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An Alphabetic Guide to Popular Guitar Tonewoods

If you’re a guitarist, new or experienced, you should have an idea of what different guitar woods mean for an instrument’s sound. Each popular wood is used for a specific reason. As you continue reading this guide, you’ll see an alphabetical listing of common kinds of guitar tonewoods and why they’re used. It does bear noting that there are differences between guitar body woods and neck woods. The guitar tonewoods that are detailed here are body woods.

1. Ash wood first became popular in the 1950s when it was used by an incredibly popular brand of guitar. Swamp ash, taken from the lower sections of wetland trees that grow roots below the water, is the best to use to make guitar bodies. This form of ash wood is known for it’s twangy, sweet melodies that graced early rock and roll music and today’s country genre.

2. Basswood is among the most prevalent forms of wood and is, thus, frequently used by budget guitar manufacturers. If you happen to be a novice guitarist who decided not to rush into investing in an expensive instrument, the guitar you have right now is likely made out of basswood. Basswood typically offers a well-balanced tonality and the wood is a light color, with hardly any grain.
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3. Mahogany is among the most prevalent guitar woods. This rich-colored wood is not only beautiful, but has a deep, pleasant tonality. Some of the best selling guitars in the world are made out of mahogany tonewood.
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4. The maple/mahogany combination is extremely popular on laminated body guitars. These guitars have a sound that simply cannot be replicated as a result of combining mahogany’s deep tones with maple’s sharp clarity.

5. Rosewood, which is rather expensive, tends to be used as a neck wood far more frequently than it is as a body wood. There is a key exception that was manufactured by a well-known brand in the early part of the 1970s. This particular guitar was even used by one of the world’s most famous bands.

6. Walnut is a sought after guitar wood by some, more for it’s appearance than it’s sound. There is nothing off about walnut wood’s tonality, but it’s deep, dark color does make it stand out in any setting.

7. Exotic woods are not often used to craft mass-produced guitars, but they bear noting here because custom guitar makers frequently utilize them. Professional guitarists often enjoy having at least a couple of instruments made from exotic woods. Particularly popular are bubinga, wenge, and muira piranga. A host of other options also exist.