Guitar Tone Guide (Acoustic & Electric) 2023 - Guitar Lobby (2023)

Your guitar's tone is the result of several factors, including the shape of the body, strings, and pickup. But the wood used for the fingerboard, neck, and body of your guitar also plays an important role in the sound of your instrument. With so many different types of guitar tonewoods, it can often be difficult to distinguish between them and choose the one that best suits your music and playing style.

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That is why we put together this guide. We discuss the most popular tonewoods and what they look, feel and sound like. If you're looking for a more general understanding of what tonewoods are and how they affect your guitar, this comprehensive guide to tonewoods for electric and acoustic guitars is for you.

Here are the different tonewoods for guitars.

1. rosewood

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keyWarm, clear with excellent projection and resonance.
Colordark brown
Best used forFingerboards, back and sides

General description:Rosewood, the king of all tonewoods, has been used by nearly every luthier to make many of their best-selling guitars. While the most commonly used rosewood is East Indian, the Brazilian variety is most sought after for its strikingly dark appearance and rich, crystalline hue.

Brazilian rosewood used to be so widely available that it became endangered and is no longer available for commercial use. The cheaper and more accessible Indian rosewood has a slightly different grain, but sounds just as clear and bright as Brazilian. This rich, dark tonewood is typically used for fingerboards or for the back and sides of acoustic elements.

Appearance and physical properties

What sets rosewood apart is its distinctive dark brown appearance with hints of deep orange found in the Brazilian variety, or accents of purple and red in the Indian variety. The wood will continue to darken over time, eventually turning a beautiful dark brown.

Rosewood is relatively dense and has a straight, interlocking grain. In addition, it is very porous and requires great care when applying layers of varnish. The wood is very durable and highly resistant to termite attacks.

ideal for

Because this tonewood is rare and expensive, it is commonly used to make fingerboards and bridges. Rosewood is also excellent for building back and sides, and is often used in high-end flat-top acoustics. According to many avid guitarists, a spruce top and rosewood body is a dream combination of acoustic guitar tonewoods to create the perfect versatile guitar.

Rosewood is rarely seen on solid-body electrics, with the exception of some Strats and the famous rosewood Telecaster played by George Harrison. When it comes to playing styles, this tonewood works wonderfully for most, whether you're fingerpicking, flat-keying, or strumming.

influence on sound

Rosewood is loved for its ability to deliver deep bass and sparkling, sparkling highs with amazing clarity. It is very resonant with complex and rich overtones. However, the effect on tone varies somewhat depending on usage and combination with other tonewoods.

A combination of rosewood and mahogany can produce a good midrange with complex highs and thick, creamy lows. Combined with maple, the sound becomes warmer and sweeter, with sparkling highs and thick lows.

2. mahogany

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keyWarm, well balanced with an emphasis on lower mids
ColorReddish brown
Best used forneck, back and sides

General description:A prized material for making back and sides, mahogany is prized for its ability to produce a beautifully balanced tone. The wood is dense, durable and very easy to work with. Its superb mids and lows add warmth that softens brighter sounding tops like spruce.

Mahogany was quickly adopted by the guitar world as a welcome alternative to the hugely popular rosewood and is one of the most popular tonewoods for electric guitars in particular. It shares the impressive dark appearance and durability of rosewood, but is cheaper and easier to obtain. The most commonly used variety of mahogany is harvested in Africa and Central America. This rich, dark reddish-brown wood is perhaps one of the best tonewoods for its stable feel and resonant, woody tone.

Appearance and physical properties

Prized by luthiers for its ease of carving and shaping, mahogany is a builder's dream. Sharp tools slide in one swift motion to shape this stiff, heavy, and medium-dense wood.

Mahogany also stands out optically with its hard-to-miss reddish-brown color with fine, even grain. Since wood is open pored, a trowel is required before applying a finishing compound. The open grain also means that, like rosewood, it produces a punchy, warm tone with a prominent midrange. Mahogany is also preferred for its resistance to rot and lower risk of warping.

ideal for

Mahogany's remarkable stability and durability have made it a base tonewood for the manufacture of most acoustic guitar backs and sides. It works well when paired with lighter tonewood tops, particularly the industry-popular spruce.

The sound is very well balanced with a lot of punch and crunch. Mahogany's stability and torsional resistance also make it a popular choice for guitar necks. The large, open pores of the wood give it more responsiveness than maple necks.

influence on sound

If a guitar sounds woody and earthy with a strong midrange character, it most likely has mahogany in some or all parts of its construction. The tonewood is known for its smooth, warm tone with surprisingly good cut and bite.

As mahogany ages, the sound becomes more colorful with more prominent overtones. In short, the mahogany's balanced tone with thick lows, controlled highs, and a meaty midrange makes it ideal for a wide range of players and different playing styles.

3. Fichte

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keyBrilliant, immediate and balanced.
ColorCreamy white to light pinkish brown
Best used fortapas

General description:A superstar tonewood for guitar tops, Spruce never ceases to amaze and captivate with its bright, clear, and powerful tone. The wood's wide dynamic range and balanced tone pair well with any playing style. While many species of spruce are used in guitar making, Sitka, Engelmann, and Adirondack are the most common.

All three strains are light but strong with an immediate and articulate tone. Engelmann spruce is slightly lighter, with more flexibility and a robust, mature sound. With the stiffer Adirondack, players can enjoy a louder, clearer and more consistent sound, making it perfect for aggressive attack. Adirondack was the spruce of choice for major luthiers, but overharvesting of the wood has now made it a rare and expensive choice.

Appearance and physical properties

The low density of spruce combined with its high rigidity is the reason for its undisputed popularity as a soundboard for guitars. This ideal balance of lightness and strength makes spruce tops robust, loud, and resonant.

The spruce is easily recognized visually by its pale color. The wood ranges from creamy white to pinkish tan and is generally tight grained. However, the Adirondack's broader grain gives it a bright tonal complexity that other varieties lack. As it ages, spruce will brown a bit, resulting in a more yellowish tone over time.

ideal for

Spruce is an all-time favorite for guitar tops, and with good reason. Ideal acoustic pads should be strong enough to withstand the pressure exerted while playing, while still being low-density for higher resonance. Here Fichte complies. It projects and amplifies your music, whether you're aggressively strumming or fingerpicking.

influence on sound

In the events department, the fir tree shines. Its wide dynamic range and clear, powerful projection can generously accommodate a variety of playing styles and musical genres.

Sitka is the most commonly used rounded tonewood and responds well to both subtle playing and aggressive strumming. When it comes to more complex nuances, Engelmann does quite well, but lacks solid Sitka fundamentals. The Adirondacks, the king of spruces, have the best of both worlds. It is heavier and stiffer than others, resulting in greater overtones and excellent projection.

4. arce

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keyBrilliant, transparent with narrow depths
Best used forneck, back and sides

General description:Let's talk about maple, a great tonewood that for some reason doesn't enjoy the same fame as rosewood, mahogany, and spruce. Large in appearance, maple dazzles with its beautiful light golden color and wide variety of grain patterns. It is a very dense and heavy tonewood with a fast decay and is perhaps used for back, sides and neck instead of tops for this reason.

This hard, heavy wood produces exceptional tonal clarity and is perfect for live performance without annoying feedback problems. Eastern Hard Rock and Western Big Leaf are the most commonly used maple species today. Maple is also admired for its range of dramatic grain shapes, particularly the flamed, quilted, and bird's-eye patterns that are often used to enhance a guitar's visual appeal.

Appearance and physical properties

Maple raises the beauty quotient of a guitar so much that many end up buying it on sight. And who could blame them? It is a stunning wood with a light golden color and bold patterns. Sometimes it is stained darker to create a contrast with the fir, which is also light.

Maple is a dense hardwood, giving it a strong fundamental tone with fewer overtones. It has a high degree of internal damping, resulting in rapid note decay. Wood is also preferred for its durability and stability. The Eastern Hard Rock variety is particularly valued for its high resistance to abrasion and splitting.

ideal for

This dense, flat-sounding hardwood is used primarily for the back and sides of multi-wood guitars. What works for maple is that it doesn't interfere with the sound coming from above, but rather helps to project it.

Maple is also an excellent choice for necks and fingerboards. Solid maple necks are stiff and strong, offering excellent sustain and stability.

influence on sound

Often described as a "transparent" tone, Maple produces a bright, accurate, and clear tone with tight lows. However, it does not work well on harmonics and complex resonances. This means that it does not clash with the sound of the top and therefore works well with the back and sides.

Like a neck, the maple adds tightness and cut with tight lows and bright highs with a hint of hiss. When used on a fingerboard, the sound produced is articulate with good bite and tight bass.

5. also

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keyGood balance with central focus
ColorMedium to reddish golden brown
Best used forTop, back and sides

General description:Here's another wood that's sure to turn heads! Koa is a stunning tropical hardwood native to Hawaii. Because it is only found on one of the Hawaiian islands, koa is in short supply and quite expensive to obtain. Therefore, it is mostly seen on custom or limited edition guitars. The striking, rich golden coloring of the wood with contrasting grains makes koa so popular. Impressive looks aside, wood sounds great, especially when paired with the right wood.

Koa is one of the few tonewoods that works well as a soundboard, as well as for back and sides. You can expect a tone with the midrange of mahogany and the brightness of maple from this wood. Koa guitars can take some getting used to. They start out exceptionally bright, but soften over time. A well-played koa guitar will produce midrange overtones with more warmth and sweetness, something worth looking forward to.

Appearance and physical properties

Koa is a beautiful blend of workability, resonance, and luxurious appeal. The wood comes in a range of colors from medium gold to reddish brown with a beautiful spiral grain pattern.

It is a medium density hardwood with excellent rigidity. It is light and flexible, making it very easy for luthiers to work with. It's not the most durable tonewood, but it can last a long time with proper care and protection.

ideal for

This tonewood looks and sounds great whether used on the soundboard or back and sides. A trait not shared by many tonewoods. Koa is typically found in both high quality acoustics and electrics.

For players who like fingerpicking and thumb tapping, Koa is for you. However, those who play loud and heavy with a pick may not like playing a bright-sounding koa guitar.

influence on sound

Koa as a tonewood ages gracefully. His sound just keeps getting better. When used in a soundboard, it sounds quite bright, but becomes a warmer, more resonant tone over time. It has a rich low-end, a meaty mid-range, and a solid high-end.

As the body wood, koa in combination with the right top guarantees guitars with a balanced sound. The sound you get is crisp, clear, yet warm and thick. If you have a koa guitar that sounds too bright, don't give up. Keep playing until it warms up and gives you the perfect tone.

6. Ebony

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keyBiting attack, sparkling highs and controlled lows
ColorDark brown
Best used fordiapason

General description:When it comes to making a fingerboard or bridge, you can't go wrong with Ebony. This wood has become the number one choice in the industry for making fingerboards. It is very dense and heavy with a smooth feel. It's more expensive than rosewood, so you'll mostly see it on the fingerboards of high-end acoustic and electric guitars. Ebony's classic all-black look has made it a favorite of rock and metal bands.

There are two types of ebony used for fingerboards: Macassar (Asian) and Gabon (African). African ebony is valued more than the brown-striped Asian variant because of its uniform black color and subtle appearance. Sonically, the ebony sounds great with a snappy attack, incredible sustain, and a bright top end.

Appearance and physical properties

The wood offers a beautiful combination of the qualities of rosewood and maple, the other two equally popular fingerboard woods. Like rosewood, it has a surprisingly dark appeal with plenty of natural oils that allow it to go untreated. It is also very porous, giving it a solid base tone. In terms of durability, it performs better than rosewood because it wears down very slowly.

Ebony has a fast attack, brightness, and density similar to maple. But with the brittle grain and oilier pores, it requires more upkeep and care than rosewood and maple.

ideal for

This is the wood of choice for rock and metal guitarists who have a penchant for dark instruments that suit their style. Ebony fingerboards are excellent for heavier music, allowing for more percussive nuances with a crisp attack.

Ebony fingerboards are also found on many high-quality acoustic guitars. These fingerboards allow for easy string bending for fast action. Being oily by nature, they feel smooth and slippery when touched.

influence on sound

With its responsive tone and sleek, elegant appearance, it's not hard to see why ebony is so popular when it comes to fingerboards. It is snappier, crisper, and drier sounding than rosewood. Its tone has a shine that will remind you of maple but with the stronger foundation of rosewood.

Players with ebony fingerboard guitars will enjoy a livelier tone with controlled lows and long sustain. It's also interesting that ebony becomes even more percussive on a long neck guitar.

7. Cedar

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keyWarm with richer undertones
Colorhoney to light chocolate brown
Best used fortapas

General description:Spruce is perhaps the most valuable wood for soundboards, but cedar is not far behind. Cedar, traditionally preferred for making classical guitar tops, has also begun to impress steel string players. It is softer and less dense than spruce, with a warmer tone and more character. What it lacks in tonal clarity, Cedar makes up for with its complex tone and richer overtones.

Western red cedar, of North American origin, is currently the most widely used cedar wood for guitar manufacturing. It is darker than spruce with a hint of honey and creates an intimate, earthy tone.

Appearance and physical properties

From a builder's perspective, cedar is a fine wood to work with. Being slightly brittle and soft, it is more commonly used for classical guitars than for steel strings. Cedar tops are immediately recognizable by their darker tone, which distinguishes them from spruce tops. The color of the wood ranges from cinnamon, light chocolate to a fine, straight-grained honey brown.

Due to its light and tight grain, it is highly resistant to wood rot. It has the natural ability to repel insects. However, due to its weaker internal structure, it is prone to scratches and cracks. Good workmanship and special care in handling ensure a longer service life.

ideal for

A cedar-top guitar is an excellent choice for finger-picking players. Its smoothness along the grain makes it quieter than some of the other tonewoods. Flatpickers and heavy strummers will not find the output they want in sync with their aggressive attack.

Those with a lighter touch can usually get the best tone from cedar soundboards. Players looking for tonal character through volume and clarity will love this tonewood.

influence on sound

Cedar produces a darker, richer tone due to its low density. The tone has a weaker projection but is wonderfully rich with complex overtones. With a cedar top, you get great harmonics and that signature warm tone right out of the box. The same can't be said for Spruce, which typically takes months or years of play before it reaches its full potential.

It is a favorite among finger stylists who typically play with a softer, lighter touch on their nylon-string classical guitars.

8. Ash

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keyTwangy and sweet with rounded midrange; Hard Ash - Brighter with great sustain
ColorCreamy/Light Brown
Best used forBody

General description:Made famous by Leo Fender, Ash was used extensively by the renowned brand from 1950 to 1956. This wood is mainly available in two grades: hard ash and swamp ash. Classic 1950's fenders used swamp ash in their construction. The most desirable and expensive bog ash is obtained from the undersides of wetland trees in the swamps of the southern United States. It is relatively lightweight with a flowing grain pattern that catches the eye. The sound of a swamp ash guitar resonates across all frequencies with a bright yet balanced tone.

As its name suggests, Hard Ash is relatively stiffer and denser than the swamp variety, as it originates from the upper parts of the tree. Both types look pretty similar, but the higher density of hard ash gives your tone a lighter edge with more sustain. Ash is a very popular tonewood for electric guitars in general.

Appearance and physical properties

Swamp Ash works a bit better visually, with a creamy color and a nice flowing grain. Because it is visually appealing, it is usually given a clear or natural finish that emphasizes its attractive irregular grain pattern. Its large open pores require sand fill, sealer and varnish to smooth them out. Some manufacturers take this opportunity to fill the grains with contrasting colors to enhance the look.

The other variety, Hard Ash, is heavier and more stable with higher density. Though it lacks the popularity of Swamp Ash, its stronger low-end attack and mid-range appeal to players in heavier music genres.

ideal for

Ash's solid, dense physical character, backed by a remarkably balanced tone, places it in the popular bodywood category. Although historically ash was used on single-wood panel body guitars, it is now seen on multi-wood and laminate guitars as well. Hard Ash's heaviness, density, and transparent tone make it an ideal choice for building bass bodies.

The wood's distinctive grain pattern and natural finish found its place on early Telecasters, Broadcasters, and Esquires, as well as their modern versions.

influence on sound

In terms of tonal characteristics, swamp ash has more admirers than hard ash. It has a vibrant, airy, sweet tone compared to Hard Ash's brighter, lower tone. The porous quality of swamp ash gives it greater resonance with a defined midrange, pleasing highs, and punchy lows. The wood also pairs well with single-coil pickups for a clean, transparent tone.

9. Bee

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keyFull, even tone with sparkling highs
ColorLight brown with a reddish-pink tint
Best used forBody

General description:Like ash, alder rose to prominence as the tonewood of choice for Fender guitars in the '50s and '60s. The wood is more widely available and affordable than ash, and is used in a number of fenders. It is light to moderate in weight with a tan tinge. Sonically, it has a balanced, full-bodied tone that makes it ideal as a body wood.

There are two main types of alder used by luthiers: black or European alder and red alder. The latter type is native to the US West Coast and is most commonly used on guitars, particularly by Fender. It is a sonically endowed closed pore wood that produces a more resonant, rounder, and brighter tone than most other hardwoods.

Appearance and physical properties

Alder has a lower density and generally falls into the medium-heavy category. Although some quality alders, expertly cut, weigh incredibly little. It is a softer hardwood, so it is more commonly used for the body of a guitar than for the neck or fingerboard.

Alder's natural look is not worth writing home about. It is light brown in color with a reddish-pink tinge. The tighter pores of the wood have a spiral grain pattern that adds to its strength and leaves more room for complex nuances. Alder's unobtrusive, even grain pattern also makes it fairly easy to finish. An alder body guitar is often finished in a solid color or with a dark translucent color to make it more attractive.

ideal for

This warm-sounding, resonant wood is used primarily as a body wood on Stratocasters, Jaguars, Jazzmasters, and Jazz Basses. With a strong, clear and full sound, this wood is a fantastic choice for guitarists who play a wide range of styles.

An inexpensive and readily available tonewood, alder is often used on its own as a solid body guitar rather than being placed on a multiwood or laminate build. Alder bodies are usually made by gluing two to four parts together.

influence on sound

The Alder's sound is best described as balanced with sparkling highs, pronounced upper mids, and excellent lows. Clearer and with a closed pore, its tone oscillates between dark and light.

Alder offers a good amount of sustain, sharp attack, and smooth decay. Its impressive round tone has made it a popular wood for electric guitars.

10. walnut

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keyMid-range with a bright top end
Colorlight to dark brown
Best used forBody

General description:Walnut is a great-sounding wood that is impressively easy to shape, making it a top choice for guitar tonewoods. Sonically, somewhere between rosewood and mahogany, it has a bright top end but also plenty of presence in its mids. Its robustness and durability, along with its low availability, make it the best choice for building long-lasting, limited-edition guitars.

Appearance and physical properties

As hard as maple, walnut is known to be a strong and durable wood, while its density can be compared to that of koa wood. This tonewood ranges from light brown to dark brown, almost black, in color, giving it a very distinctive look when used to make the body of the guitar. This tonewood has a straight grain along its entire trunk. The walnut is slightly oilier, resulting in a softer tone.

ideal for

Walnut is used primarily in the manufacture of guitar bodies, although some manufacturers have played with offering a walnut fingerboard on some of their models. A small-body combo walnut and cedar guitar is perfect for finger-picking players, while a walnut body and spruce top are great for strumming and playing.

influence on sound

The density and hardness of the walnut give it projection and resonance tones with plenty of bright, clear highs and harmonics and warm lows. Walnut may sound heavier and more woody at first, but as you play steadily, the low end fills out more and more, giving you a full tone in the long run.

11. gasped

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keyWarm, well balanced with a bright top end
ColorGolden to dark brown
Best used forbody, back and sides

General description:Sapele is in the same family as mahogany, but is native to West Africa, which is why it's popular as a cheaper and more sustainable mahogany substitute in recent years, but not many people seem to know much about this new addition to the tonewood scene. . Thanks to its mahogany-like hardness, it has a round tone with balanced mids and slightly pronounced highs. This makes it an extremely versatile tonewood that can be used on guitars with a variety of musical styles.

Appearance and physical properties

Sapele is technically a tight-grained hardwood and is almost twice as hard as real mahogany. Visually, Sapele is a rich, medium brown color with dark, narrow-grained stripes running parallel through the wood. Compared to looks, we'd say sapele is even more eye-catching than mahogany.

ideal for

Sapele is fairly easy to shape and work with, and its nearly identical properties to mahogany make it a near-perfect substitute for using mahogany. Brands like Taylor and Martin & Co. often use sapele to build the bodies of their guitars; sometimes the whole body, other times it is combined with other woods for the top and sapele is used for the back and sides. Sapele necks can sometimes be seen on some guitars, although we consider this tonewood to be the best choice for a guitar body.

influence on sound

Sapele has a similar tonal quality to mahogany, giving it a noticeable low end and strong midrange. However, sapele also tends to offer a bit more shine than the original mahogany. Sapele's versatile tonal qualities make it suitable for playing a variety of musical styles, and it is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to mahogany among guitarists.

12. Linde

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keyBalanced with meaty midrange
ColorWhite to golden brown
Best used forBody

General description:Those looking to buy an inexpensive guitar will often find one made from full-bodied, lightweight basswood. Affordable and plentiful, this sustainably sourced softwood is harvested in the United States. Although it is mostly seen on entry-level and mid-range guitars, some manufacturers have used it on higher-end models with satisfactory results.

Basswood's performance as a tonewood is often a topic of discussion on various guitar forums. This tonewood is known to vibrate significantly in quality. Some basswood tracks sound fantastic, while others disappoint. Well made basswood guitars can produce a well balanced tone with good dynamics.

Appearance and physical properties

Basswood is not the most elegant of tonewoods, it is light with green mineral veins. The hue is uniform, varying from pale white to golden brown. With barely visible grain, it is often varnished to accentuate the look.

This softwood is tool friendly and easy to cut and sand. Flat surfaces and darker colors look great on a basswood body. The tight grain of the lighter wood makes it sound similar to alder, with a nice warm midrange. Reputable manufacturers generally use lighter cuts of the wood, as they sound better than heavier ones.

ideal for

Used only on guitar bodies, it is not suitable for necks and fingerboards due to its soft and light characteristics. Basswood is a great tonewood for a solid body guitar and even better when paired with a bolt-on neck. With a clear, transparent tone and good sustain, Linde pairs well with electricity.

influence on sound

A basswood guitar produces a muscular midrange and good dynamics that complement shredding and fast licks. The sound is such that a good set of humbuckers can reproduce it faithfully.

Wood tends to balance bass, mids, and treble. The tone is full-bodied and on the warmer side of the spectrum. A maple-top basswood guitar is a powerful combination, delivering a beautifully balanced tone with more cut and brightness.

Guide to Guitar Tonewoods (continued) - General Knowledge and Frequently Asked Questions

What are tonewoods?

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Every tonewood is, of course, a wood, but not every wood is a tonewood! just put,Tonewoods are types of woodwhich have special tonal or tonal qualities, and this makes them a good choice for making wooden instruments such as guitars.

However, not all tonewoods are created equal; each has its own unique tonal and physical characteristics. While some tonewoods have a brighter tone, others are more bass-heavy, and while some are better suited for making fingerboards, others are ideal for guitar bodies. That's why it's important to know the qualities of each tonewood so that you can get a guitar that's perfectly suited to your preferences.

This quick video is a great snapshot of Justhow different tonewoods can sound!

How does the wood affect the tone of the guitar?

The tonewoods used on your guitar's body, neck, and fingerboard have a huge impact on how it sounds. This is because each tonewood has its own hardness, density, grain, and weight, all of which affect how they vibrate and how sound moves through them.

Depending on the tonewoods of your instrument, your guitar tone can sound anywhere from bright, bassy, ​​to midrange, and everything in between. Because of this, it's important that you know what to expect from the different tonewoods before you buy your next guitar.

Here's a little video from guitar giant Taylor where they compare 3 of the most popular tonewoods for acoustic guitars:

Are tonewoods important for electric guitars?

It's clear that the tone of an acoustic guitar depends a lot on the tonewoods used, but is this also true for electric guitars? Although we have people on both sides of the field, guitar experts agree that the type of wood affects the tone of your electric guitar, directly through how it feels, plays, and resonates.

Although the strings on electric guitars do not directly touch the wood, the energy of the strings is transferred from the saddle and bridge to the body and neck of the guitar. This created frequencies that move through the wood. This is why electric guitars made from heavier woods vibrate differently than those made from lighter woods.

What should be considered when comparing tonewoods?

Tone Quality – Different tonewoods have different tone qualities due to their physical properties. While some woods like cedar and koa have a very distinct and bright top end, others like mahogany and sapele tend to be more of a medium weight. Since most guitars are made from a combination of different woods, it's important to knowhow each of them affects the overall sound of your guitar.

Physical Properties: The density, hardness, and grain of a tonewood all affect how it resonates and absorbs sound, ultimately affecting the tone of your guitar. In this guide, we explain how the physical properties of different tonewoods affect their tonal characteristics.

Guitar Part Used For: Not all tonewoods can be used to make all guitar parts; a tonewood that works well as a fingerboard may not be ideal for making the guitar body. That's why you need to pay close attention to which wood is ideal for which part of the guitar, and we'll take a look at that in our review.

Appearance: Let's face it, we all want our guitars to not only sound good, but look great too. Different tonewoods can range from a pale brown to a dark brown, while some are a striking combination of different shades.

Honorable Mentions: Sustainable Tonewood Alternatives

While most of the tonewoods mentioned on this list are woods that have been traditionally used in guitar making since the craft began, luthiers are becoming increasingly aware of our current climate crisis. As a result, they have begun to make conscious efforts to transition to more sustainable harvesting methods, introducing more sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to traditional guitar tonewoods in their newer models.

This has given rise to a new generation of guitar tonewoods, such as pau ferro, a sustainably sourced tonewood with tonal properties very similar to rosewood. Other tonewoods such as Spanish cedar, poplar, and carved ebony have made their way, as well as other tonewoods that are slowly gaining popularity.

While it may be some time before these new tonewood substitutes are fully accepted by the guitar community, the fact that more manufacturers are making models with sustainable tonewoods is a step in the right direction.

Here is a short video from Martin & Co. on the steps they are taking towards more sustainable options:

final thoughts

With this blog, we hope to give you a complete picture of some of the most popular guitar tonewoods and what they sound like. When choosing your guitar, be it electric or acoustic, pay attention to the different tonewoods used in the construction of the body, neck, and fingerboard and make sure their tonal quality is well suited to your musical style. Have fun playing!

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Christopher D. Schiebel

My name is Chris and I have had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear freaks and music enthusiasts so we can deliver quality guitar and music related content.

I have been playing the guitar since I was 13 years old and I am an avid collector. Amps, pedals, guitars, bass, drums, microphones, studio and recording equipment, I love it all.

I was born and raised in western Pennsylvania. My background is in electrical engineering and I have a bachelor's degree from Youngstown State University. With my engineering background I developed as a designer of guitar amps and effects. A true passion of mine, I have designed, built and repaired a wide range of guitar amplifiers and electronics. Here at Guitar Lobby, our goal is to share our passion for music and gear with the rest of the music community.


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Name: Velia Krajcik

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