Among the many skilled craftsmen and types of businesses to whom J. Gibson McIlvain supplies lumber, luthiers may be the most unique. Not only do guitars require a particular caliber of lumber, but they also necessitate lumber with a specific appearance as well as a specific tonal quality. While supplying our luthier customers with the exact lumber their industry requires may be challenging, we also consider it a privilege to work with them as they create instruments that delight both the eye and the ear.
Luthier Lumber Requirements
Luthiers have specific size requirements for each section of the instrument. Individual thicknesses and widths are required for the body, neck, and heel of the guitar; if the lumber does not meet the right qualifications, it is essentially worthless to the guitar maker.
In addition to accurately meeting dimensional requirements, the lumber we supply to luthiers must be carefully milled from specific species that are characterized by commonly appreciated traits such as stability, attractive appearance, and ability to be easily finished — as well as the more niche trait of tonal quality, or timbre.
Some species favored by luthiers include those with consistent coloring and grain, such as Spanish Cedar and Utile, as well as uniquely figured species, like fiddleback Maple and pomelle Sapele.
Luthier Lumber Inventory
As a long-time lumber supplier to well-known guitar makers, we purchase tropical lumber that’s particularly suited to the needs of luthiers. When it comes to quality, we have certain graders trained in identifying lumber that meets the requirements of each of our individual luthier customers. Since we have such well-trained graders that can pick out ideal lumber to meet unique customer needs, our customers can focus on doing what they do best.
Luthier Lumber Manufacturing
Once we’ve ordered lumber according to luthier customer requirements and picked out the lumber particular to a specific luthier’s individual needs, we can manufacture the lumber into the dimensions requested.
Because the tension created by guitar strings can cause issues with movement when several species of wood have been joined together, proper lumber seasoning and milling is extremely important. With low tolerances at risk, both in-depth knowledge of lumber drying and movement is required, along with extremely fastidious milling.
J. Gibson McIlvain partners with manufacturers to dress, rip, and defect lumber before we ship it to our luthier customers, so that once we ship it to their plants, their lumber is ready for them to form into guitar parts.
One more reason to choose J. Gibson McIlvain to supply lumber for whatever industry you’re in is the fact that we are an Importer of Record. In the wake of the allegations made of Gibson Guitars in regards to Lacey Act compliance, a clear lesson emerges: Both luthiers and anyone else who uses lumber needs to be extremely cautious about the supply chain for the lumber that they use. J. Gibson McIlvain makes tracing the supply chain as transparent as possible.