Every product listed on our website has been specifically manufactured for the construction of a soundboard, maximizing stiffness and visual appeal.
Wood within the template area is what we consider during the grading process. At times the final grade depends on the positioning of the template. We mark the template position whenever grade depends on it. Template will also be marked when rationale for our decision is helpful or to display clearance around a defect. We deem the soundhole to be a suitable area to avoid occasional defect. Beneath the neck is another area that may be used to avoid non-structural features. Finally, in some cases the board will claim a higher grade by reducing guitar size, these sets may allow for a dreadnought template but be graded as a Classical size.
Our goal is to capture similar value in each piece included in any grade. You will find some sets score high marks in certain criteria while low in others, these sets offer similar value to sets within the same grade that may score average across all criteria. The grade standard outlines common benchmarks for each attribute, while a standback overall judgement references the final decision. Most soundboards exceed the listed benchmarks and none will exhibit all minimum standards in one board.
Please bear in mind, there are near infinite variables. The grading process often reminds me of classifying snowflakes, every one is truly unique. We grade hundreds of thousands of sets per year and have become acutely familiar with the full spectrum of quality available in Engelmann Spruce. There are no literally "perfect" sets in existence, this is what creates the beauty and appeal of this amazing material called Engelmann Spruce.