Waingarara Kauri

Given any master grade tonewood it is possible to build a concert quality instrument and the choice between the different tonewoods is one of nuance. While I continue to build with a wide range of traditional tonewoods, the most requested soundboard is my Waingarara kauri. I have been building with New Zealand native timbers for over twenty years and using kauri (Agathis Australis) primarily for the soundboard. It offers a subtly different set of overtones than the spruces, imparting a tonal flavour with its own superb characteristics; alive and complex with great sustain, clarity and balance.

Hollow log
Waingarara kauri

In 2006 I was given the opportunity to select my very own kauri tree in a private forest in Waingarara. It was a rare opportunity to secure a lifetime supply of this remarkable wood. Processed and air dried, this timber now forms the bulk of my tonewood for instrument soundboards.
For those interested, the project was recorded as part of a feature documentary film Song of the Kauri.



Paraoanui Sinker

Hollow log
Breaking down the Paraoanui Sinker

In early 2010, I discovered and salvaged a small sinker log from my own river in the Paraoanui Valley. From the identification stamps on the butt it was determined that the tree was originally felled between 1850 and 1950. Initially hard to identify (the experienced old timers could only narrow it down to a couple of possibilities) a sample was sent to the Scion Research facitlity in Rotorua where they examined the cell structure and compared it to their data base. It was positively identified as Tanekaha (Phyllocladus trichomanoides), apparently one of the most elastic timbers in the world.

After a memorable salvage project, involving the entire Williams' family, we cut the log into small sections and split billets with a froe, to minimise grain run out. It yielded a small amount of tonewood large enough for guitars, and more for mandolin/violins. The grain is straight and tight, very similar to the spruces although denser. The elastic properties of the timber more than compensate for the added density yeidling a bright tap tone and good sustain. Paraoanui Sinker was used on my 20th Anniversary Tui model and I have maybe a dozen guitar sized sets to build with.
I am seeking more of this wood and hope to augment my stock in the years ahead.
To see a video of the salvage project click on the picture.

Video Link



I have stock of master grade German, Swiss, Sitka, and Engleman among others as well as Western Red Cedar.


Some exciting salvaged redwood with curly grain in stock.

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