HOME > Quarter cut vs slab cut in guitar wood


The various definitions as quarter sawn, slab sawn, slab cut, flat sawn and rift sawn in guitar wood, all refer to different ways the tree can be cut into boards according to the use and look the instrument must deliver.

In the above photo we can see how the most common kind of cuts flat sawn, rift sawn (the most diffused) and quarter sawn appears into the tree.

In picture two at right, we have highlighted in yellow the flat sawn cuts layered one over each other. Notice how there is enough wood for a lot of slab boards even of a certain width. It's possible to obtain one piece bodies from the widest boards and bodies in 2/3 pieces from the narrower ones.

In pink we have highlighted the quarter sawn cuts. As you can see the tree only allows 3 quarter sawn cuts for each quarter of which only one is a real quarter sawn: the one in the middle of the three. The other already start to become "rift sawn".

What we learn is that from a tree section like the above, it is possible to obtain only 14 flat and rift sawn boards and 4 "real" quarter sawn boards (one for each quarter of tree).

This is why quarter sawn is generally more rare and expensive.

In the photo below you can see how the two opposite cuts, flat sawn and quarter sawn appears on an instrument. The wood in this case is ash on both. Given the same woods, using one cut or another dramatically changed the look of the instrument and also the weight.

At right you can see how the quarter sawn cut (pretty rare on both bodies and necks)
appears in a jazz bass body. Check for the number of parallel grains in the
body of the quarter sawn body.

On the left you can see how the same wood appears on a flat sawn (or slab sawn) Telecaster body.

The quarter sawn cut is heavier and denser and also more stable than the flat sawn cut and this is due to the evenness of the grain. In other words a fresh quarter sawn board will tend to shrink less than a a flat (slab) sawn one. The slab sawn board will tend to straighten the grain during seasoning and consequently to warp.

Galeazzo Frudua

Galeazzo Frudua

As a luthier and lutherie teacher, since 1988 he has been making about 350 boutique guitars and basses priced from 2,900 to 5,600 Euros and repaired and customized thousands of string instruments. His instruments and amplifiers are used by flagship artists, such as Chick Corea, Peter Gabriel, Ennio Morricone, Vasco Rossi. He owns two YouTube channels—where he teaches music—that count up to 25+ million views and almost 140.000 subscribers.

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