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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. 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. 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 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 kind of ash wood is famed for having a twangy, sweet edge that was the hallmark of early rock and roll and remains the cornerstone of country even still.

2. Basswood is one of the most common types of wood and is, therefore, often used to make budget guitars. If you’re a brand new guitarist who didn’t want to spend a lot of money on his or her first instrument, the odds are good that it’s made out of 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 among the most prevalent guitar woods. This richly hued wood is not only pleasing to the eye, but offers a deep, pleasant tone. Some of the most popular guitars in history have been crafted using 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, 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 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 often enjoy having at least a couple of instruments made from exotic woods. Particularly popular are bubinga, wenge, and muira piranga. You can also choose from a wide selection of other options.