The Lucky Strike Redwood. Tonewood profile.

Sequoia sempervirens | Tonewood Profile | “Lucky Strike”

Coastal Redwood

Tonewoods Database

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Coastal/ California Redwood technically refers to the species Sequoia sempervirens. There are 2 other different, separate species are also referred to as Redwood:
  • Sequoiadendron giganteum- giant sequoia
  • Metasequoia- Dawn Redwood

Quick Facts
Scientific name: Sequoia sempervirens
Trade names: Coastal or Clalifornia Redwood
Janka: ~450 (no firm references)
Uses: Tops, veneer
RIYL: Cedar/ Pruce
Bling factor: Curly tops are not uncommon
Availability: Rare
CITES status: Not listed. No restrictions

Note: (RIYL) Recommended If You Like

Lucky strike redwood michael bashkin guitar

From the forward-thinking David Young dreadnoughts (redwood/indian rosewood) to modern jumbo/small jumbos usually redwood/walnut or /ziricote, redwood tops have proven to be durable in use. The Young Dreadnoughts have been in use since the 80s with no signs of playing out!

Lucky strike redwood michael bashkin guitarOf all the Redwood tops on the market, the Lucky Strike tops from the Carters’ stash are the most famous and highly sought after. Harvested from a naturally storm downed redwood in California, these tops are reknown for their tonal excellence and aesthetic properties.

Craig and Alica Carter, a remarkable husband and wife team were reknown for salvaging naturally fallen redwood trees. Often they would salvage logs from inhospitable terrain and private land to resaw into some of the finest redwood sets ever seen in the lutherie community. ‘Lucky Strike’ is the name Craig gave to a log he thought of as almost, if not truly perfect for guitar tops.

Craig found the Lucky Strike log in north-facing easement in a redwood forest. It fell over a small depression, suspending a segment of the log, allowing it to naturally ‘air dry’. In Autumn of 1993, Craig started to salvage a portion approximately 60 feet long, 3 feet in diameter and the final harvesting was completed by Alicia carter and neighbours in 1997.

Craig cut soundboards from the segments as early as 1994. Hank Mauel, luthier and friend of the Carters says: “Soundboards from this log have been made into fine steel string (including arch top) and classical guitars. Smaller billets have produced mandolins, as well. Stiffness to weight ratio is said to be excellent; grain pattern and coloration generally even, very straight, with lots of “silk.” Sound characteristics combine the warmth of cedar with the clarity and color of spruce with an added “sparkle”. This log set very high standards for redwood soundboards – ones almost impossible to match. Craig cut into over 100 downed logs before he found one – the LS – that met his exacting standards.”

Almost every LS topped guitar I have played has exhibited astounding EQ and efficiency. The trebles in every model are spetacular with a liquid-silver like property. Something echoed by Michael Bashkin, who wrote of his 00 model: “”add a soundboard of legendary LS (Lucky Strike) redwood, and you have a truly outstanding guitar that is exceptionally comfortable to play. LS redwood has an exceptional stiffness to weight ratio, even and straight grain with lots of cross-grain silk, and a huge, complex sound that combines the warmth of cedar with the clarity and color of spruce”

Lucky strike redwood michael bashkin guitar  rosette

Bashkin Guitars

Michael Bashkin
Craig & Alicia Carter
I am particularly indebted to my friend Hank Mauel who taught me so much about the redwood tops!

©Terence Tan.

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11 thoughts on “The Lucky Strike Redwood. Tonewood profile.

  1. Howdy! I am from the Collings Forum site. I was just wondering why all these articles are so amazingly short? would love to see these things incresed in size dramatically. Such a small amount of bandwidth for such great topics..Thanks for going to all this trouble to post these by the way!

  2. Hi Kerry,

    Thank you for your feedback- it’s hard to balance the length of articles from the frequency of posts so at the moment, we are constantly changing things- if you notice, our interviews are current quite long and most of the feature articles are medium length.

    Shortest are the tonewood and instrument databases where we provide most of the stem of the article and invite comments from luthiers and players to give their own indepedent views.

  3. Beautiful picture!

    By the way, thanks for being 1 of my top 10 EC droppers. :)

  4. Several years ago, I was given a pretty good sized cant of lovely old growth Pacific Coast Redwood, which had been harvested around 100 years ago in the Redwood belts near Santa Cruz, CA.

    This cant was cut from the trestle which supported a very old large workbench in a very old barn. The property owner realized this perfectly quarter-sawn Redwood cant, with it’s 30+ grains per inch of dead-straight grain, was too special to buck into firewood. He felt this wood had some “special purpose,” as he called it, and he declined to crosscut the cant at all.

    Years later, when that property owner and I became friends, when he learned that I was a guitarmaker, he gave that huge Redwood cant to me. I resawed that cant into 40 of the nicest Redwood tops I have ever seen, let alone built with!

  5. Hi Mark,

    thanks for your feedback, I was wondering if you had any pics of this great redwood to share with us?

  6. Interesting. I was browsing “lucky strike” and “redwood” and “guitar”, and what do you know, my redwood photo of Del Norte Titan.

    About 15 years ago, I met a young man who made his own guitar frets from carbide, and the machine to grind them to that shape.

    My guess is that he would have enjoyed tinkering with redwood, because he had used redcedar for a few miniature guitar tops.

    MDV / Oregon

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