Engelmann Spruce, Mountain Spruce, Silver Spruce, White Spruce
Main Color Group
Yellow / White
Avg Dry Weight - LB/FT3
Avg Dry Weight - KG/M3
Janka Hardness - LBF
Janka Hardness - Newtons
Engelmann Spruce is typically a high-altitude mountain evergreen tree, indigenous to the mountainous regions of western North America, with scattered, isolated distribution in surrounding lower-level areas. The wood is prized among many acoustic guitar luthiers, for its superior resonance and tonal response qualities when used as a soundboard (acoustic guitar top). Its color can range from a light off-white to cream.
It is straight grained and has a fine, consistent texture, which makes it generally easy to work — although common-grade pieces may contain numerous small knots, and the wood can be difficult to stain. Its excellent stiffness-to-weight ratio has made it historically useful in a variety of construction and utility applications, benefited, also, by a virtually limitless domestic supply.
Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being “a species of least concern.”
Common Uses: Acoustic guitar soundboards, harps, violins and pianos, construction lumber, sheathing, railroad ties, wood pulp / papermaking and also used in the Western US as Christmas trees.
Comments: Although Engelmann Spruce is a fairly cheap, easily accessible lumber, clear instrument-grade, quartersawn billets can be very pricey — as small knots are quite common in the species, and such coveted clear pieces typically are derived from undisturbed specimens grown at higher altitudes.
While Sitka Spruce remains a more heavily utilized wood for such acoustic guitar soundboard applications (being slightly stronger and heavier than Engelmann), there are a number of discriminating guitar builders who covet Engelmann. (By comparison, Sitka Spruce trees are far more massive in stature.) Due to this unique demand, premium-grade billets can command prices comparable with any of the most expensive domestic wood species.