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

If you’re a guitarist, new or experienced, you should have an idea of what different guitar woods mean for an instrument’s sound. Each popular wood is used for a specific reason. As you read the following paragraphs, you’ll discover a selection of common guitar tonewoods, alphabetically listed, and the purposes they serve. 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 initially enjoyed its rise to popularity in the 1950s when an immensely popular guitar company started using it. 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 among the most prevalent forms of wood and is, thus, frequently used by budget guitar manufacturers. 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 an extremely common guitar wood. This richly hued wood is not only pleasing to the eye, but offers a deep, pleasant tone. 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 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 was an important exception that was sold by a globally famed brand in the first part of the 1970s. This guitar was actually even used onstage by a band that completely permeated pop culture, both then and now.

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 certainly nothing the matter with the tonality of walnut wood, but it’s dark coloring makes it incredibly striking.

7. Exotic woods are not often used to craft mass-produced guitars, but they bear noting here because custom guitar makers frequently utilize them. Professional guitarists often enjoy having at least a couple of instruments made from exotic woods. Particularly popular are bubinga, wenge, and muira piranga. A host of other options also exist.