A tonewood guide is essential if you want to make your own guitar. We’ll answer the following questions:
- Which woods are the most commonly used?
- What are their properties?
- And, more importantly, does the sound of the guitar change depending on the wood you choose?
Everything’s answered in this article.
1. Does it change anything?
There’s an endless debate between guitar players on the importance of choosing the right tonewood. So, concretely, does that alter the guitar sound? The answer is: yes.
Of course, there are other factors to take into account. The way the guitar is made, its size, shape, age… And a lot more. Not even two identical models would sound the same, due to a simply natural reason : wood. It changes constantly.
2. On guitar wood knowledge…
You must have come to this page for a reason. Maybe you want to:
- Repair your guitar, or replace a part that can be broken, damaged, or lacking the resonance or warmth you desire…
- Buy a guitar: knowing more about tonewoods will give you a better understanding of what you can find on the market
- Build a guitar: if you’ve never built a guitar before, this guide will assist you in order to choose the right wood for the instrument you wish to construct.
Whichever goal you might have, you will leave this page with a greater knowledge on guitar wood, and – I hope – with your definitive idea in mind.
3. Acoustic guitar
Even though wood plays a role in modifying the sound of both electric and acoustic guitars, it certainly has more impact on the latter. But again, it goes back to the eternal debate.
There’s a couple of woods used for this instrument, let’s see first those used for the soundboard.
If you plan on making an acoustic guitar or have it built, taking your time before choosing the top wood is necessary. The top is responsible for a large part of the guitar sound. Here are two tonewoods commonly used (from left to right):
- Spruce (Sitka Spruce): the most popular wood. Its success comes from the fact that it is less prone to break than any other top materials as it is very strong, but also quite light.
- Cedar (Western Redcedar): the classical choice. This wood is used a lot for classical guitar these days. It gives the guitar a dark warm sound appreciated for finger-picking.