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Acoustic Guitar Tonewoods

Updated on March 29, 2010
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MahoganyBrazilian RosewoodIndian RosewoodFlamed MapleKoa
Mahogany
Mahogany
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
Indian Rosewood
Indian Rosewood
Flamed Maple
Flamed Maple
Koa
Koa

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Acoustic Guitar Tonewoods

The tonewood on an acoustic guitar is simply the type of wood used to make the guitar. There is a wide variety of woods that can be used to make an acoustic guitar. The most commonly used tonewoods are described below.

Top

Spruce. Spruce is the most common wood used for acoustic guitar tops. Spruce is used because it has a nice crisp sound suited for many styles of music. Spruce also has the best strength-to-weight ratio in the world as far as woods go. Spruce comes in many different varieties, including Sitka, Engelmann, and Adirondack.

Cedar. Cedar is the second most common wood used for the top of a guitar. Cedar wood produces a more mellow sound than spruce, by blending the notes together more. Cedar is used on most classical guitars.

Back and Sides

Mahogany. Genuine mahogany comes from South America. Mahogany is lighter than rosewood and koa, but is still very stable. Mahogany has a strong, loud tone that has a quick response. It emphasises on warm, full, and round midranges, smooth, tight bass response, and bright, clean highs.

Quilted Mahogany. Quilted mahogany is simply a rare variety of genuine mahogany that is found in just a small portion of mohogany trees. It shares the same tonal qualities as your regular mahogany.

Brazilian Rosewood. Brazilian rosewood is actually an endangered wood, making it harder to obtain and also making it more expensive. It is used on many special edition guitars due to its limited quantities. The tone recieved from rosewood is extremely rich sounding. It has a very clear, crisp sound to it making it a highly sought after sound. All rosewoods have a very tight low end to their sound, resulting in a very clean sound overall.

East Indian Rosewood. Brazilian Rosewood and East Indian Rosewood do have a few visual differences, however the differences in sound are very subtle.

Koa. Koa is a uniquely figured wood that comes from Hawaii. It has a golden brown color with dark brown streaks in it. The bass response is slightly less than rosewood, and the trebble is a little bit less than what mohogany delivers. This creates a well balanced tone that is very even and smooth.

European Flamed Maple. This maple comes from Germany and has a hard and soft rippling effect to it. The rippling effect is where we get the name for "flamed" maple. The sound of this wood is very hard, loud and projective with great mids and trebles.

Western Hard Rock Maple. This variety comes from North America, and is still very similar to the European maples. Canada produces a special "birdseye" maple that is very cool looking. The tone of the hard rock maple is very close to the European maple.

Well I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I hope you learned a lot about the different tonewoods used to make acoustic guitars.

Thanks,

www.theparkinggarage.webs.com

Parker

Taylor Acoustic Guitar
Taylor Acoustic Guitar
Indian Rosewood
Indian Rosewood
Taylor
Taylor

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    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Beautiful article! This is one of my favorite subjects to write about - guitars and specifics about various models.

      I've got a Brazilian rosewood Santa Cruz and a very nice Fender with East Indian Rosewood. Both have Sitka spruce tops.

      I used to have a beautiful D 18 GE, and I love that mahogany sound too, of course - I seriously wish I'd never sold that thing.

    • parkerk393 profile imageAUTHOR

      parkerk393 

      8 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Thanks, Chris! I hope you are enjoying your new guitar! It will not sound like mahogany, but that is a good thing sometimes when you are with people who do have mahogany because your guitar will stand out.

    • profile image

      Chris 

      8 years ago

      Quite interesting reading that. Whilst i already knew a little about certain woods, i have just ordered my first Guitar to be made with flamed maple back and sides with a solid spruce top. In the past i have always had mahogany back and sides. As i have ordered the guitar online, i haven't had a chance to play it yet and really get to hear it properly but i am interested what quality and what type of sound the flamed maple will give me. The flamed maple guitar is actually more expensive than the mahogany guitar in the same range. Some people have said it may have less sustain than the mahogany which worries me slightly but i shall find out when it arrives tomorrow!

    • parkerk393 profile imageAUTHOR

      parkerk393 

      8 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Cool! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • parkerk393 profile imageAUTHOR

      parkerk393 

      8 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Cool! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Antonio Orrico profile image

      Antonio Orrico 

      8 years ago

      I have been playing professionally for 17 years and I still get confused with all these exotic woods! Thanks a million for the Hub

      http://www.MusicZero2Hero.com http://www.RhythmGuitarZero2Hero.com

    • parkerk393 profile imageAUTHOR

      parkerk393 

      9 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Yes. It is important to get the wood that matches what music you want to play when shopping for a guitar. Really, the guitar makers do a lot of that for you. For example if you want to play rock, country, blues, (really anything except classical) you would purchase a steel string guitar. Most every steel string has a spruce top. If you want to play classical, you would buy a classical guitar which is used almost exclusilvley for classical music, and not much else. Almost every classical guitar has a cedar top on it. You also have to factor in prices and quality, but thats a whole different Hub. : )

      Thanks!

      Parker

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      I never knew about the woods. My guitar playing never went beyond strumming a few basic chords. So, I guess it would (wood) be a good thing to know what kind of wood your guitar is if you are planning to buy one. Is this something you generally ask about when shopping or researching?

    • johnb0127 profile image

      johnb0127 

      9 years ago from TX

      I used to weigh 450 pounds

    • johnb0127 profile image

      johnb0127 

      9 years ago from TX

      This hub is simply perfect. I think I will go shop for a guitar now!

      Great job parkerk393

    working

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