I learned Simeon Chambers at Rocky Mountain Tonewoods is planning to wind down his operation by the end of the year and the wood is discounted. I've dealt with Simeon before and felt compelled to support him while I still can. It's tough to justify shopping in the US at the moment due to the exchange rate, so the discount on the product helped offset the currency difference. Shopping at Simeon's means that I'm choosing tops based on photos and density measurements.
Both suppliers are excellent to deal with and award winning instruments have been made with spruce sourced from both of them. I'm equally pleased with the wood I received lately from both suppliers. Because I was buying larger material from Gordon, I was able to mill it according to my tastes for grain spacing. Since Simeon made those decisions when he did the final milling on his wood, I had to accept the appearance of the wood I received. The appearance is fine but I wonder if I would have made the same decisions as Simeon if I were milling the wood.
The big difference between the two is that Gordon's wood is almost in my backyard (6 hrs. drive) and Simeon's is in another country where a 6 hour drive won't get me anywhere close. I like buying local where there are no border fees, postage is less than half the cost and the product arrives twice as fast. Returns are relatively straight forward. These are important factors for me and they have nothing to do with wood quality.
Gordon's wood costs a bit less, but he spends less time processing it and the density is estimated. While milling wood is noisy, risky, dusty and time consuming, there's enjoyment in trying to determine the optimum way to bring the best out of a chunk of wood. Your labour is the price you pay for saving on the cost of the wood itself.
I am sad that Rocky Mountain Tonewoods is closing after 13 years of supplying great materials, but I am also thankful that Mountain Voice Soundwoods continues to provide me with top quality local material.
While density and appearance are important qualities, there are others that I ponder over and will write about at some time. Things like being cut on the split, perfectly quartered, absence of hard grains, staining, absence of knots and resin pockets, moisture content, checking, fungus, insect damage and variation in grain spacing, stiffness, speed of sound travel, age of the tree and whether it was cut green or standing dead and whether it was cut according to the phases of the moon. There's so much to ponder.