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. 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 featured in this particular article 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, which is cut from the lower sections of wetland trees that have underwater roots, makes the very best ash guitar bodies. This type of ash wood produces a twangy, sweet sound that was popular in early rock and roll and modern country music.
2. Basswood is a widely available sort of wood and is, as a result, commonly called upon when budget guitars are being produced. If you are an amateur guitarist who chose to buy an affordable instrument the first time around, it is more-than-likely crafted from basswood. Basswood generally provides a well-balanced tone and the wood is quite light, without much grain at all.
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3. Mahogany is an extremely common guitar wood. 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 often seen on laminated body guitars. These guitars have a sound all their own, due to the mixture of mahogany’s deep tones and maple’s sharp clarity.
5. Rosewood, which is quite costly, is often used as a neck wood, but very rarely 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 specific guitar even traveled with one of the most storied bands to ever grace the globe.
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 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. Bubinga, wenge, and muira piranga are especially popular. A host of other options also exist.