HomeArticlesTone Woods Comparison - A Guide to Tone Woods

Tone Woods Comparison - A Guide to Tone Woods


The wood of a guitar is crucial to your path to getting the right tone, and this is often referred to as Tone Wood. Before you buy a guitar, try out and select the right wood, and you will eventually be able to add a lot of color to your tone. Different woods bring different textures, tones, sustain and durability to a guitar. Therefore, the different types or quality of guitar woods are also an important factor in determining the price of a guitar.



Alder is a common wood, its weight is very light, Fender's Stratocaster is the application of Alder is the best, its tone is very clean, the midrange is warm, the treble is clear grain clear, although not as thick as mahogany effect, but the unique middle and high frequency range is also very attractive. Generally speaking, the color of alder is brownish, without much obvious grain. Alder is not suitable for transparent exterior treatment.

Ash is usually divided into two types: northern (hard) and southern (soft). Hard Ash is popular because of its very good hardness, bright tone and good sustain. Marsh Ash (also known as Soft Ash) is softer and has a warmer, rounder tone than Hard Ash. It was used in many of the 1950s Fender models and is often found in the Telecaster series. Both of these different woods have a more pronounced grain, which requires a lot of lacquer to seal them. In addition, it is ideal for transparent finishes.

Maple is often used for necks and fingerboards, and is one of the most commonly discussed and popular materials. Maple is easily recognizable by its light, bright tone, good sustain and tight bass, unique grain and moderate weight; in addition, it is very durable. It is almost as hard as hard cedar, less susceptible to warping, but easier to handle. However, there are no luthiers that use only maple for the body, because the tone would be too bright and the high frequencies too sharp, so other woods are usually used to adjust the high frequencies. For example, independent luthier John Suhr's custom standard body is made of Ash with maple.

Mahogany's weight and density are very similar to maple, and mahogany's tone is more rounded and warm. Gibson Les Paul guitars are mostly made of Honduran mahogany; PRS also uses a lot of mahogany as the body material. However, if you use mahogany alone, the high frequencies will often be insufficient, so in the models preferred by rock musicians will often be affixed with maple to make up for the high frequency range. Acoustic guitars also often use mahogany to complement the resonance of the vocal range. Mahogany production is very small, so the guitar made of mahogany prices are high.

Rosewood is one of the heaviest woods, the body of a Strat made of Rosewood will weigh more than 6 pounds, and the body of the Strat itself is relatively small. It has a warm tone, and although the high frequencies are somewhat diminished, all three bands are even and well grained. Because of its heavy weight and high price, rosewood is usually used only for fingerboards; it is also commonly used on the side backs of fine acoustic guitars, such as Lakewood's J32, Larrivee's LV10, and Martin's D45.
Brazilian rosewood is the best in the world - good color, clear sound and smooth feel, but at a high price. In recent years, the production of rosewood has been declining, the origin of rosewood gradually moved to India and other countries.

Walnut from North America, darker color, the use of the body is not rare, the tone characteristics and hardness between mahogany and maple, than the maple tone is a little warmer, but has a better sustain effect. Acoustic guitar manufacturer Taylor has a separate W series that is the use of walnut representatives, 12-string guitar W65 all with walnut to build, the color is also very stunning.

Basswood is a very light wood, even lighter than alder. Basswood is very soft, so try not to let it be hit. In addition, basswood is not very suitable for transparent lacquer, basswood tone is very warm, soft, Ibanez's JS series is mostly made of basswood.

Ebony, also known as rosewood, is often used to make fingerboards. Ebony is very heavy, dark in color, with almost no fine holes like rosewood, and the color of long-playing ebony will be darker and more attractive because of its oiling properties. It has a warm, clear grainy tone, and excellent sustain and durability. Many models of the famous Japanese manufacturer ESP use rosewood as their fingerboard.