Types Of Guitar Wood: What Is The Best Wood For Guitars?
On this page, we will look at the various types of wood your guitar can be made from. It is worth noting that there is no such thing as the ‘best’ type of wood for a guitar.
It is going to be down to personal preference. Hopefully, this list should give you a decent idea of what you can expect from each type of wood.
How Many Types of Guitar Wood?
As you may well know, guitars are constructed from different types of wood. Some are made from multiple kinds of wood, others from just one type. Each of these woods will have its own ‘unique’ tone. They are going to sound drastically different. Even guitars made from the same type of wood will have very subtle variances.
This is because the wood may have a different weight or different density. This is why many experts recommend trying out different models of the ‘same’ guitar to ensure you get the perfect guitar for your needs.
Body Woods: This is where most of your tone will come from. So, this is where you will need to focus most of your attention when choosing a tonewood.’
This wood is quite common in guitars, but there are many varieties used in guitars, from low, medium, and high. Depending on the species and origin, they will influence the quality and weight and fundamentally sound as in all species. This is a constant used in any wood.
It is a wood that varies in a range between moderately heavy and very heavy with a hardness range between 1.9 (Blanda) and 2.7 (semihard) (These values depend on the species, quality, and origin).
It is used in high-end guitars with excellent resonating, especially “Mahogany Honduras.” This wood’s worse or better results for use in guitars dramatically influence the environment, even within the same region.
Types Of Guitar Wood – Alder
This type of wood is very soft and light but with resonant, very high qualities. Alder is a medium-weight wood. It first became prominent in the late 50s when Fender started constructing their guitars from it. Alder is perfect for those who want an excellent ‘thick’ sound that is incredibly clear. If you love your mid and low tones, then alder will be perfect. Once you hit the highs, you may notice a small amount of distortion, but it won’t be anything crazy. It is perfect for those who are looking for some sustainability.
Wood ranges from hard and heavy to light and medium-soft but resonant with excellent qualities. (Many of the best Teles and Stratos histories have been made with this wood).
Ash was also found in the 50s Fender guitars. The wood for guitars, at least the best wood, is taken from swamp ash. This is ash that has grown beneath the water level. It offers brilliant lows and highs, as well as excellent sustain. If the ash is taken from the upper portion of a tree, the sound will probably be a bit thicker and perfect for those who want some severe distortion in their guitar sound.
Basswood is the wood used in many of the cheaper guitars. This is because basswood is incredibly cheap to source. However, please don’t worry about letting that put you off. This quality wood has found its way into many of the ‘top guitars’ on the market. This is because it is a very light wood. It can offer an excellent, thick sound while also having a unique ‘softness.’ In the hands of the right player, basswood can be very dynamic, allowing players to craft their unique tone.
This could be anything from an excellent clean sound to something incredibly thick.
Types Of Guitar Wood – Korina
Korina is a wood often found in some of the older Gibson guitars. This wood is imported from an African tree known as the Limba. It is a light wood which can offer a decent sound. Those who play with Korina can expect a warm sound that resonates well. The notes played on a Korina guitar will be very clean, with some excellent definitions. For this reason, guitars made with Korina will be brilliant for those who love their solos or want to create a decent, clean rhythm track over the top of their music.
- See Also: Top 3 Best Soprano Ukulele
One of the most beautiful woods used in the construction of guitars. Its properties are similar to Mahogany but with a more extended high-frequency response. (A kind of Mahogany, but much more balanced). The normal Koa is excellent for building Electric basses.
Very hard, heavy, fine-grained wood. Maple is a very dense, heavy, fine-grained wood. Generally speaking, it is not used on its own but combined with other woods. This is because a full-maple guitar will be weighty. Those who opt for maple guitars can enjoy excellent and bright tones, which have fantastic clarity on the lows. Many Gibson Les Pauls from the late 1950s have a maple top that helps add to the sound.
There are several types, depending on the tree it comes from. The area and the drawing show:
- Bird’s-eye maple (birdseye maple)
- Rock Maple (would be the “normal” Arce)
- Flame Maple (flamed maple)
- Curly Maple (Arce curly)
Types Of Guitar Wood – Popular
Poplar is another cheap wood. It tends to be used in the cheaper guitars coming from Asia. The problem is that Poplar is not that good. It has no absolute clarity. Sure, it will be fine for a beginner whose tone will not matter much. However, you will want to upgrade to something far better than Poplar sooner or later. Otherwise, you will only really love your sound.
This is a wood that you will find most often on acoustic guitars. It is rare to find it in an electric (bar a single telecaster from Fender). Rosewood offers an incredibly thick sound. The problem is that many notes may be bright for your liking. Of course, Rosewood is also an expensive material. Most people who opt for a Rosewood guitar are not purchasing it for tone. They are purchasing it for looks.
This is a reasonably heavy wood. It is rarely used that much as it doesn’t offer anything other woods can’t offer. The sound that comes from walnut tends to be very thick and warm. There seems to be more firmness in the lower end. That being said, walnut does look great.
Types Of Guitar Wood – Exotic woods
There are some woods out there that you will only find used in guitar construction when you request they be used. This means that they are going to be very expensive. The most common are wenge, Koa, and Bubinga. They each have their type of sound.
One of the reasons why people opt for these more exotic woods (other than looks) is down to the fact that they offer a unique tone. If you are new to guitars, it will be long before you need a guitar made of exotic wood!