So next time you go to carve some soundboard braces maybe this will be useful to you!