Huon Pine. Tonewood profile

Lagarostrobos Franklinii | Tonewood Profile | “Huon Pine”

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Natural History

Huon Pine is a connifer which ranges to the wet south-western corner of Tasmania. It is often found along rivers and is the sole species in Lagarostrobos.

Huon pine is slow growing and long lived with some trees over 2 centuries old. It reaches up to 30 m high and has arching branches with spirally arranged leaves.

On Mount Read, North Western Tasmania, a stand of trees, each genetically identical has been estimated to be over 10 centuries old.

Huon Pine

Status

Trees were heavily logged in the 20th century for their fine timber. Given the trees’ slow growth, this has led to remaining stands covering less than 105 square kilometres. The remaining stands of this species of tree now has protected status within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site.

Like the King Billy Pine, Huon has been planted as an ornamental in Northern Europe and has been successful in Deeside, Scotland where it receives rainfall for good growth.

Physical properties

Huon pine has a Golden Yellow hue with fine grain and aromatic rot resistant oils. The oils contain methyl eugenol which is responsible for the timber’s unique smell and resistance to rot.

As a tonewood…

It is softer and heavier than spruce, requiring a fine balancing act in terms of thickness for strength yet thiness for weight.

Australian Luthier, Scott Wise has had good results with Huon and says:

“Steel string guitars with smaller bodies tend to sound bigger in this wood. I first used it experimentally in the early 1980s and have had repeat orders based on the sound of those early guitars.”

Huon Pine GuitarSubjective tone…

My experience of Huon pine as a top wood comes from several flattop guitars, in the OO to SJ size.

I would broadly characterise the tone of Huon Pine as restrained but with tremendous sustain and great richness and depth in the overtone content over all ranges. It has very similar qualities to New Zealand Kauri in terms of headroom and respondse.

Availability

As a protected species, Huon Pine is no longer commercially harvested and is only rarely available.

References:
WIKIpedia
Handbook of Australian timbers

©Terence Tan.

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