Collings Mandolin MT Torrefied
We are very excited to get one of the first Collings MT mandolins with a torrefied Sitka spruce top. Collings has been experimenting with a variety of torrefied woods over the years and they finally settled on Sitka as the best choice for their MT mandolins. They describe the torrefied mandolin as having “a balance of openness, projection and solid midrange warmth with a dry, woody tonal character.”
After taking it out for a spin, the mandolin pickers here at the store agree with that assessment. The MT Torrefied responds well to a light touch and sounds great on more delicate passages, but you can also dig in and produce a throaty, bluegrass bark.
Torrefying, or thermo-treating wood is not a new idea. The concept has been around for centuries, making charcoal is a crude form of torrefaction, but it’s only recently that more sophisticated methods have been developed. The shortest summary of the process is that the wood is heated over an extended period in an oxygen-free kiln (which allows the use of high temperatures without the wood catching on fire). This “cooks off” the oils and resins that normally take many years to diminish as newly harvested wood dries and ages. The theory is that a torrefied soundboard comes close to replicating the cellular structure of the top of an old instrument. Along with sounding more like a vintage guitar, torrefied wood is also more resistant to swelling or shrinking when exposed to climate changes. On guitars given a natural finish, a torrefied spruce top has a somewhat darker color. While we believe there is no “magic bullet” for great tone, we’re having a hard time containing our excitement for this particular combination