Eric Darnton


Guitars Octave Mandolins Materials


The selection of wood-both the species and the individual billet-is one of the most fundamental choices affecting the performance of an instrument. I maintain stores of seasoned, personally selected wood of over a dozen species. Much of this material was obtained from the personal stocks of makers who have since retired. Some was resawn from ancient salvaged logs or stumps. By continuously searching for such sources, as well as maintaining contacts with suppliers throughout the world, I am able to draw on a personal inventory that is often of a quality no longer available elsewhere, and which has been seasoned for several years in my own shop environment. I select individual pieces for a new instrument from this collection, in order to enhance the desired tonal characteristics, while encouraging the customer to make the final choice based on his or her own esthetic preference. 

For instrument tops, I currently stock Sitka, European, and Englemann spruce. For backs and sides, I use Indian rosewood, cocobolo, Brazilian rosewood, koa, and padauk. For necks: Honduran mahogany, rock maple, and European maple. Each of these woods continues to produce excellent instruments, but customers' options are not limited to stock on hand. I am always happy to discuss other species and to locate the perfect piece for each unique custom instrument. 

European spruce Tops, top bracing Stiff and lightweight, with a creamy color. Available trees are small.
Sitka Spruce Tops, top bracing Stiff and light. Extremely versatile. Ages to a golden hue. High quality material is readily available.
Engelmann Spruce Tops Very light, but slightly less stiff than other spruces.  Creamy color similar to European spruce.
Indian rosewood

Backs, sides, fingerboards, 

A dark, rich looking wood. One of the less dense of the true rosewoods. Fine grained quartersawn pieces are still commercially available.
Cocobolo Backs, sides A true rosewood from Mexico and Central America. Dense, with colors like a spectacular sunset.
Brazilian rosewood Backs, sides, bridges Historically the most prized of instrument woods, living trees are now protected by treaty. Limited availability of older and salvaged material.
koa Backs, sides, occasionally tops A species of acacia native to Hawaii, koa typically has a medium density and a warm honey color. Curly figureis common. Wide variation in density, color, and figure.
ebony Fingerboards, bridges Dense and long wearing. Some species are black or very dark gray, while others are striped. 
Honduras mahogany Necks, braces, blocks, occasionally backs and sides Dimensionally stable, medium density, with an interlocking grain and fine texture which invites carving.