Tonewood Collection: Bearclaw Spruce

The beauty of bearclaw...

In the guitar world, bearclaw refers to the appearance of fine, light, irregular lines that run against the grain on spruce. As the name implies, it looks rather like a bear or other large-pawed mammal dragged its claws across the wood! In actuality, it's just variations in the direction of the wood fibers that occur as a tree grows, potentially attributable to stress or genetics.

It can occur on any kind of spruce, but we see it much more often on Sitka and European. Sometimes it's very easy to see from any angle, especially when there are a lot of markings or an aging toner has been used, while on a really light-colored top with fewer "claw marks", you might only catch the figuring at the right angle or in the right light.

In our experience, there's no argument for or against a bearclaw spruce top other than personal aesthetic preference. It doesn't affect the tone in any way that would be discernible to most (if not all) players. However, it may positively correlate with stiffness, as Maury's Music pointed out in their June 2016 blog post:

"Some people have found that heavily Bear Clawed pieces of wood tend to be stiffer and give a brighter sound. The problem is that this increased stiffness may have nothing to do with the Bear Claw at all. Older trees tend to have more Bear Claw but also tend to just be stiffer in general, regardless of the amount of Bear Claw."

A lot of bearclaw markings can be dramatic and eye-catching, while just a few light ones might almost look like a scratch or blemish on first glance. Either way, we think they add character!

Scroll down to see all of our in stock and incoming bearclaw spruce acoustics.

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