Western Red Cedar Soundboards
Back in the early 1990s Jerry Roberts in Nashville, TN received a phone call from his longtime friend and luthier Robert Ruck to tell him that he had located an especially fine batch of Western Red Cedar. Ruck liked it so well that he bought enough to use for the rest of his life. In fact, there was enough wood for two lifetimes and since this old growth wood had become difficult to obtain, Jerry bought the remainder.
This cedar is from a few, old growth trees which came from the Bull Run Watershed, the area that supplies water to the Portland, Oregon area. It is a protected area and while logging is prohibited, permits were granted to process a stand of trees killed from flooding. Fortunately, someone involved either directly or indirectly with this logging had associations with instrument builders and the best of this wood was reserved for use by luthiers and subsequently obtained by Robert Ruck.
That was over 20 years ago. When I started building guitars full time I bought several flitches of this wood from Jerry and this year I reached the end of my supply. Thankfully Jerry still had enough wood left for around 300 guitars. He needed money and I needed more top wood, so a deal was made and this Bull Run Watershed cedar now continues to be the soul of my guitars.
Western Red Cedar is the second largest type of tree on our planet, second only to the giant redwoods in California. It can grow over 200 ft. tall. and is also one of the oldest things on earth, living up to more than 1400 years. While it is sad to see that most of these ancient trees are gone, it gives me a peace of mind to know that my guitars will give new life to this precious part of our ecosystem.