Everything You Need to Know About Guitar Tonewoods (In Alphabetical Order!)

If you enjoy playing guitar, whether it’s as a newfound hobby or a longtime profession, it’s important for you to understand what guitar woods actually do when they’re used to make an instrument. Popular woods are all utilized for particular reasons. As you read over the rest of this guide, you’ll see information about several common guitar tonewoods, in alphabetical order. You should be aware of the fact that guitars usually have one body wood and another neck wood. The guitar tonewoods that are featured in this particular article are body woods.

1. Ash wood first skyrocketed in popularity in the 1950s when one of the world’s most famous guitar manufacturers began crafting instruments with it. Swamp ash, which is derived from the lower sections of wetland trees that grow their roots beneath the surface of the water, is the best option for crafting 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 one of the most common types of wood and is, therefore, often used to make budget guitars. 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 has a well-balanced sound and the wood itself is light in color, with very little grain.
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3. Mahogany is an extremely common guitar wood. Not only does this richly colored wood provide a gorgeous aesthetic, but a deep, pleasant sound. Mahogany tonewood has been used to create some of the greatest guitar styles ever designed.
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4. The maple/mahogany combination is extremely popular on laminated body guitars. These guitars have a unique sound, thanks to the combination of mahogany’s deep tones and maple’s sharp clarity.

5. Rosewood, a pricey option, is seen as a neck wood much more often than it is 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. Certain individuals are very fond of walnut as a guitar wood, though this tends to be more about it’s aesthetic than it’s sound. There is nothing wrong with the tonality of walnut wood, but it’s dark appearance is very appealing to some.

7. Exotic woods generally aren’t used in the manufacture of off-the-rack guitars, but custom guitar makers use them on a regular basis, so they’re worth learning about. Professional guitarists tend to own at least one or two exotic wood instruments. Particularly popular are bubinga, wenge, and muira piranga. A host of other options also exist.