NOTE: The 4A sets we have are on the weekly special. Send us an email to ask about the availability of other grades.
BACK: Book-matched, 2-piece Indian rosewood back set for steel string guitar. Each piece is usually at least 8.25 inches wide and 22 inches long. "Good" quality represents about 25% of what is available, and is what most hand builders use. Nearly always quarter-sawn, quite straight-grained, 80% fine-grained with variation in color. This category may also include sets that may not be so well-quartered or straight-grained but are otherwise unusually striking. The match to sides will be very good. Above guitar by Collings Guitars.
SIDES: Book-matched, 2-piece Indian rosewood side set for steel string guitar. Each piece is usually at least 5 inches wide (4.75" works for many steel string builders) and 32 inches long. (Please let us know if you need longer sides.) "Good" quality represents about 25% of what is available, and is what most hand builders use. This grade is nearly always quarter-sawn, quite straight-grained, and typically 80% fine-grained with variation in color. This category may also include sets that may not be so well-quartered or straight-grained but are otherwise unusually striking. The match to backs will be very good. Above guitar by Bryan Galloup of Galloup Guitars.
Since good forest wood—as opposed to coffee estate wood—is getting more and more difficult to get, we have asked our supplier to concentrate on beauty rather than perfectly straight grain and quartersawn-ness. (It's generally easier to come up with the straighter grain material in the coffee estate logs than it is in the forest logs.) Our grading has changed a little from the old days, so that we look first for good color and beauty in the wood, then straight grain.
Only rarely do we find a set that slabs out a bit, so quartersawn-ness is generally not a big grading factor. Color-match is important, though. But what might have been considered a few years ago as anomalies in the wood, we like to think of as beauty marks. We like splashes of color, or grain swirls, or unusual coloration or patterning, and we tend to move these more interesting sets into the higher grades onto our Weekly Special. Please let us know your desires when selecting for you. If you do like the more traditional straight-grained material, please let us know.
Again, note that we put both our best sets and our unusual Indian rosewood sets up on the Weekly Special.
A back set is 2-pieces, bookmatched, as is a side set. There is not a wide range of color and grain characteristics in Indian rosewood, especially compared to Brazilian rosewood. The photos that accompany the part numbers above are typical examples, although most of our customers, other than factories rarely order the lower grade sets. So the pictures of the guitars do not necessarily represent the grades. (Who pays a photographer to shoot 2nd grade wood?) But the photos do give you an idea of the range in the material.
Generally the lower grades are of rather lackluster color, often coffee estate logs with coarse grain. On the other hand some like this kind of material because it's easy to finish, doesn't clog sandpaper, etc. The more expensive wood is more striking: richer in color, finer grained, well-quartered, usually straighter grained, and has very good matches of backs to sides.
In the case of Indian rosewood, sets are supplied matched and the better grades are sanded. We are assuming that those desiring the lower grades are requesting those grades because of price, and sanding only adds to the cost.