Some of the subtler elements of a stringed instruments are determined in selecting the wood for the top.
The tonewood pieces used are sawn from instrument-grade redwood. Redwood produces a beautiful darkly rich tone. If one were to compare Sitka spruce and redwood to taste, spruce would be like a good crisp New York upstate apple. Redwood would be dark chocolate. Redwood is somewhat quieter, but there is volume to spare in a Bear Meadow dulcimer. Only if you want the maximum punch would I advise giving up this sweet dark redwood.
In an utterly quiet room each candidate top and back is carefully evaluated for its musical potential. Many pieces will be judged, to produce a top that will be tailored to the requirements of the instrument to be constructed.