J. Gibson McIlvain supplies lumber to many of the top guitar makers in the USA. The Luthier is a very different kind of customer in that they have extremely high standards, not only in terms of the quality and appearance of the lumber, but also in regards to the dimensions. Guitars require lumber for bodies, necks, and heels in specific thicknesses unique to the industry. The Luthier has highly specific needs for net thickness and width once the lumber is dressed, and we are very sensitive to these demands. If they are not met, then the lumber is essentially useless, so accuracy is of paramount importance.
The grain patterns vary wildly, from the exotic look of pomelle Sapele and fiddleback Maple to the consistent color and figure of Utile and Spanish Cedar. The species are chosen carefully for stability, appearance, ease of finishing, and – most importantly – tonal quality. All of these factors combine to make our Luthier customers some of our most demanding, but they are also sometimes the most enjoyable customers with which we have the pleasure to work.
We buy lumber from abroad specifically for the Luthier and are always pleased when shipments arrive in that width and thickness that our customers often request. We have graders trained specifically in the demanding specifications and eccentricities of each of our customers’ products in order to quickly identify and pick the best lumber for their needs. We will then work to manufacture lumber specific to requested dimension.
Multiple species of wood joined together in one joint while placed under the tension and strain of strings can cause movement problems unless the lumber is properly seasoned and milled.
The Luthier demands that their lumber supplier understand their tolerances and have an outstanding knowledge of the raw material and how it will behave. We at J. Gibson McIlvain lumber company are well acquainted with our product every step of the way. We partner with several manufacturers to take an active role in dressing, ripping, and defecting lumber before shipping so that when you, a Luthier, receive the product at your plant, the lumber is immediately ready to be shaped into guitar parts.