Cedar is a nametag under which many very different species may be grouped, and even the scientific community changed the classification of some species, relating them to either the family of the Meliaceae, the Pinaceae and the Cupressaceae.
Spanish Cedar is a good example: it is actually not a ‘true’ cedar from the Mediterranean, but rather comes mainly from the Pacific coast of Central and South America and the Caribbeans. The Cedrela family is related to the Meliaceae, the same family of the Mahogany, and as such, the Spanish Cedar has some characteristics in common with the Mahogany. The ‘Spanish’ appellative, therefore, does not indicate the geographic origin of the wood itself. It is rather due to the unique, pleasantly bitter smell of its heartwood, that closely resembles the smell of the unrelated, ‘true’ Cedar from the Pinaceae family, growing in the Himalayan and Mediterranean regions.
The wood presents a relatively uniform grain, straight, rarely showing some interlocking figuring. The color is light pinkish, to reddish brown, darkening with age. It is an easy wood to work, because of its medium-low density and its softness.
Because of its scent, and its resistance to insect attack it is commonly used also in cigar boxes and in cabinetry. In the musical instruments, has become the traditional wood for classical (nylon strings) and flamenco guitar necks. Most of all, a Cedar top is the most common choice for classical and flamenco guitar build because of the dark, lush, sweetness of its tone.
The overtones are predominant over the fundamentals, offering a rich, surrounding halo to the notes, making it a favorite wood top for fingerstyle players. In the most recent decades, more steel string manufacturers are using Cedar tops, especially in small body guitars, for the quick but sweet attack of the note, and the warm, bassy character of the tone. Dynamically is not as powerful as spruce and tends to compress when played very vigorously, another reason for using it in smaller, fingerstyle suited instruments, rather than in larger sized guitars for strumming and flatpicking. We use the Spanish Cedar for the manufacturing of the neck of the Caletta Private Build acoustic guitars, for its lightness and warm tonal character.