There are many types of wood that exist in the world of luthery (ebony, maple, spruce), as well as its origins (European, Eastern). It is very important to be able to differentiate them and know their characteristics since, in this way, one can be critical and know which typology of instrument best suits the needs of each one.
In this document we will focus on show the main differences between the instruments built with European woods from those which are made using oriental woods. The main arguments to choose between a type of wood or another are varied and can be differentiated into 4 large groups: cost of production according to wood, instrument sound, technical characteristics of the woods and main characteristics of execution
The first difference is related to the cost of building the instrument.
On the one hand is the oriental wood, which, by itself, is much cheaper than the European. In addition, it is important to know that this type of wood is used to manufacture instruments without performing any previous procedure. That is, it is obtained from the trees and is directly sent to production - with just a short perdiod of dried in the air.
In the opposite there is the European wood. The process of election of the trees (as zone, hour, part of the tree) and of the treatment of the wood, is much more professional to the western zone and, therefore, requires of experts in the matter. These procedures are fruit of the tradition and guarantee the process, the product and the maximum quality of the same.
This wooden typology needs to be dried of natural shape, to the air, for long seasons (5 years roughly), for like this achieve some excellent mechanical properties and acoustic. These procedures suppose, how is to imagine, ones on extra costs. Besides, the European wood have to be sent in Asia for his manufacture, thing that also supposes more costs.
Instruments made with oriental wood offer a warmer sound than European wood instruments, but the latter have a greater richness of harmonics in it, more projection, emission and nuances. In addition, the Orientals offer less clear and defined pianos, while those built with European wood offer clear and sharp pianos.
European woods have a higher degree of density, strength and elasticity, and they enhance the vibration capacity of the instruments. In addition, as with the historical instruments of the school of European luthery, its characteristics improve with the passage of the time.
Regarding the evolution capacity and to provide the student with a correct process of learning, we conclude that the instruments of oriental wood, in an initial period, facilitate the learning thanks to the warmth of its sound, which allows to produce sound more easily without the need to exert much pressure on the bow.
As the student grows and his level becomes more demanding, that instrument limits the logical learning curve and could cause a period of stagnation. In addition, with intense use, the instrument could suffer a loss of acoustic performance.
An instrument built with European wood is able to evolve with the student and accompany him throughout his educational journey without creating limitations or stagnation. Thereby, it can add new characteristics and nuances in each phase of learning and demand level.