Buyer Beware: J & S Timber BAD Alaska Tonewood and Sitka Spruce
terrible Alaskan tonewood J & S Timber

*** Musictree Tonewood – J&S Timber Products ***

The best tonewood you will NEVER get from Ketchikan, Alaska

Shaming misbehaving companies publicly may not be the real answer – but it sure as heck feels good!!

We’d like to detail for your discretional pleasure a series of exchanges that led to the purchase of goods from this seemingly reputable company J & S Timber Products (aka Musictree Tonewood, aka Alaska Tonewood). A simple Google search on this company could have saved us A LOT of trouble.

Behold our cautionary tale to the luthiers, carvers, guitar and instrument makers out there reading this – Sandra Rusin McCray and her company’s claims should be taken with a grain of salt.

 

THE COLD CALL INTRO

Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2017 8:22 AM
To:info@westwindhardwood.com
Subject: Cord of Sitka Spruce

WE are in business to supply buyers with low priced tonewood that is of superior grades. We as a family have been doing business in the wood products business here on the west coast since 1901. We know wood on the west coast. Our prices are lower than most and don’t let that scare you off. The grades as you can see are superior. Cords Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar of which right now we have two containers of 9 cords each in them. Give us a thought and we will tell and show you more.

Sandra of J&S Timber Products.

Pictures Supplied by Sandra Rusin McCray
J&S Timber

THE BAIT IS SET

We are starting to cut on this other unit Monday or Tuesday. I have to fall some timber tomorrow for a guy and when that is done we can become consistent on your order. What grade do prefer in the Sitka? The Sitka is really tight grained and looks all masters grade but time will tell. It’s a six foot log very high on a steep sandstone slide. Looks formidable. I have to go up that way to talk to the owner about using his land as a takeout spot but we have did business before this and he great to work with. Plus I am going to harvest from private land when the ground freezes up this winter because we will 4-wheel that unit.

I usually charge $40% down and you pay the fright for the six pallets weighting about 800lbs a pallet. I will wax the ends if you like but to BC. I doubt it will matter if your going to mill it soon.

Sandra


We are located and staying at El Fin Cove and the rest are staying and working out of Port Alice at Zarembo Island. We get our supplies out of Juneau. We are getting a cord a day from them but the unit only lasts another week. The wood is better at Port Alice but it is good to excellent wood and will give you excellent stocks. The color of the wood is the same as here. A creamy silvery gleaming tint to it. Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.

Sandy.

Picture Supplied by Sandra Rusin McCray
J&S Timber

 

SWALLOWED – HOOK, LINE AND SINKER

From: “Musictreetonewood” <jstimber@gci.net>
To: “Jan Nielsen” <jan@westwindhardwood.com>
Sent: 2018-01-02 6:20:49 PM
Subject: Tonewood in Sitka Spruce. 2 cords shipped to Jan Nielsen.

Jan and Shelley.

INVOICE FOR ORDER SHIPPED TO JAN NIELSEN FOR TWO CORDS SITKA SPRUCE MUSIC WOOD 24”-26” WITH AT LEAST 9” INCH SIDE FACE AND 30% AAA AND 70% MASTER GRADE.

You can send us the first deposit as earnest money and the other 50% when the shipper supply’s us with a Bill of Laden that you can see and that your wood is at the loading dock and ready to leave port Ketchikan, Alaska and headed to port Seattle to unload the tonewood.

You can wire the money to our Bank wiring number. Once we receive the payments. The wood is shipped. Thank you and I am going out in a couple of days to look at YEW WOOD that is on private grounds. This is an abundant market. There is plenty of Yew wood there on this place. We have worked there before and thank you again. The wood is all in small standing conifers. Easy money.

**Supplies Bank Information**

SWEETEN THE DEAL

Jan.

We would like to get rid of this Red Cedar as it is piling up around here as usual during the winter time. We are experiencing difficulty in getting to the Sitka Spruce because of the large snow fall this year or at least this time of year. That could and will change on any given day or at least on any warm rain fall of a moderate amount. Hope this fines you well and all is productive. Sandra.

 TIGHTEN THE SCREWS TO GENERATE A SENSE OF URGENCY

Jan.

We will be shipping the Sitka Spruce within the week. I will give you the amount and number of the shipping clerk to pay the shipping bill so as the load of tonewood can get on the ocean shipping for Seattle. I will call them today and see what the amount is and the shipping women will tell you over the phone the amount to pay. Under no circumstances will she ship wood without first paying the shipping from Ketchikan, Alaska to Seattle, Washington. They have been ripped off to many times in the pass. New ownership means new rules. Thank you and I will get back to you in a few days. Thank you again. Sandra.

 

 

KEEP THE CUSTOMER OFF BALANCE and WANTING MORE
GIVE ME THE MONEY……….

Jan.

Here is the bill of Lading and as we discussed many times. With the showing of this Bill of laden the last of the order will be sent to you with the depositing of 50% into our account. You should by now be familiar with this proceeding as you have already finished the first part of the deal. Make the deposit and I will send the Sitka Spruce and will give you another pallet of high grade Sitka Spruce extra for your business. Otherwise you will only get what you paid for. One cord of tonewood. Thank you. Sandra.

 AND THEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT

From: “Jan Nielsen” <jan@westwindhardwood.com>
To: “Musictreetonewood” <jstimber@gci.net>;
Sent: 2018-02-28 9:15:56 AM
Subject: Re[6]: Western Red Cedar hand split billets of 24-26 inches long and 9-10 inches wide in the side face. No defects.

Sandra.

Please explain what we received (see attached) !!

We appear to have been sold product under false pretenses.  The wood you show in your promotional photos (see attached) is NOT what we received.

Before I take further course of action, I am prepared to hear your case.

Jan

 

Photos by Jan Nielsen

Yes, folks, we’d been sucker punched! As they say, a picture is worth a 1000 words. All but one block was Western Red Cedar – the lonely one block was Yellow Cedar.

Where’s the Sitka?!

Lesson learned… for us and hopefully now for J & S Timber and Musictree Tonewood too… as the internet is a very large and influential place. 😉

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bg4_XBgBBZr/?taken-by=westwindhardwood

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bg5AFodBmOC/?taken-by=westwindhardwood

 

9 Comments

  1. WOW! We are a small tonewood supplier in NW British Columbia. We also received these random emails from this company. I just blew it off, but they sent all the photos ect. making it appealing. It just sucks when people decide that it is OK to do business this way. There is a lot of trust involved with these types of transactions, trust that your getting what is promised. Anyone that promises 70% Master grade is (to good to be true). I sincerely hope you get some satisfaction, maybe a trip to Alaska is on the agenda! Thanks for sharing this!!!!!!! Before more suppliers and Luthiers get sucked in. Good luck!

    1. Thank you Leanne! That’s exactly why we posted. Transparency in business is SO important nowadays and I like what you said… If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Do your research before buying.

  2. Wow, A customer just sent me this link along with a link to the BBB. I don’t see it here Thank Goodness, but at the BBB website, they have our upstanding 23 year old Company, Alaska Specialty Woods, Inc, in Craig Alaska with the domain AlaskaWoods.com, associated with this J&S Timber and AlaskaTonewoods outfit. Thank you Harvey, for the heads up! I’m contacting BBB right now.

    And for anyone that would like to know, Alaska Specialty Woods, Inc. is a family owned and opperated outfit and are “The SoundBoard People of Alaska” producing sound board products from 100% salvage sourced old Growth Sitka Spruce, Western Red cedar and Alaska Yellow Cedar, for all acoustic instruments. we do so in our new 15,500 sq ft production/warehouse facility on Prince Of Wales Island, Alaska near Craig. Woods for the Worlds Music in Harmony with the Land!

    1. Thank you for clearing the air Brent! We noticed your company on the list but from our investigating couldn’t find anything concrete so we left your name out of it, (except for the unfortunate BBB accredit). From what we learned Alaska Specialty Woods is an upstanding company. And Brent you’re welcome to open a conversation with Jan (jan@westwindhardwood.com) about your products. Thanks for writing us, happy to see the news is spreading.

  3. I was screwed by John McCray several years ago. It took 16 months to get sitka delivered. He emailed me lies and threats. Said I hacked his computer. Total psychopath! Once I received the sitka… this is firewood quality spruce. I would not use it for anything related to instrument making. BUYER BEWARE.

  4. I am wondering if anyone has bought the wetland “turquois streaked Sitka spruce ” soundboard material .
    I bought 3 sets and the wood was so soft that it was impossible to get any type of a braced tone tap that could be used to make my guitars.
    Am I alone or have just got unlucky with the material he sent me.
    This wood is pretty but it totally way to soft for soundboard material.
    This wood cost me $205 per top, basically $615 plus shipping and handling.
    Has anyone else been or had this issue?

  5. As a customer of Alaska Specialty Woods, I just wanted to mention that they are an excellent company that delivers exactly what they promise, promptly and at a reasonable price. The Sitka Spruce in particular is beautiful, with tight, straight grain and produces wonderful tone.
    David Schiff
    Nailhaus Custom Guitars
    Warwick, NY

    1. Thank you David! Yes, we will happily re-acknowledge the fact that Alaska Specialty Woods is not connected to J&S in any way.

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