Local, and Proud of It

From the very beginning Ralph Dammann has committed to using as many local materials (and people) as possible for his business - even his workshop was built from materials recycled from a local railway station!


Whenever possible and practical, the woods we use are harvested locally. For years we have been collecting "orphaned" trees that have been cut down or have blown over in storms. In many cases, we have rescued lumber that was scheduled to become firewood and turned it into prized instrument wood. We saw our logs in a quarter sawn manner to make them ideally suited for instrument construction. With our lumber kiln, we are able to dry and season the lumber to our own specifications. Once dried, we cut and select pieces for grain orientation and beauty. Salvaged Cherry, Osage Orange, Locust, sycamore, elm and Walnut have all been used to make extraordinary instruments in our shop. We have recently begun to saw walnut stump wood into guitar backs for extraordinary figure and beauty.

Cherry generally contributes a dry, clear sound with the direct character of Maple. Like Maple, Cherry requires some time to come into its own tonally, but once it does the overtones broaden out to create a sound that is both warm and direct, but also rich in overtones with age. Because of its strength and stability, we often use cherry to make necks in our instruments.

Known as an extremely durable fencepost wood, Osage Orange is a surprisingly great tonewood. Sharing many mechanical and tonal characteristics with imported Honduran or Brazilian Rosewoods, Osage Orange offers power and wide-ranging response. Lemon yellow when freshly cut, exposure to sunlight turns the wood to a warm brownish hue with time. Osage Orange looks and sounds as good, if not better, than the various rosewoods currently available.

With a grain and a shimmer similar to Osage Orange, our locally-cut Locust offers a lighter array of shades, ranging from a pale wheat color to darker golden yellow. Tonally Locust offers an interesting blend between rosewood and mahogany. It shares a snappy response and note definition with mahogany and the power, resonance, and overtones common to rosewood. We often use locust laminate pieces in the center of our necks to add still more rigidity and strength.

Walnut is the darkest of the local woods we use. It ranges in color from light to dark brown. As a tone wood, it is similar to mahogany in presence and bass response. Despite being a hard tone wood, walnut is lightweight, making it a good choice for our solid body electric basses and neck blanks.

What we can't source locally, we order from suppliers who share our enthusiasm for sustainability and quality. For more information on the types of woods we use, visit our Custom Features page.

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