Walnut Grades

By Ken Smith – Modified 5/16/07
(*New Grading Terms)

The N.H.L.A. (National Hardwood Lumber Association) sets the standards for grading Walnut and other hardwood species. However, they do not grade for figure at all. This is subjective depending upon who you ask. These are the basic standards that we set for Smith Basses for Instrument Grade Black Walnut.

Grade 1 (A) *Plain

Plain unfigured tops and may have small pin knots. Also used for core sets and veneers.

Grade 2 (AA) *Low Figured

Clear and free from all knots and may have an attractive grain pattern occasionally with a ‘spot’ of figure in areas.

Grade 3 (AAA) *Medium Figured

“Crotch Walnut” or marbled Grain occasionally with figure in spots or lightly flamed straight grain with or without presence of the crotch.

Grade 4 (Premium AAAA) *Highly Figured

Handsome figure throughout most of the top. Possibilities include: Flame, Crisscross, Marbled, Crotch, etc.

Grade 5 “Elite Grade” (Exhibition AAAAA) *Extreme Figure

Very Highly figured Exhibition 1-of-a-kind tops. Includes Feather Crotch, Crisscross, Marbled, etc.

NOTE: Exhibition Grade figure stands out better with our catalyzed lacquer Elite Series finish.