FRETS.COM Illustrated Glossary

© Frank Ford, 2/18/99; Photos by FF

Most of the time I see it spelled as one word. Bearclaw is a grain irregularity that sometimes occurs in spruce.

Here's a guitar top with nice bearclaw figure:

How about a close-up:

Look like bear claws to you?

Well, here's what confuses me.

Luthiers spend a whole lot of energy looking for the ideal piece of spruce for an instrument top. It's supposed to be perfectly quartersawn, vertical grain spruce with no
runout. Ideally, the grain lines are spaced regularly and laid out as though a draftsman had drawn them. A spot of wiggly grain is a cause for disappointment.

OK so far.

Now, if the spruce has a whole lot of these little wiggly grain spots, luthiers line up to buy it, claiming better tone is predictable.

Howzat? I think I need some further explanation.

Anyway, I'm not a builder so I really don't have the experience to form a firsthand opinion about the tonal possibilites. Does make me wonder, though.

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