Stoltman Giant
Photo © copyright by Adam Gibbs.


West Coast Guitar Series

All guitars in the West Coast Series only use locally harvested woods from the west coast of BC. From Vancouver Island to the Skeena River, BC has the largest biomass per square meter in the world. The BC Raincoast is responsible for some of the most important tone woods used today in musical instruments. I would personally LOVE to get more experience playing instruments restricted to local Raincoast and Boreal forest woods. The few I have played have been SPECTACULAR!! I look forward to showcasing the power of the Raincoast and its incredible history here at Symphontree Music: in word, wood, and song.


Sitka Spruce: Picea sitchensis

  • Specific Gravity: .36, .42
  • Avg. Weight Per Board Foot: 2.25 lb
  • Color Range: Cream -White with a Pink Tint
  • Typical Width: 2″ to 10″
  • Typical Length: 2′ to 12′ feet

carr_023Emily Carr “Cathedral”


Sitka Spruce has been the back drop of the Pacific Coast for thousands of years. The raincoast can be a very unforgiving place to explore: a world where jagged coastal mountains plunge deep into the sea, while heavy winds and tides toss fish in the trees. These monstrous evergreens can withstand the full wrath of the coast and all of its salt spray and even thrive in such conditions.


 

tim-young-fish-in-tree_opt~s600x600Tim Young www.northshorehwy61.com


This is a highly respected tree amongst Coastal First Peoples. The cambium (inner bark tissue) was sweet and juicy and a staple food for all people. First the tree had to be climbed, then a cut was made around the tree and the bark was removed. The inner bark was separated from the outer bark and the juice was swallowed. The inner cambium was mixed with grease as a chewing gum and provided energy and nutrition to hunters. This may have been of substantial importance to First Peoples as part of their survival over the last 10,000 years and is attributed with their ability to maintain a healthy and nourishing diet. This in turn lead to more successful hunting and gathering ventures and growth of individual villages and communities.


 

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The roots of the Sitka are the most important part of the tree in terms of technology. They were used for weaving tightly twined baskets and hats. This is an art still practiced today by Haida women. Collecting “hlii.ng” (Spruce roots) was an enjoyable task. Women would gather together on the beaches and dig and “cook” the roots in a giant driftwood fire. After the roots were roasted the bark was pulled off the root. These Peoples would gather piles and piles of roots, bundle them up inside a bent wood box and seal them air tight.


 

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Before the roots were used for weaving they were soaked overnight. In the morning they were split and weaved. Spruce- root baskets are of the finest quality. Twined together with two, or sometimes three, active weft strands, they are so tightly woven that they are waterproof.


 

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Spruce root string was woven tightly together to make halibut fishing line, to sew plants together (for clothing), to tie adze heads to their handle and to bind and repair halibut hooks.


 

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Sitka Spruce pitch (sap) is a valuable medicine, still used today. First Peoples throughout the Raincoast used it to make a salve for treating skin infections, cuts and splinters. The pitch was formerly rubbed on the face for protection against sunburn and cold.  When a person died, the mourners mixed pitched with charcoal and applied it to their faces. It was also applied to handles and tools to improve grip.

Spruce cones were used to prevent body odor. They were rubbed under the arms of First Peoples in the same way deodorant or antiperspirant is applied today.cones under their arms.


 

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 Sitka is an extremely vibrant tonewood providing an ideal “diaphragm” for the transmission of sound energy on any size and style of stringed instrument. It is chosen for its straight, uniform grain, longevity and natural tensile strength. It is highly regarded as an industry standard soundboard on a variety of stringed instruments used globally.


 

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The most famous Sitka Spruce known on the Raincoast, Kiidk’yaas pictured above

 

 

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