Well, if you can find suitable-looking pieces in a pile of what is
commercially sold as 'Hem-Fir,' you just might encounter some of the
real pot of gold, which is true abies spp., most particularly pacific
silver fir or noble fir. These are called in the lumber trade 'white
fir,' and are not, for THOSE purposes held in particularly high esteem.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart from Western Hemlock
(they are mixed indiscriminately in this grade), save that the latter
usually has a shiner surface sheen, more wiggly grain lines, and
sometimes a kind of pinkish cast the 'white fir' doesn't show. And it's
not as stiff, and more prone to splitting than the real fir. In lumber
grades you can tell who is prone to splitting, because there will
usually be split boards right in the pile.
I should think, on an Italian, you could, from the list below, get
pretty good results from any of them. I wouldn't recommend Western Red,
because it is SOOO soft, and I don't like the look or smell of AK
yellow. I have made several soundboards - both quartered and slab-sawn -
from Port Orford cedar, and the results were very good, though you have
to be careful. A colleague once brought up some Port Orford cedar for a
soundboard on an instrument we were working on together, and the grain
was so severely interlocked that it was impossible - I truly mean
impossible - to plane it, and we had to discard it into the pile.
> I've asked related questions before, but not exactly this one.
> If I limit myself to readily available domestic (US) tonewoods, what would
> be the best choice for an Italian style instrument? I guess that would
> include Sitka, AK yellow, western red, Port Orford, and Englemann for us
> Westerners. Have I left any out?
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic
hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.
There's also a negative side."
--Hunter S. Thompson