Arctic Birch

“I just love this wood. It sounds beautiful, looks gorgeous and is great to work with! The figure is more alive than flamed or quilted maple, so every single guitar looks unique. Even the tops we grade as “plain” have a very nice shimmering grain texture in them – not to mention the wildest pieces, that are breathtaking in their 3-dimensional depth. It’s not an easy path to use a wood species nobody else uses – but it’s definitely worth the extra effort! I am proud to offer you this exclusive wood of my home country.”

– Juha Ruokangas

ARCTIC BIRCH (Betula Pendula Carelica)
Figured Arctic Birch is rare, originating from the middle and northern parts of Finland. Not only does it look spectacular, but the sound is amazing as well! Arctic Birch weighs generally about the same as many figured maple species traditionally used for electric guitar tops. The tone is similar to maple, even though it seems to be even better balanced, especially when Thermo Treated and used together with Spanish Cedar, offering great punch and brilliant highs. We offer Arctic Birch as fretboard material as well.

Arctic Birch is not readily available for guitarmakers nor industrial use. We go to the forests in Finland together with sawyers, select the trees we want, and the logs are cut down exclusively for us. We slice the wood, dry it, have it thermo treated and finally grade it accordingly. It’s a lot of work – too much for most. That’s why you don’t see Arctic Birch in anybody else’s guitars.

Most of the tops we find end up graded as ‘plain’ or ‘subtly figured’. We get also a sufficient amount of ‘highly figured’ pieces – and if we’re lucky, we may find some ‘exceptionally figured’ crown jewels. The figuring is a visual feature that doesn’t affect the tone of the guitar. Here’s a brief description how we grade the wood:

Straight grained, without flamed, curly or quilted figure. The grain has a silky shimmer, reflecting beautifully with light. A perfect choice for a more still, relaxed look for a guitar. Always bookmatched of two pieces.

Gentle, continuous figure, usually stronger towards the center seam. This is our most common top option, and gives the guitar a distinct, “alive” look, different from maple. The figure is unique in every piece. Always bookmatched of two pieces.

Deeper and more striking grain, continuous figure across the top. Rarer than ‘subtle figure’. As with all Arctic Birch, the figure is unique in every piece, some pieces having more ‘flamed’ appearance and others more ‘curly’ or ‘quilted’. Always bookmatched of two pieces.

As the name suggests, these are the pieces with exceptionally beautiful figure, in one way or the other. Into this category goes the deepest 3-dimensionally flamed, the most wildly figured or other kinds of most unique artworks of Finnish nature. These tops are extremely rare, please contact us to confirm the availability. Always bookmatched of two pieces.

The birch we use comes always from sustainable sources in our home country Finland. This wood is not listed on CITES and does not need certification of any kind. What is CITES? See here.