Related: Is there any evidence to support the benefits of lunar planting? (LINK)

A couple years ago, I first ran across something called "moon wood," described as follows (SOURCE):

Moonwood has recently received a good revival among the guitar community and scientists... Moonspruce is simply a name for spruce that was harvested and handled according to a century-old tradition from the Alp-regions in Europe. Carpenters and luthiers had recognized that wood that was cut under certain conditions, differs from wood that is not cut using the old traditional way of handling.

[It is] Cut an according tree within the last quarter of waning moon (end of waning moon phase) in the wintertime after the growing period of the tree has stopped (low sap flow).

THIS site also gives some characteristics and claims evidence supports these desirable qualities:

  • The amalgam of the data material... and the use of specific, statistic-based analysis allow for a determination of significant...lunar oriented components in the variability of moisture loss, shrinkage and relative weight.
  • It was determined that the division waxing...and waning...points to significant, across-the-board differences in shrinkage, but final results are still outstanding.
  • ...The inclusion of the reference weight (taken before felling)of each individual tree, independent of time, shows that this factor plays a superordinate role, but confirms the significance of the lunar models tested.

There are also allegations that Stradivarius used "moon woods" to accomplish the legendary sound of his violins (mentioned in the source above as well as HERE as "legend has it" in a forum).

There are guitars sold today boasting "moon harvested spruce" as a selling point (EXAMPLE.


  • Is there any evidence to support the superior qualities (either inherent qualities such as moisture retention, shrinkage, stiffness, etc. or end-product qualities such as sustain, complexity of tone, frequency profile, resonance, etc.) of moon-harvested woods used in musical instruments?
  • Is there any evidence to support the claim that this is an "age-old" tradition used for many centuries? I ask as sources above discuss this as sort of following the wisdom of the "ancient experts" -- I'm wondering if it was completely fabricated more recently and just stuck because people tend to be fascinated with "the moon" and celestial influences on things.
  • 9
    Most people don't have a clue, what the moon is, and what his phases are. For instance, the distance to the earth is identical - whether it is full moon, or new moon. The amount of light differs, but is depending on other influences too, I think of clouds. And why should the last few days before harvesting have a special influence? It's just a trick, to earn more money, a placebo effect. Doing research in this field would be a waste of time and money, but maybe somebody has a link. However, I asked the tonewood-people for more informations about the research, they cite. Jun 24 '11 at 14:58
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    The distance from the earth to the moon varies by almost 44,000 km due to its elliptical orbit. The closest point to the earth is called the perigee, and the furthest is the apogee. A full moon can occur at either or anywhere in between. When a full moon occurs at or near perigee, it is called a 'super full moon', and the last happened March 19th of this year. So really, these folks should be gathering wood during the perigee, when the gravity would have the greatest (yet still negligible) effect.
    – fred
    Jun 24 '11 at 20:42
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    "There are also allegations that Stradivarius used "moon woods" to accomplish the legendary sound of his violins " enough to discredit the entire theory. It's well know Stradivarius used wood from trees grown during the little ice age, with an unusually dense pattern of tree rings because of the cold weather (which slows growth).
    – jwenting
    Jun 27 '11 at 6:50
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    Meanwhile I received an answer from Tonewood/Mondholz, Klangholz. It is mainly an attachment, signed Prof. Dr. Ernst Zürcher, Biel, Mai 2009 and more or less the same words, that I found on their website already. But with his name, I searched further by google. ahb.bfh.ch/ahb/de/Schule/Fachbereiche/Holz/MA/… Here is an atricle which cites his paper and an opposite one. Unfortunately, the opposite one isn't available any more. Jun 28 '11 at 13:29
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    Hm - maybe only a temporary traffic problem? Here it is: wood and tides (LANG=en). And here is a TV-science-broadcast excerpt (LANG=de), which says, that the claim of hundret-years-old farmer tradition is wrong; that early medicinists brought the idea up, from where it needed 100 years to reach farmer. Who think it's the time worth might use the pdf to generate an answer. Jun 28 '11 at 13:40

The suggestions that astrological alignment of the moon and constellations means anything, or that lunar gravity impacts moisture in soil or anything else, can be easily dismissed with grassroots skepticism and a basic understanding of physics.

The scale of the changing force of gravity due to the moon rotating about the earth (which affects the ocean tides) is completely negligible for objects on the surface of the earth such as humans, trees, and water droplets in between particles of soil. Gravitationally, the moon only affects unbounded bodies of water, and that found in organic and inorganic compounds is bound.

Furthermore, the tidal force of the moon on the earth depends on its distance from earth, not its phase.

Whereas the synodic period is 29.53 days, it takes 27.5 days for the moon to move in its elliptical orbit from perigee to perigee (or apogee to apogee). Perigee (when the moon is closest to earth) can occur at any phase of the synodic cycle. Higher tides do occur at new and full moons, but not because the moon's gravitational pull is stronger at those times. Rather, the tides are higher then because the sun, earth, and moon are in a line and the tidal force of the sun joins that of the moon at those times to produce higher tides [Ref]

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    umm...the phase of the moon has NOTHING to do with the earth's shadow. Also, the moon revolves around the earth, but rotates on its own axis.
    – fred
    Jun 24 '11 at 20:34
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    First of all, the 'phase' of the moon is the moon showing us his shadowy side. He is between earth and sun, but not necessarily directly between, which would produce an eclipse. A shadow on the moon is only during full moon possible. shematic drawing Jun 25 '11 at 1:17
  • Thanks for the feedback, I've edited my comment to be more succinct and removed the incorrect reference to lunar phases.
    – Alain
    Jun 25 '11 at 8:54
  • Nice answer -- good application of grassroots skepticism. In other words, showing why phase has nothing to do with the condition of the wood. Thanks!
    – Hendy
    Jun 28 '11 at 15:43
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    I am being pedantic here, but only because I find this fascinating. You tidal forces affect unbounded water and is negligible for objects on the surface. True, they can be ignored, because they are tiny compared to ocean tides, but they are still cool: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_tide
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 2 '11 at 6:18

Apart from the mumbo jumbo, any sap flow during or right before harvesting the trees would have no effect on the instrument once completed. It'd have to be decades of that different sap flow to have any influence on the structure of the wood. Sap flows only directly under the bark the wood used in instrument construction is wood from beneath that layer. http://www.arborday.org/trees/RingsTreeNatomy.cfm see here for how a tree trunk is laid out internally, including where the sap actually flows. It's only a very thin layer right under the bark.

Here's Bob Taylor (Taylor guitars, one of the best) talking about wood: http://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/features/woods/Videos/
Notice in the first video that the wood as delivered to the factory has the bark stripped already, thus the area where the sap would flow most is gone.

Remember though that to make a guitar the wood has to be dry, all the saps are effectively removed over a period of time before the wood is cut (and then again, usually, after it's roughly cut and before the final milling to ensure the final piece isn't going to warp. So even if the sap flow we in any way affecting the tree during the full moon and if that sap were present in the wood that's used to make a guitar (rather than in the capilaries just under the bark), that sap would not be present in the finished instrument except a small amount in the form of resins left over after the sap dries out.

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