How does the type of wood used to make an acoustic guitar affect its sound?

Asked by: Matthew Nunez

According to many musicians, in order to have the best sound possible, an acoustic guitar has to be made from the “right” type of wood. Unfortunately, such wood often comes from endangered, unsustainably-harvested trees. A new study, however, suggests that wood type makes essentially no difference.

How does wood affect acoustic guitar tone?

The Quick Answer. The wood a guitar is made from affects the tone of acoustic and electric guitars, but has more impact on acoustic guitars. Denser woods create more sustain and a sharper tone. The body wood type affects the tone more compared to the neck and fretboard wood type.

Does wood matter on acoustic guitar?

The wood used to make a guitar, whether it is acoustic or electric, is tremendously important. Different woods can determine the guitar’s overall quality, durability, and, of course, sound. The largest part of a guitar is the body and this is made from varying types of wood. This is where the sound emanates from.

What affects the sound of an acoustic guitar?

There are a multitude of factors that determine the sound of a guitar — everything from the woods used in the body (top, back, and sides) to the strings, the shape, the bracing, etc.

What wood is used for guitars?

Some popular types of guitar woods are Alder, basswood, mahogany, swamp ash, walnut, koa, maple, rosewood, ebony, and wenge. Each of the wood types has its distinct features, including looks and tonal properties. Yes, there are other guitar wood types, but these are the most popular.

What wood has the best tone?

Maple is an extremely popular wood for necks and fretboards. Recognizable because of its bright tone, grain patterns and moderate weight. It’s tonal characteristics include good sustain with plenty of bite.

Does wood make a difference in guitar tone?

The answer is that it does. Generally, heavier woods like mahogany resonate differently than a medium-bodied wood like alder and a lighter wood like basswood. And don’t forget feel. A big part of your tone comes down to how you play — how you fret chords and how you strum or pick.

How does wood amplify sound?

Wood has naturally acoustically helpful properties: it’s naturally non-resonant, so energising a speaker box with musical vibrations will result in minimal distortion. Wood has a high density. It has been used for centuries to help amplify a richer, clearer sound in instruments from guitars to grand pianos.

What kind of wood is used for acoustic panels?

In a nutshell, the best soundproof wood types are Cork, Acoustic Plywood, Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and Oriented Strand Board (OSB).

What makes an acoustic guitar good?

Tonewood. The choice of wood determines the sound of an acoustic guitar. Different types of wood produce different tones, but most guitar makers believe that the top is the most important for determining tonal quality.

What is an acoustic guitar made of?

The guitars are made of hollow wood with a large sound hole. The species of wood used varies from guitar to guitar, but spruce is the most popular material for the top panel. 2. These guitars typically have wide, flat necks that allow the guitar strings to be spaced fairly far apart.

Why is mahogany used for guitars?

Mahogany has a thick bottom end, a controlled high end, and a perfect midrange. It’s a tonewood that perfectly balances all ranges of sound, which is why it’s so commonly used in custom acoustic guitars. It suits most players and guitar body shapes, and provides the best sound.

Does guitar wood matter?

The short answer is yes, different wood species have distinguishable sound characteristics, influencing the tone of an electric guitar. Individual vibro-acoustic characteristics are mainly due to different densities of wood types. Moisture content also determines the tone colour changes.

How does fretboard wood affect tone?

The neck wood affects the tone of a guitar by impacting the way that the vibrations produced by the strings behave. Denser neck woods, like maple sound brighter and have less sustain. Mahogany on the other hand, produces a warmer and darker tone with better resonance and sustain.

What wood makes most guitars?

Although spruce is the most commonly employed top wood, cedar comes in at second place. Traditionally used on classical guitars, cedar is becoming increasingly common in steel-string instruments. It’s a less dense wood than spruce, providing you with a slightly darker tone.

Is pine wood good for guitars?

Pine is a good yet rare tonewood for solid electric guitar bodies and acoustic guitar tops. However, it’s largely too soft and weak for use in necks (unless laminated with other wood), back and sides, or fretboards. It’s lightweight and offers a warm tone with clear highs and decent projection.

Why is rosewood used for guitars?

Rosewood is a medium density wood, and is naturally oily. This is a useful trait for a fretboard tone wood because it means that it doesn’t require a finish. Many players prefer this natural feel of the wood, particularly compared to the feel of woods that require a finish of some kind like Maple does.

What makes good tonewood?

Good quality mahogany tonewood will age really well and sound better as it matures. It’s also very stable, and is less likely to warp than most other species of wood. Summary: warm tone with excellent low-mid and bass emphasis, with a reddish-orange colour and an even grain pattern.

Why are guitars made of wood?

Guitars are made of wood because of tradition and sound preference. The resonance, sustain and overall soul tonewoods provide to the instrument is hardly obtainable with alternatives. What is more, wood is readily available material. It is not only a case of preference but also of convenience and economics.

Is maple wood good for guitar?

Maple is an excellent tonewood for acoustic and classical guitars and is the only commercially-viable tonewood to be used in guitar bodies (tops, backs and sides), necks and fretboards. It’s a beautiful-sounding tonewood with a bright tone, and the figured pieces look stunning as well.