The Guitar Tonewoods
When browsing around for an acoustic guitar, you’ll discover that there is an array of various woods that are typically used in constructing an instrument. It is indeed in your best interest to familiarize yourself with the tonal attributes of these different woods.
Rosewood – Rosewood is commonly used on an acoustic guitar on the sides and back. It is also typically used on the bridge and the fretboard. Brazilian rosewood is used, but because of it’s limited supply and high dollar price tag, it has been substituted for the most part by Indian rosewood instead. The tonal qualities of these two different woods are surprisingly the same, even though visually they are different. The benefits of using rosewood on the sides and back are a low end that that is warm, enriched midtones and increased resonance.
Mahogany – Mahogany also is typically used on the side and back of an acoustic guitar. Every now and then, it is used for the top of the instrument. The mid range tones receive a boost when mahogany is used on the back and sides, while limiting the big boom that is occasionally experienced with dreadnought guitars. A higher end is pronounced when mahogany is used as a top wood. The guitar’s neck and bridge are also commonly constructed by using mahogany.
Spruce – Acoustic guitar tops are most typically constructed with spruce. For the most part, the more expensive guitars will reveal the type of spruce that is used. Luthiers find spruce’s workability to be easy and like it because it’s strong and lightweight. A few benefits of spruce are it’s resonance, good clarity and ability to provide excellent sustain.
Maple – Maple characteristically promotes the higher end of the tonal spectrum and creates a tone which can be described as rather dry. The sides and back are typically where maple is used, which allows the top to create it’s normal tone, without the addition of coloration from the rest of the guitar’s body.
Cedar – Cedar promotes the upper registers due to being a soft wood and typically favors a playing technique that is light. Because of this, it is commonly used either for classical or fingerstyle guitars for the sides, back and top.
Ebony – Ebony, well known especially for being used in pianos, is excellent for fretboards on acoustic guitars. It is very strong and possesses a feel that is slick to the touch. This being why it is the most desired fretboard material for many guitar players.